With the dark blue night thick in my hair and the taste of the sea’s blood on my legs, I am fourteen year old me.
Walking along sand until I reach the base of a hill, climbing steeply up, straight into thick native bush. I rest where nikau open to a vast blue horizon. My breath is caught, my legs shake. I hear a party humming.
I arrive, surrounded by pooling water and rocks. I tilt my head back. I watch orange and red melt into the sea, crystallizing with only the light of a small bonfire and shy moon. I stay close to my cousin, who calls out to crowded figures across the sand. A rush of confidence and courage makes my legs feel slimmer and my face feel softer. Uncertainty dissolves.
The bonfire is built from driftwood, and we sit beside each other, my cousin and I. My voice is so small compared to hers, but a boy with blue hair begins passing a bottle, and my voice gets bigger. “Its 90% vodka, my uncle and I made it,” he tells us all, as the bottle everyone has chugged reaches my place in the circle. I take big gulps, one after another, aware of pressing eyes. Music plays from a speaker plugged into someone’s phone, a thudding beat and some muffled rap lyrics. I notice my cousin, the only person I know here, is no longer next to me. A boy has taken her place.
He begins asking questions, and I answer to his interest. I am not used to this attention. As he reaches for my hand I lose this feeling. My body becomes tense, and with the vodka running through me, I walk away from him. A girl who speaks little English makes small talk with me as we stand in the waves watching the coast guard boat glowing on the horizon. But I cannot stay here forever.
Wide eyed, the boy has waited. His and mine are both blue, I feel his. An uneasy feeling catching me with each inhale. Along my legs he traces; across my chest, between my thighs, back to my face. My hand is somehow in his again. He pulls me toward the darkness where the fire light doesn’t reach. I search for my cousin’s face. I can’t see her. I can’t find the courage to say no or reject his grip. He pulls again, so I limply follow.
I stay with my fingers trapped between his, my legs still shaking from the hill, my head spinning from the taste of that blue-haired boy’s homemade vodka. He takes me to a spot behind a washed up tree. Here the noise of the waves is loud, crashing close to my feet. The fire and figures are distant flecks of shadow and light. I watch, as I lay pressed to the rocks, pale against the sea foam. I feel the presence of resting pohutukawa around us. He fondles my body, searching, exploring, stealing; the places I’m yet to know. His hands reach the meeting between my thighs. He ploughs inside, unforgiving, he ploughs inside. I inhale the sea air faster as each second passes. Bruised breasts and swallowed air. I fall away and find myself at the fire remains. He stretches his naked arms to the moon, like a savage. I wonder if I left marks in the sand while I fought.
As we walk back over the hill my cousin shows me the glow worms, hanging like lights on wet clay walls. I feel my bra unclipped at my back, a hollow space between my thighs.
The nameless boy who left me still pressed to the rocks at night, listening for the silence between waves, hungry in a way only black skies can answer for. Lying and waiting for sunrise. A child, a teen, a woman. I let my eyes close and my voice grow soft. I run far, past the familiar trees. I draw, dipping my hands in red. Sun drenched, I dip my hands. I flare in the sky. I swallow the moon. Crying, yearning, and commanding, I dance. I taste of salt. My fingers gentle, careful not to smudge tears. I imagine, forgive, I am inspired. I fall in love. Hungry, cold, and broke. I run across blackened landscapes. Bleeding, listening, drifting. A warm slow wind. I belong to nowhere. When I am too tired to run, I swim. Down streams of silt and waste, I swim. I survive.
And I’ve been pressed to the rocks, by the seas edge, for six years.
I am tired.
I am tired.
I am tired.
I am the daughter, the sister, the grand child, of the difference between love and rape. Whisper as I turn. My voice, a current creating air, is angry enough for you to forget I am beautiful. Anger, sadness, love, and tenderness, are my resistance. The ways I fight the night, the ways I call the sun to rise.