When I’m done, Hoi teaches. And he goes on. And on. He teaches in a Korean accent that’s difficult to make sense of, and by the time Bianca, frowning, begins to teach, most of the class is asleep.
“Why yous look so sad?” she shouts at them and throws her papers on the desk. “Smile, dammit!”
During group work, Michael puts up his hand for me to come help him. I walk to him and lean over his shoulder.
They smell the same.
“Teacher?” I hear Michael call after me but I walk straight out of the room to the bathroom. I know Michael isn’t the rapist. He has fine features. And he can’t speak Afrikaans – he can barely speak English. But they smell the same. I rub soap around my nostrils to get rid of the smell. I breathe. In and out. In and out.
Back in the classroom, everything’s calm. At the end of the class, Michael comes to me: “Teacher, thank you, I now understand everything about preposition. Thanks to you.”
I shake his warm, steady hand and look into his clear eyes, “It’s my pleasure Michael.”
Telling everyone you know that you were raped becomes harder each time. When you are raped, you carry the story inside of you and there isn’t an appropriate time or place or way to announce it. I feel like every single time I told someone I did it wrong. I’ve done it in person, over Facebook, over email, asked someone else to do it for me, asked someone to come over for a serious talk and then did it. Honestly, all the ways of telling people you were raped overwhelmingly suck ass.
The first couple of weeks after the rape I still didn’t want people to know. I Facebooked most people I knew and told them that I was mugged. Then I Facebooked two close friends to tell them that I was raped. One of them, Kelly, told me she would be coming over to visit me one evening after I was finished teaching.
I wake up on the morning of her visit with a headache. By the afternoon, it feels as though someone is punching staples into my scalp and I am constantly heading to the bathroom to dry-heave over the toilet. Physically, I can’t handle knowing that I have to talk to someone and explain what happened again. I feel like my body is rejecting the notion and words jumble around me as my leg jumps and jitters.
When I finally make it home, I climb into the cold sheets and fall asleep.
Before I even open my eyes, I can hear Kelly and Ashley in the kitchen. I lie in my sweat for a while, my body stuck to the bed.
Their footsteps thud towards the couch where I hear cups being put down and big slurps of tea.
I roll around and heave my leg over the bed.
My heart stops.
“That’s so funny friend!”
I touch my arm. Am I really here?
“It was so insane!” Ashley exclaims.
My breath explodes out of my nostrils in short bursts. Every part of me is on fire.
Each laugh is like a stab to my chest. And I lie there, while their laughter boils inside of me, until I am so filled with its bitter taste that I cannot stand it anymore.
I get up and open my door. I storm past them. In the kitchen, I bang around dishes with no purpose other than to make my dissatisfaction known. They come up behind me and Ashley tries to give me a hug.
“Don’t touch me!” I scream.
They stop and look at me in shock. Ashley reaches out to touch me. I shrug her off and take Kelly to my room to talk about what happened. Later I tell them I was upset because I wanted to join them and chat but I couldn’t.
We all know I’m lying.