By Emilie Zoey Baker. This piece is part of our September focus on Women’s Rights. See all of this month’s articles here.
We were told it was a party,
that there’d be heaps of people there. We were stoked ’cause they said the whole team was putting it on.
Me and Michelle follow Carlton.
We went with Brett and Joe. We’d seen them at the beach that day. Michelle thought Brett was pretty cute,
I kinda liked Joe. He had a sandy smile and a freckled nose.
They weren’t from town, you could tell.
At the pub that night they said that there was a party back at the house.
We were playing pool and it was pretty dead
for a Saturday.
Michelle said, Great. I gave her a look,
The boys had rented a house on the beach, just near my dad’s old place. I knew it, one of those massive family places where different towels always hung from the balcony.
With a new packet of cigarettes and a six pack each of cider, we went through the glass sliding doors into the lounge room.
There were about sixteen boys sitting round watching ’70s porn, laughing at the
Girls don’t look like that anymore.
Me and Michelle had spent ages getting ready for the pub that night.
We were kinda hoping the boys would be there.
I dyed my hair fresh, Michelle got a wax.
Girls don’t look like that anymore.
It took ages to decide what to wear, Michelle turns up the song
Let’s get this party star-ar-ar-ted.
We didn’t expect to end up at a party.
The boys whistled when we arrived.
The one with facial hair said, Snout to tail, not one bit of fail.
Michelle asked, Where’s the rest of the party?
Brett said, This is it.
We sat down and lit cigarettes. I could feel the couch under my legs,
rough, sandy and rented.
I touched Michelle’s hand with my little finger.
They didn’t turn off the movie – it was pretty hilarious, she’d be someone’s gran by now.
Michelle said, You got any music?
Maybe upstairs, said Brett.
Most of the crew got up and a few went into the kitchen, which was full of stubbies and pizza boxes. They took us on a tour of the house. There was hair in the bathroom
Gary shaved his ‘fro, Joe said.
The top bedroom had a big bed with a floral bedspread. It looked like something the woman in the movie would sleep on – the pillows were a dirty beige,
like Barbie doll skin.
There was a balcony with a view to the beach and a BBQ with a rusted lid.
Michelle sat on the bed and bounced up and down.
When I turned around
her dress was off, all the boys came into the room,
my hands were held and
dropped to the floor
down near my new pumps.
I’ve started to call heels pumps; it sounds better.
It wasn’t that we screamed or anything, it all happened in silence at first, till they blocked the doors, then we knew
this was happening to us.
This was happening.
Taking it in turns.
The one with facial hair standing on the BBQ with the rusted lid,
watching through the window.
Later that night it was over, like a storm. Michelle and I left through the glass
sliding doors into the wet darkness.
Brett watched us go, Joe watched TV.
I wanted to collapse, to vomit, I was limp with confession but Michelle didn’t want to say anything to anyone. It wasn’t raining inside her eyes. She just looked hard and colourless, like a government building, a bank vault in a movie. The next night she wanted to go out again. Don’t let this ruin the whole holidays, she said. I was sore with disbelief.
Wrapped in a blanket in her kitchen while she did her hair.
I’ll text you if it’s any good, she said.
At the same pub at the same time on the next night they were there playing pool.
I heard two beeps It’s aright, Brett’s here, they didn’t know what they were doing.
And the rain stopped falling for a moment. Anger exploded into my throat like an airbag in a crash. I dialled the number.
The police asked so many questions. They wanted to know what we were wearing.
My top was new. I got it on sale. It had blue sequins in the shape of a bird. Its wings were spread, which made up the neckline. I got my skirt online. It was gold with green beads sewn into the hemline.
Michelle had worn a dress she got for her birthday. We all put in for it. I was there when she first tried it on; it was short and ruffled at the back, and it was blue too. It had gold trim around the neckline, which, when you looked closely, was actually tiny little flowers. We matched.
The house looked different in the paper, with arrows pointing in the windows.
Two girls. Incident. Football team. Shamed.
The BBQ with the rusty lid was in the picture.
It wasn’t raining inside Michelle’s eyes; she didn’t press charges.
There were letters in the paper for days afterwards.
Take it easy.
Emilie Zoey Baker is an award-winning poet and spoken word performer.
This piece was originally published in A View From Here, 19 Perspectives On Feminism; it was subsequently published on Atomic Lady Bomb.