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His final words stop both of them and echo through the silence. “Shit Stella, I was drunk.” He rubs his thumb with his forefinger, a nervous habit he has when he speaks in public or is in trouble. She knows he’s replaying the details of Deuce’s last party: how she and Lucas crawled into Deuce’s bed while everyone else was in the next room, how she fumbled with the zipper of his jeans with nervous fingers, how they listened to the whirl of the ceiling fan when they finished. But then the night shifted: Lucas got up to go to the bathroom but didn’t make it to the door, Deuce and Bo came in and took turns on her, they struck her with a half-empty beer bottle from the nightstand and choked her to keep her quiet, and Lucas watched from the corner halfway between drunkenness and sleep. And she is glad. She wants him to feel it, she wants him to become the past and touch the pain that is in it. There are no words for her to explain it, no way to accurately tell how it has affected her. But he was there; he is the only one who shares this totally inexplicable experience with her. In her memories of that night, she was never fully present. She felt nothing as Deuce and Bo pushed into her body, only the faint force of muscle crashing against bone. When they came in, her soul became numb and she wasn’t able to live with the reality of it. So instead she removed herself from the shell of her skin and floated in the corner beside Lucas like a ghost and watched them invade her dead body and rip her former self apart. “I never knew how to bring it up or what you needed.” “All I needed, all I wanted, was for you to say something, anything. I mean you watched them fucking rape me.” Even as she says the word, she winces. Rape. Never before has that word penetrated her like it does now, but hearing it drop from her own lips, neither in anger nor sadness, it seems so insignificant that it hurts.

undefined : book seven

“I mean, what could I do, me drunk with guys twice my size standing over me?” “I don’t know Lucas.” So she picks up the bottle again, imagining while she pours how she will take the shot – no hands, her mouth gripping around the square shot glass, throwing her head back with her eyes closed, savoring the sting as it slips down her throat, a razor cutting its way to her core. But suddenly, before she can drink, she reenters her body and feels everything for the first time all over again: she is forced down with beads of salty sweat stuck to her clammy body, her breasts smashed beneath the weight of their chests, her legs pried by knees into limp exposure. “Stella there has never been a day…” “Just shut up.” There is an assurance in her voice, a sound from deep inside she hasn’t heard in a long time. And that is all she needs – not Lucas or his excuses or her faded memories of him. She puts the bottle down and pushes the glass aside with the back of her hand. She never takes the shot. Leslie Dennis lives in Columbia where she is Scholastic Press Manager for the state and southeastern high school journalism programs at the University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications. She graduated in August 2007 from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a creative writing concentration. She is working toward her Master’s Degree in Teaching English also at USC. She is originally from Elgin, S.C. Her favorite poet is Pablo Neruda and she owns a transgender cat, Mr. Mona.

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Profile for Mark Pointer

undefined magazine Book 7  

No fluff, no filler. Just Columbia and the outstanding artists, musicians, architects, chefs, designers, painters, sculptors, craftsmen and...

undefined magazine Book 7  

No fluff, no filler. Just Columbia and the outstanding artists, musicians, architects, chefs, designers, painters, sculptors, craftsmen and...

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