by Ishani Dash

“Hey, you don’t look so good. Do you want to come over for some lemonade? Tylenol?” I asked him. We had met at the restaurant an hour ago. Our first date. I had found him on the dating app my friends at college had persuaded me endlessly to download and “get out there.” I secretly made a note to thank them.

He seemed like a good guy. In fact, I felt this was really going somewhere, when halfway through his butter garlic steak, he told me he felt sick and asked for the check. Although he was the one feeling ill, he insisted he dropped me home first. A gentleman.

“Yeah,” he nodded in response to my question. A faint smile spread across his perfectly handsome face. I felt a tingle inside me. “I would like some lemonade… yeah.”

I brought him upstairs to my apartment, mentally calculating how long I should have him in before politely asking him to leave.

My roommates would be back in a couple of hours, or so. A lemonade would take, what, all of five minutes to make, and a little more to finish. We could talk then, maybe, if he felt better.

Once we were inside, he took off his jacket and examined my hall. I could see the butt of his handgun inside his jacket. Then he gently removed his watch. “Pretty flowers,” he said. “Pretty… everything.”

“Thanks,” I tucked my hair behind my ears. “Umm, do you like your lemonade sweet or tart, or both?”

He walked towards me, so close that I could feel his breath on my face. He ran a finger down the small of my back and said, “Fuck lemonade,” and kissed me hard. I felt his body close in on me, pushing me against the wall. I wondered if I had given him some sort of signal. Did lemonade mean something else? Did he think I wanted this? Should I ask him to stop –

“You have no idea how beautiful you are, do you?” He said, his fingers unzipping my jeans.

“I, umm,” I couldn’t breathe. What was happening? Wasn’t he unwell? “Umm, I thought you wanted…” Before I could finish my sentence, he kissed me again, his beard chaffing my chin. I felt his fingers down there, inside my underwear, pushing in hard and deep. It hurt. I had never been touched down there by a man before. By anyone. Was it supposed to hurt this much? I wanted to tell him to stop, but his tongue was deep inside my throat, moving around wildly like a deer in a forest, chased by a starving predator.

When he finally stopped kissing me, I managed a whisper, “This… this was great, but umm, I didn’t know this was going to happen. Uh, I don’t think….” Again, before I could finish, he put two of his fingers inside my mouth and said, “Taste yourself. Yes, I want you wet. Make yourself wet.” Was that what people did? Tasted… themselves? With horror, I realized that he had pulled down his pants with his other hand and was looking at me hungrily.

I tried to say no, but no words came out of my mouth. I stood, paralyzed, breathing like a maniac, as he maneuvered me around, and without warning, put his –

“Yes, just like that,” he said. Oh God, why couldn’t I speak? What was wrong with me? My breathing became faster, I was probably in the middle of a panic attack. “Stop pushing me away! Stop… resisting. You know you want me – I can feel it.” And that’s when I noticed that all this time, my hands were on his torso, trying to push him off me. But he was too strong. He didn’t budge an inch. He went deeper inside, and I felt a kind of pain I had never thought existed. I gave in.

Afterwards, he put on his clothes, kissed me on my forehead, and left, promising to call. He never called. I didn’t expect him to. I deleted the app. I had never saved his number. Why would I? It was only the one date.

I bled for two days and couldn’t walk for a week.

It took me three months and multiple pain management pills until I could finally fall sleep. For someone who slept soundly eight hours a night, insomnia affected me worse than I thought it would. I would lie awake, dreading someone would come inside my apartment and attack me down there with a knife. Was that how penetrative sex felt? Like, someone stabbing you with a knife over and over again? My gynecologist – whose appointment I could get only after groveling to the health clinic front desk for several weeks – assured me repeatedly it did not. But how could I believe someone who wasn’t there inside my body when it happened?

My phone beeped. Speak of the devil.

I opened the email from my gynecologist. My results were out. I was pregnant. My phone beeped again. Roe v Wade had been overturned. Abortion was now illegal in my state.

But my date was free.

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