There was a storm raging on the most beautiful day of my life. It was early afternoon, but the sky was nearly as dark as night. It kind of felt like the world was coming to an end, too, especially being locked outside in the rain.
And here my parents were gone out for the day, not even in the same city. Normally, that would have been an awesome thing. Just kicking back, blasting tunes, sitting around in my underwear, playing video games with nobody nagging me to clean up or be quiet. Except, my idiot brother left his keys at the gym. I called to ask him if he had them before I left my buddy Evan's place, and he said, "Yeah, yeah! I got them." And he just hung up on me. What a douche.
So I'm standing on my front stairs getting soaking wet, and he comes strolling along and asks me why the hell I'm standing outside like an idiot.
"I'm waiting for you!" I said, nearly screaming with rage.
"Well, where the fuck are your keys?" he says.
"I told you, I haven't had them in like a week. I don't know where they are. I asked you if you had yours!"
He searched his bag.
"Well, I had them at the gym!" he says. And then he punched me and called me about 18 different names for not having mine.
For fuck sakes. What a dick.
"Well, go back to the gym and get them!" I told him
"I just got off an hour-long bus ride! I'm not going all the way back now! Fuck that!"
We were nearly in a fist fight by the time I figured out what to do. He was ready to take a rock and smash the window, but I stopped him.
"Wait! Why don't we just go over and hang out with Debbie until mom and dad get back?"
"What the fuck we gonna do at Debbie's? All she ever does is watch TV all day. She's a weirdo psycho bitch."
It was a dickish thing to say about a girl who you've been friends with your whole life. We've lived next door to Debbie since we were little kids. She used to let us play in her sandbox and on the swing set her parents had in their back yard. We used to play hide n' seek, and tag, cops n' robbers, and all that. It was fun. And she always invited us to her birthday parties, even if we didn't have a present for her.
Well, all that ended when we hit junior high school. Suddenly, my brother was too good for her. She hit puberty and grew up kind of tall and skinny and awkward, and he became this super hot shit jock douchebag, all popular at school with all the ladies, into all the sports, and invited to all the parties, and too good to even talk to Debbie, never mind be her friend. Then in grade ten, he got a girlfriend, this little bimbo named Jessica with more tits than brains, and suddenly he was acting like he was too good for everybody. He'd gotten laid finally, by a girl who worshipped him a little too much, and he walked around like he was God's gift to humanity.
The worst part about my brother having a slutty little girlfriend is I was forced to keep watch every time he brought her home after school. He literally made me sit at the bottom of the stairs while they fucked in his bedroom. I was supposed to holler when my parents' car pulled up. I had much better things to do, and it drove me nuts listening to all those moans and squeals of hers, and the smug, gratified laughter when it was all over, like she owed him or something, and it was a good thing she'd paid up. But every time I tried to tell him to fuck off, he threatened to beat the shit out of me so bad I wouldn't walk straight for a month. The dude was in kickboxing, so I sort of believed him. I never argued much. Maybe deep down inside, I actually liked listening to those moans and squeals of hers. She was pretty damn hot when she was getting laid. I just wished she had a better boyfriend than my asshole brother. She could have any guy she wanted.
But he's a douche. He has been for years. He's about 9 months older than me, but about five years stronger than me. He's got more muscle than brains, the kind of guy who thinks it's hilarious to kick the shit out of anybody who disagrees with him about anything, or just simply looks funny to him. A real winner, that guy. And I'm stuck with him for a few more years yet. I guess I shouldn't be surprised to hear him making fun of poor old Debbie.
For my part, Debbie's okay, I guess. She's never done anything wrong to me, so why should I have anything against her? Years ago, she would actually come knock on our door to invite me over to play. Lately, I've hardly seen her outside at all. I still say hi to her when I do see her, but we never really hang out any more. She eventually just stopped coming to school altogether, and it was a rare event if you ever saw her step outside her house. Nobody knows why.
"She's not a psycho," I told him. I knew damn well arguing about it was pointless, but I was cold, wet, and bitchy. And he was being a dick, so why not? The worst that could happen was I'd get some new bruises. Big deal.
"If you like her so much, why don't you go see if you can fuck her? You don't seem to have any luck with a normal human being." He laughed his horrible, hateful laugh. You know a guy's a prick when he can insult two different people in a single line, and without even trying.
I was mad now, and not even afraid of him kicking my ass. "You don't even know how much of an asshole you really are, and how much everybody honestly hates you. That's the saddest thing about you. You walk around thinking you're the king of the fucking school, but there's not a single person who doesn't talk shit about you behind your back. You're so fucking lame, and stupid, and full of shit. But everyone's afraid of you, so you're completely oblivious."
He kicked high and fast, right at my face. But I knew it would be coming, and I pulled back. His foot stopped in the empty air. He held it there, the way someone would brandish a clenched fist, just showing off his bullshit kickboxing moves. Someday, I'll just kick him in the nuts when he does that.
"You're fucking lucky I'm tired from my workout. Next time, I'll kick your fucking face in, and you'll be even uglier. Everybody loves me. You're just jealous. You should hear the shit they say about you."
Maybe I should just run away. At least living on the streets the abuse would be less predictable.
"Fine. Stay here and get soaked. I'm gonna go knock on her door. If you bust out any windows, don't try blaming it on me. She'll be my witness!"
I left him there, soaked and miserable, and went next door to knock.
Debbie answered. She looked like she was surprised to see me.
"How's it going?" I said, water dripping off every part of me.
"What... ?" she replied, more out of stunned surprise to see me standing at her door than not hearing what I'd said.
"I said, how's it going? I'm sorta locked out and my parents are gone out of town for the day. Mind if I come in and warm up? My idiot brother left his keys at the gym downtown, and I don't even have mine."
"But..." she began. I was still standing there, shivering, looking like a corpse someone had pulled from the river and stood up on her front step, all pale, and cold, and soggy. I could feel the heat coming at me from out of her front hallway. It was lovely.
"Are your parents home?" I asked after a moment's awkward silence.
She shook her head, no. A crack of lightning flashed in the gloomy sky above the trees on our block. Thunder rumbled across the sky, warning godless heathens everywhere that the world may indeed be coming to an end. At least it sounded that way to me. Either that, or the gods had a really epic bowling game going on up there. I flinched at the boom, but Debbie jumped.
"So I can't come in because they're not home? I'm gonna freeze to death. When are they gonna be back?"
"Well ... we're just watching a movie, and..." She trailed off, glancing back toward the living room.
"We?" I asked, sniffling as a drop of water fell from the end of my nose. Debbie was an only child. If her parents weren't home with her, who was?
"My cousin is here," she answered robotically. "Her dad said nobody was allowed over, under any circumstances. They didn't even want to leave her here, but they had an emergency funeral to go to, and they didn't want to leave her home alone during a storm. My parents won't be back until after ten or eleven, maybe."
"All right, then," I said. "I guess I'll go freeze to death. Enjoy your movie." I shoved my hands into my pockets and turned slowly away, dreading a long night of sitting on the front steps listening to my brother's bullshit. Maybe I could just get on a bus and ride around and around the circuit until my folks got home. Or maybe I could just go hang around the convenience store a few blocks away. Trouble was, I had no money. So both those ideas were out.
Another blasting boom of thunder rumbled, even bigger this time. This time, I jumped, too, and Debbie nearly screamed. It shook the entire neighborhood. Car alarms went off. The streetlights dimmed a little for a moment. A dog barked wildly from somebody's backyard somewhere, all in a panic.
"Wait, Luke!" Debbie said, as I got to the bottom of her stairs.
I turned back.
"Maybe you could... visit ... for a little while. It's kind of scary being all alone in here. What if the power goes out?"
"Your parents would want you to be safe, right?" I suggested, hopefully.
"I guess," she says.
I trotted back up the stairs. She stepped back, opening the door to let me in.
Her house smelled kind of funny, like old laundry, and medicine, and stale food. I hung up my hoody on the door knob, letting it drip dry onto the old brown welcome mat they had. Debbie got me a towel from a laundry basket at the bottom of the stairs. It was folded, so I assumed it was clean, though I couldn't really tell from the smell of the place. I dried my hair off, and ran my fingers through it a bit, getting it out of my eyes. I patted my face down a bit. She took the towel and dropped it back onto the clean ones. Ugh. My shirt and pants were still relatively dry. It was just my hair and my sweater that were soaked. I felt better already. It was so blissfully warm in there.
We walked into the living room. It was mostly dark. The flickering TV was the only light, other than a crack in the curtains where lightning flashed through every few minutes. My eyes slowly adjusted. But even by this inadequate lighting, I could see it was a mess. The coffee table was piled high with pop bottles, take-out containers, candy wrappers, and empty chip bags. There was popcorn everywhere that must have been in a bowl at one point but it had been spilled and never cleaned up. The bowl had been taken away, but the spill remained. It was kind of disgusting. There wasn't an inch of space on the table that wasn't covered by some sort of debris. There was even an old long-necked vodka bottle lying sideways on the table. It must have been polished off by her parents at one point, but now it just had the stub of an unlit red candle in its mouth. Some of the candle wax had dripped down onto the hardwood floor.
The TV was to the right of me, beside the doorway. To the left was the front picture window, mostly covered by two heavy brown curtains that were hung ceiling to floor. There was a couch in front of it. Across from the doorway was a loveseat. The coffee table, with its piles of debris was in front of that. To the right was an easy chair. All of this filled up only half of the long rectangular living room. Behind the easy chair was an empty space with only an exercise bike in front of the matching picture window at the back wall, and an old stereo system that looked like it hadn't been used in decades. We used to play back there, when we were kids. We used to build forts with the couch cushions. We used to have snowball fights with rolled up socks, and play tug of war with towels. Debbie used to be so full of life.
I hadn't been in that room in so long, and I was about to say so, but then I stumbled to a stop and just stood there dumbstruck. There on the loveseat opposite me was the most absolutely beautiful angel of a girl I'd ever seen. I took one look at her and kind of wondered if maybe the gods above were fighting over her. My heart nearly stopped. She looked up at me with these eyes that seemed to sparkle, even in the dim light of the darkened room with only the flicker of the TV to light them. Her lips were absolutely gorgeous, pouting out in an invitation to the most beautiful kiss you could ever imagine. Her hair was long and blonde, hanging nearly to her waist in these two ponytails that were flung lazily down across her back. She looked like a goddess, or at least an angel. All that was missing was a halo, or wings.
And I nearly had to slap myself to stop from staring at her boobs. Muh-mee-mah-moo ... mmmy God! My brain babbled to itself. It's a good thing I hadn't been in the middle of saying something! She was sitting cross-legged on the couch, with utterly flawless posture. Her back was straight, and her tits were thrusting out toward me as I stood in the doorway looking like I'd been struck by lightning myself. So much boobs. So much boobs. So much-
"Hi," she said. I gave my head a shake, rousing myself from my little daze. Her voice was lovely, too, soft and gentle and sweet and soothing, like she could explain to you all the mysteries of the universe, and you would believe every word she said without question.
"Huh," I replied. It was supposed to be hi, but it came out as more of a grunt. I felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach all of a sudden. I stood there like an idiot, just staring and blocking the doorway, until Debbie finally squirmed around me and stepped between me and the angel.
"This is my cousin," Debbie told me. And to her, she said, "This is Lucas Anthony Clark."
"Just Luke," I corrected her.
"Hi, Luke," her cousin said, and she smiled so sweetly, I felt the invisible man boot me in the gut even harder than before. It was all I could do to stay standing upright.
"Hi," I managed to sputter out finally.
Debbie continued, looking me up and down as though she'd never actually seen me before, and she talked so deadpan and miserable, you'd think she hadn't slept in two weeks. "Lucas lives next door. We've been friends since we were kids. He comes over now and then to play. Well, he used to, anyway."
"You look like you're freezing. Do you need a blanket?" the angel said. She was staring at me with what looked like a combination of terror and awe and deep concern. But her voice sounded calm enough. She pulled the blanket from her lap and handed it to Debbie, who handed it to me. I draped it over my shoulders like a disaster victim. Man, was it ever warm. Luxuriously warm! It had been on the angel's lap.
Debbie was still standing there, looking back and forth between us, like she was confused about what species I was or something. "Is it all right if he visits with us for a while? He's locked out of his house, and there's a storm."
"It's your house," the girl said. "If it's okay with you, who am I to argue? You can't just leave him outside!"
"But your dad..." Debbie began, and she trailed off once more.
"My dad's not here right now. And he won't be back until after supper. So, it's really up to you. Maybe the storm will burn out after a while. But sending him out there right now would be inhumane!"
Another crash of lighting and thunder rumbled the house, as though nature herself was pleading my case.
"I guess so," Debbie said. And she let out a deeply troubled sigh. "I just don't want you getting in trouble."
"I'm sure we'd be in even more trouble if this poor boy died of hypothermia. I'm sure even my dad would agree."
"I seriously doubt it. But whatever," Debbie says. "Have a seat, Lucas. You can hang out. But you better be gone before any adults come back."
"Seems like everybody's parents have gone missing today," I told Debbie. "My parents are out at a convention for my dad's work. Her parents are at a funeral. Yours are... somewhere."
"They went on a date. Mom and dad hardly get any time alone any more. They're ready to scream. They don't like leaving me alone, but since she's here, they decided to seize the opportunity."
"That's so sweet!" angel girl said, with a happy sigh.
"I don't think your dad liked it much."
I moved to sit down on the couch, the one in front of the window. The beautiful girl was sitting in the shadows on the couch across from the TV. I wasn't so presumptuous to move right in and sit beside her.
"You can't sit there," Debbie said. "I'm lying down there. I don't feel well."
"Oh," I said. I looked over at the other couch, where the goddess was sitting so prettily. She patted the seat beside her. Oh, my God! Suddenly, my stomach felt like it was ready to explode. Some people get butterflies in their stomach when they're nervous. I get fireworks and lava. Just hot, burning, panicky pops and fizzles in my gut that feel like I'm being stabbed or something. And they were really nuts at the moment. It usually begins with me feeling like I was kicked in the stomach, and before I know it, I feel like I'm gonna throw up. Mom thinks I need to see a shrink. I'm pretty sure I just need to go a few days without getting threatened or beaten up by my brother for no apparent reason. A vacation from him would do me wonders.
So I moved to sit next to this beautiful golden-haired goddess. I should have been celebrating, but I was actually in a silent panic. Debbie flopped down on her couch, pulled a blanket up to her chin, and stared at the movie. She didn't really look like she was watching it, though. She was just staring at the motion and colors, like a zombie.
The first thing I noticed when I sat next to her cousin was how amazingly pretty she smelled. Compared to the rest of the house, she smelled like a flower garden. I could smell her shampoo. I could smell her clothing. It was all so soft, pretty, and girly. I kinda wished I could smell her skin. She moved over a bit, making room for me, uncrossing her legs and sliding her feet down onto the floor. She was wearing this knee-length skirt, but the motion she made let it slip upward across her thighs. She smoothed it down again, but not before I got a really nice look at the gorgeously smooth skin of her upper legs.
"What you guys watching?" I asked, forcing my attention to the TV.
"Some adventure thing," the girl said. "It's kinda boring. This guy, Austin McKinley, is trying to find some lost jewel in the jungle before the bad guys do, and there's this giant snake chasing them all."
"Austin McKinley, huh?" I said. "Sounds like something Debbie would put on. She was a big fan when were little. She always wanted to be the damsel getting rescued."
"Debbie's not even really watching it. She's been sleeping all morning."
I turned to look, and sure enough, Debbie was passed out already, snoring lightly with the blanket right up to her chin.
"That seems kind of rude when you have a guest over."
"She can't help it. She has some sleeping disorder that makes her conk out randomly all day long."
"Oh. Really? I guess that explains why she hasn't been going to school much this year."
"You're in her grade?"
"Used to be. I'm in grade ten now. She isn't. She started missing more and more school in junior high, and finally she just vanished. We knew she hadn't moved or anything, so we'd always wondered what happened to her. I did, anyway."
"Yeah. She doesn't come out to family get-togethers much either. This is the first time I've seen her since we were kids."
"That's strange. I mean, this disorder she has. It must be awful."
She gestured at the mess on the table. "As you can see, her parents are coping the best they can, but they both work full-time, and they come home exhausted. They're supposed to be home-schooling her, too, but it's slow going. Apparently, something's mixed up in her brain, and she lives her entire life like somebody who hasn't slept in like two or three days. I can't even imagine."
"I can't go half a day, and I'm already dead tired!" I said. "No wonder she passed right out."
"Me, too. It's really sad. She's missing out on half her life, just sleeping all the time..."
It was quiet for a few minutes. A crack of thunder rumbled outside. Debbie didn't even stir, but her cousin reached out in a flash and grabbed my hand, startled. She gasped so prettily, too. Her hand was soft and warm on mine. Mine was still cold, and I would have just let her hold it all day, if I could have. She let go quickly enough, though.
"Sorry. That just scared me. Crazy storm."
The rain and wind roared on. The people in the movie prattled on about their schemes and conflicts. I wasn't paying any attention, though.
"What grade are you in?" I asked, very curious about absolutely anything and everything there was to know about her.
"Ten. Same as you. Same as her."
"So you're fifteen, too?"
She nodded, sitting up a little straighter, as though I were challenging her maturity. It could not have been further from the truth. She almost looked like she should have been done with school by now, and moved on to a career in modelling.
"What school?" I asked. "I've never seen you at Sherman."
"Saint Mary's. It's a private school. All girls. It totally sucks."
"You walk around in those cute little outfits, with the skirt, and tie, and beret?"
"Yup. That's me," she said with a dreary little sigh. "In winter, they even let us wear a matching sweater. Wooo. Fun."
"I see girls walking around like that sometimes. Must be all Saint Mary's girls."
"Yup. I hate it. I feel like a soulless clone in that get-up. The only good thing about it is not having to compete with other girls over fashion choices. Nobody's gonna tease you for dressing dorky or slutty or whatever when we're all wearing the exact same thing. It's also pretty nice not having to decide what to wear every morning."
"I think they're cute. Very pretty. Gorgeous even."
"But we all look the same! Ugh!"
I was going to tell her that nobody could possibly be compared to her, but I chickened out. It sounded like too much of a line.
"So I gather you don't have much of a dating life," I said. "With no boys around, I mean."
"Nope. Never even had the chance to say no. I've never even been asked out."
"Damn. And here I was gonna..." Now it was my turn to trail off.
She laughed, nervously. "Oh, no! No dating for me. I'm not even allowed to talk to boys."
Something crumpled inside me, dismayed. It had taken so much courage to blurt out that half a line! But apparently, she was off limits. My stomach churned with renewed savagery.
"You're not even allowed to talk to a guy? Should I shut up?" I said.
She turned to look at me. I noticed her eyes were green. Maybe greenish-blue, like a moonlit pool in the dim grey light of the television. I had to look away. It was just too powerful. The rumble of thunder above wasn't helping the overwhelm of the moment.
"No. You go right ahead and talk," she said. "I actually love it. I never get to talk to guys. It's a huge deal, as pathetic as that sounds. It's like a whole new world. And it's kind of soothing, just listening to a male voice. I could sit here with you all day, just listening to you. As long as my dad doesn't find out, it's all good."
"When do you expect him back?"
"They're gone until after supper sometime. Six or seven maybe. It's two o'clock now."
"Is he gonna, like, beat me half to death if he walks in early and finds me sitting next to you?"
"I don't think he do anything to you. But I'd definitely be in deep trouble."
"It's not your fault some guy sat down and started talking to you."
"Tell that to Daddy Adolf."
Adolf? I grinned at that. Apparently, she had a Nazi for a father. But I could sort of see why he would be so protective. I can't imagine there's a man alive who wouldn't immediately start trying to fuck this girl the moment he got her alone. I mean, I wasn't putting the moves on her or anything, but I sure as hell wanted to.
"What, does he expect you to run and hide any time a boy walks up and says hi, if he's not around?"
"Something like that."
"That sounds kind of psychotic."
"That's Daddy Adolf."
She sighed, long and lonely sounding. I desperately wanted to give her a hug. It was the only thought in the entire universe in that moment. But I was too afraid.
"Um ... what's your name, anyway? Debbie just called you her cousin."
"Do you have a girlfriend?" she replied, instead of answering.
That made my heart jump like a gun had gone off behind me. What the hell was she asking me that for? Was she gonna ask me out? No. Of course not.
"No. No girlfriend. Um... why?"
"I was just wondering, 'cause, you're kinda ... hot." Her voice trailed off into a whisper, as though someone had choked the breath right out of her by the end of the sentence. "Your hair is just sort of like, all over the place, and hanging down over your eyes like that. It's kinda dark and mysterious and sexy. And your shirt is kind of sticking to your skin. I can see your muscles. I can't believe you're single. Sherman girls must be totally blind!"
More dynamite and lava exploded inside me. How much more of this could I stand before I just fainted? I somehow managed to formulate a reply.
"I got caught in the rain. Sorry," I said, running my fingers through my hair. It immediately fell down into my eyes again.
"It looks good. I love dark hair on a guy. So sexy. Like a movie star."
"Um, thanks, I guess. I must be just average to all the girls I know. There are much hotter guys than me. I guess, compared to them, I'm invisible. At least nobody's ever called me hot before."
"Well, you just came right out and asked me to go out with you. That almost made me faint! Nobody's ever been that bold with me before."
"I find that amazingly difficult to believe."
"Look at you! You're just... absolutely..." I didn't know how to finish that sentence without sounding like a creepy pervert who'd been eye-fucking her since I walked in the door.
"I'm just absolutely?" she said, smirking. She nibbled her lip nervously. God, I wanted to kiss her so bad.
"I mean. I just ... I don't know. You're very pretty."
"Thank you, Luke."
"You still haven't told me your name," I said.
"What kind of girls do you go for, I mean if you did have a girlfriend?"
Once again, she'd avoided the question. And it was such a strange question to ask. I just stared at her for a moment, first wondering why she was asking. It's not like she could date me, even if she was my type (which she totally was!) Then I was trying to think up an answer that didn't sound as dorky as I felt.
"I don't know. It would have to be somebody who's as smart as she is pretty. Not the dumb, slutty type."
"There's a dumb, slutty type?" she asked. Her brow wrinkled cutely. Sheesh! Was this girl from another planet?
"Well, I know this one girl, Jessica. She can barely speak with proper English grammar, but she's so hot, guys are lining up around the block to sleep with her. I don't know. I would kind of feel like I was fucking a little kid, if the brains aren't there, you know? I mean boobs and ass are nice and all, and I'm sure the sex is great, but you'd have to talk to them after, and it would be just be pointless and annoying."
She stared at me with wide eyes, and I felt another flash of panic for having talked so openly about sleeping with some random girl to this sheltered little angel who'd barely even talked to a guy before, never mind about sex!
Finally, she answered, breaking the awkward silence. "I guess the guys who line up to get with her don't plan on talking to her much, once they're done with her."
"Well, she's got this really douchebag boyfriend now. They've been together for a few months, and they fuck, like, just about every damn day after school. So far, he hasn't gotten bored with her, but he's not too bright himself. They're a perfect match, I guess."
"How do you know that?" she asked me.
"How do I know what?"
"How do you know that they're doing it every day after school?"
Whoops. She had a point there. I hadn't mentioned that it was my brother or that the two of them were doing it right next door while I was forced to keep watch. From her point of view, it must have sounded kinda creepy. And telling her that would be even creepier!
"Because he's always bragging about it!" I said. And it wasn't actually a lie. "He's always carrying on about how sexy her ass was jiggling, how nice her boobs were bouncing, and how tight her little pussy was every day after they're done. Sometimes he goes into great detail about how he sprayed his load all in her face, and other times he brags about how he comes in her mouth and she swallows for him. It's really lame."
She was quiet. I looked over at her. Her face was a mask of shock and awe. Damn! I'd done it again! Fuck! She blinked a couple of times, just staring at me.
"Wow. So much information," she said.
"You're telling me! And I gotta hear about it!"
"It bothers you, hearing all those gory details of other people having sex? I thought guys loved stuff like that."
"Well, not really. It doesn't bother me. Sex is perfectly normal, I guess. It just pisses me off that he's telling everybody about it. That poor girl doesn't need everyone to know how much cum was sprayed in her face or how many loads she swallows in a week. Nobody should be treated like that, especially after they've given a guy something so special."
She stared at me in silence for a moment. Her eyes lit up with what looked like joy. I stared back, realizing how calming it was, just looking into her eyes. It wasn't so scary after all, now that we'd been talking for a while.
"You're such a sweet guy! If only every guy was as nice as you. The world would be perfect!"
"Sorry. I'm just venting."
She shrugged. Then she was quiet for a few moments. Somebody got shot on TV, and the camera followed the guy as he bounced all the way down a cliff. The car he hit exploded in a gigantic fireball. It must have been one of the main bad guys. I kinda felt like that in that moment. Mr. Crash-and-Burn.
"What's the furthest you've ever gone with a girl?" she asked me.
My jaw dropped. Here we'd just met, like, ten minutes ago. And here her cousin was snoozing away on the couch five feet away from us, and she was asking me about my sex life like we were life-long friends or something! My brain melted a little.
"Why are you asking me that?" I said, turning to gape at her. Then I added an awkward little smile, just to make it seem like less of a rebuke. It was kind of a weird question to ask somebody you'd just met, though.
"I'm just wondering. Have you ever had a girlfriend? Have you ever done... stuff?"
"Have you?" I shot back.
She blushed a little. She smirked. "Stupid question. Take a wild guess. Anyway, I asked you first!"
"Well," I said, pausing to think. "I've had two girlfriends. One was in grade eight, when I was thirteen. All we ever did was hold hands and kiss sometimes, not even open-mouth kissing either. Just smooches, like you'd give your grandma. It was really lame, but at the time, it was a huge deal."
"What was her name?"
Her name was Sherrie Lee Di Briola. I could see her face in my mind. My stomach tightened again at the very thought of her.
"Sherrie," I said, and I think she could tell I was upset.
"How did it end?" she asked. A frown never looked so pretty as it did on her.
"Why do you want to know that?"
"I'm just curious. I've never had a boyfriend. I wonder what it's like. I ask everybody I meet about their love lives. I'll never have one of my own."
"Nope. Never even kissed a boy. How pathetic is that?"
"What a terrible tragedy," I muttered.
"A tragedy? What do you mean?"
"I mean, somebody somewhere should have kissed those amazingly beautiful lips by now."
She blushed again. And I worried that it had come across as some sort of cheesy line, but I honestly meant it. Her fingers went to her mouth and touched her lips, as though wondering if I was actually talking about her. Then she quickly pulled her hand away.
"I think you're avoiding the question," she said, glancing away at the movie once more.
"What question? I forgot already."
"How you and Sherrie broke up, and why."
"She found a new boyfriend," I said. I didn't want to tell her that I'd walked into my house one day and found Sherrie on her knees giving my brother a blowjob. That memory was still painful for me. She tried to say it was all just a mistake and it would never happen again, but I later found out that my brother had been messing around with her for a couple weeks by that point. When I confronted him about it later, all he said was, "I did you a favor! Now at least you know she's a whore!" I never wanted to beat the shit out of somebody so badly in all my life. But in a way, he was right. He wasn't exactly forcing her to do that shit. She begged me to take her back. I said no. I couldn't even look at her without thinking about my asshole brother, never mind kissing her ever again. Yuck! Then she begged me not to tell anybody. I never did, but of course my brother told all his buddies, and they all told everybody they know. She eventually changed schools. Oh well. I was nothing but nice to her, so it's not my problem, right? It still hurt, though. I'd honestly loved her.
"Oh, that's so sad? Why would she ever leave you for somebody else? You're so sweet."
"My second girlfriend did the same thing. Janet. I went out with her in grade nine, last year. Nothing much happened there. We kissed, open mouths and tongues and everything, finally, and she even let me feel her up a few times, but she was also pretty dumb. Her friend Michelle fixed us up together. It never should have happened in the first place. We didn't have anything in common except for a fondness for each other's tongues."
"You must be a really nice kisser," the girl said.
Ding! There it was. The first hint. I was too dumb to take it as a hint, unfortunately. In hindsight, I realize that was a very subtle invitation for me to show her how good a kisser I was, but I was too caught up in the memories to notice.
"Well, the funny thing is, it was Michelle who had set us up in the first place, but when she saw how good we were getting along, she decided she wanted me for herself. So she pushed Janet into dating some other guy instead. So off Janet went with some grade-ten guy, and when Michelle tried to hit on me the same night we'd broken up, I just told her to fuck off. I was so pissed off. I guess I should have at least made out with her. She was kind of hot, but I don't know. It was too soon, and I just thought she was disgusting to come at me tits-first, only like half an hour after I'd been dumped."
"Maybe she just wanted to make you feel better."
"She's the one who told Janet to dump me! Janet even told me so. Anyway, they were both a couple of idiots. I was glad to be done with them. And I'm so glad I never lost my virginity to her. Apparently, she's been with four guys since me. Anyway, I've been single ever since."
She was quiet for a minute. Another rumble of thunder boomed. The storm didn't seem to be dissipating at all. I ran my fingers through my hair again. She just stared at me. And the movie chattered on in the darkened living room. Debbie was still snoozing, dead to the world.
"What's it like?" her cousin said.
"What's what like?"
"Kissing someone. All I've ever experienced of it was from movies and TV. And this one wedding I went to where the groom kissed the bride so hard, they nearly fell right over. It was so romantic!"
"I don't really know how to describe what it's like," I confessed. "I guess, it's really nice, touching somebody's nice soft lips, and feeling their wet little tongue, all wiggly and pretty in your mouth. And you can taste their breath, too. You just close your eyes and just get lost in the moment. Time and space and gravity and reason all seem to just fade away. All you feel is the kiss, like everything in the entire universe is sweetly wriggling around on your tongue."
"Wow..." she said. "That sounds beautiful. I wish I could try it."
(Hint, hint. D'uh! Stupid me.)
"The most beautiful thing about it, though, is how you feel inside, like down here in your tummy. It's like, all the anxiety, and fear, and stress, and troubles, and insecurities you go through every single day all just suddenly vanish, and there's just this pretty little jumble of excitement and happiness. It makes you feel like you're falling, sort of terrified and elated at the same time. I guess that's why they call it falling in love."
"I wanna feel all that," she said, whispering now. "Oh, God! You make it sound so beautiful!"
The hint couldn't have been stronger. She was staring right into my eyes as she said it, and even leaning toward me. But I just sat there like a dumb shit, staring back. Even just looking into her eyes was overwhelming me once again.
"I guess you'll feel it someday, when you find somebody who's-"
She cut me off, suddenly grabbing my shirt, rushing forward, and pressing her beautiful, sweet lips onto mine. My heart jumped, panicked as usual, but somehow I managed to keep myself from pulling away and falling right off the couch in shock. We just sat there, with our lips pressed together, probably looking like a couple of statues in the dim light of the living room. Her lips were indeed as amazing as I'd imagined, soft, sweet, moist, like living candy. There was nothing else in the world for an instant. Just a lurching bang in my chest as the shock hit my heart, and the soft sweet beauty of her kiss.
But she held it there, until the shock wore off. Then I could feel the warmth of her boobs against my chest, too. They weren't even touching me, but they were very close. I just sat there, stunned, wondering how I'd gotten so lucky. Finally, she pulled away, breathing a little heavier, and looking at me like I'd scared her somehow.