My parents had taken an immediate dislike to Grîma Wormtongue (which really doesn’t show exceptional forethought on their part because they’ve disliked everyone I’ve ever gone out with). They did not forbid me to see him, but they told me I was only allowed to date him on the Bag End University campus, or to have him over to their house on the weekends. I thought this was unreasonable of them, since they were the main reason I had started going out with him in the first place. That was why they had sent me to Bag End, to find and marry a nice preacher boy, right? Nevertheless, I conscientiously saw him only on campus and at church activities.
I didn’t tell anyone what was going on, because would you have told anyone if you were me? You know how it is – I wished there were some way to talk about it, but I didn’t trust anyone, and anyway I didn’t want to have to break up with him because I was supposed to marry a preacher boy. It got harder and harder to come up with innocuous-sounding spiritual struggles to relay to my Accountability Partner and my Mentor when they cornered me for coffee. However, I could always fall back on “I’m having difficulty trusting God for the strength to get all my projects done,” because that was of course true.
Anyway, that’s about where things were when I got called into the kangaroo court of anorexia. Grîma Wormtongue’s take on the story was minimalist: “They’re all jealous of you because you’re skinny and sexy.”
My mother’s attitude was the simplistic attitude of an outraged mother bear. I called her afterwards, still crying and choking, and she declared that I was not staying in that apartment another night with those girls, and she was driving over to get me right now so pack an overnight bag. She not only picked me up, she marched in, pointedly insulted Amelia and Bedelia and said they were jealous because they were fat. How dared they. This wasn’t going to stop here, she said. Oh, no. She was going to get in touch with Elizabeth Taylor and demand an apology and a full retraction and a change of dorms for me and… It was very embarrassing.
I sheepishly went home to my parents’ house and, until something could be arranged about the dorm, slept on the couch and commuted to school every day: making periodic furtive forays into the tainted apartment to retrieve items I’d forgotten. If I saw one of the girls, no one spoke.
This wasn’t the best atmosphere for doing final projects or grading papers, as you can imagine. My sleep, my schoolwork and my job all suffered. My last few projects for all my art classes were really miserable – looking back on them, I kind of cringe. In Mrs. Saruman’s class, which was supposed to be sort of conceptual art, I just gave up and created what I said was a depiction of the Body of Christ – a bunch of little glass marble pieces with faces painted on them, arranged on a board into the larger shape of a human silhouette. I believe Mrs. Saruman, whatever her other faults, was perfectly justified in giving me a low grade for this.
Thanksgiving 2010 – wow, this is almost four years ago now. Every year, the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend, I have problems because I start remembering this again. I will try to be brief and not particularly graphic.
By the week of Thanksgiving, my dorm had been switched and all my possessions, including my skeleton, had been moved to an empty room on the second floor of the building. My father and brothers helped me carry everything from the apartment to the dorm room, under the silent stares of Amelia, Bedelia and Lobelia. I was settled in and living on campus again.
My family went to our cousins’ house for Thanksgiving – during which time Grîma Wormtongue’s texts continued – and we returned on (I think) Saturday or Sunday. I was dropped off back at school. Classes did not start again till Tuesday, so on Monday I was just on campus, which was pretty much dead, with nothing to do.
On Monday morning, Grîma Wormtongue called me and said he would come over and eat lunch on campus with me. I assumed we would go and eat in the dining common like we usually did, but it turned out that they were closed, too, so he said he would just bring a pizza over and we could eat it in my office. (I had a little cubbyhole office in the Fine Arts building where I graded my papers.) Something felt vaguely exciting or taboo about this – I’m not sure why in retrospect, but it just did. Before he got there I remember I curled my hair and put on this sheer-ish pink top with a strappy tank top underneath. And then a sweater over it of course, because this was Bag End University. Then I walked over to the office building to meet him.
We sat in the little office chairs at the desk eating pizza, and he kept looking me up and down. The last thing I clearly remember him saying is “You’re such a pretty little girl.” Then he turned out the light and pulled me on top of him in his chair. I leaned in to kiss him, but he pushed me away and said I had garlic breath. Then he began to touch me in places, and in ways, that I had not been touched before. I remember kind of freezing up and thinking: This isn’t right. This doesn’t feel good. Then he grabbed me and said “Do this thing.”
I said “no” and pulled away because I did not want to do it. He said, “You have to, because I’m doing stuff to you.” Then he grabbed me, pulled me towards him and made me do it. I realized I couldn’t really get away, so I did it, and after that I don’t really remember what happened exactly; I felt like I wasn’t there.
Some time later, Grîma Wormtongue turned on the light and went to the bathroom to clean himself up, and then came back. And he said: “I thought you were such a good Christian girl, but you know, you just let me do everything I wanted to do. That wasn’t a very good testimony.”
Then he said we had sinned, so we had to pray about it. Then he drew up something that he said was a contract, that we wouldn’t touch each other again till we got married, and made us both sign it. Then he left.
The campus was very cold, and I went back across to my dorm feeling all floating and weird, and like I wasn’t really there and didn’t know exactly what had happened. My mother called and I said cheerily “Oh, I’m not doing much today, just getting settled into the new room.” Then I went to sleep and I slept and slept and slept.
To be continued.