Skinny Mean Girl

Skinny Mean Girl – by JC Staff

Mean girls hurt, spewing their venom and their predictable ugliness, ever-unavoidably cruel.
Their pace, footsteps ahead, loaded to lash out first with condescending looks, subtle cutting whispers in the shape of tiny, shiny blades to slice deep.
Spat-out remarks fly from their lips, scribbled starkly on gasoline-soaked rags of disparagement.
Jealousy often fuels their intent to draw blood, as they hone in on any scraps of self-worth belonging to those girls who have something they secretly hanker for.

Never was I subject to their boiling cauldrons of hate. Nor have I ever been a mean girl, myself.
I deplore their behaviour, always hoping to offer some consolation to the subjects of their ferocity.
But I had her thoughts once, thoughts of a mean girl, a skinny mean girl, because I was being eaten alive from the inside, and nobody knew.
Or cared.
I was dying.
Silently, they wormed through my being, those mean girl thoughts in my mind. I hid them from view wanting no one to know, because my mean-girl thoughts were shameful.
I was not a mean girl, really. Where did she come from, the ‘mean-girl me’ inside my head?
She was so thin.
Perhaps they called me “skinny bitch” behind my back, when they thought I couldn’t hear.
Perhaps they had mean-girl thoughts about me too? I didn’t care.
They didn’t know I was so weak. Exhausted with the energy it took my withered heart to push blood around my wasted body – a body I utterly despised.
So cold with the chill that clung constantly to my brittle bones, even in hot sunshine, an icy prickle that never went away no matter how many layers of warmth I wore.
Constant exercise causing constant fractures: shins, feet, ribs – bones snapping like dried twigs.
Frail and thin, in child’s sized clothes, with the arms and legs of a diminutive hunger striker, they would stare too long at the unnatural wisp I had become.
Their looks left me feeling more uncomfortable, and the mean girl thoughts grew louder in my mind.
Sometimes when they spoke to me, it was with unconcealed shock, followed by solemn pity which was so easily mistaken for a mournful longing.
Breathlessly, they took in my birdlike limbs, dull pallor, and pleading, desolate eyes.

For you see, food and I were at war back then, days posed the relentless struggle.
I could not eat – could not chew, could not swallow; food was my nemesis, as I awoke to the same relentless conflict with it every morning.
Ironically, my body battled to keep breathing, as I battled back to deprive it of the source of nourishment keeping it alive; it was struggling to get by.
I raced it to the scarce energy which arrived intermittently by way of an apple or some celery, intent on burning away every single calorie with a vengeance before my cells and organs got them first.
Locked in a struggle, the mean-girl thoughts raged, soiling my mind and flooding my tongue.
I held back the dam, desperately trying to replace the mean-girl thoughts with gentle words of conviviality before they reached my breath.
I pictured people who had been unkind to me, overweight teachers I didn’t like, bitchy secretaries who ate too much cake, as I threw up in dark bathrooms, and ran until my body was collapsing.
I thought wicked things about butter clinging to larger frames of sad people with chubby faces.
I wanted to make them more obese, and to feed them all the food I couldn’t eat, food I was afraid to touch in case it swallowed me first.
Such jealous rage I harboured for their freedom when, in reality, they probably didn’t have any either.

They were enemies with those who could eat without guilt or fear. Oh, little did they know.
They were bigger and unhappy; “You don’t need to go to the gym, you’re so skinny” they would say.
“I would look like you if I didn’t!” I thought.
“You’re so lucky, you can eat what you want” they whined. So far from the truth, like a taunt.
“I would love to know what I want to eat, my appetite is dead and long gone,” I wanted to say.

As I slowly began trying to eat again, they mocked me more.
“You look well!” they would say.
“You look fat!” I would hear.
Haunted still, being told I look “well” never feels good, only leaves me feeling more ashamed and unattractive. And it makes my mean girl thoughts return like maggots which decompose my reality.
I want these people to get fatter.
I want them to say they are too busy for the gym when I go every day.
I want them to eat too many cookies because I never even eat a whole one.
And I want them to put on five pounds as I starve and purge a few pounds away.
Because I want to win.
The mean-girl me, she wants to win. Losing makes my mean-girl thoughts meaner.
And I don’t want that.
It’s the war with food and a body I’m never happy with that I detest, not people.
Most of all, I don’t want the mean-girl to live in my mind anymore.
She’s mean to me, too.
She. Needs. To. Go.

Dreaded Dark

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Dreaded Dark – by J. Staff

It’s so dark, engulfing me until I am saturated with a compulsion to shut my eyes tightly.
No light.
Now opening my eyes wide, willing my pupils to drink in any detectable drips of light: I wait.
Nothing.
In that second, crushing dark is winning our game of terror, suffocation its weapon of choice.
Breathe.
I blink hard. Again, harder. I will not be lost to the darkness like a frightened little girl, alone.
Black shifts.
Eyes adjusting – can’t tell if the light seeps in first, or the calm. Maybe they are one in the same?
Silhouettes.
Shapes appearing now, familiarly, just as I remember when there last was light. They are still.
Comfort.
Feeling safer now the shapes are the ones I know. The sinister edge of dark has gone, leaving
a faint precursor of day, which will eventually consume the darkness completely, illuminating
all the corners of my mind and shadowy parts of my soul where malevolent energy thrives.
Once again, leaving it
with nowhere
to hide.

 

 

Laughing Out Loud

Laughing Out Loud – J Staff
Wet with a fresh coat of sarcasm,
Reeking of soured self-hatred,
The words are hurled in haste,
With mockingly snide frivolity.
Incongruent smile
Poisoned remarks
Brimming with bilious venom.
Inwardly-inflicted harm,
Punishment just for being.

On a fleeting gust of flippancy
They land like drips of acid,
Unceremonious punch-lines
At the feet of those close by.
Attempts to appear charmed,
And entertained by my cruelty,
Are transparently feeble.
Responding to the acerbic jibes
Jam-packed with thorny self-loathing,
They laugh with me, a tad too heartily
Courteously masking disingenuity.
Though,
Sometimes their eyes betray them,
Reflecting confusion, sympathy,
Sadness, crushing pity,
Despite their lips now contorted
In the shape of hollow amusement,
Freeing fabricated laughter – after all
They know the quip won’t hurt anyone.
Else.

It is not just spoken shards
Carrying that razor-edged glint.
Written assertions all valiantly wear
The same barbed self-judgements,
Jagged, spiky, ugly, harsh,
Saturated with contrived joviality
Rendering my heart bleeding invisibly,
My self-worth stifling uncried tears.
Pleadingly hoping others will join me
In these spiteful jabs at self.
My smile is twisted in dark ridicule,
Soul tightly clutching the black sludge
Of inner-revilement,
Asking those close to me
To validate my resentment, and
“Laugh Out Loud.”

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Not All Men

IMG_20180129_1914060_rewind_kindlephoto-474955704 (002)#MeToo & #TimesUp

As news unfolded about Harvey Weinstein’s prolific sexual harassment of women across the entertainment industry, spanning decades, a snowball effect swiftly ensued.  The #MeToo movement gained rapid momentum.  More stories, more survivors, and more perpetrators of abuse came to light, many disclosures previously unreported.  The news was flooded with sexual harassment and sexual assaults women have endured, not just in Hollywood, but far beyond, from childhood to adulthood.  Soon after, the #TimesUp movement surged.  It highlighted globally that for the sexual harassment which #MeToo has proven to be rife, “Time’s up”.  This was the call to action.

Snapping at the heels of both #MeToo and #TimesUp like a hungry wolf, was a third movement.  This was led by men the who felt tarred with a brush they were not happy to be tarred with, simply as a result of being men.  It also imagined itself worthy of its own hashtag…

#NotAllMen

In case it’s not self-evident, #NotAllMen pipes up as a counter-narrative to women’s disclosures of abuse at the hands of men – “not all men”, of course.  Perhaps understandably, some men would not want to be lumped together and chucked in the metaphorical “men-are-bastards” dumpster that women co-imagined years ago to cope with the after-effects of male-perpetrated abuse they suffered.  Indeed, my 13 year old son and my adoring husband would be completely justified to play the “not all men” card, being the supportive, feminist-ideology promoting males they are….

….But they don’t.  Out of respect for the many women in their lives who are survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault, including myself, and in acknowledgement of the wide-spread prevalence of male-perpetrated violence against women, they choose not to.  As well, they are not so arrogant as to stake a claim to an issue that is clearly about women and gender inequality, and make it all about them.

Hey! We never said….

The funny thing is, the #NotAllMen hashtag is not even a response to anyone having said “All Men”.  #AllMen never was trending throughout any of this.  No one was saying “All men.”  That is a conclusion jumped to by mostly men, men who are perhaps worried they will be accused of something, or maybe are feeling guilt about something they did once when they were young and foolish.  Or maybe what they did at the weekend?  Some men crying #NotAllMen will be men who have legitimately never committed a crime but if pressed, would probably admit to having “behaved inappropriately” on occasion.  Wow, doesn’t that catch-all phrase conceal a multitude of sins?…. Even if they never have “behaved inappropriately” (take a bow!), they likely have a list of friends, co-workers, brothers, cousins or teammates they can name who have.  The crux of it is, we are talking at least a significant number of men, considering the amount of women speaking out.  And let’s be sure to remember that for all those courageous women who have found their voices, there are countless other brave survivors still whispering “MeToo” behind a closed door.

So it begs the question….

Interestingly, there is a huge question that has not yet surfaced in all of this, and one which would help us all to explore the roots of the problem:

                 Before jumping in with a #NotAllMen response, has anyone ever wondered why that even needs pointing out?

To be honest, it does seem like there must be a lot of men involved, considering the number of women who have experienced sexual harm.  Does it feel like possibly nearly all men have played a part either actively or passively in the sexual harassment and abuse that women the world over have survived?

Let’s take a different example:

Women have always been judged as being the worst drivers, despite the fact they have less accidents and until recently, men’s car insurance was always higher as a result.  At no point have women felt the need to say “Not All Women” when men are slating women drivers.  Incidentally, I learned to drive a car at 14 years old (on private land), and am much better at driving and parking than most people I know, including my husband.

Why do some men feel justified to speak out and point out that it is not all men?  Because in truth, for the 1 in 3 women who experience sexual or physical violence prior to their 18th birthday, it sure seems an easy conclusion to jump to.  The statistics are so high for women who have been sexually abused, sexually assaulted or sexually harassed, it is impossible that these crimes are being perpetrated by just a small number of men.

Perhaps those who feel entitled to take a “not all men” approach need to do a little research first.  You’re right, it’s not all men.  We get it.  Now stop wasting time telling us, take a look at the data, and take steps to start educating your male friends/relatives.  You can now play a role in stopping the sexual abuse of girls and women which has gone on for far too long – because like we said, #TimesUp.

**Please note, I am fully aware that men are sadly victims of sexual harm too, however the focus of this piece is sexual abuse of women.

**Kind thanks to Thora for the artwork accompanying this post.

The Sister Wish

The Sister Wish — by Judith Staff 

Sparkling fountain
Splendorous sight for a child          IMG00563-20140427-1113
A penny pressed into my tiny palm
“Make a wish” they tell me
Always my wish is the same
Closing my eyes, adrenaline soars,
I hurl the money excitedly
Six words repeated each time
“I wish I had a sister”
The coin’s plunge a familiar sound
Delicate splash on the surface
Taking my wish deep
Into the cold, clear water
I plead for more loose change
To make more wishes
Again and again
“I wish I had a sister”
She comes to my tea parties
With my dolls and teddy bears
She comforts me when I feel afraid
Most days, her name is Sarah
In time, I begin to realise
The sister I wish for is older
And my wish can never be,
Though still I wish the same
Every fountain, every penny;
“I wish I had a sister”
She will be beautiful
And clever, and taller
I’ll stare at her as she speaks to me
Telling me marvellous things
Unshakably ever-calm in a crisis
Because she knows it will be okay
She tells me so.
“I wish I had a sister”
Now I am a woman, a wife, a mother…
My wishes have all finally come true.
*Dedicated to each of my beautiful friends who are a little older and a lot wiser than I will ever be. I am so grateful for my older “sisters”; you are all my wishes come true.

 

All The Soap

IMG_20171113_0659204_rewind_kindlephoto-207540412“All The Soap” by Judith Staff 
Inhaling each bottle’s scent in the shower,
Hoping there’s some I might bear
Lingering in my hair and on my skin
For the day.
“The soap smells”
I complain, quietly
“Which soap, darling?” he gently asks
“All the soap. Everywhere.”
I feel a little sick.

Flinching at my son’s voice
I remind him to whisper
Because his pubescent tones
Thunder in the depths of my psyche.
I make a slice of toast I don’t want.
In the living room, a child shouts
Their sibling discord closes my throat,
Stealing the nourishment away
I spit the toast out, letting the rest go cold.

The grocery store: a minefield
All my senses are in overdrive
I can do this today.
Can’t I? Or can I?
A man leans lazily over the front of his trolley
And idly drums his large fingers on a plastic lid
Inside, I scream as the deafening rhythm paralyses my bones
Escaping the aisle, I forget what I needed
The constant adrenaline exhausts me.

Another store, to look for a dress
Trying to concentrate on the rack
Thumbing hangers, not seeing the clothes
A woman shopping nearby steps closer
She doesn’t notice me, but she’s. Too. Close.
I feel trapped now with no way out
“Breathe, just try to breathe”
Then a store announcement,
“Phone call for Zoe, line 1 please”
Startled, rattled, frozen
I need to go right now.
Memory halted; then –
Collapsing into the car
Shutting the car-door
I use the tranquil silence
To fill my starving lungs.

The Great Escape

A road trip up North, our first romantic getaway together.  I book a couple of bed & breakfasts online, and arrange a few days off work.  First stop is my grandmother’s on the outskirts of Manchester.  There are no words to prepare anyone for my grandmother, an individual in every sense of the word.  She lives in a little retirement-village-come-trailer park.  Despite knowing we’re just there for an overnight, she has bought half a grocery store of food, and relentlessly suggests we cancel the B&Bs and stay with her for the week.  The “tell me again why you can’t stay?” conversation plays out at almost hourly intervals, as she hopes the guilt will wear me down, and we will eventually concede to spend our five-days in her little shoebox surrounded by her nosey, cranky neighbours instead.  I hold fast, and keep reminding her we are leaving in the morning.  She lets us share a room, but makes him a bed on the floor as a statement.   We’ve been sleeping together for months, so we share my bed instead (sorry Nana!)

The next morning, we convince my grandmother we will visit again soon, escape the Trailer Park for the Elderly and Overly Observant, and head for Lake Windermere.  We find the cottage on the road above the lake, surrounded by trees.  It is beautiful, and the Bed and Breakfast rooms are up a separate staircase in a side wing of the massive cottage.  The room is delightful, with a lovely view.  We settle in, and enjoy a couple of pleasant days relaxing, walking down to the lakefront for dinner and walking back in the dark, with a bottle of wine to share in the room.

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Two days later, we say our goodbyes, and head further north for Scotland, bound for the rugged and barren Solway Firth coast.  The bed and breakfast is very difficult to find, the last bit of the road is a long, narrow dirt driveway.  We finally arrive at a small, secluded stone bungalow, and knock on the door.  A woman in her fifties answers, she’s friendly and very pleased to see us.  The couple explain they have only recently “opened” their home as a bed and breakfast and we are their first ever guests.  They show us around the cottage, a two minute walk down to the sea, the views are breath-taking.

We get our bearings in the bungalow – which doesn’t take long.  The couple seem overly attentive, so quaint – they obviously want to get it ‘right’ given we are their maiden voyage into the world of hospitality and catering.  They suggest places to go for dinner and we eat out at a restaurant in the nearest village, fifteen minutes away by car, before heading back down the dirt lane in the pitch black to the bungalow just after sundown.

The couple are in the living room when we arrive back, and they invite us to join them.  Politely, we do so, making small talk for a while before excusing ourselves and heading to our bedroom, which is next to theirs, I might add.  We giggle behind our hands like school children, amused by the awkward atmosphere in the bungalow, given we are the only guests (and the first ones at that.)  As it is too early for bed, we agree it might be easier to go for a walk – the seafront is beautiful and it will give us some time to ourselves.  We get our jackets and pop back up the short hallway to the living room to let the couple know we are going for a walk.

They laugh.  “You won’t manage, you can’t see your hand in front of your face out there.  Besides, it’s a narrow, rocky path, too hard to follow in the dark, you could fall into the sea at the end!”  We gently insist we will be careful before quickly heading out the door just as our ability to stifle our laughter gives way completely.

Outside in the yard, we suddenly stop laughing.  We stop walking, too.  We really cannot see our hands in front of faces, as we had been warned.  City kids, this is darkness like we’ve never experienced.  We try to use the little flashlight they lent us, but it is as good as a chocolate teapot, and clearly no match for the black Scottish sea sky at night time.  We can hear the waves, but we cannot see a single thing and realise we are absolutely completely at risk of falling in the sea, and a walk is a total impossibility.

Now we have the humiliation of going back inside and admitting the couple were right, a walk was a ridiculous suggestion.  Tired by now and having run out of ideas of what to do, we decide to turn in for the night.  The room is decorated in daffodil yellow, curtains, walls, everything, and the bedding feels fresh out of its packaging, like just a few hours ago.  We get ready for bed laughing at the newness of it all.  We hear the couple retire to their own room shortly after.

Young, in love and on vacation, we climb into bed with “plans”, although I bring things to an abrupt standstill when the bed makes a sound.  He reassures me we can be quiet, and that they won’t hear, but I feel like someone’s parents are in the next room and there is no way I can enjoy any intimate contact on that bed and risk it making a single creak as a giveaway.  We de-camp to the floor, occupying a gap about 18” wide next to the bed.  Yes, if you are picturing that space, it is much narrower than the bathroom on an average aeroplane.  We manage somehow, though decidedly, it was not the best sex ever.

The next morning, we venture to the dining room for breakfast.  There is a crocheted doily with beads on it draped over the milk jug.  We really struggle not to lose it in fits of hysterics at this point, feeling like we’ve woken up in 1923.  Breakfast is nerve-wracking at best, and we feel under-pressure to compliment everything we are served and clean our plates.  It is exhausting.  After breakfast, the couple, who we are now thinking have very little contact with the outside world, want to spend time with us.  The husband takes my boyfriend to his green house to talk plants and the wife starts telling me her life story.  I am slowly coming to the realisation that we have another two days of this … unless we can make our escape.  We manage to disentangle ourselves after an hour or two and go for a walk on the shore to hatch a plan.

I call the nice man at the B&B on Lake Windermere, who serendipitously has just had a cancellation to book for two more nights.  We then come up with an excuse that one of us needs to get back for work and we have to head back early.  We pack the car, take a handful off brochures with the promise to recommend the B&B to all our friends, and scarper back along the coast and south to the Lakes.

It was not the most relaxing 24hrs of our lives, but was a hilarious adventure which was well worth the trek.  And as I’m writing this, I’m now wondering if they perhaps wrote a blog about us, too?

A Note to My Children

IMAG0767A Note To My Children – by Judith Staff

Dear Children,
I swear far too freely
But you mustn’t, you know those words are only for adults
I love my phone so much, I sleep with it
But you mustn’t, don’t be a slave to it and let it rule your days
I have a coffee & a handful of Skittles, and call it ‘lunch’
But you mustn’t, snack on your fruit, have the sandwiches, finish your crusts
I secretly re-fold the towels your Dad folds; he never does it right
But you mustn’t, in future accept your partner folds laundry differently. It’s okay.
I workout every single day, even if I’m injured. Even if I’m exhausted.
But you mustn’t, you need to exercise but you need to listen to your body, too
I strive incessantly for perfection, and always feel like I could do better
But you mustn’t, value what you achieve and don’t be afraid to celebrate it
I look in the mirror and speak terribly unkind words
But you mustn’t, love the self you see, seek beauty in your individuality always
I keep my tears under lock and key, your Grandad says “Crying solves nothing”
But you mustn’t, let yourself cry and believe it only strengthens you
I see those around me in different spaces and I want to be where they are
But you mustn’t, we’re all where we are because we own our journeys; own yours
I have written this for you, my gorgeous children
But you don’t listen to me.
And maybe I am talking to myself.

Bookcase

Bookcase — by Judith Staff 

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Image by Judith Staff

Many times a day
My lungs are crying
Panic-laden words:
“I can’t breathe.”
“I CAN’T breathe.”
“I. Can’t. BREATHE.”
They reverberate
Over the clattering
Of my thoughts
“icantbreathe”.
In theory, I can.
Oxygen sneaks in
But it’s a drama
I take a breath
Not enough air
Gasp again
Still a deficit
A longer one
But no avail
Because each time
The breath stops
Unable to continue
When it reaches
That same spot
Where
The invisible bookcase is crushing my chest.

 

Gas Money & Sexual Harassment

 

Last week, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual harassment.

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Reuters

In the subsequent days, many allegations have emerged from women accusing him of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape. Why is it so much easier to speak out in droves? And where does that leave women whose workplace sexual harassment does not involve a celebrity whose accusations appear on the front pages of the international media?

***********

*Names have been changed  *Trigger warning – sexual harassment

Toby was gorgeous, undeniably so, and an amazing dresser. He and his wife, Lana ran a café in the shopping complex where I worked. Lana had recently had a baby, a little cherub. Though Lana was not doing well. She seemed in a bad mood all the time, sullen and quiet. She gained a lot of weight during the pregnancy and it was not shifting. Working in the café did not help Lana, with snacking a temptation.

Toby and Lana were ten years older than me, maybe more. They lived nearby, and would pick me up on their way to work, dropping me home afterwards. I always tried to give Toby gas money but he never accepted it, just smiled and said “It’s fine.” Toby was a total flirt – all the girls knew, and he liked that. He winked at me, often making suggestive remarks when Lana was not in earshot. Sometimes he grabbed me, teasingly as I walked by. I pushed him away with a look of mock scorn, though secretly I loved the attention. He was so much older and always looked fantastic. Lana wasn’t looking after herself, she had poor hygiene and greasy hair. She never wore make-up anymore and always looked pissed off. I felt bad for Toby being so hot-looking and having a wife who didn’t seem to care about her appearance. I also felt bad for Lana, she seemed so flat.

Toby started following me, appearing around corners when I did – the complex was open-plan so he could see me most of the time. I often went into the stockroom to check on a product – a cavernous room full of boxes. Eventually Toby was coming in every time I went in there alone, pushing me up against the boxes and trying to kiss me as I squirmed. He was different in those moments, never laughing, but serious and controlling. Holding me firmly, trying to get into my clothes he made aggressive comments like he would “have” me. I never felt afraid, surely it was all an act? Besides, anyone could walk in at anytime. I’d struggle free from his clutches, laughing and telling him to “fuck-off”.

Part of me liked being Toby’s favourite girl, at first.  But sometimes he was indiscreet, and others noticed. I began to think he wanted them to, like he was showing off.  They said Toby was acting like a jerk. They started telling me he should keep his hands off me, which was embarrassing, like as if I’d started it all.  I felt sorry for him that he was not getting any attention from Lara, she seemed so steeped in her own tired, sad world. But mainly I felt guilty in his car with him and Lara, trying to make small talk on the way home, knowing Toby had forced his hands inside my clothes earlier.  It was happening every day now, even though I tried to push him away.   I didn’t laugh, and I wished he would stop.  Toby likely knew I would never mention what he was doing, taking advantage of me in hidden corners at work while refusing my gas money.

One Sunday, my housemates were away and I was home alone. Toby and Lara had dropped me home just after 6pm. I was about to head to bed around 11.30pm when there was someone at the door. It was Toby. He apologised for scaring me so late and asked to come in. He and Lara had argued, and he didn’t know where to go. Toby looked genuinely upset.  He cut a lonely figure in that moment, and I felt bad for him.  I invited him in and said I would make coffee and we could talk. Toby asked if he could use the bathroom. I said ‘of course’, directing him upstairs with my back to him, continuing to make the coffee.

Moments later, Toby was calling me. Tired, young, and perhaps a little too trusting, I went up the stairs to see what was wrong.  As I reached the landing, I saw the bathroom was empty. Toby was in my bedroom now with the lights off. I could see the shape of him on my bed. Waiting, in the dark. He asked me to join him. I froze, absorbing the real reason he was at my house at 11.30 at night. In that moment, I knew I could be raped – it now seemed a real possibility. Backing slowly down the top three steps, I spoke, shakily, eyes on Toby the entire time;

“Toby you need to go. Right now. I need you to leave. I’m not doing this.”

Amazingly, Toby quietly came downstairs. I told him again he had to go. My heart was racing and I was ready to run, but made sure I looked strong.  He hesitated, asking me if I was sure, then he left. Maybe my reaction showed him I would tell this time if he touched me. I locked the door and didn’t sleep.

Neither of us ever spoke of that night. Toby carried on declining gas money. He carried on cornering me in the stock-room or empty corridors, trying to kiss me and feel me up every chance he got.  And I carried on trying to shove him off me, but not knowing how to stop him. When I got a car and started dating a lad from the camping equipment store, Toby finally left me alone.