This post deals with child sexual abuse and might be triggering for some readers.
“Wait, so you’ve had sex?” asked my friend from across the aisle. We were on the school bus. The high school kids were about to be dropped off, and then we would be taken downtown to the middle school.
I nodded, nonchalant.
“Like, more than once?”
“Yeah,” I said, becoming incredulous. Hasn’t everyone?
“How many times?” she asked, eyes wide.
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By the time we arrived at the high school, the entire bus was abuzz with news I didn’t even realise was news. I was a teenager, after all; I’d turned 13 a few months earlier. What was the big deal?
A senior stood up as we parked — Mel, the sister of a friend of mine. She murmured something to the girl to her right, but she was looking directly at me.
“What, you’ve never had sex?” the other girl asked aloud.
“Not six times with three different guys,” Mel said, disdain colouring her face. I was surprised to see another emotion creeping in, though. Through the veil of the years, it looks something like…compassion.
That day on the bus was the first time I realised there was something really off in my life. The message I took from that conversation was that I should be ashamed by my sexual behaviour. Yet that wasn’t enough to make me stop.
Word got around and, after a while, I realised I had a reputation.
I was a straight-A student, member of some of the most elite academic programs in the state.
I loved music. I wanted to be a singer. I could play classical piano and belt every word of songs from We Didn’t Start the Fire to Basketcase.