A Stellar Flare of Young Adult Writing and Visual Art
BY ANGIE LEUNG
When I looked over my shoulder, I saw him.
He walked through the entrance of the café with that nonchalant stride, hands slipped into his pockets, and what appeared to be that Instagram-vibe air of confidence, which in actuality, was only characterized by male answer syndrome. He was 6’2” with a slight build, and had an oppressive grin that only seemed to garner more likes and attention.
The closest he came to sophistication, or so he deluded himself, was his use of sophistry. How amusing that his character could be pulled straight out of Fitzgerald’s book and be described so fittingly: “…one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savours of anti-climax.”
“Drink your smoothie while it’s still cold,” my friend sitting across from me pointed out, inattentive to who had come in.
I unconsciously let out a light scoff and returned to my smoothie. When I sucked on the plastic straw, a force of mushy grapefruit flavor surged into my mouth. The color, a bright pink, was appetizing, but it tasted more spoiled and depressing than even Esther Greenwood’s crabmeat. Disgusted, I spit the saliva mixture out into the palm of my hand, feeling as imbecilic as a Pavlonian dog whose bell persistently strikes and echoes in its sensitive ears.
When I casted my head up to glare at him once more, the soft fairy lights decorating the café walls were now harshly lit and concentrated on me, as if they intended to create a stark contour on my bare face. More indistinctly, the modern aesthetics made the place now have a slight, unexplainable sexiness—a hint of naughtiness, if you will—to it.
As my eyes strayed from the harsh spotlight, I found that he had disappeared.
The stain is still there.
It’s no longer grapefruit. It has a natural red pink tone and a smell overwhelmingly insulting to my olfactory senses. Yet, no matter how many times I scrub my skin, it remains glaringly apparent. Back and forth, back and forth, I wash with the coarse scrubber, until my skin is dry and raw, flakes of skin peeling and replaced with small beads of blood beginning to pool underneath.
It is sore and bright, now a rich blush color, but the smell, salty and foul, is infused with sweat. Even looking over there and remembering what happened is shameful and embarrassing.
No matter how many times I scrub, it will not go away.
My hair is too short. I chopped it too short, after what he did to me. My used-to-be long hair now hangs to my shoulders, leaving my neck and sides of my bare face exposed and vulnerable. When the occasional cold gust of wind blows, the hairs along my neck elongate, the chill pricks every millimeter of the epidermis, as if someone is hovering and whispering threats right above my skin.
When I run my hands through my hair out of exasperation, I find that the strands are greasy, most likely from combing it with my fingers so often. I brush my hands, massaging my scalp and stumble across crusted fragments.
Blood, I surmise from its dark red color. Perhaps from pulling my hair too hard.
That day he held—no, seized—my hand. An unusual informality, yes, but I wished to avoid the social implications that removing it would incur. Upon realizing that he intended to physically dominate me by pinning my limbs, my sympathetic nervous system response charged in. Whether my physiological arousal or fear emerged first is subject to debate by the theories of emotion, as they seemed to blur together in the span of seconds.
He unzipped his pants and tried to slide (slip, force—whatever term you prefer) himself into me. Reflecting back, he, in addition to being stuck-up, was utterly amusingly and immaturely stuck—fixated—in the genital stage of Freud’s psychosexual development cycle. It had a rich yet unappetizing cream color, bright and swollen. But upon glimpsing his two-inches-below-average symbol of manhood, perhaps cognitive appraisal had completely evaded my physiological arousal and detoured to the low road of overinflated fear, a level well matched to his supercilious aura.
Mind you, the forced insertion of the male sexual organ into me was a rather repugnant experience that, at the moment, seemed inescapable regardless of resistance I applied within the confines of the vehicle walls. It would undeniably leave a stain—whether there or ingrained as a permanent flashbulb memory. But at that moment, my flight response was the sole occupant of my consciousness.
I escaped—left—the car and returned to the dorm, smelling that repulsive smell and feeling that mushy liquid pressing against my sides, my mouth, me. Pink images flashed, played, then replayed, as if the color pink had a spasm in my mind.
When I looked behind my shoulder into the bathroom mirror, the stain was oppressively expanding, its hideousness amplifying with every passing second. My long hair seemed so detached from who I was and am now, uncaring and indifferent. The body in the mirror disgusted me — the stain, the long hair, the bare face. You see, even with conscious awareness, I’ve been conditioned to be a sick Pavlovian dog, to hate myself—to hate him, but for him, it only serves as reinforcement.
And one day, no matter how blinding or harsh the light looks on my bare face, I hope you will hear me and destroy his bell.
Angie is currently away. She’s fighting a journalistic battle to overcome censorship, and in the process, she became a self-proclaimed “media giant” who packs a mighty punch in her writing. She’s also a college freshman studying psychology.