TW: The following piece documents true events of sexual assault. Please refrain from reading if personally triggering. Disclaimer: The following events have been disclosed with adults and mental health professionals, and the author is not a danger to herself currently. The record does not need to be reported to a guidance counselor, and no concern for the author is necessary. Thank you. :) I washed my sheets by myself for the first time that night. My blood and his cum splattered the center in horrific modern art. Mama never taught me how to get that out of fabric. It was two weeks after my 15th birthday. I'd say I lost my innocence that afternoon, but the bruises had stained my body for months. Every week he wanted more. And the day I'd been dreading had arrived. His ribs pressed against mine. Our sticky skin stuck together. His hands on me. In me. The right on my mouth. The left clutching my throat. He took my muffled screams as moans. Signs to go faster, signs to go harder. As my thighs stained red, he smiled. I used to love his smile. My cries awoke the city that night until his message lit up my phone. “I'm sorry about today. I love you.” followed by a heart a brighter red than the lines grasping my wrists. I weakly smiled. He loves me. He said he was sorry the first time he choked me too. Sorry the first time he recorded my body. Sorry the first time he kissed another girl. Words of forgiveness had tumbled out of my mouth a million times until they were all I knew. I thought monsters were invisible strangers that sneak into your house when you least expect it. He was my best friend. And, as he often reminded me, it had been almost 3 years since the day he asked me to the movies during 7th grade recess. At the very least, I owed him my body. Besides, he was sorry. Right? It took months of purple legs and ringing ears to break me. Sleepless nights and empty bottles holding the bear he bought me for valentines day when we were 12. I've always wondered why I can't scream in my nightmares. Why my voice slips away when the darkness falls. I finally understood that day as the word “no” danced out of my mouth as gently as the tears on my cheeks. I've showered a thousand times since, but I can't seem to get clean. He touched me in the shower too. Touched me in the kitchen. Touched me in our childhood park. On the roof of our high school. But nothing beat the day he touched me in my bed. He left me for his blonde best friend 26 days later. Said I cried too much. It was the day before our 3 year anniversary, and my room was littered with gifts for him. The next day my broken body lay on the cold bathroom tile. My hands turned white, clutching my orange bottles of antidepressants and sleep medication. As 42 pills slid down my throat, I closed my eyes and, for the first time in weeks, his smile didn't appear in the darkness. I awoke in the cold hospital bed to the IV's piercing my veins. By the time I escaped the psych ward another month later, I was more broken than before. I whispered the story for the first time one night. Mama sat silent for a moment before asking what I was wearing. Said she warned me this was gonna happen if my shoulders saw the world. Dad said maybe if I had paid more attention to Jesus and less to boys, I wouldn't be blubbering. I told my friend that weekend. By the arrival of Monday, the whole school knew. Whispers paved my paths down the halls. One boy claimed he heard I had hit my head and had amnesia. Said that's why I was making up crazy stories. Another girl said I lied for attention. “She probably liked it.” Even those who believed me could never understand. Until I met the curly haired girl who whispered “he touched me too” in the bathroom. I always thought monsters hunted from under the bed. Not on it.