I Know This Bar
By: Girl Bard
Please see Part 1 for disclaimer.
Additional disclaimer: This part contains violence, specifically sexual violence. It is detailed, but not graphic. If this sort of thing upsets you, please email me and I will provide you with a PG-rated version.
Many thanks to everyone who mailed me feedback! Keep it coming!
June 6, 2000.
My head is throbbing, my throat is scratchy, my mouth tastes as if Ive been eating 3-day old tuna, and I smell like a sewer.
Those are my first conscious thoughts as I open my eyes, snapping them suddenly shut as the sun blinds me.
"Urgh." Is all I can muster, when I attempted to say, "Kill me please!"
I crawl out of Jadens bed and pad out into the kitchen. Wincing from the glow of the refrigerator, I find what Im looking for.
Even the soft click of the can of Coke opening is too loud for my aching head. I take a sip, worshipping the Coca-Cola Goddess as the bubbly liquid soothes my churning stomach.
This is what happens when you get drunk? If this is what a hangover is, why are there so many alcoholics? It just doesnt make sense. Ive never been drunk before last night, and after what I feel like today I know I never want to be drunk again.
The bathroom door opens and a freshly showered Jaden smiles in sympathy.
"How are you feeling Dixie?" She asks, a faint trace of a grin playing on her lips.
Dixie? "Like a walking garbage dump." I tell her. "Dont get near me, I stink to high heaven."
"Phew!" She feigns, holding her nose. "Go hose yourself off!" She cracks up, and all my attempts to be mad or offended fail as I laugh with her. Much to the dismay of my throbbing head, that is.
Psyching myself up I enter the bathroom and shut the door. I have to work through these insane fears of showering alone. Im going home this afternoon, and regardless of how much that thought saddens me, I cant depend on Jaden to be there when I shower.
I turn on the water and step in. There, this isnt so bad. The shower is making me feel better, and slowly I feel my body beginning to relax. I concentrate on my breathing; making sure to take deep cleansing breaths, even and slow.
Now for the tough part. I shampoo my hair and put my head under the water. Im surprised at how calm I am. Im not having any flashbacks or triggers of the shipwreck. I guess theres a time where your mind just allows a stronger part to take over in order to function.
I triumphantly shut off the water and towel myself off. The combination of the Coke and the shower has done wonders for how Im feeling.
I exit the bathroom to find Jaden lounging on the couch in her bathrobe. She opens her arms to me and I drop my towel and snuggle on top of her. She pulls a blanket over us and kisses my forehead.
I sigh contentedly. I never want to leave this safe haven of her arms. I cant believe in just a few hours I will be on a plane, headed away from her.
"I want you to live with me this summer." She breathes into my ear, her voice barely above a whisper.
What?!? I lift my head from the pillow of her breasts. "What?" I manage to sputter.
She looks terrified, her eyes surprised at what she has just uttered. "I want you to live with me this summer." She repeats. "I want to go to the beach with you and ride horses with you and go to the movies and show you around here and wake up every morning with you in my arms." She blurts out, never taking a breath. For the first time in my life I cant think of anything to say. I look at her in shock.
"The thought of you going back to your family and Ohio makes my heart hurt." She finishes. Her normally vibrant blue eyes lack their familiar spark.
"I dont want to go back." I tell her. "I hate it there."
"I know Grace." She answers. "Thats why I think it would be good for you to have some time away from Ohio. I want you to stay here for the summer, rent-free. You can find a job, if you want. You can look at area colleges and find one that you like." She pauses, pursing her lips. "I want the best for you, and I know how much you hate being a business major. You need to do what makes you happy." She finally finishes. I dont know how to answer her, and her eyes grow sad.
"I know its a stupid idea. I cant just ask you to give up your life. But the offer is on the table." She answers, and I nod numbly.
Lying my head back down on her chest I give her a fierce hug. She hisses in pain, despite what she says I know her ribs are still bothering her. I soften my embrace to ease her pain, but refuse to let her go.
June 6, 2000
Tears roll down my cheeks, but Im not really sure why Im crying. I certainly have enough reasons to choose from, but its a numb type of crying. You know, the type of crying where you sit and sob about every awful thing thats ever happened to you?
I dont want to be on a plane headed for Ohio. But I am. My trip to Massachusetts was amazing, despite the shipwreck, Jadens injury, and my ability to be on a boat completely destroyed. I still feel like things are unsettled. Jaden revealed a very important issue of her past; her drug addiction. But we never spoke about it. We didnt talk about the shipwreck, other than to describe what happened and how frightening it was. We found out that no one was seriously injured or killed. Thats a relief. Jaden asked me to live with her, but I couldnt answer and we dropped the subject. Despite my jumbled mind, Ive come away with a few clear thoughts. I love the east coast, and I love Jaden.
I cant believe she asked me to live wit her. I cant imagine anything Id like more. The thought of waking up with her, eating breakfast while discussing our day, going off to college where Im a creative writing major, coming home to a beautiful ocean-view apartment, and collapsing into bed with Jaden sounds like paradise.
Im not kidding myself, I know it wouldnt be perfection, but I know I would be happier living in Massachusetts and being myself than in Ohio pretending to be someone that I hate.
My tears flow freely as I remember my high school graduation. My friends were so envious of me. Most of their families were making them go to college. To them, I had everything. I had a handsome boyfriend who would take care of me for the rest of my life. I would never have to work or lift a finger. I never have understood what was so attractive about that kind of life. That is what my mother did, and she is miserable. She resents the fact that she has always been dependent on a husband who has grown tired of her, and she resents the fact that she has children.
I dont want that life. Im not saying that a woman cant be happy being a stay-at-home mom while her husband works. But that isnt me. I dont want to be a stay-at-home mom while my girlfriend/wife/partner/lover works either. I dont want to be a Suzy homemaker or a Suzy lesbian homemaker.
What do I want? And why is it so hard to figure it out?
I know that I want to go to a college where I can major in what I want and achieve my potential, whatever that may be.
I want a career that I love. I want to do so much. I want to write novels, and encourage others to write. Maybe be a college professor?
I want a life where I make my own decisions.
I want to be myself. I want to be accepted for who I am.
I want Jaden. I want her beside me. Not to save me and be my knight in shining armor, but to walk beside me and hold my hand during my journey.
I close my journal. It looks like Ive made my decision. A person can only go so far when living in a toxic situation, and regardless of how I try to cope, Ohio is toxic for me.
I have to leave. I have to stand up to my parents and Scott. I have to put my foot down and tell them that I am not happy and that I need to live my own life.
Now, the tough part. How am I going to tell them?
And do I have the strength to do it?
June 10, 2000
My parents got back from the cruise today. As usual, my mother grilled me about what I did while they were gone. I feigned laziness and work, and she sighed and left the room. I dont know what she wanted to hear. My father said his distant hellos and retreated to his study. Lydia complained about how boring it was. I half listened to all of them.
Its been hard enough, being away from Jaden these past few days. Ive spoken to her every night, but Im not really sure what to say to her. I want to tell her that Ill do it, Ill live with her for the summer, but Im scared. What if shes having second thoughts, and that is why she hasnt brought it up. What if she regrets saying anything? Did she offer because she felt pity for me, or is she sincere?
The good news is that Scott is staying another week at his parents vacation house. Thank Goddess. He called to say that hed be back on the 18th and he would stop over in the morning. He said hes done a lot of thinking and that we need to talk.
Maybe hes going to break up with me. One can only hope.
June 18, 2000
"Hey Scott." I greet him tiredly as I enter the living room. Hes seated on the couch, having had to wait for me to get up and dressed. We had a little trouble at the bar last night, one of the regulars passed out and Uncle Rick and I couldnt wake him until way after last call. We were prepared to call an ambulance when he finally came too. By the time we got him in a cab home it was after 4am.
Needless to say, the last thing I wanted to do was get up at 9:00 to see Scott.
"Hi Grace." He answers, his face set in a frown. "Can we go to my house to talk?" He asks. "My parents are at work."
I quickly think. My mother is home this morning, she will be eavesdropping on our conversation so she can bring it up later with me to tell me what Im doing wrong. Scotts house sounds like a great idea.
We get in his truck and head for his house. Feeling the obvious tension between us, I ask him about his week.
"It was great. My friends and I got shit-faced every night on the beach." He answers.
Sounds fun. "Nice." I reply. "What did you want to talk about?" I ask.
"Lets wait until we get to my house." He replies, and I shrug. We drive the rest of the way in uncomfortable silence.
He settles on the couch in his living room, his large hands clasped together between his legs. His knuckles are white from the pressure and I can tell something is terribly wrong. I sit on the floor across from him and wait for him to talk.
"I called you ever day after your parents left for their trip. You were never home. Where were you?" He asks, his blue eyes turned gray with anger.
"I was taking some time for myself." I tell him. "I had things to do."
"Things more important than your fiancé?" He replies, his voice harsh.
I sigh. "Scott, what do you want me to say? Im sorry you couldnt get in touch with me." I honestly have no idea what hes getting at, and hes so angry that hes scaring me.
"Im tired of being lied too Grace. I want answers, and I want them now." He suddenly gets up and heads for the kitchen. He returns with a beer in his hand.
"Its barely 10am Scott, why are you drinking?" I ask, and realize that is why hes acting so strange. Hes been drinking. He shrugs at my question and takes a long swig from his bottle. Wiping his mouth he glares at me.
"Maybe I should go." I tell him, standing up. "We can continue our discussion when you sober up." Before I can take a step he sets down his beer and stands.
Grabbing my wrist roughly he spits out at me, "Youre not going anywhere until I get my answers."
Shit, this is bad. Ive never seen him like this. I nod and sit back down, hoping I can tell him what he needs to hear so I can get the hell out of here.
"Question one." He asks. "Why dont you want to have sex with me anymore?"
Anger bubbles at the inside of my stomach. Who in the hell does he think he is? He has no right to treat me this way. "Scott, my body is my own business. I dont have to justify anything to anyone." I say heatedly.
"WRONG ANSWER." He shouts and I jump with fear. "Dont you lie to me Grace!" His eyes narrow and I become more and more scared.
"Scott," I say quietly, "Im just not interested in having sex with you right now." Im hoping this doesnt enrage him any more, but Im afraid to lie to him. I dont know what else to say.
"Why? Is there someone else?" He asks, softening his tone. I cant tell if hes being sincere or if this is just some kind of trick.
"No." I answer, biting the inside of my cheek. I hate lying, but I think I would be in danger if I told him that his fiancée of many years is a lesbian.
"Wrong again." He says, his voice cracking with emotion. He fishes in the back pocket of his shorts and pulls a white square of paper out. My eyes widen when I realize it is the picture of Jaden and I kissing in the stupid photo booth at the mall. My breathing quickens and I try to think of an explanation.
"Care to explain this Grace?" He asks, his voice low and filled with hatred. "Is this the reason? Is this why you went to Boston?"
"How did you know I went to Boston?" I ask him, my voice angry.
He smirks, proud that hes one-upped me. "I looked through your purse this morning while I was waiting for you. You tried to hide this picture and your boarding pass pretty well, didnt you? Didnt think anyone would look hard enough to find out your little secret? Well, I did."
I swallow. This is very bad. I try to think rationally, but no thoughts will come. All I can think is how bad of a situation this is and how I have no way to get out of it.
"Cat got your tongue?" He asks and I dont answer. "This can be fixed easily. You tell me the truth, you do exactly what I tell you to do and well have no problem." He stands up before me. "Deal?"
"Sure." I tell him, proud of how strong my voice is. I think hes satisfied more if Im fearful, so I try to appear as confident and self-assured as possible. I pretend I have an inner Jaden, someone who can intimidate the hell out of anyone. I glare at him. "What are your terms of the deal?"
He sits back down with a look of uncertainty in his eyes. I know he expected me to fall apart and cry, but Im not that Grace anymore.
"You tell me the truth about this person, what have you be.."
"Her name is Jaden." I interrupt him, my voice calm.
"Is that the person you were playing tour guide for when you couldnt see me for a week?" He asks, his voice filled with surprise.
"Thats sick." He spits. "Grace, youve been flaunting this all along, havent you?" He stands again and begins forcefully pacing. I dont answer him. "You call her and tell her that you love me and were getting married." He says. "Then you never speak to her again."
Not to be intimidated, I stand up. "Fine." I hope it will appease him enough so I can leave. When did he become such a lunatic and why didnt I notice any of the signs?
"Do it now." He says, his eyes triumphant as he retrieves his cordless phone. "Whats her number?" He asks, and knowing she will be at the station I give him her home number. He dials it for me and listens to it ring before the machine picks up. "Leave a message." He growls at me and I take the phone.
Hoping I can explain later I leave his required message. "Jaden, its Grace. Im marrying Scott and never want to speak to you again." It breaks my heart to say; regardless that its not true. "Satisfied?" I ask him, my voice hard and clipped.
"Not exactly." He answers, grabbing my shoulders. "My friends said I should try a little harder to convince you that you have to put-out when I want you too."
"Oh really?" I ask him, hating him more now than I ever thought I could hate anyone. "If your idiot friends jumped off a building, would you do that too?"
He hits me so fast I dont even have time to anticipate the blow. I fall to the floor clutching at my face. I cant believe he just punched me and I shake my head to regain my bearings. He kneels down in front of me, his face devoid of any regret.
"Dont ever talk to me like that again." He growls, pushing me flat to the floor. "You need to be put in your place." He says as he gets on top of me.
This cant be happening. Hes not going to rape me, is he? His hands fumble with my clothes and I try to reason with him. "Scott, you cant do this. Please stop." He ignores me and I shout. "STOP THIS." My words fall on deaf ears.
He pins my hands above my head with one strong arm. His other hand pulls down my jeans and frees him from his shorts. I struggle even more when I feel his hardness poised to enter me and I scream.
"NO STOP THIS." I howl in his ear, making him shout with pain. He brings his hand back to hit me again and I use this opportunity to slam my knee into his crotch and roll him off of me as he groans in pain.
I stand over him as he clutches his groin and screams in agony. I know I should be running away, but Im frozen with the disbelief of what just happened here. I frantically pull up my jeans as he starts to get up. He pulls himself onto his knees and lurches towards me, his face twisted in anger.
I spring into action, taking his head and slamming his face into my knee. Blood flows from his nose and he falls to the floor, clawing at his mangled face.
Now I run, fumble with the front door, and race out into his yard. My house isnt far and if I run fast I can make it before he can come after me. Looking down at my legs I can see my jeans, bloodstained from his face. I hate to run, but the steady rhythm of my feet on the road calm me.
What am I going to do? This is the deciding moment. I arrive in my front yard and find Lydia playing fetch with Bean.
"Grace! What happened to your face?" She asks as I try to catch my breath.
"Wheres mom?" I ask her and she points to inside. Regardless of my strained relationship with my mother, she is still my mother and I need her right now.
I find her in the kitchen, talking on the phone. She takes one look at me and tells whomever shes talking to that she has to go.
"Honey, what happened to you? Why are you covered in blood? What did you do to your face?" She asks, pulling me into a hug. I cant remember the last time she hugged me. I sink into her embrace, feeling like a two year old. My collected façade breaks and I start sobbing. Through my cries I manage to speak, my voice wavering.
"Scott punched me and tried to rape me." I tell her.
She pushes me away like shes been burned. "What?" She says in disbelief. She suddenly grabs my shoulders and shakes me. "What did you do to him to make him do that?" Her eyes glint as she narrows them.
"What?" I say incredulously.
"Scott wouldnt do that unless you provoked him." She utters, releasing me from her grip. I stare up at her, not believing that shes blaming me for what just happened. I sink to the floor, burying my head in my hands.
"Its not my fault." I tell her, but when I look up she is gone.
I shut myself up in my room with Bean. I tried to call Jaden at work but shes on her lunch break. I call her at home, and leave her a message. "Jaden, its Grace. Listen, please ignore my last message, ok?" Then I burst into tears and hang up the phone. Im scared that she will be mad at me because of what happened. If my own mother thinks it was my fault, everyone else must too. Im so ashamed; all I want to do is curl up in bed and cry.
I glance at the clock, seeing its already noon. Only two hours since my life took a turn for the worst. It seems like a lifetime ago.
Im icing my face. I have a nasty bruise that covers my entire cheek. My eye is becoming less swollen, but my face still hurts and feels stiff.
I hope I broke Scotts nose.
A soft knock at my door, and Lydia enters with a tray of goodies. "I thought you might be hungry. Mom left, she said she has errands." Lydia states, her voice unusually nervous. She looks so upset, and I feel bad for putting her through this.
"Thanks sis." I tell her as my eyes brim with fresh tears. I pat the bed and she sits next to me. "Can I tell you something?"
"Anything." She says, her voice sounding more mature than her 13 years.
"The reason that Scott did this to me is because he found out something that Ive been keeping a secret." I start, nervous as to how shes going to react.
Her face remains impassive. "What is it?"
"Im in love with Jaden." I say, my voice a whisper.
"Oh." She answers. She pauses for a second before finishing, "Shes really pretty."
I look up into my baby sisters intelligent brown eyes and find acceptance. "Thank you." I tell her, hugging her. I feel like shes the 22 year old and Im the teenager.
"What are you going to do?" She asks when I break our hug.
"I dont know." I answer sadly. "I have to get out of here. I hate it here Lyd, you know that." I summon up my courage. "Jaden said I could live with her for the summer, until I can find a new college that I like. Im thinking of taking her up on it."
Her eyes grow round with surprise. "I dont want you to go. But you should. I know how shitty it is here for you."
"Watch your mouth." I tease her, and then grow serious again. "Thank you for understanding. Im scared though. I dont know what mom is going to do."
"I know." She replies thoughtfully. "Ill help you, okay?"
"Yeah." I tell her.
"Can I have your stuff? Whatever youre not taking?" She questions, smiling.
"Of course. Not a person Id rather give it too." I tell her, tweaking her nose.
She frowns. "When are you leaving?"
I hug her again. Im going to miss her. "Soon, Lydia. Very soon."
June 18, 2000
I sigh as I finish filling out all of the unnecessary forms to complete my Florida assignment. They were due weeks ago, but Im just now starting to catch up on my mountain of paperwork.
I stretch my arms above my head and am rewarded with the loud cracking of my back. Ahh, thats exactly what I wanted. I grimace a little as my injured ribs rub against the stiff fabric of my uniform. They are still a little tender, but nothing serious.
Desk duty is the worst. Im so behind that Im forced to sit here and finish everything before taking any more calls. I pout; I hate missing out on all the fun stuff.
Goddammit, what is that? I cringe as a bolt of what only can be described as fear runs through my entire body. Strange. I instantly become jittery and nervous and I check around to find nothing out of the ordinary. Im alone at my desk, and outside in the main office I can hear the normal hustling of other officers and clerks. Shrugging, I try to concentrate on my next form as I chew on the end of my pen.
I glance at my watch. 11:30 and its lunchtime. Grateful to be excused from my forms I get up, angrily pushing away the fear that still gnaws at my guts. Its actually more of a feeling of despair now, not fear, and I have the urge to call Grace.
I just spoke with her the other night. I can tell shes undecided about moving here and the last thing I want to do is badger her about it. I surprised myself, asking her to stay here for this summer. I love my apartment, and I used to think I loved being alone.
After I met Grace I knew that I didnt love being alone, it just felt and still feels safer to be alone. I know Im starting to trust her more, but her unknowns about my past still frighten me. I couldnt handle it if she left me because of things that Ive done.
I head down to the lunchroom. Ill call her later, I promise myself.
"Jaden, you have a call on 2." Diana from dispatch interrupts me from filling out yet another form. I look at the clock, seeing its almost 7:00pm and I sigh. I dont think Ill ever get out of here tonight.
"Thanks Diana." I answer.
"Phillips." I greet my caller while rubbing my tired eyes.
"Um, is this Jaden?" The young-sounding voice asks.
"Yes, who is this?" I inquire, furrowing my brows in question.
"This is Graces sister, Lydia." She sounds nervous and I immediately begin to worry.
"Is she okay? Whats the matter?" I demand, my voice forceful.
"No, I mean, shes okay, and yes, there is something the matter." Lydia sounds like shes crying and I curse myself for scaring the poor kid.
"Lydia, tell me what is happening, okay?" I try to soothe her with my voice.
"Grace and my mother, they are screaming at each other." Lydia starts. "Scott hurt Grace today and now my mom is yelling at Grace because Grace said she wont marry Scott anymore."
"What did Scott do to her?" I ask, afraid of the answer. Ill kill the fucking bastard if he laid a hand on her. I swear it.
"He hit her and Grace said he almost raped her." Lydia says before bursting into tears again. The words hit me like a bucket of cold water. I drop the phone and slowly pick it up, my hands shaking.
"Im on my way." I tell her, and hang up the phone.
June 18, 2000
Ive never been so relieved to see the bar. When I come in tonight Uncle Rick looks at me in alarm. Makeup covers the bruise left by Scott, but my face is still swollen. The fact that Ive been sobbing for the past ten hours hasnt helped that and my eyes are puffy and red. He says nothing and takes me into his arms.
"Who hurt my girl?" He asks, and suddenly I realize how much more fatherly he is than my real father. When I told my father what happened, he looked upset and asked me, "What did your mother say?"
I tell my uncle the bare facts and he clenches his fists in anger. "Ill beat that twerp to a pulp if I ever see him." He says.
"Hey, my friend Jaden is coming in tonight I guess." I tell him. I was surprised when Lydia told me that she called Jaden.
"You want the night off?" He asks and I smile gratefully at him. "Its yours. Ill dog sit." He tells me, indicating Bean who has already made herself comfortable in her dog bed he bought for her.
"I owe you so much." I tell him, hugging him once again.
"I love you Grace." He says, his voice shaky. I smile as he releases me. "Now, lets get this place opened up." He says gruffly, all traces of his soft-heartedness gone. I help him wipe all the tables down as we wait for our first customers.
We work in stillness and my mind is racing the entire time. After my mother returned home this evening she came into my room and tried to "talk" to me about what happened. She ended up restating that everything was my fault. Through my tears I managed to tell her that I wasnt the rapist and that I wasnt going to marry Scott. She started screaming at me, and was more enraged than Ive ever seen her. We fought for hours, it seemed, and she still wont accept that I am not going to do what she wants.
She told me that if I didnt marry Scott that I wasnt welcome in her home. I think thats when Lydia called Jaden. My sister is a smart kid; she got my address book and found Jadens work number. I finally stormed out of the house to go to work and my mother said if I dont make the right decision by the time my shift is over, then I better not come home.
Im glad that Lydia called Jaden, but I feel guilty for her flying here. Its not fair to her and I know shed be better off without me in her life. Im just trouble to everyone I meet. So thats why Ive decided, when Jaden gets here tonight, Im going to tell her that its over.
She deserves better.
Part 7: The final installment is coming soon! Stay tuned and please email me with feedback!!!
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