They came for her in the dark.

Twenty-one year old Marie LaSalle had stayed late at her friend’s dorm room, drinking wine coolers and doing Jell-O shots till the room began to swim and Marie decided it was time to head back to her own dorm. She’d been so focused on finding her way through the maze of half-naked bodies that she failed to notice the four young men gather their coats and follow her outside. They were college seniors but from another school; a friend of a friend of a friend, that sort of thing.

It had all happened so fast.

One minute she was walking along the dorm perimeter, trying to steer clear of the newly planted grass alongside the building; the next she was grabbed from behind, a rough, calloused hand clamped tight to her mouth, a scream locked in her throat.

Hot breath against her cheek. A male voice. Insistent.

“Don’t scream and you won’t get hurt.”

Her head swam as she was hustled underneath a low bridge that joined the two closest dorm rooms.

They forced her onto her back. Hands tugged at her shoes, pants, and shirt. Someone pulled the socks off her feet and stuffed one of them in her mouth.

She lay on her back and stared up at the night sky; the moon was still low but bright. Their shadows flickered across her face as one by one they took their turns with her, fierce grunts escaping small, ugly mouths. She turned her head sideways. Someone’s saliva dripped down, moistening her cheek.

The men (not men, animals, she would have to remind herself much later, if there was a later), pounded her into the hard ground, forcing themselves into her, ripping her apart with each thrust, driving a wedge between her body and soul.

They paused and for a moment she thought it was over…until they forced her onto her stomach, pushed her face into the dirt and she experienced a pain and degradation she didn’t think was possible.

She lost track of time and went away for a while, to the safety of  memories.

But she had to come back.

When they were done they pushed her aside and walked away, laughing.

She lay on the ground and began to shake. She wanted to cry out but she was too afraid they might hear her and return. So she lay there, silent, her self-worth destroyed, her sense of being ruptured.

It had all happened so fast.

 

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