The Girl in the Bell-Bottom Pants

Disclaimer: this article covers topics of sexual assault and is loosely based off of real events. 

An anonymous junior with goldenrod hair made the high-risk decision to wear bell-bottoms to the type of bar commemorated for its league of intoxicated minors, desperation for becoming a respected sports grill and sticky and often overcrowded floors.

Her best friend, grinning with bubble gum crushed between loathsomely white teeth, handed her a scannable fake ID she purchased on a spring excursion to San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2017.

The pants are her favorite for the foxiest and transparent reasons.

They’re the charming color of Michigan sand sleeping beneath a photoshopped sunset, promising a nirvana centered on comfort, ukulele jam sessions and a lifetime supply of Polaroid film and strawberry Pop-Tarts.

While she ogles in the bathroom mirror of a dorm room designed only for the most minimalistic of dewy-eyed young adults and aspiring Beer Olympics champions, she can’t help but smile commendably at the roses gently embroidered on her spaghetti-strapped top.

It was the type of top too enchantingly fragile to wear with a bra and she had just gotten her nipples pierced at the tiki-themed tattoo shop with too many vinyl couches.

Although she had assembled a legacy of being the hyper-forgiving and optimistic wild child and unheeding dreamer, she couldn’t help but feel a breeze of regret brushing the uneven strands of her braided hair.

While she swayed above the familiar suffocated floor, rained on by chipped plastic cups of Bacardi and coke and $2 Bud Light, she couldn’t help but be smothered by the greasy palms of cruel and unapologetic reminiscent.

She melts through the floor, failing to miss the shards of faded glass and fallen bobby pins, and is once again mangled in the crowded backseat of a stranger’s car. Although she can’t remember the driver and his clamorous entourage of partygoers nor the guy who coyly followed her into the vehicle, she, unfortunately, remembers feeling self-assured and believing wholeheartedly she was the most indestructible woman in the world.

Her life was an infinity pool of infuriating self-celebration and the type of carefreeness young adult authors devote their entire careers to memorializing. While she dived into the water, made vibrant by memories of hitchhiking through the Shenandoah Valley, skinny dipping in the Congaree River and climbing trees at 2 a.m., she felt like the master of flourishing without caution.

The guy who followed her said he was a college freshman, unsure of himself and in despairing need for a glass of water with extra ice cubes, and simply needed something beautiful to sleep next to.

They talked about their favorite shades of blue and their shared love for Kendrick Lamar, Myrtle Beach, baby sea turtles and Himalayan salt lamps.

She fell asleep but he did not. Instead, his hands slipped down those bell-bottoms, ignoring the menstruation she thought would safeguard her throughout the night and feeling the spirited light inside of her immediately evacuate.

Her sandy pink was replaced with a troubled and numbed abyss and breathing became a privilege she could never be worthy of. She spent a little too much time gawking in the mirror, feeling as though her body’s allure had been stripped off and pestled into something revolting, taboo and undeserving of the love she once gave herself.

When the panic attacks became unmanageable, she zoomed home in hopelessness for a warm embrace, a home cooked meal and spaghetti sauce that didn’t come from a discounted can.

She tried to offer a clear synopsis of what had happened, but how was that possible when all she saw was the blackness she allocated weeks to ignoring?

My mother’s response is what bungeed me back to the surface and I was forced to remember just how halfwitted and excruciating the world continues to be.

“Why were you wearing those pants?”

The answer and conclusion were so simple: bell-bottoms are not an invitation and the only thing disgusting in the situation were individual and the crooked society which continues to empower them by such questions.