To this day, I remember the sleepover as one of my lowest moments, and in a way that makes it the best. I look back on what happened and think to myself, I will never let that happen again. I will never be that person, I will never let them do that to me...
I remember it all beginning as normal, fun even. I always remember the excitement that everybody had, rushing out of the final lesson to grab bags, find each other, make sure everybody was ready to leave in Jasmine's car and head to her house. I'd always liked Jasmine's parents, they were kind and were far more laid-back than members of some of my family. Obviously, when you're eleven, a parent who doesn't care about anything is the best parent there is. But in this case, it was my downfall.
The Sunny D kicked in soon into the evening, and from then on, everything spiralled out of control. It began with the pillow fight. Everybody raced up the stairs, one after the other, me at the back, and we rushed into all the bedrooms to get as much weaponry as we could. Before I could realise, Jasmine's bedroom door had been slammed shut, the girls on the inside, me on the out. The fact that it was me, just me who had been locked out, that didn't occur to me immediately. I thought it was part of the game. I collected all of the pillows that I could, and then hid myself in the doorway of the spare room, out of sight for when they opened the door. I waited, and I waited, and when the door opened and Nicola trepidly stepped out,thwack!Right on the head! She screamed, and ran back in, the others were laughing, I was laughing.
This. Was. Fun.
I felt like a sniper trying to creep up on the target, and following that vivid idea, I knew that I couldn't hide in just once place. So I took my pillows, and quietly nipped across the hallway to the bathroom, opposite the spare room and another place that they wouldn't be able to see me. Again, I waited, and I listened to them calling from the other side of the door, threats to try and make me come out.
'We're going to chop your rabbit's ears off!' Bungly Rabbit, a gift from my Dad from when I was five, something I had never washed and was a constant memory of my fun day at the adventure park with him. Those monthly outings with him and my nan, where we'd visit zoos, parks, anywhere from a brochure I'd picked up and wanted to go to. They won't do it, I thought to myself,it's a trick to lure me out. I'm not stupid - I won't fall for it.
So I stayed put, and they shouted out more pointless threats, they were going to empty my suitcase on the floor, draw on my school uniform. I didn't listen to any of it. When the door opened a second time, I threw open the bathroom door and charged at the person standing in the hallway, it was Jodie. Before I could land a blow, I remember Charlotte and Ella running at me, charging with determined ululation, pushing me back into the bathroom and onto the floor.
My head hit the floor, the horrible, expensive tiled floor, and pain jolted up my spine in a way I'd never felt before. I experienced the equivalent of "seeing stars", and it took me a moment to bring myself to my senses. I was in pain, and suddenly the fun had dimmed away, I didn't know much about sleepovers, but I knew this wasn't how they were supposed to go.
I looked up, annoyed at how rough they'd been with me, and saw Charlotte and Ella in the doorway. I tried to get up, but they still thought it was a game. They pinned me down by the arms, Charlotte's nails digging into my wrists to draw blood.
Hey! I thought, she only does that when she's angry. Was she angry at me? I looked at her, no, she was laughing, so was Ella. So why were they doing it? They tackled me like in tag rugby, a sport that I'd played for three full years. I was used to boys much larger than me taking me down out of spite, not because they needed to to get the ball, but because they wanted to knock me over. Two tiny girls didn't pose a problem, I had enough arm strength to throw them off. The tackle had only been temporary though, it had given Jasmine time to rush in and steal all of the pillows I had collected. Once that was done, they ran through the door and slammed it shut, their laughs echoing from the other side.
I was left alone, my wrist throbbing from Charlotte's intervention, my spine aching from the collision with the floor. I started to hear them leave, running down the stairs, calling out about playing another game. It was as if they'd forgotten me, like they had done what they wanted with me for now, and it was time for the next piece of entertainment.
For that short moment, I wanted to go home, but I didn't listen to my inner voice. I convinced myself that if I told them not to do it, they would apologise, and we could move on, continue to enjoy ourselves like you were supposed to at sleepovers.
I was so stupid.