Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Friends and Strangers

Sometimes you think you know people, but then you find out you were terribly wrong. That everything you thought you knew was a lie. When it happens, your whole world is turned upside down, and, since the very friends you counted on are the ones who caused the problem, you have nowhere to turn. 

It was a cold November night when my preconceptions were shattered. All of us, Cheryl, Tracy, Shelly, Melba and me were dressed to the nines and ready to hit the town. We’d been going out every Friday night for years, each woman taking turns picking the spot. That night, Tracy picked The Purple Peacock. The name suggested a fun, colorful experience, but instead brought a nightmare from which none of us fully awoke.

The trouble started when Cheryl hooked up with a man on the dance floor. She threw herself all over him, and nothing we said could stop her. All of us tried to warn her of the dangers in going home with a man you just met, but she was adamant that he was harmless. Turned out, he was far from it. Two hours after she left, Cheryl stumbled back into the club, dress torn, makeup smeared and tears running down her cheeks. We all gathered around her and demanded to know what had happened. When she told us Prince Charming had forced himself on her, I can hardly say I was surprised, but Tracy’s rebuke was uncalled for and cruel. She practically told Cheryl it was her fault she was raped. 

Melba wanted Cheryl to go straight to the police. Cheryl refused, insistent that she was fine and didn’t want to make a big deal out of her stupidity. I thought the stupidest thing was to refuse to go to the authorities and told her so. In hindsight, I realize she was just lashing out from grief and pain, but at the time, Cheryl hurt me beyond words when she slapped me and told me to mind my own damn business, that until I had been raped, I didn’t have any right to tell her anything. I had never seen that side of Cheryl, and didn’t care to witness it again. I’ve stayed out of her business ever since.

Tracy left, disgusted with the whole situation, instead of trying to help Cheryl, she just threw in the towel. Shelly was no help at all because the whole incident brought back memories of her own attack as a teenager. She simply shrunk into herself and said she couldn’t talk about it. Melba left with Tracy when she couldn’t talk Cheryl into going to the police, and, although I was still there, Cheryl didn’t want anything to do with me. In the span of a few hours, our friendships went down the drain.

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