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BOOK: loose
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Iggy doesn’t say anything. He pulls out a joint and lights it. He takes a long drag, then holds it out to me. I take it, even though I don’t really like to smoke pot. I don’t like the way it makes me feel full of dread, like I’m forgetting something important, like something dangerous is about to occur. I put it to my mouth quickly, inhaling only a small amount. A cough sits in my throat but I hold it there. I pass back the joint, and Iggy sucks on it some more. He is older than the rest of us, maybe eighteen, and he is notorious for his drug use.

Chris says if there’s nothing else around, Iggy buys glue to sniff. He has a shaved head and acne scars on his cheeks, and he always wears the same black leather motorcycle jacket. Looking at him now, I think he could be OK-looking if he wasn’t working so hard to be ugly.

Iggy and I pass the joint back and forth. Then he moves to sit next to me on the couch. Chris and Liz are still gone, but I don’t

25 •

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know how long it’s been, the pot curling its way into my sense of time. Iggy, wordless, slips an arm around my shoulder, takes a long drag, and then presses his lips on mine. I flinch, but he is strong.

He opens his mouth and blows, shooting the smoke into my throat.

I cough, pulling away, and Iggy laughs. His jacket sleeve shifts as he holds the joint up to his mouth again, and I see small, jagged knife cuts on his forearm. I wonder what it must be like to be him. Surely there’s a reason he does all the drugs. I don’t really want Iggy to touch me. He smells like old smoke and unwashed clothes, and as far as I can tell he hasn’t brushed his teeth in a while. But I’m also not about to refuse him. I want him to like me. This matters more than anything else. Maybe those knife marks point to a soft part of him of which I could be a piece. Maybe Iggy is just looking to be loved, like me. So I let his tongue in the next time he leans forward. It tastes sharp from the smoke. I close my eyes and try to imagine this is Brian, which helps as Iggy slides a hand up my shirt and kneads at my breasts. He unzips my jeans and pushes a rough hand down there, and soon his finger is inside me. I lean back, keeping Brian in my mind, knowing I should enjoy it, but Iggy’s movements are too forceful. After a moment he takes my hand and pulls it to his jeans.

Obedient, I reach inside and feel the warm, clammy shaft of his penis. It’s the first penis I’ve ever touched. I’ve never even seen a penis before, except for pictures in books, and my cousin’s from when we had shown each other our genitals when we were seven. I’ve never been this close, though, this intimate. It seems wrong, like I’m touching something I shouldn’t, something not for me. Still, I stroke it, knowing this is what he wants, and he pushes his fingers farther into me, which hurts. I stay silent, numb even, as I stroke and fondle until he comes onto my hands. He pushes me away, embarrassed it seems, and takes his fingers out of me. I don’t look at him. I’m embarrassed too. I quickly stand, zip, and go to find a bathroom to wash the hot, messy liquid off my hand.

When I come back, Iggy is in the other chair again, rolling an-

26 •

A H o u s e w i t h N o M e n other joint. I sit back on the couch. He barely looks at me, and it occurs to me we’ve never exchanged more than a few words. I don’t even know his real name. I try to think of something to say, something that will relieve the tension I’m feeling.

“I guess Chris and Liz are having a good time,” I say.

He keeps his eyes on what he’s doing and shrugs.

“What time is it?” I ask next.

Iggy just shrugs again. “Fuck if I know.”

I bite my lip, feeling stupid. He doesn’t want to talk. So I turn to the TV, some game show, and try not to think too much about what we’ve just done.

By the time Chris and Liz come into the room, it’s late, so we go back toward the playground. Iggy finds a stick on the ground and whacks at tree branches as we walk, trying to knock them down.

Every once in a while he exclaims as the stick hits: “Gotcha! Bam!”

Liz tells me she and Chris sixty-nined. She’s proud. Sixty-nining is a new trend, an achievement of sorts, making its way through our school. I don’t tell her what I did with Iggy. It’s not that I regret it.

That’s not quite it. I’m just embarrassed. Nobody fools around with Iggy. He’s the town druggie, the one we laugh about when he isn’t there. And then there’s the fact that he hasn’t said a word to me since. My crotch is sore from his fingers, and though it hurts I kind of like it. I like the proof someone’s been there. Someone wanted me enough to touch me. I watch him jump to reach a branch and break it off, and I wonder what he thinks about what happened. If he is thinking about it at all.


a c o u p l e o f months later, I have a party. My father is out of town for business, as he commonly is, leaving my sister and me alone. He thinks things will be fine. Tyler has grown withdrawn and silent since my mother left, and he knows nothing about how I spend my time. He defines his approach to parenting as, “If your

27 •

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grades are fine and you look basically OK, then I don’t need to know.” My mother, I am sure, would be appalled. Tyler’s and my bedrooms are at the end of a hallway, and I see my dad many times rush past the hallway without turning his head. He speaks freely about it, as though he has formulated a confident parenting style, but I think both Tyler and I know he’s simply afraid of us. He grew up with two brothers, and we’re teenage girls. As much as I feel boys are foreign to me, he must feel the same about girls.

The evening of the party I pray Brian will show up. Chris promised me he told him about it. My father is renovating our kitchen, and there are appliances in boxes—a microwave, a new coffee maker.

Tiles are stacked out on the veranda. Liz, Chris, and I pass around a forty of Budweiser as we wait for people to arrive, and I start to get a little buzzed. Iggy shows up early, always eager to get to where the beer and drugs might be. He opens a beer and starts collecting money to get some more.

“You want to go in on this?” he asks me. I nod and go to get some money from my purse. I’ve seen him only twice since the evening we got together, and he has treated me exactly the same as always, with no acknowledgment of what we shared. Mostly, this is a relief. I don’t want any repercussions from that night. But a part of me wants something, anything. A wink, a hand squeeze, something. After all, I’ve never been so intimate with a boy before.

When I come back, money in hand, my heart leaps into my throat. Brian stands talking with Iggy, his dark hair hanging into his eyes. He’s here, in my home, talking to the guy I was close with.

In my crushed-out mind, it’s almost as though we’ve been close too.

I hand Iggy my money.

“Hey,” I say to Brian.

“Hey,” he says back.

My body tingles.

“We’re going to take off to get the beer,” Iggy says. “Want to come?”

28 •

A H o u s e w i t h N o M e n It’s my party, my home, and people are starting to arrive in droves. But I don’t hesitate. This is my chance to be with Brian.

“Sure,” I say.

We take the elevator to the lobby and walk to Iggy’s car, an old Buick. Brian holds the seat forward as I climb in back, hoping he’s checking out my butt. Then he gets in and messes with Iggy’s stereo.

The car smells predictably like stale smoke and decaying upholstery.

I watch Brian from the backseat, desperate for him to notice me.

“I’m so stupid to leave my own party,” I blurt.

Brian doesn’t say anything, and I immediately regret having spoken. I think of the rules. Boys like girls who are quiet, mysterious, who suggest but don’t blurt. I know this, but it’s still so hard for me.

The desperation I feel is always too there, too much. I don’t know how to quiet it, a yappy dog that just won’t shut up.

At the convenience store, Iggy jumps out, the motor still running, leaving Brian and me alone. Brian turns up the radio as a Jimi Hendrix song starts.

“I love this song,” I say. Brian glances back at me, and I close my eyes and move my shoulders suggestively to the music.

“You like Jimi Hendrix?” he asks.

“Love him,” I say, which is only sort of true. “I can put him on when we get back to my place.”

“Cool.” Brian nods. My head is light, full of excitement. I’m making a connection with Brian.

When we arrive at my apartment, it is full with people I mostly don’t know, many of them way too old to be at a fourteen-year-old-girl’s party. But I don’t care. Brian was talking to me. I go straight to the stereo, which someone else has commandeered, find my father’s Hendrix album, and put it on the turntable.

The guy who was working the stereo looks down at me, pissed.

“This is my apartment,” I say. He backs off. Once the music starts, I beeline back to Brian. Liz, looking worried, stops me.

“Do you know any of these people?” she asks.

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“I’ll deal with it later,” I say.

“But, Kerry, they’re in your dad’s room. They’re all over. Chris and I can’t control them.”

“I’ll figure something out,” I say. Anxiety shoots through me. I know Liz is right. I know I need to take control of the situation.

But . . . Brian.

This is my chance with Brian.

I continue toward him. He opens a beer, takes a long sip, and I watch his Adam’s apple move. I follow his lead, open a beer myself, and down a few sips. Just enough to make me fearless. “Come with me,” I say to him.

I grab his arm and pull him through the crowd of people into my father’s room. There are five people in there, none of whom I recognize. One has a mustache and he’s rifling through my father’s drawer.

“Hey,” I say. “What are you doing?” The guy looks up and shuts the drawer. He shrugs and he and the others amble out. “Nobody’s allowed in here,” I say as I shut the door behind them, trying not to think about the fact that my father keeps personal things in his drawers, things like drugs and, I was pretty sure, a gun.

I turn to look back at Brian. Brian, Brian. I am in here alone with Brian.

He looks at me, his expression mild. I move quickly, before I lose my nerve, and I push him toward my father’s bed. He raises his eyebrows with surprise, but before he can say or do anything I press my lips to his. I force him onto the bed, one leg on either side of his hips. I lose myself, letting myself be a girl I assume boys want, sexual and willing, a girl who will sixty-nine.

“Hey,” he says.

I say nothing, just push at his shirt, tug at his pants. I kiss his chest and neck, ravenous as a wild dog. I need to get in there, to show him I’m desirable. I think of Iggy and how he led my hand there. I don’t know a lot about boys, but it’s common knowledge they’re slaves to their penises. I want to show Brian what I know,

30 •

A H o u s e w i t h N o M e n teach him to want me through my hands. I am vaguely aware of the muffled noises of the party on the other side of the door. Music rever-berates through the wall. I allow it to guide me, give me a rhythm as I work my way down his body. But Brian pushes me off.

“Jesus,” he says. He straightens his shirt, checks his pants. He gives me a look, a look like I’ve gone over the edge, like I’m a crazy girl, like the one Chris talked about that night, one of the girls the boys stayed away from. I look back, chest tight, ashamed, horrified, wanting to say something. Something that will tell him he misunderstood. I’m not crazy. I just like him. Maybe a little too much. But he turns away and walks out of the room.

Liz comes running to find me right after. Some guys are stealing boxes out of the kitchen. She says she and Chris are getting everyone out; the party needs to end. Soon the only people left are Chris, Liz, and me. Even Iggy has gone home, hearing a rumor of cops on their way. I didn’t see Brian leave.

I look around the apartment. Beer cans and bottles are strewn around the floor and countertops, on top of the stereo and TV. A few have toppled, leaking beer into the carpet. I see two cigarette burns in the couch. I walk down the hallway to my room to find it ran-sacked, as is Tyler’s. Cigarette butts and cans are on every conceiv-able surface. The corner of Tyler’s Siouxsie and the Banshees poster is ripped. Apparently someone threw around her collection of fantasy books and figurines, and now they lay scattered about the room. I’m relieved to find none of them damaged. As Liz and I step through the mess, though, we find a used condom near Tyler’s bed.

In the living room, one of the speakers has a long rip down the middle. Tiles are littered and broken on the terrace. The pile of new appliances is all but gone. And, when I look in my dad’s drawer, the drugs are gone and there’s no gun. I wish so much that I could remember if there was one in there before.

We move through the rooms, filling trash bags and hauling them out to the garbage chute. Nobody says much. We work with calm

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diligence, sharp counterpoint to the panic inside. Liz vacuums and I wipe the countertops with Lysol, but the apartment still smells like someone poured beer over everything.

Tyler comes home first, after staying at a friend’s for the night.

“Nobody better have touched my stuff,” she tells me. She’s wearing black, as usual. Big, loose clothes that hide her body.

“No one wanted to go into your stupid room,” I say. I don’t dare tell her about the condom.

When she comes out later, she says, “You owe me a poster.”

My dad arrives home soon after, and I’m in a lot of trouble. He’s facing two $3,000 lawsuits, one from the building because someone thought it would be fun to throw tiles off the deck, ripping the pool cover, and another from a person whose parked car was hit by tiles as well. Dad says nothing to me about the possibly missing gun or the drugs, but I’m sure he’s pretty fumed about that as well.

He decides to move me to another private school and forbid me from seeing Liz. Liz and I say a tearful good-bye on the phone. We sob about how unfair life is, and how when we can, when all of this is in the past, we’ll find each other again. After I hang up, I lie back on my bed and look out the window, from which I can see the Manhattan skyline. My life is about to change yet again. I close my eyes, seeing how this feels, and I realize I don’t really mind.

BOOK: loose
6.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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