Authors: Ariel Schrag
Copyright Â© 2014 by Ariel Schrag
All rights reserved
For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10003.
The Library of Congress has cataloged the print edition as follows:
Adam / Ariel Schrag.
1. Life change eventsâFiction. 2. LesbiansâNew York (State)âNew YorkâFiction. 3. NightclubsâNew York (State)âNew YorkâFiction. 4. Lesbian communitiesâNew York (State)âNew YorkâFiction. I. Title.
Abridgment of “Cocky” by Julia Serano Â© 2003. Used with permission.
For my mom, dad, and sister
The mind commands the body and it obeys.
The mind orders itself and meets resistance.
ADAM STARED UP
at the tree leading to Kelsey Winslow's bedroom window. He was holding a flower he'd picked on the way overâa golden poppy, the official California state flower, a conversation piece:
“Did you know it's actually illegal to pick these?”
“Yeah, weird, right?”
But now, about to climb the tree, he didn't know what to do with it. If he just held it in his hand while he climbed up, it would definitely get smashed; same thing with putting it in his back pocket. He racked his brain and finally decided he was just going to have to hold it in his teeth while he climbed: 100 percent Gay. But, whatever, he'd just make sure to get it back in his hand before Kelsey saw his head poking out over the window.
The whole climbing-into-the-girl's-window-through-a-tree-in-her-backyard thing was itself pretty ridiculous, but Adam didn't have much choice. He hoisted himself up. Kelsey's parents were coolâalmost too coolâand they wouldn't have given a shit if some boy dropped by and asked if Kelsey was home. Kelsey was always saying things like: “My parents don't care about
They totally know I steal their alcohol. When Mom went on her âI'm not drinking anymore' thing, and all the beer in the house disappeared, I was like, âJust 'cause Mom doesn't wanna drink doesn't mean the
of us shouldn't be able to!'” Their lack of caring was
Kelsey insisted everyone climb up the tree and through her window. It made things seem more exciting.
Adam transferred the flower from mouth to fist and rapped on the glass. He could see Kelsey sitting on her bed with her laptop. She came over and opened the window. She looked cross.
“I told you to come over at around six. You're early.”
Adam scrambled into the room and peeked at his watch. It was 5:44. He had taken the bus from his house to Kelsey's and overestimated the time; he had actually arrived an entire hour early but walked around the block thirteen times until it was 5:40, and for some reason he had calculated that it would take him twenty minutes to climb the tree.
Adam shrugged. Kelsey mock-shrugged back. She went over to her bed and picked up where she had left off with her laptop. Adam sat down next to her. She was in socks with her feet curled up underneath her. Adam's sneakers looked huge and bulbous and were caked in mud, tree sap, and probably dog shit. He slouched against the wall so his shoes dangled off the edge of the bed, not touching any of the blankets. He considered for a moment kicking them off, all casual, like,
Whatever, I'm just gonna kick these shoes off.
But even the thought made him cringe. She'd think he was just trying to make out with her, which of course he was. Adam looked down and realized he was still holding the now-mashed poppy in his fist. He discreetly smushed it into his back pocket.
Kelsey was IM'ing with what appeared to be five different people on her computer screen and texting with someone on her phone. She was carrying on six conversations, none of which were with Adam. He gazed around the room, trying to pretend he didn't care or notice that she was ignoring him. His eyes shifted: desk cluttered with school stuff and
DVDs; corkboard with photos of friends at school, everyone hanging off of one another; drawings that looked like they were done by a five-year-old (kid she babysat for?).
What the fuck was he doing here?
It was almost the end of his junior year of high school, and he'd still only made out with one girl in one piece-of-shit game of spin the bottle back in
He probably shouldn't even count spin the bottle, but what was he going to do, say he'd never made out with
He'd already exaggerated the kiss in his mind to include tongue and a little groping, when the reality was it had been one quick peck on the lips that gave him an instant hard-on. Kelsey was part of a group he hung around with at school, and everyone had been telling him she liked him. He thought she seemed 100 percent Indifferent to him like every other girl he knew, but Brad had insisted, “She wants you, man; she's totally
for you,” so he'd asked her if he should stop by after school, and she'd said: “Sure.”
“Adam? Why are you being so weird and quiet?”
Adam looked at Kelsey, who was staring at him.
“You are. You're, like, just sitting there staring.”
Kelsey shoved her laptop off her stomach and walked over to her stereo. She fiddled with the iPod, and music started playing.
She's setting the mood.
Adam's body tensed. Kelsey started doing a flow-y dance to the music. She rolled her neck back and moved her arms in undulating curves. Her eyes were closed, and she mouthed the words along with the music as she swayed. She stopped and opened her eyes at him.
“Wanna get high?”
“Sure,” said Adam.
There was nothing Adam wanted to do less, but if it meant making out with Kelsey, he was willing to risk it. He'd smoked pot a couple weeks ago with Brad and Colin, and spent the whole night praying for the feeling to go away. They'd smoked out of an empty Bud can that Brad had turned into a pipe by bending it in half and jabbing a little circle of holes in the middle with a ballpoint pen. After only three hits, Adam couldn't tell the difference between what he was saying or merely thinking, and he was convinced Brad and Colin had masterminded the entire night just to fuck with him. “Adam's tweaking!” they kept saying, and laughing (secret looks between them), “Adam's totally tweaking!”
Now Kelsey wanted to get high, and before she'd even taken out the weed, Adam felt like he was completely stoned.
“I got this new bong on Telegraph,” said Kelsey, rummaging through a drawer. She extracted a bra and flung it over her back across the room, just missing Adam, coloring his face red as it passed.
“Here it is,” said Kelsey. “Shit goes straight to your brain with this.” The bong was translucent purple with a giant weed leaf painted along the cylinder. Adam had seen ones like it propped up next to the
FOR TOBACCO USE ONLY
sign in the display case at Annapurna, the smoke shop on Telegraph Avenue. Kelsey dumped some leftover Diet Coke inside the bong and packed the bowl.
“Guests first,” she said, standing in front of Adam and extending the bong to him. “Or is it ladies first?” She grinned and snapped her arm back, bringing the bong to her chest. The cylinder was stuck between her tits, making them spread out. Her nipples looked hard, and despite his paranoia, Adam could feel himself getting that way too.
“Ladies first,” he said.
Kelsey flopped down on the bed, splashing Diet Coke from the bong on her pink ringer T-shirt. She lit up and inhaled long and deep. Adam scooted in closer to her. Their thighs were touching and his hand was resting just behind her back, right where her jeans went down and her shirt went up, exposing a slice of bare skin and underwear. Kelsey handed the bong to Adam and he lit it. He sucked in but closed his throat.
“What kind of pussy inhaling is that?” said Kelsey. “Open your mouth! Do you not like bongs 'cause it makes you feel like you're sucking a dick? Matt doesn't do bongs 'cause he says it makes him feel like he's sucking a dick.” Matt was Kelsey's recently ex boyfriend. “I think he was just gay.
” Kelsey shoved the top of the bong up into Adam's mouth, put her thumb over the carb, and relit the bowl for him. “Now
,” she ordered.
Adam inhaled with all his might, the bong bubbled, and Kelsey released the carb. Adam exploded in coughing.
you'll be high,” said Kelsey, satisfied. She took another hit and then performed the procedure with Adam again, resulting in another explosive cough.
“But I'm, like, what? Matt doesn't know shit,” Kelsey rambled, apparently continuing a conversation she had started in her head. “He thinks all girls love to suck dickâI mean, some girls do; some of us like it to be a little more
Alice says she'll only suck dick after a guy's gone down on her. Frances says the only fair thing to do is sixty-nine first, and then it doesn't matter if the girl sucks dick or if the guy goes down first. I think it's OK to suck dick first, but only if you can tell it's the kind of guy who'll go down on you, and if you can't tell .Â .Â .”
Kelsey's stream was interrupted as she leaned over to suck on the purple bong shaft again, and Adam was now visibly hard under his jeans. He shifted positions so it wasn't so obvious and tried to press himself up a little closer to Kelsey. He could feel her move in a little closer to him.
She passed him the bong, and he sucked in again.
They were going to make out
They were actually going to make out.
His eyes fixated on that slice of skin between shirt and jeans, and he imagined lifting the shirt up, exposing her smooth, soft stomach, putting his hands all over it, then pushing up onto her tits, inside her bra, then crawling on top of her, her legs spreading around him, his dick pressed up against her. Adam quickly looked up. Had he been staring for too long? What was Kelsey talking about?
“And so I told Harris, look, Amanda wants you, but it's not like
.Â .Â .” Kelsey stopped and looked at Adam looking at her. Why did she stop? Did she think he was being weird again? Adam quickly tried to do something not weird.
“Yeah, heh, heh.”
Why did he smoke pot?
Why did he smoke pot?
“Huh?” said Adam.
“Why did you just laugh? What's funny?”
“Nothing.” Stuff was getting weird. He had to get back to that feeling, the feeling where they were moving toward each other.
Adam's hand inched over and sort of crawled onto Kelsey's thigh. He felt like his hand was a spider, each finger another spindly, sticky, unwanted black leg. Kelsey stared at the hand. The hand froze. Adam stared at it. It had to do something. Move the hand. It crept a little to the right, closer to Kelsey's knee, safer than creeping closer to the crotch, right? Kelsey abruptly stood up. The hand fell to the bed, dead.
“This .Â .Â . isn't working,” she said.
“Uh, it's not?” Adam stood up too. Kelsey sat back down on the bed and pulled her computer onto her lap. She started typing something as she spoke. Adam stayed standing.
“I just, I need guys to be, like, more aggressive. Like, you know that whole girls-love-asshole-guys thing? Well, I'm
, but it's kind of true. Like, I think you're cute and stuff, but this, like, isn't working. Stuff feels weird.”