My father left us last June. I overheard my mom one night talking about him screwing another attorney from his law firm. She stills call him after she’s had too much wine. She doesn’t know I know, but I can hear her crying through my bedroom wall.
Now, I don’t see my dad much. Sometimes he’ll text me and send me checks in the mail. I look at his law firm insignia in the right corner, knowing that his job was the reason he’s not with my mom anymore. So when I cash the checks, I have no remorse.
I never felt like my mother was the best wife to my dad. She would sometimes throw away entire meals if he complained even the slightest. She would run upstairs and my dad would look at me and ask if I wanted to go out.
We would find the nearest fast food restaurant, order some cheeseburgers, and milkshakes and sit in the parking lot. We would watch people walk in and out and laugh at them. We would do voices imitating them and all the things they ordered. When I got older he stopped taking me when my mom got mad. He instead grabbed his keys and left by himself. When I get married, I’ll be a better wife than my mom. But I’ll be sure to marry a better man than my dad.
I’m seventeen and he’s been gone for seven months. My mother doesn’t throw her food away when I say I don’t like it. She just says “Well that’s all we got.” And then I eat it. She had to get a job at the super market and works second shift. I’m pretty sure my dad is still paying the mortgage and most of our bills.
Once in awhile, me and my best friend Becky Saunders will go visit my mom at the supermarket. At the moment, Becky is really all I got. Becky has her own car and she’s really pretty. She’s brunette with long hair, and thick in all the right places. All the boys drool after her. It’s amazing we’re friends at all because freshman year I told everyone she stuffed her bra with Kleenex. She took revenge by pulling me down by my hair in the hallway between classes. She spit in my eye and everyone cheered her on. We both were suspended. My mom was mad and my dad just shook his head.
Sophomore year, Becky and I both tried out for the basketball team and got cut. Becky couldn’t run as fast as she used to. Her boobs were too big, so it was hard for her to move her arms. I was cut because I was no good. Becky and I bonded over the idea of being left out. I forgot about her spit and she forgot about me spreading rumors. Becky was fun, but I found her obnoxious at times. At the lunch table, she would laugh extra loud. The boys would turn and look at her. That’s when I found her to be the most obnoxious.
Becky always made me feel invincible. The way she would talk to boys with such confidence. She would flip them off and smile. They would laugh and gawk at us as we walked away. They were mostly looking at Becky, but every now and then, I’d hope they were looking at me too. I was always thick in the wrong places. I was seventeen and I realized that my chest would never fill out. I hoped guys would notice my brown eyes before they’d notice my flat chest.
Once in the eight grade, Jason Woolworth told me I had pretty eyes.
“I really like your eyes.”
We made out by the swings. The next week at school he told everyone I was a bad kisser. He was sent to juvenile detention the following year for stabbing his step dad with a fork. I haven’t heard much about him since then. Jason was my first and last encounter with a boy. It made me sick to my stomach to think about that. I didn’t want Jason to my last.
It was Thursday night, we didn’t have school tomorrow for teacher planning day. It was to be a long weekend and Becky and I were on our way to see my mom at the grocery store. She was going to give me some money to see a movie. But we weren’t going to see a movie. We needed the money to buy alcohol.
“How do you feel about your mom working at a grocery store?” Becky was driving.
“I don’t know. It’s whatever.” I said.
“I mean, how do you guys pay rent?”
“We don’t pay rent. We own the house.” I looked at her. Her eyes stayed on the road.
“Well, what about taxes or whatever?”
“My dad still helps us out.” I looked away.
“You should ask him to pay for that boob job you wanted.” Becky turned to me. I looked at her sternly. She smiled. And laughed.
“I’m just kidding!”
She was referring to something that happened a couple weekends ago. We did four shots of Rumchatta in my basement. She took off her shirt and I saw her bare breasts. Then she told me I should do the same thing. Then we started talking.
“Why can’t mine be as big as yours?” I pleaded.
“I got these from my grandma.” Becky cupped hers in her hands.
“What do you think about a boob job?”
“What? Are you thinking about getting one?”
“If I had the money, maybe.”
She burst into laughter. I put my shirt back on. She made me feel stupid. I passed out. At any moment she gets an opportunity to bring it up, she usually does.
We pulled into Shannon’s Market and went inside. My mom was helping a black guy who was holding a little girl. The little girl was crying and my mother bagged their groceries. The place was slow. I saw my mom’s manager sweeping some cereal by the pop and bread. The black guy and his daughter left. Becky and I went to her register.
“Hey, honey. Hello, Becky”
Becky smiled. My mom was never a huge fan of Becky. It was the way Becky just helped herself to a drink or a snack without asking.
“What time is your show?”
Becky looked at me for an answer. “Eight.” I said.
“What are you seeing?”
I looked at Becky for an answer. She slung her keys around her index finger and said “Something scary.”
“Are boys going?” My mother pried.
I shrugged. Becky smiled. My mom smirked.
“Well I close, so I won’t be home till midnight. Lock up when you girls get home, please.”
She reached into her apron and handed me a twenty. I smiled, thanked her, and Becky and I scrambled out of the grocery store.
Our plan was to drive to Homer, the town next to us, use Becky’s fake ID at this gas station, buy some tequila, go back to my house, get drunk, watch a movie, and pass out.
“Guess who just texted me?” Becky asked.
“Maybe you should concentrate on driving.”
Becky tossed me her phone and smiled. I looked. The contact read Jake Mills.
“He’s an asshole.”
“I’m not dating him. He’s hot.”
“Didn’t he graduate last year? What’s he doing texting a high school girl?”
“Stop being a prude. Text him back for me.”
Jake Mills was the guy who wore the letterman jacket. Rumors were he screwed the Spanish teacher, Mrs. White, when he was a junior. They did it in the closet after school. She got fired and he continued on to be an all-state baseball player. Besides that, I hadn’t heard much of him since. His text to Becky read I’m with George Jones, you girls wanna hang out?
“He’s with George Jones.”
George Jones was the funny guy in my American History class. I always laughed at his jokes but he never noticed. He drove his mom’s red mini van to school and the guys would pick on him about it. I remember Cindy Boyles blew him at a dance in the bathroom last year. Everyone slut shamed her and she was never the same. George played wide receiver, he once caught a pass and almost fell into me and my friends and as we watched the game from the grass around the field. Other than that, I don’t know too much about him.
“He’s cute.” Becky said.
“Becky, you know how much trouble I could get into?”
“They’ll be gone before your mom gets home.”
I shook my head and handed her the phone. She used one hand to drive and the other to text him back. Half of me wanted her to lose control of the car so we could go smashing into a tree. I would be dead and I wouldn’t have to deal with George or Jake tonight. Then they would read about us in the newspapers. Jake and George would say to themselves, those were the girls we were trying to fuck, damn, too bad they’re dead now. I wonder if they would remember my face without having to look at the picture.
Getting the fifth of tequila was no problem. The woman who ran the cash register on Thursday nights was either drunk all the time or had a crush on Becky. It was hard to say.
The ride home was uneventful. The guys were supposed to arrive at my house at 9:30. I was going to let them in through the walk out door from my basement. If my mom came home, they could easily escape, no problem. Part of me thinks my mom would be relieved to know boys liked me. Maybe then she would stop feeling so bad for me.
The guys arrived right on time. Becky went out to greet them. I stayed on the couch. I found some plastic cups and set them on a table along with the fifth. Downstairs we had an old rear-projection big screen. It only got a couple channels with the antenna but I doubted they wanted to watch TV. My basement had a laundry room and old drop ceiling. My childhood friend Tiffany Wells and I used to play house down here. We would pretend like we needed to cook for our pretend husbands. We took bowls of water and blades of grass from outside and made soup. She stopped coming over so much after her mom shot herself. She turned goth and started smoking cigarettes behind the buses at school. Tiffany was the first person to tell me about sex. We were eight years old.
“It’s when two people get inside each other and squirm around.” She told me one night during sleepover.
I know what sex is now. But I’m just as much a virgin as I was then. Becky and the guys came in laughing. Jake wasn’t wearing his letterman, but instead a leather jacket. His hair was wet, slicked to the side. He was the way I remembered him. Dark haired, with a rough face, like shaving wasn’t a priority. He had nice eyes and broad shoulders. George looked much cuter than I recalled him looking in class. He had blonde hair, with toned cheeks, and was skinny. He wore a red collared shirt. I remember reading that red is the color most associated with sex. Maybe that’s why he looked so cute.
“Hey Cecelia,” George said.
“Hi.” I politely smiled from the couch.
“Cecelia, you know Jake?” Becky asked.
“How you doing?” Jake gave me a head nod.
“Can I use your pisser?” Jake asked me.
“Sure. It‘s upstairs. I can show you.” I got up and then Becky interrupted me.
“I’ll show him. Come on.” Becky led Jake up the stairs. George sat next to me. He looked around. His eyes met mine in the reflection of the big screen TV. I didn’t know what to say. And I knew Becky and Jake weren’t going to be back anytime soon.
“You do the homework yet?” I asked.
“For American History.”
George chuckled. “I didn’t even know we had homework.”
I felt stupid for bringing it up. But it wasn’t like he was trying too hard. His light hair looked good. A bang fell just perfectly on his forehead. Almost like Elvis.
“You want to do a shot?” I grabbed the fifth.
I cracked open the fifth. Tore the gold paper off and poured some into the plastic cup. I tipped it back. I wanted to impress him.
“Hey, what are you doing?” He said.
I coughed a little bit. “What?”
“You have to cheers.”
I smiled. I laughed. He was flirting with me. I think. I tapped my plastic cup against his.
“No, no. You have to have something in there to cheers with.”
I poured some more. We cheered and tipped our drinks back. We did three more shots and talked about the time Dylan Ferris got so mad in American History class he started to cry. George had this nice laugh that made me laugh. He was funnier when it was just him and me. Then the laughing stopped. I was drunk and he leaned in and kissed me. His tongue broke my lips open and I tasted tequila. His hands went down my leg and for a second I was worried about my mom walking in. Then I was worried Jake had finished doing Becky and they’d come down. They would ruin our moment. I closed my eyes and tasted more tequila.
His hand pushed up my shirt and his fingers danced on my stomach. I started to breath heavier and uncontrolled. He stopped and pulled away. He smiled at me.
“Everything okay?” I asked. He didn’t say anything. He grabbed the fifth, poured some more, and tipped it back. I waited. He turned and crawled on top of me. I let my weight fall into the couch and him in between my legs. He kissed my neck and his hands went up thigh to my butt. He felt good on top of me. His body pressed into mine. I had never felt the weight of someone on top of me. It felt nice.
His hands left my legs and went up my shirt. They were cold and I felt goose bumps forming on the back of my arms. A chill went down my back, his tongue touched my neck, and his hand groped my breast. Suddenly, I had an impulse to push him off.
I sat there. I crossed my arms. I was drunk, lightheaded and the room spun. I looked at him. He was staring at the big screen TV .
“Sorry.” I said.
He looked at me. He shrugged and got up.
“It’s cool. I’m going to get Jake.”
George dashed upstairs. I could hear frustration in his footsteps. They reminded me of my mother when her and my dad were arguing. Then I heard murmurs of conversation. I looked at the fifth. It was half gone. Two sets of footsteps crossed the floor above me. The front door opened and closed.
A moment passed. Becky came down. She sat down next to me. Her hair was a mess. There was a smile on her face, one of success. She took a shot of tequila and then poured me one. I tipped it back. I turned on the big screen TV and we watched Everybody Loves Raymond. I passed out first. When I woke up the next morning, Becky was gone.
I didn’t hear from Becky for the rest of weekend. My mom worked Friday night and Saturday night, so I didn’t see her either. On Sunday, she made breakfast and then took me to buy a new pair of jeans. I was nervous about Monday. I was nervous about history class. I didn’t tell Becky anything about George. She never asked. I was mostly worried George telling everyone how I couldn’t handle my body being touched. How I acted like I was still in eighth grade. They would question my sexuality and wonder why I’m not like Becky Saunders, or Tiffany Gates, or even Brittany Kovacks. Those girls got all the attention and all the cute boys to buy them chocolate and give them rides home from school.
Monday in American History class, George wasn’t as funny as he usually was. He didn’t say anything to me and I avoided eye contact. That was that. And at lunch, Becky told everyone about how she screwed Jake Mills on my mom’s bed. I wasn’t happy about that, but it had already happened. I was mostly just relieved to know no one knew anything about Thursday night.
When I got home after school, I got a check for forty dollars from my dad. I signed it off to my mom and she gave me some cash. I texted Becky and told her I got some more money for the weekend. She sent back a smiley face.