This time it was France. He had a politician’s haircut with a Venezuelan accent. I always remembered them by the condition of their creamy cardstock nametags. I was more attracted to them if they kept them crisp and pristine in their folders. I opened the note with no surprise. The phrase, “Meet me at the water cooler during caucus break,” didn’t even jolt my nerves. I was so used to meeting flirty private school boys at these types of things that there was a rhythm to what I did. It was bedroom eyes across a crowded ballroom. Suggestive notes with meeting places scattered throughout a Hilton hotel. It was a game of hide-and-seek and finding these boys; giving myself to them did nothing for me. I didn’t know the girl whose body would heave up and down underneath a boy wearing a sports blazer that he didn’t buy. I had a problem. It lurked in coat closets, stairwells, and dark alcoves. I let boys who didn’t know how old I was nibble on my ear and whisper things Model UN delegates shouldn’t know about. There was nothing more shameful than torn stockings and lost earrings. France took something from me last night. South Africa kissed my neck. England and Russia both had their hands on my thigh. I didn’t know where home was anymore.
The intervention came when a counselor called me out of class one day and asked if I could talk to her in her office. I presumed my club advisor, Mrs. D’Alessandro, had informed her of my behavior at these conferences. She saw me come out of elevators. She saw the shame that hid under the blouse whose buttons were in the wrong holes. She looked into my eyes like she wanted to hold them. The counselor then proceeded to extract some background information from me. I told her my parents had jobs that made them tired. She got out that I had an uncle. I focused on the small cactus plant on her windowsill. I told her what happened when I was seven. The thorns were so sharp, sharper then I could ever get my Ticonderoga pencils. From my periphery I saw the counselor blot her eyes with a tissue. I picked out the splinters in my heart and gave them to her. She proceeded to pop a balloon and the word “molestation” hissed out. I left her office with a lighter soul, less pain in my backpack. At the next conference, I folded the notes passed to me into tiny booklets.
Angelica Recierdo is a nursing/English student at Northeastern University. Besides writing, she enjoys life-affirming quotes and films, culture that transcends borders, and public health initiatives.
© 2014, Angelica Recierdo