I stood at the mouth of the cave. A frigid breeze blew from its belly.
“Go in,” Sasha urged.
“Bitch, you go in!” I crossed my arms, shivering in the cold.
Thomas and Will stood behind us. A double date, I guess you could say. Still nervous to be out and about with the two, I pulled my hoodie over my head. Sasha had talked them into coming. Two star football players, mixed up with the likes of us, or me, rather. Sasha always grabbed the attention of the boys. She filled out at an early age, forcing her mom to buy custom bras for her God-gifted talents that she shook in every direction she could.
She huffed and turned her head, eyeing one of the boys. “You coming, Will?”
The boy was built like a stack of bricks, just not as smart. He took two small steps, standing next to her.
“Well, we’re going in.” She flipped her hair to the side, smacking my face as she passed. Will grabbed her hand and followed her into the blackness, her giggles echoing from the opening moments later.
I felt a hand on the small of my back, and Thomas gripped me closer.
“We don’t have to go in if you don’t want to,” he said.
I absolutely wanted to go in, I just didn’t want to go in with him. I knew Sasha’s plan for the day. I had told her I lost my virginity years ago. I was lying, of course, just trying to match one of her stories. I pressed her for months about checking out this cave, but she always gave an excuse. Boys, mainly. Now that boys played a part, there were no excuses to make.
I felt Thomas’ hand grab a feel of my ass. “We can just… you know, go to the creek or something.”
“No,” I said, taking a few steps forward. “Let’s go.”
My shoulders ran into the walls, but I didn’t warn Thomas. He cursed at every collision, trying to keep up. He tried to talk me out of it. I think, secretly, he was afraid of the unknown. The student body dubbed the place haunted, so naturally I wanted to see it.
Cigarette smoke wafted through the cave—Thomas lit one of his own. His lighter sparked, revealing the dark rock that lined the walls. Sasha giggled again further down, breathing heavy. She had already gotten started.
I did my best to keep a distance from Thomas, but his hand found my waist, and he pulled me into him, placing his lips near my neck. His smoke-masked breath was nauseating.
“Stop,” I said, pushing back slightly.
“Come on.” His hand went up my back, feeling under my shirt.
“I said stop!” I pushed him backwards and twisted his wrist with a turn of my own.
He yelped, jumping away from me. “Alright, alright! Crazy bitch!”
“What the fuck, Maire!” Sasha yelled from the depths of the darkness.
I backed up until I hit the wall, and stayed frozen there.
Thomas sighed, then flicked his lighter for another smoke. The small firelight bounced off the walls.
“The fuck!” Thomas yelled.
I sprinted from the cave, smashing into the walls until the sunlight bent into the dark. Screams followed me out, then the heavy footsteps of the others. Sasha burst through the opening, her shirt missing. The cave vomited Will back out, his clumsy feet sending him somersaulting into the light. Then came Thomas, scratch marks running down his face and his nose bleeding. He tore past me, crashing into the trees behind us. Sasha and I were left alone, the moon looming behind us.
“What the hell did you do, Marie?” Sasha cried.
I couldn’t answer. I stared back into the cave, wishing I could see it again. Sasha shoved me down as she stormed off shirtless after the two boys.
I stood up, barely registering my movement, and slowly walked back to the mouth of the cave, peering inside. I couldn’t see her, but I could hear her breathing. Her hair was long, her eyes black, and when Thomas had sparked his lighter, she had stood directly behind him, both hands up, with nails the length of carpenter screws.
“Thank you,” I whispered.
From the abyss, I heard a giggle.