Issue 37 June 2016
I’m all nerves getting ready for this. My fingers shake so badly I ask my best friend Angie to do my makeup. She snatches the black eyeliner from my hand and stares into my face with a sigh. Digging the pencil into the skin just below the corner of my eye, she draws a thick outline below my lower lash line. I feel the skin prickle, imagine it raising into a red welt. When our eyes meet I can tell she’s pleased she hurt me a little. She’s not a fan of tonight’s game plan and she’s definitely not a fan of Jason Sellers.
She grinds the tip of the pencil into my top lid and drags it across. Then repeats on the other eye. “Look -- I know you’re just trying to make some moves. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. It’s just…with this guy? Not a good idea, gurl. He’s out of your league.”
I glare at her for stating the obvious. Of course Jason and I don’t work. I’m geek-smart and socially awkward. My nose is too long, my thighs too fat. He’s a starter on the football and lacrosse teams. His teeth are white, his lips are pink and his eyes are the color of a blue raspberry slushy. He is Zeus, and what he seeks are goddesses, not poor white girls with frizzy hair who only ever have illicit affairs with Hershey Kisses and donuts. “Everyone’s out of my league.”
Angie shakes her head, making that tsk tsk, shame on you sound. “This crazy-bad self-esteem is getting you nowhere.”
Just as she’s about to launch into her shtick, the how’s anybody gonna love you when you don’t love yourself thing, my bedroom door swings open and there’s my six-year-old sister Helen, my mother’s cooking apron hanging from her neck and sweeping her toes. She mixes pink and green slime together in a bowl, her fingers stretching, fumbling to reach the whole way around the plastic pig face that is the whisk’s handle. Helen smiles at us. “I’m making French-made bread. It’s from French.” She drops the whisk into the slime and straightens her tiara, trailing bits of slime through her hair. Her face is filthy and the cuffs of her light blue shirt are smeared black as if she’s used them to blend the hard lines of a charcoal drawing. Not gray, not brown, black. I bite my cheek and smile back, reminding myself that she’s six and practically motherless, of course she looks like she’s climbed through a chimney.
“They’re pretty,” Hunter said, as he motioned to the vase of white lilies on my nightstand. “I brought drinks.” He handed me an already opened vanilla Coke, as he sat next to me on my bed.
I took a sip of the Coke and coughed. “What’s in this?”
“Some extra love.” He raised his eyebrow and smiled at me with his perfect teeth.
Butterflies fluttered in the pit of my stomach. I cleared my throat. “I’m not old enough to drink, remember?” I handed the Coke back to him.
“Yes, but you're also not old enough to be with me, yet here we are.”
I turned my head, and stared at the vase of lilies. Then turned around to look back at him. “Five years isn’t a big deal, plus you’re so immature we might as well be the same age.”
We both laughed.
He inched closer to me, taking my hand. “You know, Red, you’re the only person I know that can make me laugh like that.” He nudged me and we both lay on my bed facing each other. He traced my freckles with his fingertips and said, “In a town full of beer drinkers, you're my favorite glass of wine.”
“I hate it when you say stuff like that.” I removed his hand from my face.
“Because it reminds me of why I’m in love with you.”
Hunter became silent.
I ran my hand through my hair and grasped it. I let out a quick, high-pitched laugh. “Just… just kidding. Forget I said that.”
Hunter rolled over on top of me and kissed me. He put his mouth on my neck, moving down to my collarbone.
“Wait, Hunter… wait.”