Til It Happens To You

Til It Happens To You

A fictional story inspired by Project Unbreakable and Lady Gaga's "Til It Happens To You"
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This week, I thought I'd write another fiction story. It was a hard one to write because it deals with sexual assault, but I think it's something that we need to talk about. Most of the dialogue said by the rapist was found on Project Unbreakable - "A photography project aiming to give a voice to survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, featuring photographs of survivors holding posters with quotes from their abusers."

I would also like to say that if you have been sexually assaulted, please know that it's not your fault. If you would like to seek help, you can find a sexual assault helpline below.


“I love you, Annabelle. You have made me the happiest man in the world, and I want to make you the happiest woman. Will you marry me?” Henry drops down to one knee, his eyes wide and hopeful.

I nod, my mouth breaking out into a wide grin, “Yes,” I whisper, covering my smile with my hands.

Henry breaks out into a grin and wraps his arms around me. He presses a passionate kiss to my lips, moving his left hand to the nape of my neck, and his right hand to the small of my back. With one swift motion, he dips me down and stares lovingly into my eyes.

“Cut!” Our director, Tom, calls from behind the camera, quickly barking out orders to the crew, “Take five everybody. Someone touch up Michael’s makeup. I need more lighting on Sydney when she says ‘Yes’. I need the extras to be less animated. Where’s my coffee?”

The crew buzzes around in a frenzy, each person zooming to be the one that satisfies Tom’s needs first.

I shove Michael off of me, swiping the back of my arm along my chapped lips, the taste of bile rising in my throat just from looking at him, “Get the hell away from me.” I whisper.

He grins evilly, “You know you wanted it, Sydney. Don’t try to deny it.”

Shaking my head, I hurry away from him, my breath coming in short and shallow.

Breathe, Sydney, breathe.

He follows me.

I whip around and jab my pointer finger into his chest, “Don’t you dare, Michael.” I say through clenched teeth.

“Sydney!” Tom shouts from his chair, motioning for me to come over to him, “We need to talk.”

I turn back towards Michael, but his makeup artist is already powdering his greasy forehead. I walk over to Tom, my skin crawling from Michael’s touch.

Tom stands with his hands on his hips, his eyes wide with concern, “I’m not sure what’s going on between you and Michael, but your chemistry is not as electric as it used to be. I casted you two because…”

I try to keep listening, but his voice fades out as I fight off the feeling of Michael’s strong hands tightening around the back of my neck. His words, “I promise you’re going to like this, so stop struggling,” bang around in my head. My inner thigh throbs from his grimy fingers pressing too hard, holding me into the couch as I resisted the kisses that he forced onto my skin.

*************

“Do you want some wine?” I asked, grabbing two glasses from the shelf.

He shook his head, smoothing over his pants, “No, I’d rather just get straight to the scene.”

I nodded, setting the glasses back into the shelf, and joined him on the couch.

“OK, so this is the scene where Henry and Annabelle make love for the first time.” Michael turned towards me, his hand snaking around my waist, “I think we should just get to it. Henry and Annabelle seem like they would be the type of people who like it slow and passionate."

“Yeah.” I breathed out, feeling my face grow redder by the second. I may have been 22, but I was saving myself for marriage. Sex rarely crossed my mind, and I felt my pace quicken as he pressed a hungry kiss against my lips.

I stiffened.

He slowed.

I relaxed.

“Just go with it, Syd,” he whispered as his mouth made its way up to my ear. I felt my body loosen as the kiss became more passionate. Michael lowered me down into the cushions of the couch, his kisses becoming more aggressive as he reached for the fabric of my underwear.

I jumped, shoving his hand away, “That--That’s not in the script,” I stuttered, clamping my legs shut and straightening my dress.

He shook his head, “C’mon, Syd. This is what Tom would want us to do. It’s our job to explore our characters.”

“I-- I think you should leave,” I whispered, avoiding his gaze and starting for the door.

“But I drove all the way out here for this.” He quickly grabbed my wrist, his grip tightening, preventing me from leaving. He jerked me down onto the couch, my body landing with a thud against his legs. He pinned my wrists down as I struggled to break free. My eyes squeezed shut as he tore my underwear down my legs, unbuttoned his jeans, and thrust himself into my unwanting body.

I tried forcing him off, but he shifted his weight to my middle, forcing me to stay put, “Stop struggling. You’re only hurting yourself.”

He rocked back and forth as I lay there, my body both limp and rigid at the same time.

“Stop,” I whispered.

“No,” I said a little louder.

“Michael, please,” I pleaded.

But it was too late.

He peeled his sweaty body off of mine, stuffing himself back into his jeans, “Don’t bother telling anyone, Syd. Nobody’s going to believe you anyway,” his gruff voice rasped. The loud slam of the trailer door left me staring up at the ceiling in silence.

My underwear pooled at my ankles, my top askew, my wrists throbbed. I felt dirty and humiliated. This was my fault. I was the one who invited him to my trailer to run lines. I should have said no earlier. I should have tried harder to push him off of me. I needed to stand up. I needed to tell someone. I needed to take a shower.

My body trembled as I stood up from the couch, the lower half of my body searing with pain. I dragged my shaking body to the bathroom to wash his body off of mine. I stripped myself of the clothes he had let me keep on, and stepped into the shower.

I turned the water as hot as it could go, wanting to burn my skin off, wanting to burn his fingerprints off. I scrubbed my skin so hard it burned, but it felt better than having his touch on my body. I felt numb.

The boiling water poured down on my raw skin as I curled up into a ball on the shower floor. The world spun around me, everything blurring together in a fuzzy haze.

*************

“Sydney?” Tom snaps in front of my face, forcing me to come out of the scene that has replayed on a terrifying, constant loop in my mind. I blink, my eyes struggling to focus, the first sign of tears clouding my vision.

“Yeah?” I croak.

“Are you OK?” Tom reaches out to grab my arm, and I instinctively jerk away.

I nod, wiping my cheeks with the back of my hand, “I’m fine,” I whisper, because nobody would believe me if I said any differently.

Cover Image Credit: Grace Brown

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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13 Things That Need To Happen Or Be Answered In Season Two Of 'The Umbrella Academy'

The first season left us with so many questions, ones we need answers to ASAP.

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This new Netflix show has only been out for around two months, but it's already a hit. People, including me, are wanting the second season right away, just because there were so many things unsolved and so many WTF moments in the season one finale. Here are some of the things that I want to see or have answers to when the second season comes out.

WARNING: There are spoilers ahead for season 1!

1. Where Did They Go?

The main cliffhanger: where did the Hargreeves "kids" go to when Five teleported them away? Or more importantly: when? Did they go in the past, so that somehow they can try to prevent the world from ending (again)? If so, was it a time in their childhood? Dating further back?

2. Will Vanya Be Redeemed?

People have a lot of mixed emotions about Vanya as a character. She isn't my favorite by any means, but I definitely think the apocalypse is more on Luther than her if I'm being honest (but that's a whole different issue).

She didn't seem to have any humanity of any sort left during the final episode of season one, considering Allison had to knock her out to stop her from killing their siblings. But, who knows, maybe being a kid again a being somewhere else with her family will give them a chance to help her. Or maybe not.

3. Is Ben Still Dead?

Since we only saw the Hargreeves turn into kids and disappear as the world ended, we never got an answer to this question. The whole time travel thing threw me off, because if they are kids again, does that mean that Ben is back alive, getting a second chance as a child again?

Or, since Five was still the same person just in his child body when he came back, is Ben still dead, just a dead child now? Although it would make more sense for it to be the latter, I would really like some miracle to happen where Ben is alive again, it could really change the dynamic of the siblings and make for an interesting story.

I also just love him so far, so I definitely want to see more of him.

4. How Did Ben Die?

As much as I love this show, I'm salty that we never got any explanation on what happened to Ben. Obviously, when Klaus sees and talks to him, he is about their age, so his death must have been fairly recent to them, but it's impossible to tell.

The siblings never really talked about what happened, or just Ben for that matter, they all seem to have their own issues to deal with. Still, I really want to know what could kill something as powerful and deadly as Ben was, so hopefully, we get a flashback or explanation of the day that he died.

5. Klaus' Powers

Okay, that moment when Klaus was supposed to be the lookout, but he ends up using a new found power to bring Ben into being somehow to save his siblings is one of my favorite moments from the entire finale. Klaus' powers were perceived as useless by his siblings, so this was an epic move where it showed how powerful he really is. I'm excited to see how he develops these powers in season two and becomes more of a fighter.

6. Will Allison Get Her Voice Back?

In the finale, it was still unsolved as to whether or not Allison was ever going to be able to speak again. This is a huge deal, not only because it was Vanya who slit her throat, so that's a whole obstacle to get over for them, but also the fact that Allison's voice is the source of her power.

Although I don't want her to lose her voice forever, I think it would be interesting to explore how she gets used to life with no powers and no voice at the same time.

7. Who All Was Teleported Away?

Obviously, Five took the Hargreeves with him wherever he was going, but right after that, it showed some random people that seemed to also be surrounded by the blue light that was the portal. Hazel and Agnes seemed to have been sucked into it, possibly Cha-Cha but I don't remember if I saw the portal by her.

And then some random people that the portal seemed to grab. It made me wonder if these really were random people, or if maybe they are some of the other children with abilities. And will they all be the only ones who remember what happened to Earth?

8. Will Luther Actually Feel Bad For What He Did?

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Coming back to my idea that Luther is the real cause of the apocalypse, not Vanya, I wonder if he will actually feel bad for locking her up. Then again, he may be too selfish or dumb to connect the dots that Vanya may not have lashed out if he had to listen to LITERALLY all of his other siblings that just wanted to help her.

His ego got in the way, and even though he claimed it was because of what Vanya did to Allison, I think it was really just because he enjoys the title of Number One a little too much, and uses his mutation and strength to intimidate the others to listen to him.

Therefore, it has me wondering if he and Vanya will have a confrontation about it in season two. I wonder how that will go since he would no longer have his huge build to boost his ego and strength. Sorry if you are a Luther lover, but part of me wishes he was still on the moon when Vanya blew it up.

9. Flashbacks To Their Childhood/Teenage Years

Even though it might be weird to include flashbacks of their childhood as they are currently living as children again, I kind of want to see more of them growing up. I am just always interested in the backstory of characters, and although they did include a few flashbacks in the first season, I want to see more.

I mainly want to see closer to when they all went their separate ways, instead of them just describing it. I just think this always helps develop relationships and characters if we know more about their upbringing.

10. Relationship Development

I am always a fan of family dynamics, especially when those people aren't related by blood. I love watching relationships develop through issues and triumphs. This show is filled with so much action and so many different storylines, that it was kind of hard to focus on the relationships of all of the siblings.

There was an obvious emphasis on some, like Allison and Vanya's relationship, and even Klaus and Five's relationship as well. But I hope in season two they have room to slow down a little bit and develop all of the siblings' relationships with each other, instead of just choosing a few important ones. Who knows, maybe them being kids again will give them that opportunity.

11. Will We Meet More of The Special Babies?

In the very first episode, the hook of the entire show is the fact that 43 babies were born across the world randomly on the same exact day, without being pregnant. While I definitely want to find out what was up with that, and what exactly happened, I also wondered if season two will explore them discovering more of the other 36 babies with superpowers that are all over the world.

I definitely want to them to at least meet a few more, and maybe band together to once again stop the apocalypse.

12. Where is Hargreeves Really From?

The finale started out with Sir Reginald Hargreeves on seemingly another planet or another universe entirely. Does this mean he wasn't human? Or he was exploring other planets?

I think this definitely needs to be expanded upon, and maybe the Hargreeves siblings can discover something about their adoptive father, who he truly was, and what his real intentions were, cause let's face it: that man is still a huge mystery.

13. Klaus

I'm obviously picking favorites, but I just want to see a lot more of Klaus. Not only is he funny and sarcastic, but his powers are pretty cool, too. Oh, and he talked to God, so I'm interested to see if they will keep having talks. If so, that's definitely an interesting friendship to explore.

Also, I just want Klaus to be happy. I want to see more of Dave and their story, and just more of Klaus' experience in the war. I'm especially excited to see his powers develop, and his relationship with Ben as well. In season two, Klaus deserves more appreciation from his siblings.

I mean come on, the guy saved their lives, and they were the ones who didn't even notice he was kidnapped and tortured. I'm basically excited for anything Klaus related.

So many questions, so long to contemplate them. Hopefully, time flies and season two is here before we know it. With everything that happened in just season one, I can't even imagine how season two will unfold, but I'm definitely excited.

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