During class, coffee dates, study breaks, and lunch hours, the memory visits her. As she sits in the empty classroom, reflecting on the lecture concluded five minutes prior, it comes to her again in quick flashes — his hands, tan with long, bony fingers, their grip on her sides, rough and soft at the same time. She’s glued to the chair beneath her. She smooths down the front of her shirt, fingertips lingering on the bottom, toying with the loose pink strand hanging off.
She hears his voice, feels the warm whisper of it sliding into her ear, itchy yet slippery. “Sleep, baby,” he says lowly, his voice scratchy and deep. Her fingers shake as she rips the loose strand off her t-shirt and drops it onto the ground, watching it fall, as if in slow motion, until it hits the floor – pink on white tile. Sleep baby. Sleep baby. She plays and replays him until his words blur together and lose their meaning entirely. She can’t leave the chair. She listens to the voice of her friend morph into that of her worst dreams.
When she tries to sleep, she feels the sloppy, wet press of his lips against her neck, pushing into her skin. Sleep baby. Her eyes flicker from open to shut, off and on, attempting to shake the feeling from her system so she can drift off into nothing. But every few minutes, the lips return. The words return. The fingers return. He returns.
She sits still in the empty classroom and feels her eyelids droop, the way they did when he skimmed his fingertips across her left thigh, up her torso, and onto her chin. They fall shut the way they did when he whispered to her again and again. But this time, she can open them when she chooses to. She looks at the green board ahead of her, blurry and out of focus, as she pictures his face, just as blurry and out of focus. She imagines him watch her from the corner of his eye, pupils dilated and dark, the way they were the night they drank Jager in the back of their friend’s garage. “Help me,” she thinks. But she can’t move. So, she sits there and lets him watch her, just like the last time, while she remains rooted in her seat, paralyzed.