Night Sweats

Today we're featuring a story all the way from the east coast (the beast coast) by Sarah Montello! 

 Content Warning: This piece contains a description of sexual assault. 

Night Sweats

Sarah Montello

She leans against the sliding glass door, the twinkling lights glinting off the fresh ice cubes floating in the top of her glass. Something sickly sweet to sip, masking alcohol and masking the stress of the days and nights. She adjusts her skirt, smiles, laughs, flips her hair. 

The wooden planks of the deck are still darkened by this morning’s rain water, and the moon above gives so little lights that faces are made out by tiki torches and phone screens lighting up like fireflies. Just a smattering of twenty-somethings in various stages of undoing, speaking too loudly, and with too much conviction, on topics they know too little about. 

She pauses a beat, sits down her still mostly full cup on a plastic folding table, and blinks twice as the candles floating in mason jars start to blur a little bit. She smiles at the host, a dark-haired beauty draped across the side of a lounge chair, and heads inside. She makes it up the carpeted stairs, and closes the bedroom door behind her.

It seems like the bed takes up the whole room, and the deflated pillows are more and more inviting as her headache pounds against her temples. She closes her eyes, pulling her knees in to her chest. She breathes in deep. A minute, or an hour, passes.

The door opens, letting a sliver of light into the otherwise dark room. She turns over a bit and sees him come in and clicks the door closed behind him. One of the boys from the party, tall, with slicked down blonde hair, cut long on top, and chunky square frames dominating his face. 

He lays down on his back and smiles at her, a slow and sweet grin that urges her closer. And she goes, she moves on top of him, straddling her legs around his waist and leans down to kiss him. He kisses her back, hard, his teeth clanking against hers, his hands running down her sides. She pulls back a little, and he begins to thrust his hips up at her, his belt buckle cold and hard against the inside of her thighs. 

Aggressive. His hands hold her hips down on him. The lacy edges of her skirt pull tight around her legs as she tenses under his touch. Not right. Not beautiful. Not romantic.

She goes to get off of him, scooting off to the side of him, her butt hitting the mattress and leaning her torso back into her elbows. She goes to disentangle her legs but he catches them, his hands digging into the unnamed back of her knees and holding on. 

She tries to meet his eyes, but they focus in on her tank top where the straps have fallen. He twists her legs and yanks her down, her elbows giving out from under her, her shoulder blades crashing onto the mattress. Her lips begin to tremble, her heart pounds in her chest. Not good. Not good. 

She tries to scramble away, back, back, pulling on the sheets, but he’s not letting go. The side of her head grazes the wall, her sharp earring back pushing into the side of her neck, and she realizes there’s nowhere for her to go.

He smiles, but not the sly sweet smile that gets a girl to kiss him. His face contorts into the insidious smirk of a man who sees something he wants. He hands travel up her thighs as he moves himself between them, on his knees, and squeezes along her legs, his fingers contracting around her toned muscles too tight to be playful. She lets out a small yelp of pain, and tries to turn away, squirming her upper body toward the wall.

He laughs, just a small chuckle, one she isn’t even sure she hears over the panicked thump of her heartbeat in her ears. His hands are traveling farther up now. She needs help. 

Her hands go from gripping the sheets to pounding against the wall. She needs someone to hear her. She tries to scream for help, but the words get caught, like she’s lost her voice, and it comes out muted. “Help,” she forces out of her throat, her windpipe is on fire. “Help.”

Her fists hit the wall over and over. There’s a whole party of people in the backyard. Could they hear her? His hands claw at her underwear, and she wriggles her hips in an attempt to make their removal more difficult, to try to buy time. Not good.

Finally, she feels it coming up into her mouth, and she lets out a scream.

———

A girl shoots up from her bed. Hair matted down with sweat, breathing hard, legs tangled in a thick down comforter. Light filtering in from the shades she forgot to pull before bed. She grabs her phone from underneath her drenched pillow and clicks it to display the time. 5:56 am. September 19th. Just a nightmare. 

Tears rolling down her cheeks, she replays it in her mind. Not good. 

***

About the Author

Sarah Montello holds a BA in English from St. Thomas Aquinas College and a Master's Degree from Duke University. She is currently teaching high school English and constantly encourages her students to read for pleasure and to write, write, write! Her artistic endeavors include slam poetry, micro fiction, and short stories. While this short piece is not entirely auto-biographical, the artist wants to remind readers that it is real. These characters are your neighbor's daughter, your best friend's little brother, your barista, the captain of the baseball team, and 4/5 women on every college campus. It's happening to someone right now. Listen to the reminders posted on the blue line platforms, and if you see something, say something.