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DEEPER
by Robin York

Genre: New Adult, Young Adult

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BEFORE

Sometimes I hate the girl I was back then. It’s like how, when you see a horror movie, you can’t help but feel contempt for the virgin who goes for a walk in the woods after midnight. How can she be so stupid? Doesn’t she know she’s about to get gruesomely hacked to death?

She should know. That’s why it’s so hard to watch. Because you want her to know. You want her to defend herself, and you look down on her for not knowing, even though obviously it’s the guy who hacks her up who’s at fault.

The thing is, the movie makes him seem like a force of nature — unstoppable — so the virgin comes off as a total dumbass for not checking the forecast to see if it calls for serial murder before she skips off into the night.

These days, if someone sent me a text that said nothing but OMG, I wouldn’t wonder if whatever I was about to find out was going to be bad. I’d only wonder how bad and how long it was going to take me to crawl out of whatever pit I was about to fall in. But in August of my sophomore year at Putnam College, I didn’t worry. I thought maybe Bridget, my best friend and roommate, had gotten distracted before she could finish her train of thought.

I towel-dried my hair and stood up to lob the damp towel into my laundry basket in the closet. Missed. By the time I’d picked it up and put it where it belonged, another message had popped up on my phone, this time with a link.

You need to see this, it said.

And then, immediately after, I’m so sorry.

I clicked the link.

I think part of me knew even then. Because the thing about being a good girl is, you spend your whole life developing a finely honed radar for detecting anything that could potentially cause people to love you less.

Girls like me — or, I guess, girls like the one I was last August — we eat approval. We live for it. So when we do something dumb — or, say, when we do something really monumentally idiotic — we know.

The screen filled up with a picture of me, topless, with Nate’s dick in my mouth.

I looked, and I took a deep breath. I closed my eyes.

I could actually feel it — the solid ground of my life, cracking open.

It sounds too drama llama when I put it like that, I know, but I can’t think of another way to describe it. One minute, I was on firm footing — a nineteen-year-old overachieving politics geek, on track to go to law school and take the world by storm — and the next, my feet had lost purchase on the floor. I sagged against the desk. I couldn’t get enough air.