To The Person Who Thinks She Was Asking For It

It’s a risky skirt, the one she’s wearing -- a little shorter and maybe a little tighter around the waist than normal. It’s red and suede and perfectly scalloped around the edges though, and when she looks in the mirror and sees the way it fits, she feels good and confident and beautiful. Her friends whistle when they see her and laugh as they greet her, so who cares if the skirt’s a little short if it makes her feel like she’s on top of the world?

They’re warm and fuzzy on the inside, the sweatpants she’s wearing, the kind that are stained and a little frayed at the edges-- worn with the memories of countless nights at home and carelessly done laundry. It’s late and a little misty, and although she could wait until tomorrow morning, she absolutely needs to get those doughnuts right now. She’s driving with the music up and the windows down, so who cares if the sweats are a little frumpy if they make her feel like she’s on top of the world?

It’s a plain and simple v-neck, the shirt he’s wearing, black with a little hole in the right shoulder from that one time he stupidly ran into a tree on his skateboard. It’s hot and the sun's beating down on him from every angle, and he can already imagine how nasty the farmer’s tan is going to be around his arms tonight. The shirt runs a little big on him and it’s flapping around his torso as he speeds down the skate ramp on the longboard he got for Christmas, so who cares about unwanted tan lines if it makes him feel like he’s on top of the world?

***

It’s a crime scene, the kind with yellow tape and crying faces and so much radio static that you can barely think over the noise. It’s loud and chaotic and there are men in handcuffs that look revengeful rather than resentful, and there are reporters talking in different languages that overlap and mix into one steady stream of noise. Out of all the messiness, a certain string of words stands out. “She was kind of asking for it though, I mean have you seen that red skirt?”

It happened outside Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, they said, late on one of those nights that are so misty they feel wet. She shouldn’t have been out that late, they said, especially not dressed like that. It wasn’t presentable, they said, to be wearing sweatpants with so many holes and stains. What was she thinking leaving the house looking like that, they said, he probably thought no one would ever even realize she was gone.

It shook the community, what happened to him. Every news site was blasting the story of how it happened in broad daylight, on the sunniest day of the year, actually. There was shock, more than anything, because it’s not supposed to happen to boys, right? We teach our girls to be careful and our boys to be confident, so how do we explain this to our sons when they ask what happened? It doesn’t add up, it doesn’t make sense, and for once, it can’t be justified.

Because come on, it’s not like he was asking for it.

***This didn't actually happen, but it could have happened to anyone, and it wasn't her fault***