We were the kids who never got called to the advisor’s office, asked what our plans were for college. We didn’t go to the football games or pep rallies, didn’t play in the band. We were the kids no one bothered to bully because we were country kids, invisible.
We’d cut out of school at lunchtime, sneak away in Gina’s old Ford, light up a Salem. Sometimes we’d just ride empty dirt roads, sometimes go to the lake in the next county, swim off our invisibility in its mirrored waters. Sometimes, when we had money, we’d go to the bootlegger’s, buy a bottle of Boone’s Farm and hibernate in an abandoned house we knew, bellies full of sweet wine and life’s bile. Roll around the floor and write pain-words on walls no one’d ever read.
One day Gina said she’d met a couple of older guys. Said we were invited to their place. We rolled up outside a two-story that looked like a mouthful of crooked teeth. Through the front door was a staircase dressed in food wrappers, smelled like rotten fish. Gina went first, banged on the door at the top. A skinny guy with long, greasy blonde hair opened the door. Smiled a slimy smile and went “oooooweeee”. Goosebumps rose on my arms as Gina pulled me inside. Well, I never could say no to Gina.
He said he was Sonny and the other guy was Len. They were listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd and smoking weed. Offered us some. The smoke and guitar riffs pulsed in the air around us, smacked us around til we twirled like tiny pink ballerinas on a jewelry box dead-set in the wolf’s eye. I felt nauseous so I laid down on the couch, fell asleep.
I woke up feeling the waistband of my jeans digging into my back, my butt being jerked upward, a rockslide of denim dragging down my legs. The guy Len was hovering over me, tugging, but my arms and legs felt as limp and useless as a broken cat’s tale. The music was pounding mad fists in my head, felt like daddy’s belt on bruised skin.
I wondered if I should scream, if anyone would hear. I thought about what would happen if I did scream. Would he hit me? Kill me? No one knew we were here. Where was Gina? And what if someone did hear and came or called the cops.Then what. Daddy would kill me for going to a man’s apartment like a common whore.
A million thoughts, a million heartbeats. The decision clicked in my head, locked.
When he was done he zipped up his pants like I’d zipped my lips and I walked out the door.
Charlotte Hamrick’s creative work has been published in numerous online and print journals, most recently including The Citron Review and Emerge Journal. She’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best Microfiction 2021, and was a Finalist for Micro Madness 2020. She reads for Fractured Lit and was the former CNF Editor for Barren Magazine. She lives in New Orleans with her husband and a menagerie of rescued pets where she sometimes does things other than read and write.