I shut my eyes tight. So tightly as I wrung a tear from the pits of my angst.
“Fuck.” I whispered, pressing my face into the inactive steering wheel of my 2002 gold Pontiac Grand Am. I had no idea where I went so wrong.
I looked down once more at the white, pressed sheet of paper in my lap. Like a death certificate, like some political statement, summing up all that you were.
Name, birth date, insurance company, card holder, doctor, date, diagnosis, perscription.
Jascie R. Epinn, United Healthcare, Dana L. Epinn, Dr. Jane Hall, June 13th 2012, Venereal Disease, Valacyclovir – Valtrex with supplement of Ceftriaxone – Rocephin.
I sniffled. Death felt not only guaranteed but imminent. Oh, so it’s not the end of the world. I just have a sexually transmitted disease. I only finished high school three days ago. In that amount of time I’d managed to acquire VD? You always say to yourself, ’I’m not the dumb one. I’ll never get an STD – that’s for whores.’
But me? I’m not a whore. I’m a regular 17 year old girl. I’m not promiscuous. I’m just like everyone else… like everyone else.
I pulled my head away, eyes now irritated and puffy. Tears swam gently and silently over the steering wheel as my heartbeat reeled effortlessly. I sighed, wiping my eyes as I became incredibly aware that I was at a clinic – not just a clinic, mind you, but the parking lot of a clinic.
Thoughts swam in my head endlessly; the clinic, the cracked concrete, the door, the woman at the front desk – Amy, the wait, the charts, the green little boy who wouldn’t stop fussing on his mother’s lap, the eye contact, Dr. Hall, the copay, the paper, printed, holes, glance down, short conversation, sympathetic voices, judging eyes, and they send you away. The send you away and expect you to live just like this. With this powerful taste of hatred in your mouth.
I turned the car on, the engine hummed gently. This wasn’t the same car. The girl in the mirror wasn’t the same JC. My clothes weren’t trendy, my hair wasn’t cute, my quips were not clever. They were all the devices of a 17 year old tragedy, a statistic. Me.
I began to drive, drive and drive with these same thoughts rolling over in my mind. How would I escape this? With drugs, alcohol? No. The JC who liked to party was gone. She got VD. She’d been violated, ruined, used.
I rolled around to the Walgreen’s just a few miles from my house. I put in my prescription and the lifeless drone of a drive thru clerk read it back to me with the uttermost insincerity. I nodded, thinking almost immediately that she recognized me as a worthless slut before realizing that she had absolutely no idea what the antibiotics and antiviral meds were for. She was ignorant… pure. Just as I was.
I got home. To old JC’s home. Where the old JC’s brother, Dana would surely be stewing in the summer heat. The old JC’s seven dogs ran around playfully inside, waiting for the old JC to come home. She never would.
Before even opening the car door, I placed my head where it belonged, resting on the steering wheel once more. My phone in my palms, my eyes grazed over the touch screen, my recent contacts. Jamie Karen, my best friend. I pressed the call button mindlessly, I didn’t need a mind to do so. After it rang three times, I was sure she was busy, too busy for the likes of me and would certainly never pick up. I just knew if she didn’t, my heart would drop into a deeper pit of despair. But she picked up. She picked up with the same nasally ‘hello’ I’d grown to love so dearly.
“Hi.” I smiled, sniffling despite the fact that my life was going down the toilet.
“Hey, girl. What’s up?” Jamie responded like any friend would, slightly halfheartedly, expecting some invitation to go to the mall or swimming, not particularly concerned with my day or mood.
“I just need someone to talk to right now.” I said through a clogged nose and gritted teeth, held tightly together with disappointment and thick saliva.
“What is it?” She asked gravely as she heard my tone.
I inhaled. The inhale that was followed by some words you wish you never knew and never had to say. The words that rip the bandage off, bite the bullet, and make the diagnosis real. “I have VD.”
She gasped gently. “What? Are you shitting me? No way.”
It bit. It bit me all over. She didn’t believe me initially. I wanted it to be a joke. I wanted it to be impossible but it wasn’t. It was possible and it was real.
“Yeah. I just got back from the hospital.” I swallowed. “I don’t know how I got it.”
“Oh my God.” Jamie was silent for a moment, entertaining the same thoughts as I did. “Well… have you had-”
“I’ve only had sex with Ryan. I never cheated on him.” I said before she could even ask. “He must have… he must have cheated on me. That’s the only way.”
“I’m so sorry, JC. Do you want me to come over?” Her voice rumbled gently over the line and I felt her dear sympathy. Sadly, sympathy was nothing at that time.
“No.” I sniffled again. “You don’t have to. I’m okay.”
“JC, don’t shit me. I’m coming over.” She huffed.
I sighed, halfway smiled, there was Jamie Karen’s bullheaded attitude again. “No, Jamie. Stay home. You can come over tomorrow. Please, I just need to be alone.”
“Fine. You do have something right? Like, you have something to make it go away.” Jamie pondered.
“Yeah.” I nodded, feeling some sort of relief at the thought. I didn’t have this abomination forever. It was curable. I would be okay… maybe. “I’m getting it in about an hour. I just want this whole thing to be over.” I spoke calmly, drying my tears as I heard the hum – no, roar of a pick-up coming up behind where I was parked in the two-car driveway.
It was the roar I knew all too well. The powerful groan of my boyfriend, Ryan’s Dodge pick-up. The same fucker who gave me VD. I watched him through the mirror as Jamie jabbered on meaninglessly. He was coming here, like it was business or something. Like this was his home away from skanks.
“Jamie, Ryan just pulled up.” I managed to jab in quickly to imply how urgent it was for me to hang up.
“Ooh.” She snickered. “Lemme know how that goes.”
“I will.” I said with a sneer just as I hung up, devoid of any formal goodbye. This was hardly the time for politeness. I pulled myself out of the car and made a b-line for the door. Just so I could get in the house before he could. I sped around the house in search of my brother, I didn’t want him to know what was going on just yet. He’d have a heart attack, followed by a fist-punching-pounding attack.
He was fast asleep in his room, I shut the door. I sat down in the living room, just waiting for Ryan to waltz right in without a care in the world.
And he did. He walked right in, looked around the house for a moment, found me and smiled slyly. “Hey, girlfriend.” He grinned cleverly. “So whatup with just runnin’ in the house and not giving me a hug, a kiss, maybe a handshake.”
He was acting so normal. So normal like he’d done nothing. Like this was a true, honest, and loving relationship. “Ryan, please.” I said, holding my head in my palms. His banter stung. It was lies, all lies and he told them so well. And I believed them.
“What?” He asked nonchalantly, throwing his keys on the coffee table and taking a granting stretch.
“You’re such a bastard.” I said under my breath. I would have said it louder but my spirit was completely battered and broken from all the deceit.
He froze immediately and defrosted not but half a second later. He replaced his anxiety with cautious contempt. “Whoa, what’s eating your ass?” He frowned.
“Oh yeah, motherfucker. You play the same game all the time, don’t you?” I sneered.
“Baby, what’s wrong?” He came close to me with open arms, feigning some simple ignorance.
“I know, Ryan! I know. Stop lying. I already know!” I shouted, jumping up from my seat. I watched his eyes deliciously and delightfully as they froze on my forehead then grazed over my face to take in my red face, watery eyes, clenched teeth. He knew. Oh yeah, he knew exactly what I knew. “I don’t want to see your face again.”
“JC, what the hell are you talking about?” He coughed.
“You cheated on me! Don’t pretend anymore. It’s just insulting.” I shook my head as rage boiled in my stomach. “How… how could you lie to me? How could you do that?”
“Jascie.” He paused, pretending to be disgusted by the fact I guess. “I never cheated on you. Are you drunk?”
Oh there it was. Just the icing on the cake.
“Fuck you!” I spat in disgust. “Go to hell.” I snorted. “I know, Ryan. I know for a fact. I went to the doctor, I got the tests.”
“If you got something it wasn’t from me!” He yelled. “Who the hell were you fucking to get an STD?”
“Who the hell were you fucking to get VD?!” I stomped and shouted until my voice broke and my sanity cracked right down the middle. “Fuck you, Ryan! I have VD and I only fucked you. I fucked you for the past two years! I know I got it from you.”
“How do you know?” He shouted in return, offering me the same disrespect that he’d treated me with for years. “How do you know it was me? Do you have some proof, huh? How the fuck do you know you got it from me?”
“Because I don’t go around fucking random sluts! Especially not when I have a girlfriend! And it’s not fucking fair, Ryan. It’s not fair that I have fucking VD because you can’t keep your dick in your goddamn pants! I didn’t do anything! It’s you! It’s always you!” I cried.
“Listen to me! I never cheated on you! I don’t know where you got it from but it wasn’t from me.” He yelled, his face turning the brightest and most violent shade of red imaginable.
“Fuck you!” I bellowed to the point where I was sure nothing more could come out of my mouth. “We’re done! Ge the fuck out!”
“No! I’m not going anywhere, you can’t kick me out.” He growled, approaching me with the utmost intention to fruitlessly threaten me with his anger although I was sure no physical act would take place as a result of it.
“Get away from me!” He screamed as he came closer to me, close enough to make our noses touch, close enough to make me taste the complete resentment in his soul at the moment.
“I. Never. Cheated. On. You.” He shouted in my face, droplets of his saliva flying into my face as my eyes stayed fixed on his expression, artless and graceless. His face was like an ape, brows furrowed with fury. He was trying to convince me with all the wrong things, in all the wrong ways, for all the wrong reasons because I knew – and I know – that he did this to me. And there was nothing he could – or can – say to make me believe otherwise.
“Dana!” I shouted at the top of my lungs as if Ryan was at the brink of lodging a steak knife into my chest. “Dana! Dana!” I shrieked.
Dana came jogging around the corner, clad in his sweatpants and UNCC t-shirt. Ryan stepped back after seeing my older brother and his best friend in the room whilst he stood viciously in front of his younger sister with flaring nostrils and balled fists.
“What the fuck?” Dana howled, confusion drawn clearly on his face. He analyzed the scene for no more than two seconds and semi-charged towards Ryan. “Get the fuck away from my sister!”
“Make Ryan leave, Dana.” I cried, tears running into pools down my cheeks.
“Calm down!” Ryan called in return, barely stepping a foot away from me.
“I’m gonna steal off on you if you don’t get away from my sister, Bro.” Dana panted seriously.
Ryan simply stared at him.
“Get out. Go.” Dana stood up straight, pointing to the door. Ryan stared just for a single second before picking up his keys and speeding for the door angrily, slamming it so hard I’m sure the entire house shook.
Dana glared at me intently. I knew his exact thoughts. He was angry, confused and tired. Similar things to this happened often, but this was unheard of, it had officially gotten out of hand. “What the hell’s going on, JC?”
I swallowed again, the tears under my eyes drying as I breathed in and forming a thin, bitter crust as if to remind me once again that my worth was a little less.
“JC, I just had an exam. I don’t want to know right now.” He sighed deeply and rubbed his forehead. “I’m going back to bed. Ryan does not come back in this house.” He muttered through a yawn as he ghosted his way back to his room.
And there I was. As it seemed, I had lost a lot in that single hour. My dignity, boyfriend, self-respect, pride. The only thing I’d added was another hundred thousand pounds on my back. The only thing I felt inclined to do was write a song. And I would have done so effortlessly had I not left all of my musical talent and comprehension with the old JC.
I just wondered. I went into my room, donned my pajamas, laid in my bed and wondered. Who was it? Who was the girl I was currently sharing poisonous fluids with? Was she pretty? Young, old? Did she look like me? Was she better? Was she worse?
Because at the moment she defined me. And since she was a faceless, nameless girl who only held the slight and unsure presumed title of homewrecking whore and harlot – I held the same. Essentially, I was her. She was the type of girl who got VD. She was who I traded my fantastic life for. She is who ate the old JC and made quick work of what took years to build.
All those nights of passionate love-making, toes curling, hairs standing, no protection to hold in what Ryan created and hid. It all seemed stupid. The night before… it was passionate. It stood for the truth, for love, for trust. It represented a bond that was absolutely impossible to break and hard to come by.
Yet here I was, defeated. Still linked to that asshole and still broken.
This story is entirely true down to the last detail other than a few names.
I did find out I had VD just three days after high school graduation. When I confronted my boyfriend about it initially he claimed he had nothing to do with it. After a week of denial, he came back and admitted it. Although, I already knew. He never told me who he got it from. Although, he also had it and was given the same meds I had to take.
We didn’t date again for another two months although he begged me nearly every single day to take him back. I did when I felt as though he’d proved himself and we went from there. Despite everything, today I’m engaged to him and couldn’t be happier.
We forgave each other and still forgive each other. But when writing this, I have to admit, I felt great angst and bitterness. I just remembered how I felt, my thoughts and my helplessness in that situation and the way he made me feel – stupid, dishonest, unworthy. And if I could bring this back up and tell him with all my heart the things I wanted to say from that day, I would. But I guess it all comes with letting the past remain in the past.
Although, old wounds don’t heal as easily as it would seem. I try and I struggle to get over the pain. I still hurt. No matter what I say, no matter what he says, I still hurt from the things he said to me, the things he did to me, what he put me through. I still hurt.