Hurry up. Kev’s already here.
I read Trevor’s text after hopping in my car which was warm from the late summer Texas sun. My uniform itched the back of my neck, and I couldn’t wait to get home to change. I grinned at my phone and sent back a text saying that I just got out of work and would be on the way soon.
Nearly four hours later, I pulled my car up to the squat house on the outskirts of Dallas where I was meeting up with some Army friends for a night of video games. I texted Here to Trevor and hadn’t even closed the door to my car when the house opened up.
Miley, Trevor’s wife, pulled me into a hug as I approached. She was slightly shorter and thinner than me, with freckles for days. We’d met and become fast friends at a gaming convention several months prior. Trevor and I had known each other since high school, when he joined the National Guard and I joined the Navy. Our mutual friend Kevin was in the Army. All three of us were stationed in varying parts of Texas and had decided to spend the weekend hanging out.
Trevor wrapped one arm around my shoulder in a half-hug when I entered before he resumed his battle against Kevin on Halo 3. Kevin barely managed to say, “hi” as Trevor gunned down his Spartan.
“Where’s Josh?” I asked.
“Couldn’t make it,” Kevin said, pouting as the results of the match popped up on the screen. “He couldn’t get the pass.”
I tried to hide my disappointment.
“Took you long enough to get here,” Trevor teased. He handed me an open Four Loko. “Time to play catch-up,” he said with a grin.
The can was huge. I was no stranger to drinking and had actually had drinks with Trevor a few different times before over the few years I’d known him, but I’d never had Four Loko. He encouraged me to down it, and I did. We turned to the Xbox. Miley wasn’t much of a gamer, but she enjoyed watching as Trevor and I took turns decimating Kevin.
In what felt like a short time, Kevin passed out on the couch, and I was getting close to sleep too. “One more drink,” Miley said and handed me another.
A wave of nausea hit me, and I tried to stand. “Come on,” Miley soothed, and I thought she was going to take me to the bathroom. Instead she helped me onto the bed, and she lay down next to me. I heard the door close and looked up to see Trevor in the shadows.
I woke up, and it was still dark. My shirt was askew, my pants on the floor. I’d felt this way before. The nagging feeling that something was just wrong. It was how I’d felt when I woke up in the middle of the night to my ex assaulting me. The sick feeling rose up and I rolled off the bed, landing on the floor on my hands and knees and vomited. I found my pants, put them on and started trying to clean up the vomit despite still feeling sick and woozy.
It took almost 10 years to come to terms with what happened that night. I spent years trying to convince myself that it wasn’t a big deal, that what I thought happened was exaggerated, that when Trevor talked to me about what happened, my stomach wasn’t twisting in disgust and horror. I liked Miley, so that meant it was okay, right? Trevor and I had dated years prior, so it wasn’t an issue, right?
What happened between the door closing and me vomiting pink all over the floor has come to me in tiny bits over the years. But a couple of years after the fact, Trevor brought up part that I could have sworn never happened, and that made me second guess everything I thought I knew about that night. I know the military won’t listen. Hell, it took years for me to even truly acknowledge it to myself.
What if Josh had been able to go? What if I had passed on the drinks? What if I had just stayed home? What if, what if, what if. What if they hadn’t done it? What if it had just been a fun night hanging out with friends, like we’d had before?
**Names have been changed, but the events are as true as I can recall.