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“Lucky”

This year Clarity decided to decorate her dorm room for each occasion in every month. In November she made a cornucopia and hand turkeys out of construction paper. For December she could not buy a Christmas tree, so she used construction paper to cut out a tree large enough to put on the wall and “decorated” it with lavish ornaments and garland. January was full of snowmen and snowflakes. Last month, in February, hearts with love and friendship quotes accented the walls. Now, after a trip to the dollar store, Clarity had enough St. Patrick’s Day themed garlands to wrap around her room twice. As she prepared to fill the room with a deep green sea of clovers, she noticed words imprinted on the small shimmery clover leaves, “lucky.”

She thought back to the previous year when she was spending spring break with her friend, Valerie, who lived only two hours away in a town near Richmond, VA. Clarity’s home was six states away, and she could not afford to make the trip. Clarity was excited to be staying with Valerie. She knew Valerie would be waitressing a couple days out of the week, but figured they could spend time together when her shift was done. Valerie, however, was making other plans.

Valerie was excited to meet this guy whom she’d met a year prior, but never actually took the time to talk to him. A subtle Facebook message from him complimenting her beauty was what got the conversation going. He was an acquaintance of her ex-boyfriend, Dick, who she found out was cheating on her. She decided to end the two year relationship, but still kept herself in the know on his Facebook page. This new guy, Dylan, was a nice distraction for her, as she liked to phrase it. Dylan was a Marine stationed in Maryland, who made the trip out to Richmond to see Valerie. This flattered Valerie very much because any guy willing to drive three hours to see someone must have been worth the time to talk to.

Dylan had been coming over to hang out with Valerie for a couple days, going to the park, watching a movie. It was important for Valerie to make a good impression on Dylan, so Clarity stayed behind at the house and wrote poems and drew pictures, something she enjoyed but had not been able to find the time to do. Valerie even decided to let him spend the night the Friday before going back to college. Dylan built a blanket fort in the downstairs living room for Clarity to sleep in, which she thought was cute, but still would have preferred to sleep in a bed.

The next night was the premier of the first UFC women’s championship tournament with Ronda Rousey, which Valerie was so hyped about going to see at Buffalo Wild Wings since she didn’t have pay-per-view at her house. Clarity would have liked to go also, but Valerie gave the impression that she only wanted Dylan to join her to make it a date. Clarity was slightly annoyed because Valerie had spent more time with Dylan, whom she’d just met, while Clarity sat around the house preoccupying herself. Tonight was the last night of spring break, and Clarity had hoped to do something fun with Valerie, but Valerie had decided to go out without her.

While hanging out in her friend’s room, Clarity got a call from a number she didn’t know. When she answered, she heard Bane’s voice come from the other end. Relieved, Clarity thought there’d be a chance for her to finally go out and do something. Bane was a twenty year old first year transfer student attending Hampden-Sydney College in Farmville. He lived in Lynchburg, but was spending spring break with his friend Trey, who was in a fraternity and attended VCU.

Both Clarity and Bane had recently ended a long-term relationship, though their reasons were very opposite. Bane was in a four year relationship throughout his high school years with a girl whom he found out had cheated on him. Originally thinking it was only with one person, he later discovered it was with around twenty other guys. He was a very loud person and seemed outgoing, but he later admitted he did all those things to hide his insecurities. He never thought he would be worth talking to. Clarity on the other hand, had just turned nineteen and had come out of a strong 2 ½ year relationship with her best friend. She still liked to keep in touch with her ex-boyfriend, but didn’t very often.

Bane had invited her to a St. Patrick’s Day frat party at his friends place. Clarity was wavering whether or not to go, but figured if she went that’d be the only fun thing she’d done all week. It was spring break. Clarity hurriedly got ready, thinking the party was going to start soon and didn’t want to miss any moment of it. She rushed out the front door heading to her car, which was parked in the cul-de-sac. From the door, her friend’s mom, who was having her own girl’s night with some friends, shouted, “Make sure you stay safe!” Clarity waved her hand back as she got in her car and drove off.

 

***

“Oh my God, let me get a look at you,” Bane exclaimed. Clarity faltered slightly at the comment, but turned anyway, returning a “thank you.” Eager to go get the party, Clarity had Bane lead her inside.

To her surprise, Clarity entered a nearly empty house. Confused, she wondered if the party had even started yet, as Bane led her down the hallway from where they entered in the kitchen to a bedroom where a group of guys were playing video games. Becoming slightly restless and frustrated, Clarity asked when the party was going to start. Bane expressed his uncertainty and invited her to walk to the store up the street with him to kill some time. On the short walk to the 7-Eleven, Bane boasted about his amazing ability to walk straight when he had been drinking since noon that day. Though Clarity enjoyed drinking herself, the fact that Bane prided himself in being drunk all day and still functioning lessened her view of him slightly. Upon returning, Clarity figured it would be some time before the party started. She did not know anyone at the house other than Bane. Wanting to calm her nerves, she went ahead and made herself a drink from the variety of liquors and mixers that were laid out on the table in the kitchen while Bane smoked a cigarette outside.

 

It was now closer to 11:00pm and the house was beginning to fill with people, mostly in the kitchen where the drinks and bathroom were. After having had the chance to get a couple of drinks in her system, Clarity was feeling more comfortable being around people she didn’t know. There was music playing in another room down the hall, which Clarity could hear while she was in the kitchen. She began talking to some people at the party and did not even notice Bane had not come to get her after smoking his cigarette.

Loud music and different conversations of people drowned Clarity’s senses, as she didn’t realize she was nearly shouting to be heard over the combination of noises. The more crowded the house became, the more people bumped into Clarity as they came in and out through the back door. She became used to the feeling of being bumped into, she hardly reacted and just continued with the conversation she was having with one of the people at the party. One thing that struck her attention was the touch of a cold can of beer brushing against the back of her legs as someone walked by. She turned her head quickly and noticed Bane gazing back at her as he passed. Not certain of the purpose for the gesture, Clarity went back to her conversation, thinking if it was important Bane would have said something.

It must have been, because not too much later, Clarity felt another cold brush against the back of her legs. Annoyed, Clarity sighed and rolled her eyes, ignoring the multiple attempts for her attention.

“Who’s that,” someone nearby remarked, “Is he your boyfriend?”

“Oh no, he’s just a friend,” Clarity responded. “Well he sure acts like your boyfriend.”

The observation that someone thought Bane was her boyfriend irritated Clarity. It had only been a short month since meeting him, and Bane was so eager to be more than friends that he even gave off the impression that there was something between Clarity and him.

Nearly an hour and two more drinks later, Bane finally spoke to Clarity. “Do you want to go dance,” he suggested.

Feeling she had done enough talking for the night, Clarity decided to go dance. “Sure,” she replied. She finished the rest of her drink before she began to follow.

Bane took her hand and began leading her through the kitchen and down the hallway towards the music. It wasn’t until making it halfway up the stairs that Clarity realized Bane wasn’t leading her to go dance. She nervously pulled her hand away failing to break from his grip.

“I don’t want to go up there,” Clarity told Bane as he turned his head to look at her.

“It’s okay, don’t worry,” Bane responded, still leading her up the stairway.

Tugging her hand away again, Clarity pleaded with slurred words, “Let’s go back downstairs, Bane. Let’s go dance.”

Tugging back harder, “We will go dance later. I want to show you something first. Don’t worry,” Bane insisted.

“Let’s go back downstairs. let’s go dance,” Clarity repeated.

“Come on now. We will go dance later,” Bane chuckled while bringing Clarity into the room. Clarity reluctantly followed, hardly able to keep her stance. Bane led her to the bed. Clarity was tempted to pass out, but fought the urge, worried that Bane would try something.

He turned around to close the door, positioning a chair to lean underneath the doorknob since there was no lock. Clarity’s cell phone began to vibrate; Valerie was calling her. Clarity had texted her, going out, when she had left the house, but neglected to let her know where and with who. It was nearly 1 am; the fight was probably over, and Valerie was wondering where she was. Clarity quickly pulled her phone out of her bra. Before she could answer, Bane headed toward the bed where Clarity was laying on her back, clutched the phone and tossed it to the floor, which had not yet been answered.

“Shh shh shh,” Bane hushed Clarity as she whimpered. “Don’t worry,” Bane spoke calmly. “We’ll get to go dance.” Bane’s hand began climbing up from Clarity’s leg to the top of her thigh, creeping underneath her dress. His fingers were cold from holding the cans of beer.

Clarity pushed his hand away as roughly as she could, not knowing for sure how forceful she was being. “No, I don’t want to,” Clarity told Bane.

Bane’s fingers continued their path, reaching for her soft cotton panties, ignoring her statement. Suddenly a bang came from outside the door. A girl needed to get into the bathroom that was off to the side of the bedroom.

Clarity tried to get to a half seated position. Hoping whoever was outside would come in and cause Bane and her to leave the room. “Let us in! Our friend really needs to use the bathroom,” One of the girls shouted through the door.

Bane got up to a kneeling position unbuckling his belt. He leaned and shouted towards the door, “Sorry! This room is taken.”

Clarity continued to plead with Bane, no longer caring about dancing, but just wanting to go back to her friend’s house. Clarity’s eyes drooped as she felt herself beginning to fall away into a drunken sleep. She strenuously pushed her hands against Banes chest trying to keep him up and away from her. Bane grabbed her hands and moved them to the side. Clarity kept hoping someone would come in. Why doesn’t someone come in? She thought to herself, Bane’s a nice person. He doesn’t mean it. Drunk since noon. Not this, not again. A promise she had made to herself that she would be stronger, able to say No, was what she spent her early high school years trying to accomplish. Now she was saying no, but it wasn’t making any difference. She wondered if she just wasn’t saying it right, or enough times. Or was Bane too drunk to understand that it didn’t even matter if she said it at all?

 

Bane kisses Clarity. She winces and pulls away. An intense crippling pain between her thighs overwhelms Clarity’s senses as she squeezes her eyes shut and wrinkles her face. The paralyzing feeling limits her ability to move, but she manages to push Bane away enough to stop him.

“It’s okay,” Bane says.

Clarity tries to slide out from under him, but Bane repositions himself and starts thrusting himself inside her again. The pain comes back even worse than the first time. Her entire body cringes from the intensity of the pain. Frozen, Clarity holds her breath unable to relax her lungs to breathe. She tries again to push him away, and he stops. She covers her face with her hands realizing her numbed cheeks are soaked with tears. She wipes her face, the tears flowing down and dripping from her hands.

Bane hadn’t noticed her tears until he looked at her. “Are you okay,” he asked, expressing concern.

Clarity could not make sense of this. She thought her message was clear from the beginning. “I want to go home,” was the only thing Clarity could think to say at that moment. Bane lifted himself off of her and extended his hand to help lift her from the bed. Clarity’s legs were trembling from her state of shock. She hesitated and then moved slowly off the bed. She wanted to storm out of the room. Then she remembered she had given Bane her keys at the beginning of the night to hold onto because she had no pockets. They were no use to her anyway; she was too drunk to drive home. She stumbled to the door; Bane followed closely behind.

“My keys,” she requested from Bane. He handed the keys to Clarity. “Tissue,” she requested. Bane walked into the bathroom off of the side of the bedroom. Clarity quickly left the room.

On her way down the stairs, Clarity’s phone rang; it was her friend again. Clarity finally answered. Making her way through the crowd, she tried to be heard over the loud music and shouting.

“Come get me! Pleeaasee, come get me,” she begged Valerie, barely being understood through her sobbing cry and slurred words.

“Clarity? What’s wrong? Are you okay,” Valerie asked concerned.

Making her way through the kitchen, Clarity simply repeated, “Please, come get me.”

She couldn’t drive; she’d have to taxi back into the city tomorrow to get her car. All of a sudden everyone shouted and hollered, “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” in their drunken voices. Green, shimmery confetti was being shot into the air. As it floated back down, one small green clover leaf landed on Clarity’s clammy wet cheek. She picked it off her face and looked at it in her hand. “Lucky.”

***

The next morning, Clarity took a cab into Richmond to get her car. Valerie was spending her last day with Dylan before he went back to Maryland. Stepping out of the taxi, Clarity saw her car still parked on the side of the road across the street from the fraternity house. She quickly got inside her car, wondering if Bane would notice her from his window. She put the key in the ignition and sat back in her seat, with the car not yet started. She placed both of her hands at the top of the steering wheel and let them slide down to the bottom. She did that multiple times while she contemplated. Conflicting emotions caused her to falter. Just go. Say something. Do something. No, just go. She thought to herself. Sweat caused her hands to stick to the steering wheel, interrupting their smooth sliding motion. She lifted her hands from the wheel, trembling. She rubbed them back and forth on her pants. She grabbed the handle, opening the door and stepped out.

One shaky deep breath and large strides quickly brought her to the front door of the fraternity house. A guy she had met at the party answered.

“Is Bane here,” she asked.

“No, he’s out,” the guy replied.

Clarity turned heading back to her car. She felt relief not having to face him in person. She still needed to say something. On her way back to Valerie’s house she called his number, unsure of how to put into words what she was feeling. When he answered there was a momentary silence from her.

“Hey, I wanted to talk you about what happened last night,” Clarity began.

“I know. I’m soo sorry! I would never do something like that.”

“What you did was not okay, and you still did it,” Clarity courageously added.

“I know. I didn’t mean it. We were both drunk. Can’t we just start over and forget about this?”

“I can’t forget about this. I said no and you didn’t listen. You hurt me so much!”

“Come on. I really don’t want this to mess up what we have.”

“I don’t want to talk to you anymore, Bane.”

Bane asked, “Is shit over between us?”

Clarity was confused about the question. He made it sound like a break-up, but Clarity had directly addressed that she wanted to be nothing more than friends getting to know each other. “Yes,” she concluded.

***

            Six months later and into the fall semester of her second year, Clarity tried her best to move past the events from the party. She quickly learned that blocking her emotions were not as easy as she had hoped it to be.

On her way back from class, Clarity noticed a utility vehicle parked near her dorm, a white van with no windows except for the passenger and driver windows. It’s just a utility van. Clarity thought to herself. As she approached her dorm, she noticed the utility man walking from around the back of the building, seemingly heading towards the van. He’s just a utility man, here to fix something. She thought again. Suddenly and uncontrollably, anxiety began to build up within Clarity as the distance between them became less and less. She picked up her pace, so she might be able to make it to the door without crossing paths with him. As she reached the steps of the building, she stumbled for her keys to unlock the door. The man was getting nearer. Clarity’s attempt to remain calm failed as her heart raced, and her aim for the keyhole was as spot on as a drunkard’s trying to get into his car. Clarity finally managed to turn the key and get the door open as the man was turning the corner of the building. She rushed in and turned around to yank the door shut behind her. She looked through the glass of the door to see the utility man continue his path to the van for equipment. Clarity stayed at the door for a brief moment, not focusing her vision on anything in particular. She let out a sigh, unsure if it was relief or disappointment. She turned around and slugged up the stairs back to her room.

***

Though it was hard for her to believe, Clarity was a strong person, and didn’t want her life to be effected by something that happened a year ago. She tried her best to focus on the good things, knowing that the situation could have been a lot worse. She had her friends, who were there for her, knowing what had happened and trying to be understanding. Valerie had the hardest time being sensitive about it. Having nine years of martial arts and two black belts, she thought it would have been so easy to get away. She still cared, but had a hard time showing it. There were even times when Clarity would get startled by someone suddenly running into her from around the corner, or being right outside the dorm when she opened the door to step out. Those things frustrated Valerie and annoyed her to the point that she began to express those feelings more than sympathy and consoling. Clarity didn’t want to be pitied, but it was hard to know that Valerie was more annoyed than anything else about the whole situation. At least she seemed to be.

***

Clarity was finishing up decorating the room for St. Patrick’s Day while Valerie was getting drinks out from the mini fridge and setting them on the table. Music was playing from her laptop. At any minute the rest of Clarity’s friends would arrive.

Clarity was excited for this party and to be in the positive atmosphere with ones whom she cared about and who cared for her. This was a time for her friends to get together in the midst of all the studying and midterms, a St. Patrick’s Day costume party.

A moment later there was a knock at the door; her friends had arrived. Valerie had just finished setting the table with food, as she made her way over to let the girls in.

“Hey! Happy St. Paddy’s Day,” all the girls exclaimed simultaneously.

All the girls were excited to see each other’s costumes. Hilary was dressed as a leprechaun, which was perfect with her reddish hair. Taylor and Lori both made up two halves of a rainbow, which were connected in the middle, so they had to be together for the entire party. Valerie dressed up as a pot of gold, which she made out of a cardboard box and paint. And Clarity dressed as a four leaf clover, with her clover leaves sticking out in all directions, knocking things over as she walked around the room.

Clarity exclaimed, “Okay, is everybody ready?!”

“For what,” the girls replied in unison.

“We are having an Irish dancing contest,” Clarity answered with excitement.

“No we’re not…you go first,” Hilary insisted to Clarity.

“I can’t, I’m recording. Plus, you’re the one dressed as the leprechaun, so you go first,” insisted Clarity.

Valerie selected a variety of Irish dance music for the girls to dance to while Clarity recorded. Hilary proceeded to Irish dance, boasting that she used to win competitions all the time when she was younger. As she was recording, Clarity looked around the room at all of her friends, seeing the great time they all were having, and how happy she was to be surrounded by such wonderful girls. Happy memories and her friends were all Clarity needed to know that nothing was bad enough to keep her down. At this moment, seeing everyone in their silly costumes, and herself in her own goofy costume, Clarity smiled and thought to herself, lucky.

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