I was lying in the grass half naked, cold, and confused. I looked up at the stars shining as I felt the tears burning my face as they went down my cheek. I heard his car door slam and the tires screeching as he left. One day, I was outside my aunts house scrolling through facebook and a friend request popped up. We'll call him John. I was confused because we had so many mutual friends so I accepted, not thinking too much about it. He texted me and we became friends. Later, we became good friends. He would call me to see how I was doing and talk to me. He was really sweet and very friendly He flirted with me a lot but I just brushed it off. John told me he was 16; I was 14 at the time. We had planned to meet up after a few weeks. I remembered when I first met him he was so nice and funny; his hugs were so soft and warm. One summer night he called me telling me he really needed to see me at 3am, to talk. It was warm, I could feel how humid it was, how it made my skin sticky. I walked outside, across the damp grass with no shoes. I felt the droplets in between my toes as I walked to his car. He got out of his car and he came up to me. I smelled the cologne he had on and the alcohol he tried to hide with minty gum. He kissed me. I didn't feel the same. I pushed him off. He forced me to kiss him. I tasted the gum and alcohol, but that's not the only thing I tasted. I tasted regret. “Get off of me!” I said. “You teased me up to this point so take it.” John said. He closed my mouth as I tried to call for help. I felt his warm hands but cold fingertips gripping my arm. I felt him crawl over my body as he forced himself inside me. I felt so betrayed. “Stop, stop, stop!” I said. “Take it!” John said. “It hurts. Please stop.” “Stop crying and shut up.” I was frozen after. No facial expression just emptiness. It only lasted 15 minutes but it felt like a lifetime. It was quiet, only the crickets and owls could be heard. I walked up my porch and was stuck. I stayed silent, I didn't want anyone to know. I found out it was many more victims. I didn't want to hear, “Are you okay?” Later on I spoke about it to a few people. I also spoke to John after. I forgave him. Why? I learned to forgive but never forget. He did the worst thing to a person before murder. I found out he was 19 not 16. Yes I was raped. He is now in jail but will be out soon. I do not let this identify me. I learned that no matter how good someone can be to you they can betray you. It impacted my life because it made me have trust issues with everyone. I try to work on myself. But now I know not to trust too fast and too hard.
Don't blame yourself. No one sees it at first. She's a fifteen-year-old girl on that frozen park bench, sitting on her hands to keep them from getting just as cold as her nose. Your eyes catch sight of the way her hair is dampened and unkempt. Her clothes are torn, hanging off of her body to reveal the story on her skin that she wished no one would ever read. And her face...it's covered in the grime of the city's malice. Did she fall? No one sees it. Her heart is cracked and bloody. The red consequence that pours from it is becoming frozen in these conditions. If she were to tell you that she is growing cold, you would reply you were too. It is, indeed, time for the leaves to take their last leap from the arms of the near-barren trees. Clouds should soon stop crying and instead begin to throw fistfuls of white during their seasonal temper tantrums. But then she'd take you by surprise. She would correct you and say, “No, from the inside. It isn't the outside world causing frost upon my skin. It's my heart, a glacial virus causing my light to fade out into an eternal darkness.” It's all happening so fast in front of everyone's eyes, and still, no one sees it. She didn't fall as once presumed. She was pushed. No one saw it. You didn't either. Not at first. Not until her heart - which had been freezing since he'd first laid a hand on her - cracked. Not until it made a sound so deafening that no one was able to hear another. It was as if lightening struck the ground directly in front of you, and finally, you stopped to pay attention. You were alert. You were looking around for an answer to the question no one has understood: "Why?" And finally, you had the morality to focus on investigating what lay beneath the silence that had followed the explosion of ice from her heart. You realized that she was alone. No mother. No father. No sibling in sight. When you approached her, feet crunching atop the chunks of ice that had flown from her insides like daggers - warnings to stay away - you saw the dirty tears staining her cheeks. You were left to wonder what had happened. Why was she so cold? Maybe she didn't fall. She didn't just stumble because she was clumsy. She was shoved into the calloused, tainted hands of the world. And now you stand in front of her. She sits still on the bench, staring straight ahead with no life left in her eyes. Your chest is level with her face. She doesn't move. You could tell that whoever this girl was is no longer here. A person once known is now a person someone knew. The tears are taking turns rolling down the flushed, red tinted hills named cheeks, but her face is becalmed. A snowflake fallen from the sky lands on her cheek and turns to ice instead of melting away. In a whisper, you ask her what's wrong. She emotionlessly makes eye contact. Your heart clenches and your stomach drops at the visible vacancy inside of her. “I wandered too far,” she replies. “Mother told me the streets weren't safe. She told me not to cross the bridge...I did. I crossed." She looks away again. "I can't go back.” You ask her why. You offer to walk home with her. She could get cleaned up. All better. She'll be fine tomorrow once she gets a new pair of socks and a warm bath. But she rejects you, pushes you away. She says she knows now that strangers are not to be trusted. She can't cross the bridge. For if she does, she will let the wind push her off. She will beg the breeze to be strong enough to cause the ground to disappear from underneath her. She will hit the ground and fall into a pile of beautiful crushed bones and pain. It sounds beautiful to her, anyway. Don't blame yourself. No one sees it at first. Not even you. Maybe you were distracted or just wished to mind your own business. But if you held the candle a little closer, you could see that what she really yearned for was a hand to hold. She was manhandled. Used. Who she used to be was shattered into a thousand pieces and brushed under the rug for no person to ever see again. If they would just look a little closer, they'd see that she is crying out for help. She is not begging to be looked at. She is not begging for the eyes of those around her. She is begging for someone to pull her up from the top before it's too late. She is screaming for someone to toss the rope down before she's stuck in The Pit forever, all alone as she grows colder and colder from the inside out. All alone until she becomes absolutely nothing.
As an Asian-American, I've always been very in touch with my heritage and culture. This means that I've always felt more comfortable with my Chinese side. Possibly a side-effect from racism I've faced in America, this is something that I not only have tried to hide, but also try to suppress. Maybe it's just because I'm in the middle of my high school career, when people go through a period of growth and mistakes. Maybe it's because I'm scared that I won't grow if I show that I'm different. Maybe it's simply a mistake. The end result is that I have done all I can to suppress my Asian culture and background. Being an art enthusiast, I decided to help out at a children's camp this summer, and foster their appreciation of art through a program I created. My goal was to unite everyone through a universal language. It was during the second class when I saw there was a little girl sitting in the corner of the room, intently watching the other kids making the project for that day—shaving cream greeting cards. She was the only Asian, and I assumed she felt awkward with the other children because of that. I understood how she felt, but I put on a smile and approached the timid girl. “Hi!” I said, “Would you like to make the project for today?” Slowly, she nodded her head, and I led her towards the craft station. As I led her there, I could feel the energy change. The kids shifted away from her slightly, their body language closed and unwelcoming. It was a moment of heartache and bitterness. I felt bitter towards these kids because they treated her like people treated me. I tightened my grip on her hand, because I remember that she began trembling—like a volcano on the verge of erupting…only it couldn't because it knew what would happen to everything below it. I knew, because I had felt that volcano every day I walked into school. Firmly, I pulled her away and said, “Those kids may seem like the whole world to you right now, but I promise that you'll find people that appreciate you for who you are, and they will become your world. Don't let them bring you down, and keep your head held high. Okay?” She smiled, and the trembling seemed to stop. As I saw her jut her chin out and walk past the other kids with her hands swinging wildly at her sides, I couldn't help but smile. I wished that someone could've done that for me when I was her age. Maybe then I wouldn't have turned out so judgmental of myself. Only then did I realize how hypocritical I was. My advice should've stood true not only for her, but for me as well. How could I tell others to have faith in themselves if I couldn't even do that for myself? So, for once in my life, I told my friends what I was really like. I posted on my Instagram about K-pop and how I loved Asian Dramas. The response I got was incredible. I mean—I received the unavoidable negative feedback, but I didn't care. It was because the positive energy outweighed the negatives, and I got so much support for being myself. The one quote I'll stand by today was spoken by Japanese internment camp survivor, Fred Korematsu. “If you have the feeling that something is wrong, don't be afraid to speak up.” I believe that could change so many lives, if we all just speak up.