No reactions. The guys in the front seat stared straight ahead. I shot a look at Juan. He looked out the window.
We pulled into a circle at the end of a neighborhood adjacent to a small park. The two guys grabbed the open package of blunts, muttered to Juan in Spanish, and got out of the car. From the back seat, I watched them roll the remaining blunts at a picnic table.
Juan tried to calm me down: “You don’t have anything to worry about. They’re just pissed that none of the other girls worked out for them. They’ll smoke some more and forget about it.” I was relieved.
I relaxed by kissing him. I told him that I wanted to have sex with him—I’m not sure why I chose that moment, but it may have been the pot. Knowing I was a virgin, he asked me if I was sure, and I nodded. He handled me gently. The mild pain was dispelled by the satisfaction of feeling close to him. We finished our clumsy attempt and went to join his friends.
When Juan and I approached, his friends said something to him in Spanish. I was embarrassed knowing that they were probably aware of what we had just done.
“Where are you going?” I asked as the two guys started walking toward the car.
The driver turned back to me and said, “To get condoms. You think I’m going to leave evidence in a white girl?”
I was frozen as they drove off. Then I started crying, my voice trembling as I pleaded with Juan to help me. How could he just stand there? Why wasn’t he getting me out of there?
I couldn’t think straight. I was too far from home to walk. My friend Ryan lived at the end of the street. I could run to his house and ask for help. But I was too ashamed—Ryan was a good kid, and the thought of bursting into his house, stoned and in trouble in the middle of a Tuesday night, was too mortifying.
I ran in the opposite direction, toward an open field leading to a partially lit shopping center. Juan ran after me and grabbed me. I began dry-heaving. He told me to calm down—he was sorry, but the best thing for me to do was just get it over with. He said I would be safe as long as I didn’t fight them.
I sat on the ground sobbing while Juan shuffled rocks with his feet. “You know, I didn’t come,” he said.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “What?” I asked.
“I didn’t come. I’m just saying, our first time—I thought I should come on our first time.”
I told him to have sex with me again. I thought maybe if he finished with me, he’d protect me. Another part of me hoped that if the guys saw me having sex with him when they returned, they wouldn’t want me anymore. I lay back in the gravel, took my shorts off, and pulled him on top of me. It was only a minute or so before he said it wasn’t working. I cried some more.
As I watched the headlights return, I pleaded—to Juan, to God. The driver told me to be quiet. He told the guy who had been in the passenger seat to go first. He pulled me by my wrist back to the car. I was reaching for Juan. He didn’t look at me.
It was over quickly. He laid all of his weight on top of me while I closed my eyes. As he lifted himself off and began putting his pants back on, he said, “I can’t believe I just did that.”
I looked at him. Did he expect me to feel bad for him? He got himself together, pulled down the rim of his hat, and got out of the car. I noticed the keys in the ignition. The guys were just far enough away for me to jump into the front seat, lock the doors, and start the car. It was a stick shift, and I had no idea how to drive a car. But I was willing to take my chances.
I slid up to the front seat and slammed down the locks on both doors.
The driver saw me and ran to the car as I turned the key. When he reached the car, he threw his body against the door and pounded on the window. I went from fear to terror, unlocking the door and surrendering.
For the next 15 minutes, I paid for trying to get away. The difference between the first and second guy was like the difference between touching your hand on the stove and being repeatedly burned by a cigarette up and down your body. It seemed like hours before he let me go.
As they drove me home, I buried my face in Juan’s stomach, sobbing as quietly as possible. He kept whispering to me how sorry he was.
The next day, I confessed what had happened to Brandy and another friend as we sat on the grass outside school. Within minutes I was in the counselor’s office with them, nodding to questions, unable to look anyone in the eye. My friends were shuffled off to class, and I was left in a room monitored by a substitute teacher. Meanwhile, the middle-school counselors gathered and called my parents, telling them they needed to come to the school. It was their 19th wedding anniversary.
When I entered the room where my parents sat, my dad was crying. He was red-faced and looked as if he could have a heart attack. He asked me if it was true.
“No, Dad—April f---ing Fool’s.”
My parents stared at the ground; the counselors looked at each other. They looked at me as if I were possessed, and I wondered if I was. I didn’t mean to spit venom at my parents—after what happened, I had started to realize they weren’t the enemy. I just couldn’t face them.
My parents took me to Fairfax Hospital, where a detective met us. They sat me in a room by myself, and I began to panic. I called Juan’s house from a phone on the table, wanting him to tell me what to do. He wasn’t home, and whoever answered had no idea where he was.
The detective spoke to my parents outside and then sent them home to get my clothes and underwear from the night before. I’ll probably never realize how hard it was for them to have to put their daughter’s underwear in a plastic bag and give it to a detective.
The detective asked me to recall the night, minute by minute, from the moment I walked out of the house. He wanted every detail—what people were wearing, the routes we drove, the start and end time of each scenario. Whenever I introduced someone into the story, he wanted a name, address, and phone number. I lied about everyone’s contact information, and I left out the entire part about getting raped. I accused my friends of creating an elaborate story to get Juan in trouble.