She smiled impishly at me, then took the strawberry lollipop out of her mouth. The last of the warm August sun glinted on the tendril of saliva bowing between the pink head of the sweet and her slightly open mouth. It parted deliciously. A tiny swarm of shadows flitted across her tanned skin as insects intersected the space between her and the sky.
Time became honey, sweet and slow, as I sensed my friendship with Jayne was about to change. Nerves crackled and flutters teased my guts. The thoughtful mist over my eyes sharpened immediately upon her delighted laugh, half snorted through her freckled nose.
She was looking at me in a new way. Into me. I watched her bright eyes taking me into her mind fully for the first time then down at the daisies threaded together that I’d just pushed softly into her sticky palm, and back up through the safety of her long lashes.
Jayne sighed so deeply it heaved her recently budded chest. My stare followed her moistened tongue as it shined her plump lips. A bee bumbled by and the river babbled to my right and her left. No one else in the world existed.
Her head lifted from the slight yellow and white reflecting off the held daisies, and with her eyes, she absorbed this shy boy that sat in front of her, with a leg either side of hers; hers which were crossed with grass stained knees peeking over sock tops.
Have you ever kissed anyone, Paul? she breathed, pretending to be the confident girl she read about in stories in her teen magazines.
My pulse took my voice, until I coughed it back into action. No. Not really. I lied. Then, realising time had paused and was waiting for me to seize the moment, I added, but I’d like to. I immediately regretted the slight question mark I’d added to the end of the sentence meant to be as cool as The Fonz.
Her delighted giggle tinkled through heated air to tickle my heart, the one she now held in her pretty hands. I could see blushes creep up her neck to join their friends on her sunkissed cheeks.
Then let’s help you out she barely whispered and sprang forward, trapping my sharp intake of surprised breath with a soft mouth that tasted of sugar and long summers. The ice of uncertainty that held me melted and instinct tilted my head so that noses no longer clashed, tongues touched then wrestled as confidence and nature took hold. I smelled the sun on her skin, her hair’s clean shampoo scent and the slight hint of sweat from a day playing together by the river.
Moving from her kneeling position, Jayne climbed onto my lap and straddled me and my young stiffness that was more sensitive than I’d ever remembered being before now. I glanced down as she started moving against me, her summer dress hitched up her thighs, showing her white knickers, a mound of secrecy I’d yet to see outside of magazines peaked in private. I saw a vertical line of darker material and a cleft, a wetter place, and my air was held prisoner in my chest.
She broke away from our kiss and huffed in my ear, her hips moving faster, her head down. My instinct was to lift my hips higher to increase the rubbing sensation through my shorts. Hair swayed in my face as she muttered oh god, oh god, almost hurting me with the urgency of her grinding, pushing material and rough seams against my aching erection.
I felt a wave build and rise through me, different to when it was just me touching myself, entirely new, making the hairs stand up all over and the world disappear around me; tunnel vision making this beautiful girl, my past friend, all that I saw. Then her bright blue eyes locked with mine, her upper lip twitched slightly on one side and then she began to judder, pushing her hot pudendum roughly against me. I tipped over the edge, and a long moan I couldn’t hold in escaped as I pumped hot wetness into my shorts. Her shaking increased then was replaced with trembles and hot, wet kisses full of spit and gleaming smiles.
She pulled her face away and held mine in her hand, squeezing my cheeks and staring into my dilated pupils, laughing as my body spasms quieted. Then she playfully slapped me. Oh, you naughty boy, Paul, uttered through a dazzling toothy grin. We held onto each other and what we had been, our sexual scents lazily rising between our interlocked bodies, and we knew everything had changed as dusk began to fall.
A sweet loss of innocence
when I look at you
taste of sin.
I suppose I set myself up for the fall. Taking a job in a hospital with no prior experience and no idea what horrible things people do to one another, themselves and worst of all their children.
My trainer tells me that sicknesses come in waves in the emergency room. Car accidents when it's snowy. More gang violence in the summer. Full moons bring in the psych patients. Tonights special is post-holiday suicide. Five people have tried to take their lives this evening. For all different reasons. Six if you count the man overdosing on heroin. This is just my first night.
Two days later I happen upon a man handcuffed to his bed. He is sobbing and tells me about the woes of being a sex offender. He asks me if I know that one conversation I have with someone can make a difference in their life. That kindness can go further than I can understand and could I be kind to him. I laugh and tell him I am always kind. He calms a little and I hand him my pen to sign a form with his one free hand. Next thing I know he is trying to stab himself in the neck with my pen. Luckily, he is intoxicated and I wrestle it from him and run out of the room. Frantically I look around and see a nurse. I say "That man just tried to stab himself with my pen!" Clearly amused by my terror she says "You must be new."
The next day a man comes in from a car accident. I am just observing and I walk into his room and he is all smiles. I smile and say hello and confirm his name. I wonder what he is in for. I look down and see his thigh bone broken and sticking out of his skin. He continues to smile and the Dr. says "Morphine" and gives me a wink.
A man is taking his clothes off at the ER entrance. He is saying he has bugs on him. I immediately change course in hopes of avoiding bringing bed bugs home. I don't want lice either. Later I ask if they put him in quarantine of some kind and the guard says "Oh no there were no bugs. That is George, he is addicted to meth and comes in half naked often. He is just hallucinating again. "
A woman is screaming "My baby" outside of my office door. Over and over again. She collapses on the floor. I invite her in. She tells me how her husband tried to punch her while she was holding the baby, but accidentally hit the baby instead and they made her leave the ER. She tells me people at the hospital are treating her like a criminal and won't let her see her baby. She is moaning and security walks in. They have brought a Social Worker. Security tells me they have been dealing with her all day. I am upset at this. They ARE treating her like a criminal. I tell them they are hardened and should always try compassion. I whisper under my breathe that I never want to become like them. I defended her. Two weeks later my co-worker tells me that the same woman was arrested in our parking lot after beating her other child. That was the moment when my doe eyes became slits and full of suspicion.
Today, I am Trans
-In sixth grade I cried because I started to develop underarm hair. I shaved it, not knowing you needed shaving cream, and it burned for a week. I haven't loved myself since.
-In seventh grade I told myself I was skipping school so I wouldn't have to change in front of the other boys. I didn't, and ended up changing in the bathroom stall for half the year. Kids made fun of me, so I stopped and changed in front of my locker. Every time, I stared st the wall and hated myself a little bit more, lost a little more dignity every time. I haven't loved myself since.
-In eighth grade I took a trip to Washington D.C. to learn more about our country. Naturally, I had to stay with another boy in the hotel rooms, because a boy and a girl cannot be trusted together. The first night I stifled sobs under the bed covers because, however little bit of intimacy it was sharing a room, I was not comfortable with it. I haven't loved myself since.
-my freshman year was a repeat of my eighth. My band took a trip to Dallas, Texas for a biannual competition. I had to stay with three other boys in a two-bed hotel room. I cried because I couldn't even confide in my female friends in private, because I wasn't even allowed to enter their rooms. I haven't loved myself since.
-my sophomore year I told my mom I was transgender- a quivering fact I'd known about myself for a while. She'd always said she'd support me no matter what, so I was taken aback when she said I was on my own because she didn't want to have anything to do with it. We never talked about that night again. I haven't loved myself since.
-this year, now a junior, I wore the guard makeup for my color guard performances, and a lot of people complimented me on how good I was at cosmetics. I know it was a little heavy and i mainly looked like a drag queen- not the girl I wanted to be- but I felt beautiful and was ecstatic.
-this year, now a junior, I know that me being transgender is not a phase. It is a fact about me- like that I have brown hair or love Taylor Swift- and it will never change. I am not open or presenting, and I'm not sure I ever will be, but i do know i will do everything in my power to help other minorities and people like me.
-today, I am a closeted trans teen. I have had to grow up a little quicker than the other kids, but it has only made me more mature and more versatile than the other kids. When we're pushed down, I am the first to stand up. When we are abused, I am the first to fight back. And when we are oppressed, I am the first one to riot.
-today, I am trans. And I will not let you walk on my rights as a human being.
Honeybear was My Handle
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What I Wanted
We snuck fizzy boozy punch from his parents’ party bowl and then walked out into the autumn air, hand in hand. A cool breeze tossed leaves around my boots. Too old to trick or treat, but doing it anyway. He, a convincing skeleton and me a naughty cowgirl. Two other couples trailed behind us.
We rang and rang, grabbed fistfuls of candy, laughed and sang the wrong words to songs, topping each other. Rude and loud about it. The boys scuffling, the girls slapping. All of us happy. It was all a goof. Wanting to be young again at the ripe old age of fifteen.
Nobody answered the door at a three-story house, but the lights were on inside, so we hid in the bushes and spied through a crack in the window shutter, six of us huddled into too small a space behind the hedging. We shoved and giggled and finally found a spot to stack up. So we saw a fat middle-aged man leading an elegantly dressed blowup doll in a pattern on the plush carpet. A waltz maybe? We gasped, hands over our mouths, stifling hilarious snorts, but then grew quiet and serious one by one as we watched the intricate turns, the twists, the dip. He, so intense and she, well, don’t they always seem surprised? The creepiness stole over all of us and we stood there staring, quieted, horrified.
Wanting out of the Twilight Zone dreary, I grabbed his hand and we took flight. We ran hard and far. Away from the sad man and his doll. Away from our friends. We stopped, hunched over, hands on knees, panting and spilling laugh tears from the outer corners of our eyes. Glad to be alone.
It was a clearing where the leaves had not fallen. The grass was hanging on to green. The night was warmer just there and the moon so large, it seemed lofted low, staged just for us. So bright it blotted the stars. He laid down with one arm outstretched, asking. And he looked at me with those clear yellow eyes, searching my face. As if boneless, I collapsed onto him. I was warm, you understand? Whether from the dizzy silly escape or because he was just what I wanted in that moment, I was flushed, heat radiating from my chest to my eyes and back down. All the way down.
And we lay there, me with my head on his bony chest, his face in my long hair until he asked me from painted skeleton lips, whispered yet sweetly formal, whether he could and I said yes. Because we were alone. All around us on every side street there were kids and dogs and parents and flashlights, cars and doorbells and laughing, but somehow we had escaped and were isolated, impenetrable, unpredictably alone. We couldn’t hear them or see them. Just our hot breaths, closer to each other than we had ever been, than I’d ever been with any boy. Just that, the unlikely green grass underneath me and the moon so large at my back.
He was everything I wanted just then and maybe I was too. I don’t know because he didn’t say anything. My skin was dark and his so very white in the moonlight. He shook, but I did not. And it was too cautious, painfully slow, in fits and starts, silly and tender.
And when it was done the spell broke all at once. I could hear cars and kids again, the moon sped away from us and chilly air filled the gap. We pulled clothes on, shivering, and twisted them back into their original shape or close enough. We walked, hand in hand, through a night darker than it had been before. Back to his home. And his parents, too drunk to notice how different we were. It was magic. It was over. It was what I wanted.
Why do people freak out so much about sex? As long as you use protection, it’s no big deal. I lost my virginity at 14. I lost the guy at 14 ½. Did this devastate me? No. Physically, I was slightly changed. Mentally? Barely a dent. Rinse and repeat getting guys, having sex, and then “losing” said guys several more times over the years. Having sex is something you do out of lust, or a feeling of obligation, or, honestly, sometimes pure boredom. It happens. It ends (sometimes more quickly than you hope) and you move on. It doesn’t really affect your day to day life.
That’s why I was so “heartlessly” annoyed when one of my college roommates made a huge deal about the first time she had sex. When I arrived back at our dorm after a late night study session, I was ready to crash right away. Unluckily for me, I found Kelsey sitting at the edge of her bed, looking distraught. Her eyes pleading for me to talk to her before her lips did.
“Jen, I need to talk to you, but please promise you won’t judge me.”
Suppressing my sigh, I agreed to talk and assured her I wasn’t the judging type. She then went on to describe how the night before she got really drunk at some party. Clearly exaggerating, she made it sound like she drank as much as six men. Afterwards, Kelsey let some guy she had a crush on for weeks take her to his apartment. They fucked. Or as she put it they “you know...did it.”
I think she wanted me to be sympathetic and tell her that this one decision didn’t define her. But I’m not good at that type of thing. Because, to me, I can’t even see why this would be a remotely interesting conversation to have. Of course it didn’t define her. Had she confessed instead that she had coffee for the first time last night, I would have felt the same. Bored. Rather than assure her things were fine, I asked a few questions to see if I were missing something important. Nope. When I asked her if there was anything else she wanted to talk about before I went to bed, and saw the look in her eyes, I realized we would never be friends.
To her, she had lost her innocence. She knew nothing about how that felt. But I did. I had lost my innocence just the summer before. His name was Jordan. We both had the same summer temp job working at a burger stand. It would have been the worst job ever, considering I’m a vegetarian and all, but since Jordan was there, it was the best job possible. At first, we just casually flirted. But then things became more serious.
You see, this burger stand was in a pretty bad neighborhood. One day as Jordan and I were flipping burgers as usual, this punk kid comes up to the stand and tries to rob it. Boy doesn’t look a day over 17 and he’s pretty scrawny, so I think he’s bluffing. I walk out of the stand, get right in his face, and tell him to get the hell away from us. That’s when he pulls out a knife and slashes me across the arm. I stand there dumbly. When Jordan rushes out, holding a knife himself, the kid scrams.
Jordan rushes me to a hospital and makes sure I get all cleaned up. He convinces me to go to his place so he can order us some pizza to unwind after the craziness. But first we have to go grab my stuff from the dumb burger stand. When we get there, our boss is standing around pissed. When somebody from the next shift arrived and nobody was there, he was called. Jordan calmly explains what happened. Our boss doesn’t care and says we aren’t getting paid for that day at all and maybe not the week. My hero, still calm, talks about lawsuits and poor training and I forget what else, but I remember the result. I got a raise. I was really starting to like this boy.
Back at his place, I expected some of the second kind of sex I mentioned to you before -the kind you have when you feel obligated. But Jordan didn’t try to have sex with me at all. We started going on dates and sex didn’t seem to be on his mind. When I finally seduced him one night, I expected it to all be over. It wasn’t. We kept dating, it just now included sex on some of those dates. I really really liked this guy.
Finally the day came when I lost my innocence. That day, I was scheduled to work, but Jordan wasn’t. We agreed that I would meet him at his place after I got off. When I showed up, his mouth dropped as I came in. He couldn’t understand why I had worn long sleeves, flipping burgers, on a day that I knew would be 90 something degrees out. I sat on his couch. Suddenly shy, I slowly pulled up one of my sleeves.
“When that kid cut my arm, it left a big scar. I don’t want people staring at it.”
Jordan came and sat next to me. Very gently, he traced my scar with his finger. He lightly kissed my arm and then my forehead. I remember exactly what he said.
“Our bodies are our life’s timelines. Freckles show time in the sun. Stretch marks show the birth of a child. Your scar shows a time when you were brave. You should be proud of it.”
That was the moment I fell in love and lost my innocence. You see, when you fall in love, it changes how you see the entire world. You realize everything isn’t about you. It shows how amazing a person can be, and in contrast, how awful others have been. People are right when they say you can’t be truly happy without being sad. Love brings the greatest happiness, but it also exposes you to the greatest pain. So don’t worry about sex. You lose your innocence when you experience love in all its contrasts.
Spotlight on Innocence
When I tell you the story of my loss of innocence, you will probably roll on the floor laughing but it wasn’t funny at the time.
I was 16 when my friend’s older brother first asked me out. I was at a slumber party at my friend’s house when he dropped by with a friend. As I pranced about in my pajamas, I felt exhilarated in my half-clothed freedom! Home from college, he swaggered into my life, the man about town!
For the first few months, we had a sweet, burgeoning relationship but finally, we had gotten to the point where we were out of our minds with a need to end the sexless torture! Our glands were doing little dances as we took the next step. I automatically assumed he would be experienced so allowed him to lead the way. It was true that I was not his first, but he really bumbled and fumbled as he undressed me in the back seat of his car which was tucked safely inside an orange grove where we thought we wouldn’t be seen. What happened next was hot and heavy, glorious and forbidden. Since this was my first time, I really did not know how mind bending it would be as I was swirled into the vortex of all things sinful, with the full regalia of fireworks and marching bands, when the unthinkable happened!
All of a sudden, we were spotlighted in a very bright light through the window like two very embarrassed deer in the headlights! Imagine a shy, inexperienced teenager, legs over her boyfriend’s shoulders, exposing all her assets to some unknown stranger. It was if we were on stage in a production that we thought would never end! Hastily, we grabbed our scattered underwear off the floor and tried to scramble back into our clothes. I was horrified to find out that the flashlight was in the hands of a menacing police officer.
“Where do you live?” he demanded, “And what are the names of your parents?”
I was very young looking for my age so he probably thought I was younger that I was. My parents lived only 4 blocks from the orange grove. I was trembling so hard that I could hardly answer him.
“I’m going to let your parents know what you’re up to!” threatened the sadistic officer, before he left us half dressed in the front seat of the car and drove off.
I dreaded going home. We both procrastinated for an hour before heading home, scared to death to face my strict parents. My ‘brave’ boyfriend dropped me off in the driveway, and then spun off quickly when we saw the silhouette of my two parents on the brightly lit front porch.
I was shaking so hard in trepidation that I could hardly walk up the driveway. I walked quaking with fear into the house where my parents asked me, “Did you have a good time, tonight?” Was the jig up, I wondered, as I turned beet red? Were they being acidly sarcastic? Did they know?
The threat of the policeman was just that – a threat. He never told my parents. Why on earth would he ever want to scare a young couple like this? He must have gotten his thrills this way in his dull, mundane life. All I know is that he scarred my life forever! Well, I admit I am being a little dramatic and the cat (sex) was now out of the bag and I didn’t want to stuff it back in!
By the way, I married my first boyfriend but I should have listened to my intuition. Never marry a boyfriend who will leave you in the dust at the end of the driveway when he spots the ‘porch parents’ in the glaring light waiting up for their daughter. He is now a distant memory.
I can’t say I regretted the whole sex before marriage thing but I can say I was so swept up in the passion that I made a poor decision in my choice of my ex-husband. The loss of my innocence led me to a world that was ripe and raw and yes, exciting. I have never looked back!
The most disappointing day in a young man's life is the day he realizes his own father isn't a deity in waiting. The first time I ever contemplated this incredibly profound concept was the day I watched an episode of Frazier where they explained the same concept. In that episode Frazier's realization of his own fathers mortality was a hysterical scene describing Martin's inability to do math in his head and Frazier's perception of his father's fall from grace.
My father, and I are both ravenous Denver Broncos football fans. Sunday is a sacred day to us in nearly religious proportions. He and I both clear our schedule during the fall and winter months, fire up the crock-pot and enjoy a few bitter brews while yelling emphatically at a TV, crying for more efficient offense, a more stalwart defense, and pleading for a head coach who can be competent for at least the next two plays.
It was cold but clear that day, and my father had a recycling-bin half full of beer cans that had been empty that morning. At eight years old, today was a perfect day for building a snow fort and waging war with the neighbors, and I was missing a perfectly good opportunity to get out there and work. The only hitch to the day's perfect plan? I couldn't find my mittens. So I was running outside, working in the snow until I couldn't feel my fingers, and then running inside and dipping them in warm water until they stopped hurting. After an hour of this behavior he had finally had enough, drunkenly demanded that: It was time to stay outside or stay inside, but this "in and out bullshit had to stop". The Broncos were losing in an embarrassing manner, and I wasn't helping the situation.
It came out that I couldn't find my mittens. "If you can't find them soon, I'm going to pick you up and slam you against this wall" he declared.
I continued the search in a half-hearted manner. Searching all of the places I had searched a dozen times before. Checking under my bed, in my closet, behind the game station in my room, underneath dirty clothes, and there were simply no gloves to be found.
My biggest mistake was thinking I could handle his strength. I was only worried about my head, and I figured putting my chin to my chest would keep my head from banging against the wall.
"Go ahead and do it, because I'm done looking." I retorted defiantly.
Before I could cringe, and shrink away, he lifted me to shoulder length, and slammed me against the hallway wall. My head snapped back and bounced against the wall twice. My nasal cavity and the back of my head felt as if they were experiencing oxygen for the first time, moments before I passed out. I woke up to my dad sitting on the kitchen floor, holding me and sobbing. He was clutching my mittens in his hands, and when I came to, he explained that he had put them on the top shelf in the closet and forgotten they where there. Ostensibly he had punished me for something I had no control over.
I had a concussion, and felt room spinning vigorously every time I laid down for a month. They never took me to a doctor, I lost my innocence the day that Frazier episode aired a few years later, when I realized I knew at the age of 8 that my father wasn't perfect. No boy should lose his innocence to his fathers violence.
I split my lip once when I was little. Being at the time just a little too raucous and taking up far more cubic inches of space in the sticky air that had housed my family in the long, miserable summers of the south than necessary, I found myself promptly plopped down into the rickety lawn chair of the back porch, isolated from the rest of my cousins, and chastised about dangers of running too fast, running into blunt objects, and running too fast into blunt objects as my chubby, calloused feet swung restlessly in the breeze. I had needed exactly seven stitches -- three disclosing themselves shamelessly in the front, four hidden on the inside of my bottom lip -- and for nearly two weeks I could feel the scarring flesh wrapping uncomfortably around ice pops, around soup spoons, around cool edges of dangerously full glasses of lemonade, the sensation each time rendering itself new and tender and painfully, painfully present. The faint, crooked mark of a line perpendicular to my bottom lip merely reflects itself in the mirror now, having long since ceased its throbbing, but my mother brings it up every once in a while, comments occasionally how much prettier I would look if I took the efforts to cover up the imperfection with a dab or two of concealer. So it's still noticeable. To this day I can still feel the sting of my mother accusing me of injuring myself for attention, for only something to be remembered by in my backwater whirlwind of a childhood, and the memory of splintered ashwood nestled within the blood remains fresh in my mind.
I can only imagine that the distinct appearance of the scar is precisely why this cologne-reeking, spectacle-bearing wire of a man has bothered to place his thumb on the blemish, curious. Testing it, probably, just to see if it would try to bite the way I had wished the first time had gone, or if it would simply remain still and quiet and vaguely, passably compliant like the way our coerced joining had actually proceeded. My professor taps the patch of skin once, twice -- no movement, of course -- before settling my chin for me into the vice-like grip between his forefinger and thumb, satisfied. As if he hadn't already attempted to explore everything once already. And out of all the reasons that could've stood for an explanation as to why I'd been called back down into the privacy of his office again, I'm thinking that he wants to kiss me and that I'm scared and that I really, really want to cry out to the stuttering intern down the hall, maybe even tear him away from the ever-propped book sitting in his lap if I have to.
And then I think:Would Mama still tell me I was only looking for attention if I did that?
He clears his throat suddenly, and the abruptness of the break in silence is enough to force me straight-backed against the chair again, attention drawn. Something like amusement passes over his features; thankfully, he makes no comment on it.
"Now, Scout," he addresses instead, "I understand that you may be a bit upset over the events that have transpired recently and that you may be slightly concerned and confused over the manner in which those events occurred, to say the least of it. Maybe even a little angry, a little frustrated, a little -- well, I'm not you, Scout, but I imagine that calling you down to my office at a time like this may seem a bit incriminating in regards to my character. Am I correct in that aspect?" The words are slow, stagnant -- aggravatingly so, actually, as if he were speaking to an eight-year old child instead of a woman on a scholarship just a decade over -- and the one-on-one humiliation is difficult to choke down underneath the inherent fear. He doesn't wait for me to respond. "And I imagine, also, that your rather troubled state of mind may be exactly the key to the road of repercussions that lies ahead of you, should you choose to report the details of our previous meeting. You're a smart girl. I like to think you've read our policies in regards to second and third offenses after your little incident last month."
Of course I had. The academic scholarship keeping me afloat and away from my dying flat of a hometown had been stressed in meetings that I would have never thought necessary to be extremely strict in its rules and codes of conduct, a marginal but prevalent nod to the socially disastrous events of the antecedent years. As I assumed, anyway. I'd pored over the tiny blocks of text over and over and over again out of the fear that I'd missed something, that I'd be caught in some hidden loophole to toss out my too country, too-accented-to-be-intelligent self, that for one slip-up in letting a friend borrow my fridge to store their whiskey would lead to losing everything that I'd worked for -- and he had been there. Holding my hand, rustling knowing, understanding fingers through my hair in an attempt to soothe my panicked sobs. Whispering into the frizzy, disheveled curls that everything was going to be okay, that he'd take care of this, that all I needed to do was let him do one thing for me and could I do that? Would I let him do that? Even in the air-conditioned rooms of the northern cities there still remained a sultry, heavy hot spell in the air, and my worn shoes and cardigan and hair tie had come off over the course of the conversation in an attempt to ignore it. And he'd told me everything was going to be alright again, voice husky, one hand pressing my head to his chest and the other creasing his graying strands, and he'd asked me what I'd be willing to --
"You understand, don't you, Scout?"
I do. He's running his fingers through my hair again, eyes tracing over the scarred lip that had provoked his curiosity so intensely that first week of class, and it's all I can do not to flinch. I like to believe there's some power to be claimed in the lack of obvious fear. I don't flinch when I begin to feel the pressure on my thighs, in my mouth, in places I would've never expected to hurt so much. I don't bite into the inside of my wrist to keep myself from crying, from screaming, from calling out to someone who would only further incriminate my actions in the situation that I'd put myself into. The ceiling -- like I imagined my mind would be like in the youthful days of hours upon hours of chiding and punishment -- floats somewhere above, distant, and aside from the occasional stab of pain that had emanated from the bloody bottom left portion of my lip in the first of a long line of displays of disobedience in my childhood, I had learned quickly how to become unattached.
As a child, I'd always wondered if splitting my lip would lead to the tearing of my entire body.