His name wasn’t really Lance, but 14 years later, I still don’t have the heart to publicly call him out.

And my heart is the reason I never told my parents.

I thought he meant well. I always thought people had the best intentions, and you know what? I still do, but until I unknowingly sat down (during meditation) and uncovered the remnants that were left inside 14 year old me, I was blindly going about life, confused about why I was (am) quick to anger or why I treated men (and myself) a certain way.

At 14, I was happy to be part of the Varsity Pom Squad. I lived in a small town and went to a traditional high school that held about 2000 people. My rich-brown pony tail was always shiny, I thought my white braces were fooling the older boys, and I would often run the mile barefoot — likely for attention.

Photo by Rajiv Perera on Unsplash

I had great friends, I was popular, my grades were excellent, and my teachers liked me, outside of my English teacher, who hated when I’d ask about contradictions or mistakes I saw in his writing.

As the youngest girl on the Varsity Pom Squad, you could say I was susceptible to persuasion.

It was April, my boyfriend and I broke up for probably the fifth time, and I was ready for another Cherry Smirnoff Ice…

My body just involuntarily gagged at the thought. Oof, to be a high school freshman.

We were at Laura’s house and her parents were either super liberal or they were out — I don’t remember, but the cheap vodka drinks flowed with ease as we strutted down her halls wearing old dance costumes, taking pictures on our pink Canon cameras.

I was chosen to wear the costumes from when we were younger because my body hadn’t changed too much yet… especially not my boobs.

“You guys! Remember that one?! Devon, give us a spin!” Alley called out pointing at the royal blue jumper I wore, covered in rhinestones, as she sipped her Blackberry Smirnoff.

Laura came out next, wearing the two piece costume from one of our best numbers. We stood in her living room and recalled the routine, doing it in sync without hesitation.

“Wait, wait, wait,” Stace called out. “My phone’s ringing. Hold on.”

Stace was a Sophomore but she already had her license as she was older for her grade.

“Oh my gosh, it’s Liam! What do I do?” I remember her saying.

Answer it, of course. We watched intently as her cheeks quickly turned a rosy pink.

Liam was a Senior and everyone had a crush on him. He was an amazing basketball player and he had the best body… and face… and smile. Okay, he had it all.

“What’s he saying?!” we were all mouthing, lifting our hands up and shrugging our shoulders.

Stace had natural blonde hair — like platinum blonde, and a stunning face, with no braces. She was also super, super rich. Her step mom was the owner of The Dance Studio we all grew up at, and Stace not only had a huge bedroom, but she had an entire section of the house to herself, which included a flat screen TV, a plush couch, a stone fire place, and a pool table. You could say I was envious.

Photo by Ostap Senyuk on Unsplash

She closed her flip phone and her cheeks flushed a deeper pink.

“What did he say?!” we all screamed.

She told us he wanted to hang out. It was like 10:30pm on a Friday…
Stace asked me if I wanted to come with her.

Me?! I remember thinking. Why me? There’s plenty of other girls here. But despite my quickened heart rate and overwhelming anxiety, I agreed. The super cool Sophomore and most popular Senior want to hang out with me.

After she convinced me she only had one Smirnoff and was fine to drive (didn’t take much), we hopped in her new white Jeep Commander and made our way through the winding road surrounded by trees. It would be a fifteen minute drive to Liam’s house… Liam’s house?! Was this real life?

“So, why did you want me to come with you?” I asked Stace, rubbing my thumb against the cup holder, wishing I brought an Ice for the road so I could ensure the light headed feeling I had wouldn’t go away.

“Liam asked me to bring you. He said you guys haven’t really hung out yet and he wanted to get to know you.”

She said it so casually, like it made all the sense in the world. Like it was a right of passage. And I guess in a way, it was.

Once we got outside, it was just before 11. He told Stace to come right in and meet him upstairs. Apparently his parents were gone for the weekend. Oh, great, so we’ll hang out, eat some popcorn, and watch a movie, I thought.

Yes, looking back on this now, it’s painful to see what little Devon was unknowingly walking into. The naivety was actually astounding.

The gray front door was large and intimidating and offered a slight squeak as we entered. There was almost no smell, which I found unusual… every house had their own distinct scent, I thought. Nevertheless, we were greeted by a dark room full of books — shelves and shelves of books. The green velvet chair in the corner looked so inviting. I would’ve loved to sit there as I read the most recent Harry Potter.

Photo by kevin laminto on Unsplash

As we continued down the hall, we saw the pristine kitchen to our right. I wondered if it was always so kept, or if he took the time to spray everything down because we were coming over.

“Come on, this way!” Stace whispered and pointed up the stairs.

As I followed behind and allowed the wood to creak beneath my feet, I felt a wave of unease wash over me. I continued up, regardless, because what other choice did I have? I wasn’t going to tell her to take me home because I felt weird walking up some stairs. And I certainly wasn’t going to call my mom and tell her to pick me up… she would have some lecture for me and I just didn’t want to hear it. So up the stairs I went, until I stood in the hallway outside Liam’s room.

“Hey girls, come in,” he called from his room.

… to be continued

Inspirations: Mindy Kaling, Issa Rae, Lena Dunham. Trying to manifest some combination of them all + Vince Vaughn’s wit. BLACK LIVES MATTER

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