No one was home when you led me to the bedroom you shared with Tony, at his mom’s house in the Big Basin woods, for the second or third time. Two twin mattresses lined the floor over thin, worn carpet. You grew up in a much nicer house than Tony’s, but once you turned eighteen you couldn’t go back there. Not with all those rules.
You put on music. The Garbage Deluxe album.
I was on my period, and
I didn’t accidentally tell you that.
You didn’t mind at all. I sort of did. But you eagerly undressed; helped undress me. This was no passionate fever rush of hands and mouths and torn clothing.
This undressing was almost clinical; the methodical disrobing of doctor’s offices and school locker rooms. You told me you loved me. You told me you were good at this.
But I was good at faking. Fooled you every time to spare you and forsake myself.
Can’t believe you fake it.
You didn’t even put a towel down over the sheet, that’s how much you didn’t mind my period. I endured it, biting my lip, acting the
while Shirley Manson droned,
This is not my idea of a good time.
On and on, it went,
between these walls
where you didn’t make eye contact. I tried not to look at the red stain at our groins, at the sheet beneath me, soaking into the mattress.
It was helter skelter
down there. But I only wanted
to be close to you.
You can touch me if you want.
But what I wanted most was to take a shower and scrub this all away.
I can make you clean if you want me to,
watch my blood swirl the drain. Hershey’s chocolate syrup in that Psycho scene we watched together.
This is not what I came for.
You used a dirty black shirt to wipe yourself down, then left the room, closing the bedroom door behind you, keeping the family dogs out, and you walked naked to the bathroom off the living room.
Only a few minutes went by when, by
a stroke of luck,
the cd ended, so I could hear the jingle-jangle of dog tags when the front door opened. Tony’s mom was back with his toddler brother. She called out to see if anyone was home, and I watched the bedroom door knob turn. I sat up, drawing my knees to my chest, covered by a thin sheet that I pulled up to my chin
looking like a little ghost
knowing she was about to catch me in your bed.
She poked her head in and saw me. Her mouth formed an O but the word was nearly inaudible.
If flesh could crawl.
She knew I was fifteen, or just about. So did you. You were still in the bathroom, silently cursing.
She closed the door and went to the kitchen to pour her toddler some
You greeted her as you emerged from the bathroom and scurried back to the bedroom, wrapped in a tiny hand towel, the only garment you could find.
She came in here, I told you. You acted surprised. But you wanted to keep going anyway. You put some more music on. Cradle of Filth. And complained you hadn’t even got off yet, but
if you want my sympathy, my dear
I had to stop you right there because I never, ever got off.
When we walked back to the bus stop I wouldn’t look back, but offered a silent
never to return to that house again.
Jody Rae‘s creative nonfiction essays appear in The Avalon Literary Review, The Good Life Review, and From Whispers to Roars. Her short story, “Beautiful Mother” was a finalist in the Phoebe Journal 2021 Spring Fiction Contest. She was the first prize winner of the 2019 Winning Writers Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest for her poem, “Failure to Triangulate”.
image: Madeleine Tomasoa is the co-creator of Koening Zine and the current Assistant Editor for Sledgehammer Literature. They enjoy watching cars go around in a circle.portfolio: madeleinetms.carrd.co