Jina and Jamar walked home in silence that night. And when they got home, Jina walked Jamar to his room in silence. She was glad their parents weren’t home so they didn’t have to explain all the blood.
An hour later of sitting on the bed in silence, Jina finally spoke up.
“Do you wanna talk about it?”
Jamar didn’t respond at first. His eyes stayed on the floor and Jina kept rubbing his back softly.
He couldn’t stop replaying that night in his head. He’d been so helpless. But he couldn’t help but think of all the things he could’ve done to avoid it. Why hadn’t he just waited for Jina? Why hadn’t he just called his parents? Why hadn’t he run away when he first saw the guy? This was his fault. He could’ve avoided this. Could he tell his parents? They wouldn’t believe him. And even if they did, he didn’t wanna have to deal with them asking him the same questions he was asking himself. He would just have to live with this.
“I don’t wanna be a girl anymore,” he finally said. I get it. It’s hard. You were right. I wanna go back.”
Jina frowned. She wished with everything in her that this wasn’t how Jamar had found that out. But she also knew that he couldn’t get his wish, either. The Cross would never end until they turned 18 again. No matter how much he wanted to go back, he still had 2 more years of this.
And then, without warning, Jamar started shaking. First his shoulders, then his arms, then his whole body, until he was full-blown crying and he threw himself into Jina’s arms. Jina rubbed his back again and held him tight.
She didn’t know what to say. She didn’t know what to do. The image of that guy on top of Jamar was seared in her memory. But even more than that, the feeling of lying on the ground useless was gripping her soul in a fist of shame. And as she listened to her brother cry, she made a promise to herself that she would never be that weak again.