Scapegoats

Girl With The Black Shoes

“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” Mary Margaret belts out horribly as she stands on the chapel stage. Televisions on either side of the stage display the lyrics with a lovely follow along highlight. Willow, Philip, Haven and I all sit in the very last pue, furthest away from both the stage and the teachers. Willow wearing her red heart shaped Lolita glasses, applies dick shaped lipstick on her thin lips. Philip has a pair of drumsticks and is banging them against his knees to the beat of the song. Haven has torn out a page from the bible in front of us and is practicing rolling joints with it. I’m reading a copy of Valley of the Dolls and fantasizing about having sex with Lyon Burke.

“Let us pray…” Carol Sue begins as everyone bows their heads. “Dear God, please give Mrs. Magor and Mr. Gardener the strength to teach us Your word. And give us as a school the strength to not give into temptation. Please help those congressmen in the White House make the right choice in regards to same sex marriage. And please help Taylor in her recovery. That’s all I have for you today Lord. In your name we pray, amen.” Everyone repeats amen and heads out the chapel doors.

I smooth my uniform plaid skirt over my muscular thighs and tap my pencil against the cover of my level 2 English textbook. Fluorescent lights shine down upon the distressed purple cover that’s disintegrating beneath my pink eraser. My legs are crossed at the ankles and swinging side to side beneath the desk.

Mrs. Hughes has the date scrawled in the upper right corner of the whiteboard- “Friday March 10th” The desks are arranged in clusters of four, Willow is in the desk beside me and Philip is sitting across from her. Ugly filing cabinets are lined up against the wall behind the teacher’s table. The outdated overhead projector clicks on and displays an ultraviolet blue on the board. Haven barges into the classroom, late as always.

“It’s nice of you to join us Mr. Light.” Mrs. Hughes says as he sits down at the empty desk across from me. He tosses his black backpack on the ground and looks down at me with his breathtaking eyes.

“Did I miss anything?” He asks in a rather careless manner. Haven has this way about him, so smooth yet rough, so flawed yet perfect. He has somehow figured out a way to be every bad thing in the best of ways.

“Nothing ever happens… so no.” I reply as he situates himself in the uncomfortable arm desk.

Mrs. Hughes peruses by our desks holding a stack of graded essays in her arms, she pauses to snatch the black beanie off of Haven’s head. “You know the rules, no hats!” She reminds him as she places his hat next to the failing essay on his desk. The essay is entitled- “Why Recreational Use of Marijuana Should Be Legal”

“Oh c’mon Mrs. H! I really tried!” He exclaims as he holds the essay up in the air.

“Stick to the prompt next time Mr. Light.” Mrs. Hughes says and then places my essay on my desk, “Should Teens Have Access to Plan B?” It has an A+ written on it with red pen. Mrs. Hughes starts instructing us on how to fill in our reading logs as she passes out the rest of the essays.

Willow reaches below her desk and pulls a red converse off of her foot. She sets it on top of the desk and starts to unlace it. Haven snatches it from her and starts to do it himself. The shoe laces are tediously woven into little rectangles before being returned to Willow. She brings her foot up onto her desk, her emerald toes tense to fit inside the shoe, and she slips the converse back onto her un-socked foot.

“Excuse me Miss. Watson, but if I wanted to work with animals I would’ve become a zookeeper! Put your feet on the floor and sit like a lady.” Mrs. Hughes says to the fearless Willow, who sticks her tongue out in response.

“If I wanted to work with animals I would’ve become a zookeeper.” Willow mocks under her breath and laughs to herself. Her kinky blond hair is in two space buns on top of her head, a #2 pencil is suck through one of them.

“Psst.” Haven slides a note onto my desk, I glance at the teacher to make sure that she’s not looking as I grab the note and unfold it under the desk.

“What are you doing over spring break?” It reads, I grab a pen out of my bag and reply-

“Going to South Padre with Willow.”

Our fingers comfortably sweep against each other as I slide the note over onto his desk.

“When you get back, we should hang.” He enunciates the words with his pretty boy lips as he whispers them. I cock one of my eyebrows up ostentatiously and turn my attention to the teacher.

“The right column is where you will record what page number you’re on…” I feel admiring eyes on me, Haven quickly looks away once our glance meets, I laugh to myself and shake my head dismissively.

When the bell rings Haven ejects himself out of his seat and hurries over to the door. I through my backpack over my shoulder and trail behind him. He holds the door open and motions for me to go through. As I do, his hand ever so slightly grazes my butt before taking hold on one side.

“You know it’s a myth.” He says as he releases his grip and wraps his arm around my shoulder. I inhale an orgasmic breath of his cologne and feel a strange sense of reliance on him.

“What is?” I reply as I’m expected to.

“Beauty or brains…” He sees one of his friends and goes to talk to him. I continue walking down the hall to my next class.

Willow is by the Mr. Gardener’s desk when I walk in, talking to him about extra credit. When he tells her no, for the 9th time this week, she roams to her seat in the back of the classroom. I take a seat at the front and start reading what I was supposed to last night for homework. I feel his old eyes undressing me, so I button up my shirt. I feel the desire expounding from his heart, so I pull down my skirt.

“Alex have you taken it upon yourself to exempt my final?” He asks me as he takes a seat on the desk in front of mine.

“No I’ve decided to take it.” I reply as I take my binder out of my backpack and place it on my desk.

“I’m glad.” He says oddly.

“Why?” He’s looking at me in this way that makes me squirm in my seat.

“I think you’ll do good on it, that’s all.” As he gets off the desk the chair is filled by Haven.

“Excuse me, Mr. Gardener.” He says passive aggressively.

“So sorry Mr. Light, didn’t see you there.” Mr. Gardener adjusts his underwear as the bell rings.

“Ok class…” He starts, but I can’t bring myself to listen. I feel so violated, even though he hasn’t done anything. He has this control over me that I hate. There’s just something about him that makes me what to run away. Somehow I have an A in the class even though I barely study and struggle on the worksheets we fill out in class.

The hour goes by without a single laugh or interest in what was being said to me. The blandness of my life is almost unbearable, with hints of sexual confusion. But finally, the bell does ring, and instead of rushing out of the wooden portal like everyone else, I approach him.

“On second thought Mr. Gardener, I want to go ahead and exempt the final.” I tell him as his big blue eyes blink in disappointment.

“Ok, I will let the office know. See you after the break, Alex.” There’s this strange pause after he says my name. Like he wants to say something more but can’t. I walk out of the room and feel relieved that today is a half day, and that I don’t have to go to Bible.

I get into my mom’s Mercedes and she begins driving, continuing her phone conversation that soon turns into white noise. I watch the trees so by, the clouds and the power lines intersecting into one. How can people believe in outer space and not believe in ghosts? I wonder if outer space is just something NASA made up to scam people out of their money… The phone call ends and pulls me out of the weird zone I was in. We pull into my driveway and I get out of the car.

“Did you have a good day babe?” My mom asks me as I fish the mail out of the box.

“Yeah it was fine.” I say as I shut the mailbox.  The humid air attacks the prickly goosebumps on my skin thanks to the car’s air conditioning. Specks of water begin to fall from the grey sky, my arms reach up to touch the manicured clouds but my starched polo shirt resists. I run my ice cold fingers through my long hair, starting at the scalp I comb through the hairs to the end without any interruption. The rain starts to pour down on me as my mom parks in the garage. Before going into the side door, I take a look at my house. The traditional red brick exterior looks nice up against the stormy sky.

I enter into the house through the side door and set the mail down in the laundry room before heading into the living room. There’s a large velvet sectional couch next to a skeleton of a lamp, the lanky pole starts at the ground and goes up toward the stucco ceiling. As I plop down on the stiff couch, my dog comes running down the hall leading to my mom’s room.

“Tito!” I call out and make kissy sounds with my mouth. The fluffy white lap dog jumps up beside me on the couch. I hear my mom open up a cabinet in the kitchen and glass chime against the granite as it’s set on the counter.

“Yes, yes, I am very aware about the divorce proceedings.” I turn to see my mom standing behind the counter with her finger up to her mouth, a bottle of red wine in front of her. Once we make eye contact I nod and she opens up a drawer to get a corkscrew.

 

Salt Water And Other Liquids

“Do you keep promises?” I ask Willow as she drips the wet sand onto her pale legs.

“Sometimes.” She admits as she crushes the little tower of sediment built upon one of her knee cap. The ocean expounds itself onto the shore. Her kinky hair is blown into her face by the humid breeze. I scrub my thick legs with the sand, picturing the baby smooth skin beneath the granules. Polluted water comes crashing at my toes, the foam starts to eat away at the dirt beneath my toenails. A disastrous laugh escapes the grasp of Willow’s lips.

“What?” I look over at her, and she throws a wad of sand at my stomach. “Hey!” She gets up and starts running, I follow her. Her red one piece starts to ride up as she sprints down the contaminated mess Texas calls a beach.

Her brother Cody and his friend are tossing a football, Willow throws herself behind him. He confusedly thrashes around in attempt to get a glimpse at her faultless face. She dodges his glance, using him as a shield against whatever I may throw at her. Cody mentally checks out by throwing the football back to his friend, Cliff.

“Y’all dinner is ready!” Willow’s mom exclaims from the balcony as her newest boyfriend opens the puny grill. Cody leads everyone up the splintery stairs. The screen door of the hotel room is haphazardly thrown open as we all barge in.

“A divided Supreme Court on Friday ruled that same-sex couples can marry nationwide, establishing a new civil right and handing gay rights advocates a historic victory.” A middle aged woman announces. She looks deeply into the camera with airbrushed eyes that have seen too many things. Her hair curls around her plastic face, making you wonder if any part of her is real. Cody quickly turns off the TV.

“Fucking fags.” He mutters under his breath and spits what’s left of his dip in a styrofoam cup someone left on the coffee table.

The glass door to the balcony is thrown open with his calloused hands. The orange sun has began to dip its bottom half into the sea. We all file out of the door and stand next to a rickety picnic table. Disposable eating gear presents itself among the surface. Willow grabs the pliable tongs and places a hotdog on her paper plate. I pause and do the same. We all sit down, the boys talk about football, Willow texts on her phone, and the parents begin to have a conversation.

“Can you pass the buns?” Willow asks her brother, who chucks the empty carbs at her face. As I stare into the sun water pools in my eyes, I refuse to blink. The parents are looking too intently into one another’s eyes to notice Willow flipping Cody off. I break my mesmerizing stare into the setting sun to laugh at Willow’s self expression. Sherbert colored clouds have dispersed themselves throughout the sky. They’re so beautiful my eyes have to do a double take around the atmosphere.

“You ok?” Willow asks me as she sets her phone face down on the table.

“Yeah, I’m just taking it all in I guess.” I reply quickly thinking to myself that maybe this is how people feel when they look at me. Puberty, it’s a strange thing to get used to. It seems as though people think I have gone from a mesmerizing disaster to a beautiful work of art in the matter of a few months, and two bra cup sizes. The latest boyfriend prepares to eat by dressing his hotdog with mustard. He smudges his cheek with the smooth yellow substance, Willow once again picks up her phone. I take a bite of my hotdog, my stomach’s growling only dissatisfied with the cold center of the processed meat. My gag reflex does its job, and I do my best to calm it down. The dog casts a shadow across my plate as I calmly set it down. Reluctantly swallowing my food, I put my elbow on the grimy picnic table. Willow brings her hotdog up to her mouth and takes a bite. A look of dismay is displayed on her face, her sun kissed nose shrivels up.

“Mine’s not cooked either.” My whisper is undermined by Cody’s comment.

“No dude Texas A&M sucks ass! Kevin Sumlin is a fucking joke!” His mom gives him a shameful look that he quickly shrugs off. The boyfriend sets a black ring box on the table.

“I love you.” He says, catapulting her face from angry to happy in a split second. It’s amazing the things boys will do for sex.

“Oh babe!” She says as she turns toward him, her hands cover her mouth as he opens the box.

“Will you marry me?” His face displays a slimy smile as Willow’s mom’s hand extends itself toward the ring.

“Yes!” She exclaims as the ring is slipped around her finger. He kisses her, hard and warm and perfectly. Willow’s face is expressionless, the taste of marriage has been present in her mouth so many times, it has begun to lose its flavor. Cody is pissed, and Cliff, like me, doesn’t know what to do with himself.

Once we’re done eating, and the boys have moved on to the lovely topic of baseball, Willow’s mom says. “We’re going out for a while to celebrate. You kids be good.” She nods and shoots a serious glance into Cody’s eyes.

“Take care of your sister.” It warned.

“There are tons of movies on the on demand.” Willow says weakly, her knee is up against her chest and her eyes once again fixate themselves on her phone. My wet bikini bottoms start to dampen my jean shorts. The adults go back into the room, and few seconds later the screen door leading to the hallway is slammed shut.

“Damn I’m sorry bro.” Cliff says to Cody in the most inappropriate way possible.

“Fourth time in 3 years. Doesn’t mean much anymore.” Cody pops up out of his seat and goes into the room to shut the front door, Cliff follows him.

“Let’s go.” Willow says as she stands up and throws the rest of her food into the grass below.

Our barefooted feet make their way into the kitchen. Cliff is sitting on a wooden barstool trying to hook his phone up to a bluetooth speaker. He clicks on a playlist and turns up the volume. Loud party music with loads of bass explodes out of the pocket sized device. He bobs his head and jumps off the stool. Cody stands behind the bar, taking shots of Tito’s Vodka left and right. We pause in front of the bar, he bends down and gets two more shot glasses. He fills them up to the brim before sliding them to us. I look down at them, Willow grabs hers and takes it. My shaky hand begins to extend toward my glass.

“Have you never taken a shot before?” Cliff yells over the music.

“I’ve never even drank.” I reply as I pick it up and drain the cup.

“Well I hate to pop your cherry.” Cody says as he grabs our cups. He struggles to precisely fill them up again. “But we’re all drinkin tonight.” A shot is handed back to me, and I take it immediately, my body goes slightly limp.

“Willow is this your first time drinkin as well?” Cody asks her as he leans on the white laminate countertops.

“Yes.” She replies as she takes a seat on one of the stools.

“Well as a big brother, I’m proud to be present for this moment.” A smile spreads itself across his southern face.

“Why are you gettin all southern all of a sudden?” She mocks his accent.

“Ha! I told you!” Cliff exclaims, his dark finger has made its way into Cody’s face.

“Oh fuck you!” Cody pushes his hand away.

“Your brother talks like a country boy when he’s drunk.” Cliff explains to Willow, he mocks him as well.

The kitchen is a failed attempt at an all white modern look. With outdated appliances and the cheapest countertops ever made, it’s just waiting to be redone. Cliff gets cups and Cody grabs some Crown out of the cupboard. Willow and I are entertained as we watch them take shot after shot. I longingly stare at the cup as Cody places it down on the counter after his 3rd bang. I feel as though this is a movie, the young 15 year old girl hanging out with older, troubled teenage boys.

Cody puts ice into plastic cups. He turns around to open up a cabinet and takes out this pineapple flavored syrup, the kind that you can make snow cones with. He pours it into the cups, and puts a splash of water in it before adding the vodka. Unhesitant, he hands them to Willow and I. Cliff takes out laser flashlights and gives each of us one. He turns off the lights and we point them at the ceiling. We move them to the beat of a song by The Weeknd.

“Fuck yeah!” I say loudly after I take a shot of whiskey and throw my hands up in the air. One of the green lights starts to flicker.

“Motherfucker!” Cliff exclaims as he bangs his fist against the wall. The light blinks a few times before going out completely.

“Cheap ass shit.” Is muttered under his breath while taking a sip of his drink. Cody flips on the light switch and Willow starts to lean closer to the ground. I extend my arm to try to catch her, but my body goes numb, and we tumble from the stools to the floor together.

“Fuck…” I say calmly as I try to make sense of the fact that I barely hurt at all.

“Shit are you ok?!” Hysterical Willow sits up and starts to get up off the tile.

“Yeah I’m fine.” I say in a matter-of-factly way as I struggle to pick myself up off of the floor.

“Lightweights.” Cliff laughs and I smirk.

“I guess so.” I reply as Willow sits on a cooler. There’s another one right next it. I lay on top of the large green cooler and start rolling around the room. Willow opens up the hotel door, and I roll outside into the hallway. It’s very humid and I can hear the crickets chirping as the night begins to grow wrinkles. Cliff gets behind my cooler and pushes me down the hallway.

“WOAHHHHHHHH!” I yell as my cooler comes to a stop in front of the wooden planks that serve as railings to the outdoor hallway.

“Do me! Do me!” Willow begs Cliff like a little girl, so he gives her a good push. I start laughing as her cooler collides into mine. Cliff is walking toward us and Cody follows him. Willow and I both stand up.

“We’re goin to the pool.” Cliff motions down toward the inground pool that’s surrounded by cracked pavement.

“Do you wanna swim?” Willow asks me as I glance down at my wet tank top.

“Yeah.” I reply and follow them down the stairs.

“Are y’all even wearing swim suits?” Cliff asks us for some reason.

“No we’re going to swim nude you dumbass.” Willow informs him sarcastically.

“I mean that’s just fine with me.” He gives her the up down, Cody throws his shirt on a lawn chair and jumps in. I take off my clothes and lay them beside his then walk over toward the steps. The water is still lukewarm from the sun beating down on it all day. Without meaning to, I fall in.

I watch the air bubbles leave my nose as my body sinks to the bottom of the shallow end. The underside of the water looks like a smeared painting. My lungs demand air, and the oxygen in my stomach starts to pull me towards the surface. I hear a muffled sound of someone jumping in, I surrender and allow my body to swim up higher. My lengthy hair is weighed down by the water, thick strands cover my mouth, I’m gasping for air.

“You good?” Willow asks me.

“Yeah I’m fine.” I reply before dipping back underwater to slick my hair back. I go under the rope into the deep end, where the boys are doggy paddling. They both turn and look at me as I take a seat on the latter.

“Abbey how big are your tits?” Cliff asks as water drips down my semi flat stomach into the pool.

“My name is Alex.” I enunciate and cross my arms underneath my bikini top, Willow balances herself on the rope.

“Ok Alex, how big are your tits?” He reiterates then laughs under his breath, Cody looks at him disgustedly.

“You’re such a perv…” Willow says sharply as she bounces up and down on the closely wound rope. “Do you think I can walk across this like a tightrope?” The water swishes as she gets off of it and stands in the shallow end.

“Maybe if we hold it.” Cody swims over to one end of the rope and Cliff swims over to the other.

“Ok…” Cliff grabs one of the white floats strung on the rope and pulls it toward him. Cody holds her hand and helps her up onto the braided nylon. Willow sticks her arms out to help her balance and puts one foot in front of the other. Her feet twist and turn jerkily on the rope, allowing her only to perform a few steps before falling back into the water.

“I have an idea.” Cody says and rearranges his grip on the rope.

“What is it?” Willow asks, I start to swim toward her with my head above the water. I see myself as a sexy frog swimming through a mystical lagoon for a split second.

“Y’all sit down on the rope.” The blue rope it digs into my ass as I sit on it. An interesting sense of heavy weightlessness possesses me, resulting in my posture going to shit. Everything seemingly neglecting to matter as my muscles relax all at once.

The water sloshes beneath Willow and I’s feet and we are hoisted up into the air. We scream girlish rollercoaster screams as we go up, and down; in and out of the water. The boys pause for a moment and we’re just sitting atop the rope. I put my hands around the rope on either side of me, and pick myself up, I want to adjust where the rope hits me. I nearly lose my balance, so I through one of my legs into the shallow end and temporarily straddle the rope. Looking down into the water, I don’t realize Cliff coming and grabbing the rope. He lifts it up, causing something very painful to occur.

“Stop… stop!” He releases it back into the water and I fall into the pool holding my crotch. Willow swims toward me and I whisper to her what happened, she laughs.

“I wonder if it broke your hymen…” She says as she searches the water for blood.

“We’re going to go walk on the beach.” Cody swims toward the stairs and climbs out, Cliff isn’t far behind him.

“Do y’all want to come?” Cliff asks, Cody shoots him a disapproving glance.

“Are y’all going to smoke or something?” Willow inquires as she too gets out of the pool.

“Yeah.” Cody admits as I grab onto the metal railing and feel the water resist against me climbing up the steps.

“Can we come?” She pleas as I squeeze out my long dark hair and shake my hands dry.

“I mean I guess, but you can’t tell mom.” He concludes as he wraps a towel around her shoulders. I come up behind them and grab my clothes off the lawn chair.

“I won’t.” She inspects him with her curious eyes and he nods in agreement. We follow them through the gate and onto the beach. Cliff leads us into a cluster of these big sand dunes, and pulls a pack of cigarettes, along with a lighter out of his shirt pocket. The bright blue flame dances along the end until igniting the cig. Cliff takes a long drag before passing it to Cody, who takes a seat in the sand.

“Y’all sit down now… We don’t want anyone to walk past and see you. It doesn’t look good on our part.” He explains before bringing the cigarette to his mouth.

“What are you talking about? It’s pitch black out here.” Willow points out as a choir of crickets continues to chirp.

“Just sit down.” He orders us, and I comply.

When we are both sitting down, Cliff hands each of us a cigarette and has us bend over the lighter with it in our mouths. The smoke fills my mouth and I’m quick to spit it out. It has this dark peppery taste to it that makes me want to vomit.

“Ew this is so fucking gross.” I say as I hold the cigarette out in front of my face. “I don’t want anymore… Do I just drop it in the sand and stomp it out?” Cliff takes it from me.

“No it’s fine, I’ll have it.” He assures me as I lean back into the sand dune and watch the stars. After Willow smokes her whole cigarette she decides she wants to go walk on the beach.

“Do you ladies need some company?” Cliff asks in the most douchebag way possible.

“No.” Willow replies and wraps her arm around me. I feel my feet sinking into the sand as we walk along the shore.

“Do you think he’s cute?” She asks me as a baby sized wave slams against the ground.

“I don’t know.” I reply, because I really hadn’t thought about it. “I mean I guess, if you’re into indian boys!” I laugh.

“No I’m serious, do you think he’s cute?! I need practice before I go out with Philip. I’ve been writing Willow Langmore on my English binder for so long it’s practically covered.” She reiterates, and lets the arm that was wrapped around me fall to her side.

“No.” I admit.

“Oh.” She replies.

“I’m going to tell you something, but you can’t tell anybody.”

“What is it?”

“Just promise you’ll keep this a secret…” I grab her arm and make her look at me.

“Yeah, yeah ok. Now what is it?” She pulls her arm away from mine and I feel like I can’t tell her.

“Just nevermind.”

“No really what is it?”

“I just… I don’t really know…”

Dear whothefuckever,

The momentum of the night had me snowballing into the climax of this coming of age movie I seemed to be staring in. I suddenly mattered to the world, I’ve been feeling this way a lot lately. Everyone looks at me different, and I’m treated differently. Suddenly I matter because I can be used for something along the lines of sex.

I am no longer viewed as a child, the waiter never asks if I’ll be needing a kids menu, he instead asks me if I would like anything from the bar. In the blink of an eye I went from girl to woman and now I’m forever treated like one. I can’t run around the house naked anymore, and it’s no longer funny to smash my face into my birthday cake. Anything I do can be taken the wrong way, and what people think of me really matters. I mean I do want to be married one day right? So in order to not drown alone in cat litter, I must sit up straight, cross my legs, and be sexy.

Sexy is a thing that has taken me some time to master, but I think I have it down. It’s all in the smile. It’s the carefree laugh that conforms itself into a relaxed grin. The grin is slightly curled up higher on one side, that’s my cum face. I can tell from the reaction, and the social media likes, it’s what people want to see. I am suddenly everything any little girl should want to be, and it’s a lot to take in. I have to watch myself though, I can not be seen as even slightly promiscuous until college.

The Morning After Many Nights

“Wake up!” Willow nudges me, my eyes flutter awake.

“Wha… what happened?” I sit up, not remembering where I am or how I got here. Willow is kneeling down below the air mattress, wearing a light blue night shirt that her nipples poke through. Her blonde ringlets recede down her chest. I throw the rough sheets off of my legs, and notice that I am covered in sand, wearing nothing but a swimsuit.

“We were supposed to leave yesterday remember? We gotta go now.” She says as she puts her hair behind her ear and gets up off the floor.

“Did your parents ever come home?” I ask her as I get up out of the uncomfortable raft-like-bed. Recalling that we stayed thinking they would come.

“No, but we have to get on the road if we intend on making it to school on time.” I see my horrific reflection through the mirror that serves as the closet door.

“Good god, what time is it?” I ask as she opens up the door and walks into the kitchen.

“Around 5… Do you want a cup of coffee? It might help with the hangover.” She turns around and gets a IHOP cup out of the cupboard that was probably left here by some previous guests. My head throbs, I feel like absolute shit. The bathroom door opens up behind us.

“Oh morning hot stuff.” Cliff says with his towel wrapped around his waist as shower steam surrounds him. Willow hands me a cup of coffee.

Cody gets out of his cot and mutters something along the lines of, “Fucking loud.” under his breath before closing the bathroom door.

Cliff walks into the kitchen, sweeps Willow off of her feet, and plants a sloppy wet kiss on her lips. He sits her on the counter and proceeds to take off her clothes. I take my coffee into my bedroom and drink it as I pack my stuff up. I unzip my backpack and fish out a dirty school skirt, a wrinkly Polo, and a Calvin Klein bra.

“Comin in.” I announce as I hold my hand in front of my face to avoid seeing the action taking place in the kitchen. But against my better judgement I sneak a peek, Cliff is bent down over the counter snorting a line of white powder.

“What the fuck?” I say and Willow explodes out from behind him.

“I promise you it’s not what it looks like…” Cliff stands up straight and lets out a satisfying grunt.

“Did you do it?!” I exclaim as Cody comes out of the bathroom door beside us.

“I thought we were selling that shit dude!” He goes over to the counter and starts shoveling what’s left into a little bag.

“I did a line last night…” She pulls me into the bathroom and slams the door behind us. “But listen…” She whispers, “You can’t tell anybody about this. It was a one time thing, and it’s not that big of a deal!”

“Fine.” I say just to get her to shut up and skedaddle so I can take my shower.

“Ok thank you.” She breathes heavily and I notice how awful she looks.

“Put on some makeup, you can’t go to school looking like that.” I tell her as I turn on the shower and start taking off my clothes.

“I didn’t bring any.”

“Use mine, it’s in the blue bag.” I get into the shower and turn on the water. I can see Willow studying herself in the mirror through the clear plastic curtain.

“What even happened last night?” I ask her as I put some soap in my hair.

“We have to leave in 10 minutes… remember we have an english test.” She says before leaving me alone in the bathroom.

“Shit.” I say to myself as I quickly rinse the rest of the soap off and remember that I haven’t even started studying the vocabulary words. I grab a damp beach towel off the hook attached the the wall and dry myself off. My clothes are in a pile atop the closed toilet seat, I grab my underwear off the top and slip them on along with my bra. I check to see how my ass looks in the mirror before putting on my skirt. To avoid getting toothpaste on my shirt, I put it on after I brush my teeth. My hair hangs down in wet clumps that I disrupt by running a comb through. Dark circles are very prominent under my eyes, I smother them in concealer and tap it into my skin as I open the door. Sand off the tile floor sticks to the bottom of my feet like glue. I pause to cringe for a moment before running into the bedroom and throwing my dirty clothes along with the make up bag into my backpack. Willow is standing over the twin bed zipping her suitcase, she packed way more than me.

“You ready?” I ask her as I slip my converse on.

“Yeah.” She says as she puts the suitcase on the floor, detracts the handle, and begins to roll it out of the room. The boys are standing in the kitchen beside their packed belongings smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee.

“Y’all have everything?” Cody asks us, I peer into the bathroom but see nothing but damp towels left behind.

“Looks like it.” I reply and we file out of the front door.

“Oh Willow, Mom texted. She said that her and Max decided to take a spontaneous trip to Las Vegas…”

“Oh no, not again.” Willow puts her face against her palm and Cliff presses the elevator button.

“What?” I say as the elevator arrives.

“She got remarried.” She explains as I get into the elevator.

“I don’t see why y’all are so worked up about this. I mean I know that she’s your mother and all, but she can make her own decisions.” Cliff says to the worried siblings as the elevator sinks down to the ground floor. The scratched steel doors open as a loud dinging sound send shivers down my spine. We walk past the pool on the way to the parking lot, it looks tired. The sky is this light blue color that it is right as the sun is starting to rise.

Cody opens up the back of his truck and throws Willows suitcase into it.

“Well it’s been fun. Good luck with everything.” Cliff says as he hugs Cody goodbye.

“Bye.” Willow says as she gets in the front seat. I sit in the backseat and pull up my english flashcards on my phone.

“Commemorate… to recall and show respect for.” I say to myself as Cody gets behind the wheel wearing his school uniform.

“Are you good to drive?” Willow asks him as he puts his seat belt on.

“Yeah I’m fine, I slept a whole 3 hours.” He says as he starts the car.

“Ok.” She says as I scoot over into the middle seat, knowing that if we did get into a crash it would be the safest place. I look out the window in between flashcards, the sun has just started to rise, but a cloud is beginning to drift over it, sprinkles cover the windshield. The car is attempting to lull me back to sleep with the soothing melody of the highway, but I won’t allow it to.

“Commemorate…” I force myself to read. “Commemorate, commemorate, commeneermate….”

There’s an unacknowledged excitement running through my veins that I can’t help but come to notice. It seems as though I have just figured out that I have my whole life ahead of me, and am very happy about it. I do stupid shit for inspiration, but I’m actually very smart. When I explain this to people, they are taken aback by the fact I will openly call myself smart. I guess they think young girls like to play dumb, so boys will like them. When in reality, it’s the boys who make the girls feel dumb. They try to make us feel like we’re stupid and that we need a man to help us along in life. We’re supposed to giggle as they cum all over our fucking faces and praise them for doing so. But no, I refuse. I don’t know how exactly I will go about refusing to become a subservient housewife, but I will. Maybe they feel the need to manipulate us into becoming who they need us to be in order to procreate the earth because they new that if we discovered lesbian sex, we would never talk to them again.

“How far away are we?” I ask, Cliff turns down the radio to answer me.

“About another hour or so. Are y’all hungry? Did you eat?” It’s funny, he actually sounds concerned about us. I bet next time he gets me drunk he’ll try and fuck me.

“We should stop and get donuts.” Willow suggests as we exit off the highway and approach a Dunkin Doughnuts. Cody pulls the car into the average looking parking lot and pulls into the closest empty spot.

I try my best to beat Cody to the door, you know so we don’t have to face that awkward situation where he opens the door for me and stares at my ass as I walk through i

OOPS

We arrive at school, Willow with the list of vocabulary words tattooed on her arm and I with a half hour of car sleep under my belt. I stick a glaze doughnut in my mouth and open up my beige locker, random stickers are stuck on the inside. Bustard the cat with a cigarette in his mouth, three succulents, and a CAUTION sticker. I open up the front pocket of my bag and retrieve a South Padre Island sticker that’s pink with two palm trees on it.

“How was your trip?” Haven asks me, Philip trailing behind him. I peel the backing off the sticker and hold my doughnut in one hand.

“Good. Did you go anywhere?” I inquire as I paste South Padre beside Bustard.

“Nope, all Philip and I did was sit around and smoke weed.” Willow walks in with a disgruntled look on her face. The extras on our locker movie set quickly skedattle out the large doorway. Willow closes the doors, pulls out her pink Sourin vape, and takes a hit as she approaches us.

“Ok can we please talk about this English test because I’m actually going to die.” She says as she hands me the Sourin.

“We can do the tap thing.” Philip suggests, I begin sucking and the vape spits juice on my tongue, slightly burning it.

“They’re catching on to that though.” Haven takes out his Juul and begins to suck on it. I hand Willow the Souryn back.

“I don’t want to help y’all cheat this time, sorry.” I say and look at the ugly navy carpeting.

“Well that’s just great, we have no brains now.” Willow says and begins to press on her temples in circular motions. Suddenly the door swings open, the vapes are hidden in pockets as Mrs. Magor stands in the doorway.

“Don’t think I can’t smell that abomination from my classroom.” She says as she shakes her head and crosses her arms beneath her bosom.

“I’ve been trying out new perfume. You like? It’s Victoria’s Secret bombshell.” Willow says as she sniffs her marked up wrist. The bells begin to chime.

“Get to class, and don’t think I won’t be mentioning this to the principal.” She turns around and walks back into her classroom.

“Shit.” Philip musters under his breath as he takes out his english binder from his locker.

“Glad y’all could make it. I was just about to start handing out the tests.” Mrs. Hughes announces standing at her desk with a pile of tests in her arms. “I hope you’ll understand that I’ve created new seating arrangements.” The center of the room, where we normally sit, is empty and each of our desks are in one corner of the room.

Haven begins to groan and says, “Come on Mrs. Hughes!”

Philip backs him up, “Is this really necessary?”

“Yes it is because on the last test, thanks to Alex I’m assuming, all four of you got an 89.” Mrs. Hughes explains as all the preppy bastards and bitches shit themselves. “And I will be mentioning this to the principal.”

Everyone falls silent, I decide to take the seat right next to Mrs. Hughes’s desk. She sets a test on my desk, leans down and whispers, “I need to speak with you after class.” in my ear.  I finish my test in about 35 minutes and sleep on my desk the rest of the period.

The bell shrills me awake. Everyone else evacuates the class as though there was a fire, their backpacks swung on in less than 3 seconds and their asses out of the room in 5. Mrs. Hughes follows the last person out and shuts the door behind them.

“Alex why do you help them?” She asks me as she takes a seat at her desk. I stand up and begin to speak.

“Because they’re my friends.”

“Can’t you see that they’re dragging you down? It’s not just them getting in trouble, it’s you too.”

“I just wanted to help that’s all.”

“You’re a smart girl, I see you growing up and immersing yourself into the writing world. Your last essay was impeccable… You do want to grow up and be a writer don’t you?”

“Yes.” I admit as the bell rings again.

“I’ll tell you what, if you promise me you’ll stop helping them cheat, I will see to it that you won’t get in trouble.” She says as she scribbles her signature onto a pass, and as I swing my backpack on.

“Thank you.” I say a little too sincerely before turning my back heading out of the room.

Haven is waiting in the hallway when I open the door. “So?” He says and wraps his arm around me. “What the hell happened?” I tell him everything she said, except the part about my friends holding me back.

“Well at least you won’t get in trouble.” He points out right as we reach Mr. Gardener’s room.

“Where in the world have you two been?” Mr. Gardener asks accusively.

“Procreating.” Haven responds provoking laughter as he sits at his desk. I hand the teacher the note Mrs. Hughes gave me and sit down as he begins to inspect it.

“Mr. Light I want you out of my classroom right this instant.” Haven expresses a look of shruggery and walks out.

Mrs. Magor clears her throat before she begins speaking. “If you don’t turn in your Washington DC permission slips by tomorrow, you won’t be going on the trip. Now I would like everyone to pay attention, to our presenter Alex. If you do not do so, points will be deducted off your project grade. Hurry up Alex, you’re wasting class time.” I walk up to the front of the class and take a deep breath.

“If God doesn’t want anyone to be judgemental a-holes… Then why is it that people think the Bible gives them the right to be? Leviticus 19:18 says- You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

“God wants us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Isn’t acceptance part of love? We should accept everyone as they are, instead of who we want them to be.” I start to walk back to my desk.

“Leviticus 18: 22 Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” Mrs. Magor reads, a wave of anger hits me and I can’t stop the tears from running down my face. I turn around and look her straight in the eyes.

“Well that’s just shitty.” I feel so empowered but scared at the same time.

“We don’t use that type of language.” She’s very angry, her face has turned into a tomato.

“You can’t build your life around a fictional book that constantly contradicts itself.” I retort, she slams her bible shut.

“Go have a nice little chat with the principle.” My body fills with relief as I walk out of the room. The door slams behind me, a smile spreads across my face. I can feel my plaid uniform skirt riding up in the back, but I’m too happy to care. I see Haven sitting outside Mr. Gardner’s room, he must’ve gotten kicked out of bible study too.

“Hey…” I say as a tear runs down my face.

“What’s wrong?” He stands up and wraps his arm around me.

“Mrs. Magor quoted something homophobic from the bible when I was arguing that we should treat gay people like everyone else.”

“Oh that’s shitty.”

“I know right!”

We head into the attic of the chapel. There’s an old pew in front of the round stained glass window. Rays of sunlight pour through the multi colored glass, making the walls different colors. We sit in the pew and I rub my feet against the dusty persian rug. Little particles of dust reach a ray of blue sunlight. Haven wraps his big arm around me and we sit in silence.

Cardboard boxes are stacked up against one wall, nothing but a ripped up bible is up against the other. A rat sits on top of the bible, munching on a passage from the book of Genesis.

“You should meet me after school.” Haven says and takes a hit off his vape and passes it to me. I take a hit and ask,

“Why?” as I exhale.

“Because I just bought an eighth and I want you to smoke it with me.” He says and then adds, “And…” Haven turns his head toward me, our eyes meet. He leans in and kisses me like every guy in the movies does. I pull back after a minute or so to say,

“Let’s ditch.”

“I’m down.” I smile and blush like crazy.

Dear Whothefuckever,
There’s that split second of silence between the bomb exploding and the sky clearing. When the dust is settling and the debris is falling toward the ground. That’s what it was like to kiss him.

POT

He hands me the joint, I put it in between my lips and inhale. I cough because it drys out my throat, it feels like I just ate straight cinnamon.

“You have to make it go into your chest.” He demonstrates this by putting his hand over his defined pecs, I take a deep breath in for practice. Then I take a deep breath in with the joint in my mouth. I can feel the smoke eating away at the pink hairs attached to my smoke free lungs. In a strange way it hurts, I didn’t know that I could feel anything in that part of my body. As I exhale, the smoke is carried away by the wind. I don’t feel any different, my mouth is just dried out.

“What am I supposed to feel like?” I hand it back to him.

“It just makes you feel more relaxed, colors should appear more vibrant, your thoughts should become clearer.” He takes a drag and exhales like a pro. “You’ll feel it just wait.”

“What’s your favorite word?” Haven’s blue eyes are getting cloudy as he looks at me out of pure wonderment.

“Euphoria.” I tell him, and everything goes kinda blurry.

“Why?” He asks me as I stare into nothingness.

“Because there’s nothing that can explain euphoria.” It feels as though I have just woken up from a dream when I finish that sentence.

“I like that… euphoria.” He says in deep thought, I see this slot macheene come out of nowhere. It has letters, the lever moves downward and the letters move. “Woah!” I say as I reach out and touch the slot machine.

“What… do u sea?” As soon as he says that I try to describe it, but then it goes away.

“Its… it was… this like… thing.” I try to explain it, but I can’t.

“Dude u… have a crazy low… Fuck! What’s that word? Toler…ance! Tolerance! That’s it!” He gets really excited when he think of the word he’s trying to say.

“I’ve never smoked… pot before… this.” I explane slowlie, he passez me the weed and I smoke sum more.

“Oh dude it’s… it’s awesome… really.” He asurez me as I give it back to him.

My whole body is numb with this strange tingling thing that I hate. My mind thinks slow, its like zoomed up on one single thing and won’t zoom out. I can’t see the bigger picture. I’m not relaxed, I’m freaking out because I’m being forced to be relaxed.

“I don’t… like…this.” It echo threw my head slower than I can say the letters with my tongue. I hear a crying baby, it sounds like there’s one right next to me. I need to help it, the baby crying, it hurt. As quickly as I can I turn to my rite and I am astonish when nothing’s there. I still hear, the baby, it somewhere, I can hear it. I got up to search for the baby.

“Dude where are you going?” Haven call out from binch, I can’t comprehend what he say. The baby is nowhere to be found. Everything is moving in flashes as I walk, I stop walkin. I’m stand in front uv Sweet Girl’s grave.

My knees can’t hold up my body, I’m going to fall. I just realised I’m cryin. Time don’t exist, lik I’m dead, time has disappeared. I have etirnety of pian and numbniss. I can’t feal my bodie. I’m floatin. I’m dead. Me Sweet Girl, Sweet Girl not gone. I screem, I’m sob, thus wil nevir end. It’s al my falt. Alex gon. In hell, whear she bealong.

“IT DON’T GO AWAY!” I yell with all uv my concous strengith. I wail add to the rever of teers streeming down my face.

“Shhh…” Haven sitin nixt me trieing realax me even tho it don’t work.

“You …mad at… meee.” I say havin flishback to whan I wus 5 and bein put in timeout. Time disappeers, u feal like ur missn out on life asa hole, and yur mizirabl.

“Just calm down.” His firm and asurd voice sayz. A parint parinting thear misbehiving child.

“I’m sorrrrry… I fuked up……… I didn’t mean to…… I am……. stupud………. I’mmm sorry.” I contrite, then evirything goes black.

Dear Whothefuckever,

Sometimes I wonder why I do these things to myself, only to remember that this is all a stunt to kill some time. I’m not at the fun part yet, the movie has barely started. This is just my attempt to get the plot going. All of these impulsive decisions, they’re nothing but me trying to get better at the game Never Have I Ever. I want the audience to slip off their seats a bit. I want their eyes to widen as they take another bite of their overpriced popcorn. For this is their escape from reality, and no movie tends to satisfy mine. Everything is just a dream, and reality is something left undiscovered to me.

Electric Blue

The trees surrounding us are dark up against the electric blue sky. I get up off the grass, my legs are unsteady. My eyes focus on Haven who’s asleep on the ground. His arms are crossed and he’s wearing a grey hoodie.

“Haven.” I say in attempt to get his attention. He doesn’t budge. “Haven!” I shake him awake.

“What?” He cracks one of his eyes open.

“I’m gonna go home.” I say in attempt to be cool even though I’m embarrassed as fuck.

“I’ll drive you.” He gets off the ground next to Stewart Green’s head stone. “Loving Father, Husband, and Shoe Maker.” It reads below his name.

“I’m sorry I freaked out.”

“Not gonna lie, it was kinda annoying. But I guess you just had a bad reaction. What medications do you take?” He says as he grabs my hand. Our arms swing back and forth as we walk.

“Vyvanse, birth control, and some antidepressant.” I tell him.

“Sometimes if you smoke on Vyvanse you hallucinate.”

“Oh that makes a lot of sense, I was definitely seeing some shit.” We reach his car a green topless Ford Bronco and he gives me a kiss.

“Don’t worry, you didn’t scare me away.” We throw our bags in the backseat and he puts the key in the ignition.

As we pull up to the red brick monstrosity of a house my mom pops out of the front door.

“Where have you been?” She asks as she starts to walk down the sidewalk.

“Hanging out with Haven.” I say as Haven waves slightly.

“Good to see you Ms. Abler. I’ll see you tomorrow Alex.” I get out of the car and grab my bag.

“Where were y’all?” My mom questions, I quickly respond-

“The library.”

Tampons Are A Sin

“GET ON THE LINE.” My basketball coach orders my team. We all take off our jerseys and line up on the baseline. He blows his whistle and everyone runs to the end of the court and back. I’m out of breath as I wait on the baseline for the other girls to finish. We run 8 down and backs before huddling up. It’s offseason, so we only have practice early twice a week, it’s not that bad.

“Everyone should be practicing their shot form. Everyday, two hundred reps. It takes 20,000 reps for something to become muscle memory. Invest in your game. C’mon Alex you break us out.” I take a deep breath before yelling, “LADY WOLVES ON THREE, ONE, TWO, THREE, LADY WOLVES!” Everyone runs into the locker room and to get changed.

When I walk into the outdated locker room I see Willow in her track uniform having a chat with Mary Margaret in her volleyball spandex.

“Hey Mary can you hand me my sock? It’s right there.” She points at the sweaty sock with her index finger.

“My name is Mary Margaret.” She replies smuggly handing Willow the sock.

“You can only have one fucking name! SO WITCH IS IT?! Mary or Margaret?!”

“My name is Mary Margaret… I can’t pick one.” She replies weekly in defence.

“I’m pretty sure on a birth certificate there’s only one blank for your first name. Sure Margaret could be your middle name, but no one would refer to you as Mary Margaret. Can you imagine if I insisted everyone call me Willow Wendie? That would be so fucking annoying for everyone involved. Me introducing myself to someone, twice as hard. Someone remembering my name, three times harder for them. Do you see why this is an issue Mary?” Willow explains to frail little Mary Margaret as she stands there quivering in her unnecessary sport bra.

“Maybe your parents just didn’t put as much effort as our parents did when coming up with a name.” Carol Sue, Mary Margaret’s best friend adds.

“Maybe my parents were just better at the process of elimination.” Willow retorts.

“Wendie that’s such a pretty name! Thanks for the input Willow Wendie!” Mary Margaret said sweetly as she grabs her shirt and leaves. “God be with you!” She calls as the door swings closed behind her.

“I think she won.” I whisper to Willow Wendie who’s aggressively removing her tank top.

“Heyy…” Haven says as he sits down in front of me, Mrs. Hughes moved our desks back together.

“I can’t fucking believe what Mary Margaret said to me.” Willow says to Philip who replies with,

“What did she say?” And then Willow told him the whole story. Mary Margaret was listening as well, a group over to the right.

“A classic religious extremist move, killing someone with kindness.” Haven says.

“Did you smoke a bowl before school?” I lean in and whisper.

“It’s 420 what do you think I did?” He caresses my hand, Mrs. Hughes begins speaking.

“Blah blah blah, reading logs. Yada yada yada, essays. Alex’s essay was exceptionally good. Alex do you mind if I send your essay out on the google classroom so people could read it?” She asks me, causing me to almost shit myself. Did she really think my essay on Plan B was that good?

“You can do whatever you want with it, I could care less.” I say as I feel myself get giddy and excited. My heart pounding a million miles a minute.

“Ms. Alden, Mr. Light it’s wonderful to see you. I hope no procreation has taken place today?” Mr. Gardener’s wire glasses are on the end of his wrinkly nose as he stands outside his classroom questioning us. Everyone else in their seats eavesdropping I would imagine.

“Only protected procreation.” Haven states with the most serious look on his face, I can’t help but giggle. Our hands join together.

“Well Ms. Alden I hope that Mr. Light has been nothing but the perfect gentlemen. I know I was with my wife. And that’s because she was my WIFE, not some silly little high school tramp.” Mr. Gardener says very matter-of-factly.

“Mr. Gardener, we’re just messing with you. And I really don’t appreciate you calling me a tramp. I’m as pure as a nun.” I reply just as matter-of-factly.

“I can not stress to you kids enough, how much of an emotional toll sex can have on a person.” Mrs. Magor prophesizes, her opening line for this year’s sex ed.

“And you don’t want to get pregnant before you’re married, so don’t have premarital sex.” The other woman says as she clutches a diagram of a vagina to her chest.

“Or just use a condom…” I suggest.

“Oh Lordy.” Mrs. Magor looks ashamed as she covers her face with her wrinkled hand.

“That’s not what God intended when he gave mankind the joy of sex.” The other one says.

“Condoms are just another way Satan has wormed his way into our society. Don’t even get me started on the gays…” Mrs. Magor glares at me.

“There are certain things that a woman must do in order to get into Heaven. You must be a good mother, a firm believer in Christ. And you must instill that in your children. Forbid them as you have yourself, of using contraception. For you are doomed to Hell if you interfere with God’s plan. Our society has distorted and destroyed the concept of sin. They’ve convinced a mass of God’s children that it’s ok to betray him. And God only forgives to those who are truly sorry. Those who apologize and don’t repeat their past mistakes. He forgives those who truly repent. Repentance is the only way to even come close to deleting the mistakes of the past. Girls when you kiss a boy, you aren’t just kissing them. It is something sexual to them. Wait until you are a lot older to do things like that. College is a very good time to start dating.” She proclaims right before the other one dives into the topic of menstruation.

“There comes a time in every girl’s life when she becomes a woman. Menstruation happens once every month, it is the shedding of the lining of blood in the uterus. The slang word for menstruation is period. You miss your period if you are pregnant. When you become old ladies your period stops, because your body has run out of eggs to fertilize.” She aggressively points at the diagram.

“Now to protect your clothing during your time of the month, you use pads.” Mrs. Magor holds up a pair of pink granny panties as she says this. She sticks the pad into the inside and displays it to everyone. “These should be changed every 2-3 hours. And wrapped up in toilet paper before disposal in the wastebasket.”

“You can not go swimming during your time of the month.” The other woman adds.

“You can if you use a tampon…” One girl calls out.

“The only thing that belongs in your vaginal canal is a child or a penis, that is if you are married. No foreign object shall be inserted in the beautiful flower God has given to you. Things such as sex toys and tampons are sins. And God makes those who use them pay… with such things as AIDS and Toxic Shock Syndrome.” Mrs. Magor explains.

“I guess I’m going to Hell.” I say under my breath causing many laughs.

“This isn’t a joke. This is a very serious conversation about the traumatic things you are undergoing in puberty.” Mrs. Magor says sternly.

“I’m going to Hell.” I say in a whiny voice as I get up and cover my face. A rehearsed cry escapes my lips as exit the classroom. I fake cry until I’m sure the door is completely closed, and walk down the hallway.

“Saintainist slut.” One girl standing in front of the bathroom says under her breath as I pass her. There is a deadness and overall discontent in me, I can barely walk. I hate it here. None of them like me. I don’t like any of them.

In the distance, I see Haven sitting up against a wall. “Oh shit what’d you do this time?” He asks me as he gets up off the ground.

“I pretended to believe that I’m going to Hell for using tampons. Proceeded to fake cry and run out of the room… I don’t God intended us to be trapped inside a windowless building all day.” I voice to Haven.

“Yeah neither do I.”

“What did you do to get kicked to the curb?”

“Asked about interracial relations.”

“Oh…”

“They said that it’s strictly forbidden in the eyes of the Lord.”

“Interesting. That’s really a shame because I am one to enjoy a good interracial porn every now and again.” I confess as we head into the top of the chapel.

“Really? I see you more as a lesbian in tights with a hole in the crotch filled by a big dildo type.” I start to climb up the ladder and Haven looks up my skirt.

“I know you’re looking.” I say as I reach the top.

“Not looking, just observing. There’s a difference.”

“Oh really?” His head pops up through the hole in the floor.

“Really.” He steps up onto solid ground and we reign the ladder in.

I kiss him and he picks me up, my legs wrap around him. He pushes me up against the wall, beside the stained glass, and puts his hand up my shirt. Stepping on an open bible in the process, the mouse’s favorite snack. I suppose he’s in his hole, giving us some privacy, he’s respectful like that.

Haven starts to kiss my neck as he holds my right breast, I feel myself growing more wet by the second. “Take it off.” I tell him.

“Yes ma’am.” He begins to unbutton, kissing me after every couple. I’m wearing a lacy black bra and a lacy black thong. A secret underneath my white polo and blue plaid skirt.

“The bra too.” I say, he sets me back on my two feet, and my polo drops to the floor. He unhooks my bra and kisses me down my chest, I move my arms down and the bra drops to the floor.

“Holy shit.” He says as he puts his hands on both of them.

“I know right?!”

Peanut Butter

“So what was it like?!” Willow asks me as she sits on the countertop.

“I can’t really describe it any other way other than amazing.”

“You hungry?” She asks me.

“Yeah.” She opens up the fridge and starts making pancakes.

“Do you eat pancakes for dinner a lot?” I ask her as she butters a frying pan.

“Yeah. Do you want chocolate chips in yours?” She asks me as the burner ticks and the blue flame skims the bottom of the pan.

“Sure, do you have any peanut butter?”

“It’s in the cabinet.” She slightly motions toward the cabinet above the dishwasher as she pours batter into the pan.

“I love peanut butter.” I get the jar out of the cabinet and get a spoon out of a drawer. Then unscrew the lid and dip my spoon onto it. So much peanut butter is compiled onto my spoon that I can’t fit it into my mouth. I lick a portion off the top, then sit on the counter across from the stove.

“Where’s your mom?”

“Not here. Where’s your dad?”

“That’s a good question.”

“Really? My dad is dead, and you don’t even know where yours is?” She flips the pancake, the top is light brown and the chocolate seeps out of the bread.

“I know where mine is, but I wish that I didn’t.”

“Grab a plate.” I set it next to the stove, she uses the metal spatula to get the pancake out of the pan.

“Thank you.” I tell her as I grab a fork out of the drawer. I spread a thick layer of peanut butter on the pancake.

“Why so much peanut butter?” Willow asks me as she puts a ridiculous amount of chocolate chips in hers.

“Protein. Why so much chocolate?” I ask her as I take a bite of my concoction.

“Period.” She flips the pancake over and I get a drink by putting my face under the faucet.

“We have glasses you know.” I reply with one of those annoying sounds of refreshment.

Cody and Cliff explode through the front door.

“Sup bitches.” Cliff says before falling onto the red couch.

“Can you be anymore disrespectful?” Cody says jokingly in a fragile voice.

“You sound like a fag.” Cliff replies as he turns on the tv.

“Are those pancakes?” Cody asks Willow as he walks toward the kitchen.

“Yeah, there’s leftover batter if you want to make yourself one.” She tells him before taking a seat on the counter with a glass of milk.

“Thanks sis. Oh hi Abbey.” He says in acknowledgement towards me.

“Cody, her name is Alex.” Willow corrects him.

“Some people call me Cobra, and still know who they’re talking to.”

“Oh my god.” She puts her palm against her forehead. I jump off the counter and walk around the kitchen island to sit at the bar. “I’d like to watch you consume that much peanut butter without a beverage.” Willow cocks her eyebrow at me.

“Ok it’s a bet.” I pause and eat some of my food. Cliff turns up the tv so everyone can hear Johnny football’s play by play.

“Hey Willow, do you know when mom will be back from her honeymoon?” Cody asks as he looks at the expiration date of the bacon.

“Sometime next thursday.” She replies before taking a sip of her milk.

“Shit… Did she leave any money?”

“She gave me a few hundred… and no, you can not have some.” Willow replies sternly.

“Please?! Willow my truck is almost out of gas.”

“Boo-hoo.” There’s a moment of silence, the ref makes a bad call resulting in boos from the crowd.

“I’ll buy you alcohol.” Cody bargains.

“Now you’re talkin.” Willow sits up a little and takes a few of twenties out of her back pocket.

“A bottle of Deep Eddy vodka, grapefruit flavored. Use the rest to fill up your car.” He snatches it out of her hand, and doesn’t even bother to put the bacon back in the fridge before leaving.

“Cliff you comin?” Cody says from the doorway.

“Yeah.” Cliff replies as he gets up off the couch. The door slams shut and I get up to get some water.

“You lost the bet.” Willow says matter-of-factly.

“Yeah I know.” I reply as I drink.

“You’re so pretty.”

“You’re the pretty one.” I put the cup in the dishwasher. “What should we wear when hang out with Haven and Philip?” She forks the rest of her pancake into the trash and hands me the plate to scrub off.

“I don’t know.” I place the plate into the dishwasher before we begin going upstairs.

“I brought jean shorts and a Nirvana t-shirt.” I tell her as I admire her ass in the short athletic shorts she’s wearing.

“K.” She says as she takes off all of her clothes before thumbing through what’s hanging in her closet. Stranding there in her red underwear and Calvin Klein bra, she pulls a pair of jean shorts off of its hanger. She puts them around her ankles and bends down to pull them up. The waistband sits on her hips as she grabs a tie dye t shirt and pulls it over her head. Her bed is in a loft above a sitting bean bag sitting area in her room. Sketches of faces, hands, mushrooms and various other things clothe her walls. I change out of my clothes and into the ones I brought.

Cody busts through the front door just as we’re about to leave and hands Willow a brown bag with the vodka in it.

“Thanks.” She says before we head out. Haven and Philip are sitting in the driveway in Haven’s Bronco.

“Where to?” Haven asks as Willow and I get in the backseat.

“I don’t know just drive.” Willow says as she sticks her feet out the window before opening up the bottle of vodka. She takes a sip straight from the lip of the bottle and hands it to me. Haven backs up out of the driveway and starts driving down the street.

Philip plugs in his phone in the aux and plays Brockhampton. We drive around town for about an hour before we decide to get a pizza and go to the graveyard.

“I love Brockhampton.” I say as a song comes to an end.

“Well unlike anybody else in this car I liked Brockhampton before he had 500,000 listeners on Spotify.” Haven states as he turns into the graveyard parking lot.

“God why did we have to get pineapple… that’s such a white people thing.” Philip says as though he’s justifying his blackness.

“I don’t know, Alex why did you order Hawaiian pizza?” Haven asks as he turns off the music.

“Because I love it.” I reply as I grip the cardboard box. We get out of the car and walk toward the big dead oak tree in the middle of the yard.

“Isn’t it trippy that communism was like… a thing?” Philip questions the group as everyone sits down beneath the oak tree around the pizza.

“Not really.” Willow bites into a piece of pizza and allows the cheese to expand away from her mouth as she pulls the pizza back.

“The idea that everyone does work and should be compensated equally for said work is a very profound thing. People should be working towards bettering their society through their work not working towards being excessively compensated for their endeavors.” I say as I choose my pick of the pieces.

“But there’s no way to get out of poverty if everyone is permanently in it.” Haven states

as he leans back against the tree.

“I mean I’m not saying that I want America to become a communist country. I’d be pissed as hell if someone took away my trust fund. But at the same time, the idea of communism is kinda beautiful if you think about it.” I declare as I begin to eat my pizza.

“I think communism would be cool if it would make everybody rich. But I’m pretty sure that if there were no poor people there’d be no rich people.” Philip decides as he starts to roll another joint.

“There would be no such thing as rich and poor…” Haven decides.

“Yeah there would be if everyone was starving.” Willow proclaims.

“Hey poor people don’t starve anymore! They’re morbidly obese.” I point out.

“Ok ok so there’s only one way to solve this problem. We take away everyone’s money and give everyone gastric bypass surgeries. Then nobody’s rich, nobody’s poor, and nobody is morbidly obese. World peace at last.” Philip settles as he licks the side of the joint he and Haven smoke before they eat. I wash down my pizza with vodka and lay back into the grass. The sun is just starting to set, it’s golden hour.

“Who’s dick is better me or Philip’s?” Haven asks as he smooshes the filter of the joint into the ground.

“Probably mine… cuz I’m black…” Phillip reasons.

“I don’t know… it’s not like me and Willow have actually talked about this.” I lie as I sit up.

“Wait seriously? I thought that’s all y’all talk about.” Haven says stupidly.

“Believe it or not… no we have never talked about that.” Willow lies as I recall Philip’s circumcision scar.

“Interesting.” Philip says.

“I bet you we get kicked out of Seek Jesus High by the end of this year.” Willow decides before she takes a hit from her baby pink sourin.

“Wanna bet?” Haven asks and extends his hand. “I bet they don’t kick us out, but keep us so the school appears… more diverse so to speak.”

“Y’all are just some edgy white kids, you’ll go before I do. Do you know how many black kids they’ve had shadow me over the years? No way they’re going to let their only black student go. I’m front and center on all the brochures. I’m the black glue that holds the school together!” Philip explains as he grabs a piece of pizza.

“I don’t think they would expel any of the models from the picture that is the FACE of the elementary school.” Willow decides.

“Oh you mean that one that’s of you, Philip, and Taylor Wong?” Haven asks.

“You forget they have another minority, Taylor Wong.” I remind Philip.

“Let her get all the national merits she wants, it still won’t make her appeal to underprivileged niggas.” Philip and Haven both dig into their pizza as I grab a second piece.

“Do y’all think they’ll have the dogs come sniff around the school anytime soon?” Haven asks as he criss crosses his legs.

“No probably not why?” Willow says as she drinks more vodka.

“I have over an ounce in my locker and I’d hate for someone to find it.” Haven mentions.

“How has someone not found that yet?! It must reek.” I point out.

“Do y’all not keep anything in your lockers?” Haven asks the group.

“No because I’m not stupid like you!” I exclaim and Haven kisses me.

“Y’all make me sick.” Philip says.

“Kiss Willow right fucking now or I’ll scream.” I say and sit in Haven’s lap.

“Ok well I guess if the stakes are that high…” He leans in and kisses her. I squeal, Willow has waited for this for so long.

“Why was he so nervous to kiss her?” I whisper to Haven.

“Because they haven’t done it since they were five.” He explains.

“Oh in that playhouse by the janga gym?” I ask.

“Yeah in the presence of rose petals and candle light, such a romantic moment in the dank playhouse that always smelled of fertilizer and wood chips.” Haven says sarcastically. Philip moves over beside Willow and they keep making out. “Would you ever do ecstasy with me?” Haven asks me.

“Hmmm maybe like after we have sex for the first time… because I feel like losing your virginity on ecstasy is just setting yourself up for failure later in life.” I decide.

“Then when do you wanna do it? Like have sex I mean…” Haven asks.

“Soon.”

“Like how soon?”

“A week? But I want it to be pretty. I want it to be outside… on a blanket… in a field… during the day.” I specify.

“What if I put down the back seats in my car and filled it with pillows. That’s like being outside, it has no roof.” Haven suggests.

“Sounds perfect.” I say.

“Are you sure you want to do it?”

“Yes I’m sure… are you?”

“I mean yeah I am but like what if god is real and he gets mad at us.”

“If god’s real he won’t get mad at us.”

“If you get pregnant would you get an abortion?”

“Probably… but I won’t get pregnant because I’m on the pill.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

“Alex are you down to do stick n pokes later? I just bought ink and needles.” Willow asks as she and Philip take a breather.

“Yeah! Let’s all get matching ones.” I reply as Haven tightens his arms around me.

“But what are we going to get?” Philip asks.

“Oh my god… lets get scapegoat tattoos.” Haven suggests.

“You mean like the sacrificial goats they’d burn in the bible?” I question.
“Yeah they did that because they would carry the sins of the community. It’s kind of like what they do to us at Seek Jesus.” Haven clarifies.

“That’s actually a really cool idea…” Philip looks over at Willow. “Can you draw a decent goat?”

We’re all sitting on bean bags staring at all the art on Willow’s walls as she sterilizes the needles with rubbing alcohol.

“Who wants to go first?” She asks as she lays everything out on her desk. Philip volunteers and sits in the clear plastic chair. “Where do you want it?”

“I was thinking my peck… would that look dumb?”

“No not if I can draw a decent goat silhouette.” Willow says as she begins to sharpie Philips chest. About ten minutes later there is a goat silhouette on Philip’s chest and Willow begins with the sticking and poking. I’m sitting on top of Haven kissing him with odd intensity.

“Let’s go into the closet.” Haven proposes.

“Ok.” I get up off his lap and lead him into the closet. The door shuts and I take off my shirt. Haven switches on the light, he unclasps my bralette and cups my breasts with his hands. He kisses down my neck and plays with my nipples. I get on my knees, unzip his pants, and start sucking his dick. I do it for a few minutes and get board.

“I don’t really wanna do this anymore.” I tell him as I stand up.

“Oh ok.” He says as he zips up his pants and kisses me. “Can I finger you?”

“Yeah.” I pull down my shorts, I’m leaning up against the wall he starts kissing me. I lift up my leg and wrap it around him, he starts fingering me. It kinda hurts at first but gets better after a few seconds. Then he starts bending his fingers back and forth… I start moaning like crazy.

“You like that?” He whispers and bites my ear.

“Yeah…” I say as I close my eyes.

“Do you want me to eat you out?”

“Yeah…” I get on the floor and lean back against the wall. He kinda beats around the bush for a little while before finding my clit, and going to town.

“Did you cum?” He asks.

“Yeah.” I put my clothes back on and we head out of the closet.

“Who’s next?” Willow asks as Philip gets up out of her chair with a goat tattoo on his peck.

“Dang… that looks pretty good.” I inspect his chest as he passes by me. He climbs up into Willow’s bed and gets on his phone. “I’ll go next.” I sit down in the chair and think about where I’d want her to put it.

“Where do you want it?”

“On my right shoulder blade.” I decide as I take off my shirt. Willow rubs cold alcohol on my back and says she thinks it’d be easier if I layed on the desk. I lay on my stomach on the table and she begins to mark me up with the sharpie. She uses a needle wrapped in thread stuck in the back of an eraser.

“On a scale of one to ten how much does it hurt?” Haven asks as he hovers above me.

“I don’t know, like a seven I suppose.” I admit as I grib the leg of the table.

“It shouldn’t take me too long since it’s so small…” Willow points out as she continues to poke me.

“Can I get some more of that vodka?” Haven goes and fetches it from the dresser. I sit up on the table and chug it for a solid minute or so. It tastes slightly like pizza. Philip plays Brockhampton from his bluetooth speaker and smokes a joint out the window as he sits on Willow’s bed. Haven goes up and joins him and they talk about skateboarding.

Twenty minutes later my tattoo is done, and it looks pretty good. It could be better but hey, fuck it.

“Haven’s turn!” I say as I hop off the table.

“That looks pretty good. I want mine on my peck like Philip.” He takes off his shirt and sits in the chair. Willow begins sterilization and I climb up on her bed.

“Whatcha thinking about?” I ask Philip as he gazes out the window.

“I really wanna meet my real parents man… like I wonder what they’re like and shit…” Philip says as he passes me the joint. “On second thought that’s a cute bralette. Is that from Victoria’s Secret or some shit? Willow was talking about those once I think…” I realize that my Vyvanse has probably worn off by now and take a hit off the joint.

“Maybe you should talk to your parents about meeting your birth parents.” I cross my arms and lean on the window ciel.

“But they’ve done everything for me… they’re my parents… I don’t want them to feel like they aren’t enough for me.” He says and puts the joint back in his mouth.

“They won’t feel like that. They probably expect you to be curious about where you come from… how much do you know?”

“I know that I’m from New Orleans, my mama is a crack head and my dad was her drug dealer. I have an older brother, but he lives in Alabama now.”

“New Orleans is a cool city have you ever been there?”

“No but I wanna go.”

“You should they have all weird voodoo shit I like.”

“THIS SHIT HURTS!!!!!” Haven yells.

“Drink some vodka.” I suggest, Haven drinks the vodka and Willow takes a vape break. “It’s about time you ask Willow out… don’t you think?” I whisper to Philip.

“Yeah but what if she says no or some shit…”

“She won’t…”

“I’m a nervous guy. I can’t do it.”

“You can do it I know you can!”
“Has Haven even asked you out yet?”

“No but he’s asked me to hang out, and I don’t know what the difference between hanging out and going out is.”

“There’s a big difference.”

“Fine then don’t ask Willow out, ask her to hang out.”

“Ok… I just might do that.”

“Who wants to give me my stick n poke?” Willow asks the group.

“Will you draw it out first?” I ask.

“Yeah you just have to do the poking part.” She says as she begins drawing the goat on her ankle.

“Ok I’ll do it.” I climb down, Haven climbs up. Willow downs a bunch of vodka and I dip the needle into the ink.

SNIFF SNIFF SNIFF

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters. Wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander…” Mary Margaret sings adenodally as she leisurely walks around the stage.

We sit in the back pue, furthest from the teachers and the stage. I’m reading a copy of Catcher in the Rye. Haven is reading a book about growing plants hydroponically. Philip is playing with lime green skateboard wheels, running them along the pue. Willow has her foot up on the shelf and is painting her toenails red.

“Let us pray…” Carol Sue begins as everyone bows their heads. “Dear God, please give Mrs. Magor and Mr. Gardener the strength to teach us Your word. And give us as a school the strength to not give into temptation. And please bless Taylor. That’s all I have for you today Lord. In your name we pray, amen.” Everyone repeats amen and heads out the chapel doors.

We’re all sitting in Mrs. Hughes room waiting for her lesson to begin when a police officer with a dog wander up to the door.

“I need to speak with Haven Light.” He says sternly as the dog pants happily. Haven goes over to him. “You are under arrest for possession of marijuana.” The cop cuffs him and escorts him out of the room.

“Shit…” Philip says as we watch him walk down the hallway.

“He’s so fucking stupid…” I say and begin to worry.

“He’s rich as fuck… surely his dad will take care of it.” Willow says dismissively as class begins.

“I’m sorry to hear about Mr. Light…” Mr. Gardner says as he stands outside his classroom.

“No you aren’t.” I say snobbily, walk over to my desk and take a seat. The mundane daily activities are even more mundane than usual as I long for Haven. I fucking hate this. I fucking hate this. I fucking hate this.

“Please Lord, help Haven in his journey behind bars. Help the starving niggers in Africa. And please please lord help Taylor in her battle with anorexia. Amen.” Mrs. Magor says as she looks up at the water damage on the ceiling.

“PLEASE LORD HELP THE STARVING NIGGERS IN AFRICA?! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! I JUST, I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE.” I say and storm out of the classroom.

Two Weeks Later

“I can’t believe Haven’s dad didn’t even hire him a lawyer.” Willow says as we walk down the hallway.

“Me neither, the fact that he got six months is just unreal.” I say as I stare at the floor depressed as shit.

“Hey babe.” Philip kisses Willow on the cheek.

“Are we still on for friday?” I ask them as we reach Ms. Hughes’ room.

“Uh yeah about that…” Willow pulls me aside. “We need some alone time…”

“Oh yeah totally.” I say and enter the classroom.

“Maybe next weekend?”

“Good job.” Ms. Hughes says as I walk by her desk.

“On what?”

“Your paper.” She hands me an essay with a 100 scrawled at the top.

“Thank you.” I smile fakely.

“How are you today Ms. Adler?” Mr. Gardener asks as he stands outside his room.

“Terrible.” I say and walk into the classroom. Sitting through his lecture was nearly unbearable.

Being far too depressed to go to Bible, I head up to the attic. I pull down the latter and climb up to find that I’m not alone. The floor boards creek beneath my feet as I set my bag down. Taylor turns around.

“You scared me.” She says.

“Sorry, you kinda scared me too. I never knew anyone else came up here.” I reel in the latter.

“This is where I used to always go during lunch.” Her eyes admire the colorful stain glass.

“I always thought you were in the library.” I say as I sit beside her.

“I think everyone thought that.”

“How was rehab?”
“Miserable.”

“Are you any better?”

“I can eat a whole celery stick without vomiting, so I guess that’s progress.”

“You look a lot healthier.”

“Thanks.”

“You were mentioned in every prayer.”

“That you prayed?” She laughs.

“No that they prayed aloud in chapel! And see look! It worked!”

“I missed you.” She puts her hand on mine.

“I missed you too.” Our eyes fixate on one another and our mouths collide.

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