The beach was mainly used by locals so there was no concern for my safety. Everyone knew us there.
I could see him glancing over at me from his spot on the beach. At thirteen, the thrill of an older boy showing interest in me was exhilarating.
As I stood up from my blanket, he watched intently, a rush of heat completely taking over me as I ran my bikini clad body from the sand to the water.
With each step towards the lake, I became more aware of his gaze.
As if I was a peacock, I proudly poised my body for him to indulge. Unaware my adolescent body could spark any such interest; my innocent intention flirted with him from afar.
As the day progressed, his group of friends moved closer to the spot on the beach where my grandmother, brother and I had set up for the day. And with every time I went to cool myself in the lake, he found a way to get closer to me — following me into the water, or accidently bumping my shoulder as he walked past me on the peer.
Around three p.m. he finally found the nerve to approach me. I stood waist deep in the lake running my fingers atop the water giggling with each smooth, charming word he let spill from his eighteen-year-old lips.
My mind was a flutter; I couldn't believe this boy found me attractive, nor could I believe he had picked me out of every other girl at the beach that day.
It didn't take long for him to convince me to ask my grandma if he could walk me home.
My grandma lived in a small lakeside community and the beach we frequented was mainly used by locals like us, so there wasn't any concern for my safety. Everyone knew who we were.
An incantation seemed to seep from his pores as he explained to my grandma where he lived and that it was only three doors down from her house. He went on to emphasize we would quickly stop at his house, check in with his dad, and he would have me home directly after.
She agreed and off we went.
As we walked along the path towards his house it didn't take long for him to grasp my hand. I could feel his heart beat through it as it held mine tight. Overwhelmed with compliments he was eloquently and purposefully placing in my head, my 13-year-old brain flooded with euphoria.
It wasn't until the two of us walked toward the gate of his driveway that I started to feel uneasy.
I ignored it, unsure if it was fear or the utter ignorance of my young mind. But with every compliment and flirtatious glance, I started to notice I was disregarding my gut feelings in order to impress him.
I hadn't ever kissed a boy before, and I surely didn't want him to see my glaring inexperience.
As he escorted me through the house toward his bedroom, the smell of stale cigarettes and alcohol made me nervous. He noticed my trepidation as I pulled my hand back toward my body. Looking down at me he smiled and clutched my hand tighter, forcefully.
The air seemed to thicken as he opened his bedroom door. My heart started to pound in my chest. Something inside me was telling me to go. Again, I ignored it.
As we entered his room, it felt as though my heart stopped. When the door slammed closed behind me, every hair on my body stood at attention. I was apprehensive, but too unsure of myself to know what any of these feelings meant.
Within seconds the mood changed. I felt a wave of unease come over my entire body.
My subconscious was telling me to get the hell out of there, but I stayed. Terrified, yet not confident enough to run.
Without notice I found myself on the bed, and him on top of me. I could taste the alcohol on his lips and the weight of his frame on mine. He kissed me hard, Fumbling, I kissed him back, the entire time wondering if this is what I was supposed to do.
I could feel his facial hair scratching my face as he kissed me, hard, so hard.
I wanted to stop him, but I didn’t want him to think I was immature. I didn’t want him not to like me.
Suddenly, his eyes changed. No longer the cute boy from the beach, he became an opponent. I felt the shift in power. I was no longer a want, but a need — a conquest.
Instinctively, I found myself placating his every move, desperately hoping the result would not be what I was feeling in my heart.
Somehow, my psyche knew what was about to play out.
Aggressively, he pulled at my clothing, and with each tug I muttered in his ear — to stop, that I was uncomfortable, that I was a virgin.
His eyes greeted mine with ridicule and words slipped off his tongue which I will never forget.
"I promise I won't hurt you. You are going to be okay."
Instantly I felt him turn into a hunter, and I became his prey. With one hand on my throat and the other tearing away my clothes, I quickly realized his strength outweighed mine. His knee swept my thighs apart while his grip tightened around my neck, barely able to keep my breath I begged him not to do this, that I wouldn't tell anyone. He didn't stop.
Within moments, he began to rape me. My subdued squeals meant nothing to him, maybe even encouraged him.
It felt like he didn’t even know I was there. I started to wonder if maybe I could get him to recognize he was raping a person — me — maybe he would stop. So I began to talk to him, to tell him it was okay, that he didn't have to do this. But he continued.
Eventually, after what seemed like hours, I turned my head to the side and focused on a poster on his wall of Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull.
I went in and out of moments of clear thoughts. "How the hell am I going to survive this?," moments. "Is he going to kill me?," moments.
Finally, I removed my mind from the situation. Watching from above as he raped me over and over again, I left my body in order to be able to deal with what was happening to me.
Not until the bedroom door flung open and I felt him ripped from on top of me did it stop.
I have never moved so quickly in my life, rushing past a strange man who now had my rapist up against the wall with a hand around his throat. I looked back once as I heard a crack, his face hitting the floor.
Later I learned that man — who I credit with saving my life — was his dad.
It would take me years of experience to realize from the moment I met my rapist he had picked me from the crowd. He was the hunter, and I was his mark. He chose me because he could see my inexperience, which gave him the chance to use my insecurities against me.
If I had only listened to my gut feelings, I might have been able to save myself from ever having to write this story.
I'm grateful to have learned to listen to my gut. I believe it has saved me from many more catastrophes.
Hopefully I will be able to teach my daughter to do the same.