What's worth it? To ease into the slip of the two hours ahead, just to get
there, to lean there, counting down to a quick zero that was just waiting
there in the first place? She smoothed her newborn hips, got flashes of a
warm night. Still Fall enough to hear the boys at school, drilling down in numbers, fast catches and under jean snatches in the leaves. The next morning, the lesbo nurse told her what
she was like:
"All lead," she said. "Dead weight."
Where were that nurse's fingers? And where were hers? Out in the back by
the dump, someone said. She figured the ones who took the camera away and
ripped the film to pieces, saved face and pulled down her sweater, were the
boys she'd want to marry. It was the only time she would ever be a cheerleader, but at least she had been one. The simple "had been" of her existence was the same as the grass in her
hands, the clean and wet stains that it left.
Out back, at night, the crater of the dump stood yellow, sand-filled and
deep. She had just learned how to do this, and the big O of her mouth, the
nothingness of the liquid and the clear bottle she kept looking at, felt old.
The bottle was fuzzy for a minute, see through just for spite.
How high could she kick? By now it was dark and full of bleacher filled
kids. Enough to make things topple over, the steel of her ribs not that
strong. She disappeared at the first sound of the bond fire. There was some
cackle-cackle noise, and then the short sparks of rain. There were things behind the trees, the silence of
her bedroom. There was her mother, two lawns away, close enough to hear the
football shouts. It was funny what her mother thought: She must have broken
She rested out back, swigging, dipping her head to this boy's shoulder; he
pushed her away and let her neck snap down to her collar. Over there was the
boy who called her house the week before. She had paced around her parent*s
white bedroom with her shoes off. She had looked at her herself in her mother's mirror and felt fine
compared to nothing.
The boy had listed his favorite songs. They were nice, sweet songs, and the
girl agreed. She had listened to him talk and picked though her mother's
quilted jewelry box. She found red stones in a small drawer, hiding.
The girl leaned and let him lead her off. Before they were out of sight, she
sat down and pulled him with her. She kissed him sloppy and hard. The
feeling of being unkissed and then kissed suddenly felt small and she kissed
as if she had been doing it at home, all the while, pulling on her stockings, lacing up her white leather
Keds. She felt every kiss she had ever given to her father, fall off and slip
The lawn eased into her mushy mouth and the boy, below her now, became a
tree, just the silhouette up close, the branches so dark, she never realized
the sky was light at night.
She ground herself onto the boy. This, from knowing nothing. Grinding like
she had done at home, into the living room pillows, pulling the ends up enough
to feel the cloth inside her. She supposed she must have wanted more, must
have pulled his hair back, perhaps slit his eyes straight across. She supposed she had burned him
with little matches, across his pug nose and down his hips. But she did not
People said if they could they would have drank more, and then be left to
face the cold night alone. Things would never be the same. Still, they
weren't. Lucky for her, her friend laughed and peed on the brick steps behind
the school with all the boys watching. One boy held her shoulder and said it felt like squeezing an
orange, all that juice sliding down her legs, losing speed below the knee.