I lean forward and softly brush her lips with mine. She leans forward and kisses me fully. I reach up and brush my fingers over her cheek softly. When the kiss ends, I pull back slightly and search her face for a reaction.
Her eyes are closed, tears still sliding down her cheeks, with her jaw clenching and releasing over and over. She swallows hard and I expect her to reach up and wipe her face off or hide, but she doesn’t. Instead, she slowly opens her eyes and looks at me. Her lips, still a bit wet from our kiss, open slightly and she exhales a ragged breath, “I’m sorr-”
I put my finger over her mouth, “No. Jesse, never, ever apologize for showing emotion.” I cup her face in my hands, “I don’t think you could ever look more beautiful than when you’re willing to share the ugly inside you.”
Her hand comes up to cover mine as her eyes close again. Fresh tears fall and my heart breaks for her. When she begins to tremble a bit, I pull her head into my shoulder, “Let it go, baby. Just let it go. I gotcha.” Her body begins to relax and the intensity of her sobs increases. She begins to shake a bit and I rub her back. After a few minutes, she seems to have cried all she needs to and I bend to kiss the top of her head, “Do you feel a bit better?”
I can feel her nod, “Yeah.” She sniffles and then yawns before pulling her head up, “Thank you.” She uses her sleep shirt to wipe her face off and I can only smile at her. She notices me smiling and laughs, “I’m so sexy, aren’t I? Don’t you want a piece of this?”
“Yes, actually, I do,” I respond, clearly shocking her because she stops laughing and wiping her face off. “But only when you’re ready. Which, you’re not. And that’s fine. I’ll wait.”
She grabs my hand, “You know this has nothing at all to do with you, right? It’s all me.” She picks up the picture, “This is why I couldn’t go any further.” She looks at the picture herself and sighs, “I died when this happened. Like, really died, not just on the inside.”
Her hands clutch the picture and fall into her lap as her head lowers, “I went to this party with a girl I had a huge crush on. I didn’t tell her I had a crush on her, I told her that I was going to the party because this guy would be there. She took it upon herself to tell him that and he apparently had a thing for me because when we got there, he was all over me.” She shakes her head and sighs, “And I felt I couldn’t stop him because I’d told the girl I liked him.”
She takes a ragged breath, wipes a tear off her cheek and continues, “He took me to this little room, where his mom keeps her sewing stuff. I thought we’d get in there and maybe kiss a little then it’d be over.” She shakes her head, “I was wrong. As soon as we got into the room he pounced, knocking me over.” She swallows hard and I almost want to stop her, but the look on her face, far away and disconnected, kept me silent, “My head hit a chair and that pissed me off so I didn’t even notice that he was on top of me. I told him to get off and that I didn’t want to do this, but that didn’t stop him. That just caused him to get very, very angry. He punched me and although I punched back, I never hit anything that I can remember. The room was very dark and I didn’t know the layout so I was wrestling a bear blind. Then he grabbed the iron off his mom’s sewing table.”
Her jaw clenches as tightly as her eyes now, but she continues without opening her eyes, “He hit me everywhere with that iron. Everywhere. My face, my arms, my legs, he jabbed it in my stomach. I could hear the bones…” she pauses a moment to sob and reaches up to touch her cheek, “breaking more and more as he hit me. Then he started taking off my pants. I couldn’t see anything because my eyes were swollen. I didn’t know what to grab or where to hit. When we’d fell to the ground he managed to get between my legs so…” she pauses to calm herself a bit, “he was in the perfect position to hold me powerless. And,” she sighs, “he raped me.” She looks up now, but not at me. She stares at the wall, “And I remember what I was thinking just before I blacked out.” She turns to me now, eyes open, tears falling slow but steady, “Please, God, just let me die.” Her bottom lip starts to tremble and mine follows suit when she ends her story, “And I did. I died, Sara. Right on that floor, under him, from blood loss.”
I pull her to me hard and wrap my arms around her tight, rocking her back and forth, “I’m so sorry, Jesse. I’m so sorry.” I rub her back and stroke her hair, feeling her hot tears soak my t-shirt, “I’m here and I’m not letting go. I won’t let go.”
Through her sobbing she manages to speak, “So when I had you,” she gasps, “pinned against the wall,” she looks up at me now, eyes red, cheeks flushed, “I thought about how I felt when I didn’t want him pressed against me. I thought, what if you didn’t want me pressed against you, y’know?” Her sobs shake her shoulders now, “And I left because I would never, ever hurt you like that, Sara. I swear to God, I wouldn’t!”
“Listen to me,” I cup her face and her hands come to cover mine, “Jesse, listen to me. I wanted you pressed against me. You wouldn’t hurt me and I know that. I’m not afraid of you now and I wasn’t then. I promise.” I motion for her to lay back on the bed, putting her head on my chest as I hold her and let her cry.
After a few moments she whimpers, “Please don’t leave me, Sara. He broke me and then he left me. Please don’t leave me.”
My own tears fall unhindered but I try to sound normal for her, “I’m not, Jesse. I’m right here and I’m staying right here.” I hear her sigh and squeeze my eyes shut as my jaw tightens to fight back the sob threatening to rip out of my throat. I know what just happened and I’m powerless to stop it.
Something in my body tells me I just went deeper into this beautiful woman than anyone ever has. But that’s not what makes me want to cry all night or want to kill the son of a bitch who hurt her. The fear that comes with wanting to be that deep and go that far is what wets my hair with tears.