You’ve always worried this might happen to you.
At seven years old, up past your usual bedtime to watch Beverly Hills 90210 with your mom, you watched, peeking through the gaps of your bony fingers, it happen to Kelly Taylor. She begged and pleaded with her rapist, a shadowy figure in black who trapped, beat, and forced himself upon her in a dark alley. Your heart pounded faster than it did during the mile run in P.E. You wanted to cry. You felt so nauseous you almost lost mom’s goulash all over her clean sheets.
You didn’t sleep at all that night.
You watched it happen again one Sunday morning a couple years later. It was a made for TV movie on TBS. A man gets a call—his wife is in the emergency room with a broken arm after being gang raped in an abandoned metropolitan warehouse. He rushes to the ER, thankful, at least, that she is alive. When he arrives, though, she has died. The injury to her arm had severed some important artery.
What. The. Fuck.
And then, again, you watched it happen to Tiffani Amber Thiessen—a familiar face from your 90210 days—in your grandmother’s entertainment room as she prepared dinner downstairs. She knew her rapist: her boyfriends creepy, over-eager friend. Her little sister listened to it happening in the next room.
And now, here you are, and it has happened to you. And you, like Tiffani, know your rapist.
He is your cousin. Not by blood, but by marriage. You’re twenty-one, now, but you’ve known him nearly all your life. You’ve eaten Thanksgiving dinner at the same table with him. You’ve hunted Easter eggs in your grandma’s backyard together. You have bought him knick knacks from the dollar store to present him with on Christmas mornings throughout the years at your parent’s insistence. When you read the first three Harry Potter books in sixth grade, you borrowed them from him, his last name spelled out in permanent marker across their spines.
I’ll spare you the details, because you already know them, but he did it with a glass of water and some pills. And he’d probably done it before. And since you waited too long to tell anybody, and because you’ve still never pressed any charges, he’ll probably do it again. And those will, partly, be your fault.
You’ve had lots of time, almost two years now, to consider the best way to proceed. At first, you wanted to ignore it because it happened at such a bad time and it wasn’t violent, really. Not like all those rapes you’ve watched on TV. School was starting. You had work. Really, if he could have raped you a year earlier it would have been so much more convenient. You should have had his people get in touch with your people.
Later you tried to use it as a lesson for the rest of your life. It was good, you thought, that it had happened this way. Now, it could not happen again, because you would not be so easily tricked. He pranked you, and pretty good, but all in all, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. At least you wouldn’t get raped and murdered by some lunatic in the bathroom of some dive bar years down the road.
But then, at some point, it made you sad to look at it this way. It broke your heart to remember who you were before your cousin drugged you up and shoved his cock inside you from all those different angles. It made you feel like an animal. What a bummer that realization has been.
And now? Now you can’t even visit your grandparents without being sent into a tailspin. You spent a whole month after Christmas trying to figure out why normal tasks seemed so daunting, why you were distracted and distant during normal, consensual sex.
Now, you have anxiety. About everything.
Now, when you walk the mile from school back to where your car is parked, you usually think about this, about your cousin.
You consider how, when you finally have the time, you’ll get him back.
Somehow, you could get your hands on a vial of LSD. You could give him a taste of his own medicine, but do him one better. Pour that entire vial in that same plastic cup he used on you and send him on the trip of his life. Once he really got into the swing of it, you could lock him in a basement somewhere and play Rebecca Black’s “Friday” on a loop until he was finally compelled to end it all himself. You’d leave one of your grandpa’s pistols in the basement with him because you are a merciful god.
You’ve imagined doing it with the corkscrew tool on the wine key you use to open expensive bottles of Pinot Noir for people who can’t afford it any more than you can slinging spaghetti at your shitty waitressing job. You’d stick it in that tender part of his neck, straight through that thin slice of skin that shields his throat, and twist, twist, twist.
You’ve seriously considered this.
You could round up all your guy friends—some have already offered—and road trip it back up to the scene of the crime. You’d all push him around a bit, humiliating him to your heart’s content. And then, at some point, things would take a serious turn and you’d just totally lose your shit on him. Your buddies would hold him down, tie him up. You’d walk up to him slowly, savoring each step, and cut off his cock with his own pair of kitchen shears.
You want his mother to be the one to find him this way. Later that afternoon, or days later, you don’t care when. You want her to walk in, a tray of brownies made with love especially for her precious baby boy held tight against her chest. You want her to call out for him, voice light and sunny. You want that tray of brownies to smash against the floor as her blood-curdling scream fills his house, his street, that entire fucking town of Redding, California. Because she raised him, and he raped you, and this is what she deserves for that.
Maybe this makes you as sick as he is, but you don’t give a single fuck, because in the name of self-respect, you are willing to do anything. And it’s not like you haven’t considered this.
You’ve seriously considered a lot of things.
Samantha Lamph is a writer and cat masseuse living in Los Angeles. Her work has been published in Queen Mob’s Tea House, Connotation Press, Inlandia, Vanilla Sex Magazine, and Mosaic. She is the creator and co-editor of Memoir Mixtapes, a music-themed literary magazine that merges our love for literature and music.