Storiesby Kate Hall
I’m sick of candy. I never thought I’d say that. The first man to rape me used it. It was actually more of a kidnapping. Not legally, but it felt like one. He was my uncle. Before he was my kidnapper. His name is Sammy. I know, sounds like an antidepressant. He’s really more of a downer. Sometimes when I see a car window, I cry. I’m in the backseat of Marjorie’s Honda civic right now. You’d think Honda civics didn’t have backseats, but this one does. I think it’s been refurbished. Her full name is Marjorie Marie Claire. The strange thing is, our other roommate’s name is also Marjorie. Only her middle name is Astrid, and she doesn’t have a last name. At least, if she does, she hasn’t told us. She says Astrid is a type of flower, but I don’t think so. I want to ask her for proof, but my mother says it’s not polite. I tell my mother everything.
The last boy I went down on forced me. I’m always getting forced by men. I have a gang rape fantasy, but it’s pretty tame. No anal or anything. I don’t know if I’d actually go through with it. The closest I get is placing ads on Craigslist. Once I placed six ads for a gang bang in an hour, all in different states, and Craig called me on my cell phone. I’m serious. I guess you put the number as a precautionary measure. The police didn’t show up, but I got dressed just in case.
My mom just called. The guy she’s dating is super nice, but he’s got a pretty big ass. She put him on this salad diet, but he was always using high fat dressing, Caesar and Thousand Island, which adds up. I’ve had a thin stepfather, and the truth is, I like this one better. If I was picking husbands, I’d go for thin over nice, but I’m not, and I’m happy for her.
My therapist is getting a divorce. I know I shouldn’t care, but I do. Maybe her pets will be enough. She has two cats and a dog. Gertrude, the dog, is fat. I know I must be coming across obsessed with weight. Maybe I am. I don’t really care when I meet someone on the street if they’re big or not, but maybe I do.
The last man I slept with, who didn’t force me, was Jack. He kept a bottle of Pepto Bismol by his bed. I think I’m going to paint my bedroom Pepto Bismol pink. He said going down on women makes him sick, but he does it anyhow. So he likes to be prepared.
I saw a good movie last night. It’s called Casino Babes, which sounds like a porno. But it’s not. It’s actually a pretty serious movie. About a woman who falls in love with a man who turns out to be a woman. I like casinos. The first time I ever had sex was in one.
I’ve spent the last two hours going through the house for candy. It’s in two big bags from the Piggly Wiggly and I’m going to take them down to the homeless shelter. My mom says homeless people don’t need more cavities, but I think they do. Candy makes you happy, and happiness outweighs unhappiness. Sometimes I think of it as a big scale with, in this case, a thing of jelly beans on one end and a pile of rotten teeth on the other.
Sammy was my favorite uncle. He came to my school and said he was taking me to my aunt’s house, but really he took me to his apartment, tied me to the washing machine, and anally raped me for two days. I don’t like to think about it, but Dr. Greene, that’s my therapist, says it’s good to. She says what we don’t think about eats away at us. The worst part about it is I don’t know if it’s okay to love him or not anymore. Sometimes I think I should hate him, but I don’t. She says there is enough hate in the world already, that it’s okay if I don’t want to add to it, but I’m pretty sure if someone was telling me their uncle did that to them, I’d think they should be mad about it.
I have a date tomorrow. It’s with Simon236 from Myspace. I didn’t know Simon was such a popular name. He’s got purple hair, but you can almost not tell, because it’s really short. He says he cuts it himself. I’m going to ask him if he likes going down on girls when we meet, because that’s kind of a deal breaker for me, but I didn’t know how to word it online. I don’t think I should be wasting time meeting men who aren’t into it, so I’m working on a few sentences I can email them ahead of time. Something like “If you were eating me out, what would be going through your head? Would it be (a) she tastes like a nice, ripe apple, (b) I have to remember to clean out my book bag, or© I think that boy from Men and Masculinity tastes better than she does.”
I haven’t talked to Sammy in over four years. The last time I saw him was at our cousin Helen’s Hanukah party, and I was French braiding some little girl’s hair who was related to us by marriage, so I had an excuse not to talk to him. I thought about how young I was when he did that to me.
I guess there will be some day I’ll get into the backseat of Marjorie’s car without being sore from sex, some day when all I’ll think about isn’t how I gave myself to someone for their birthday or someone else took advantage of me, but for now, I’m happy having a dirty mind. So I guess I’ll just go home, take out my trusty little vibrator, put in a new set of batteries, and think about that line of men waiting for their turn at the buffet.
Girls Like Me
Marcy made me use this strap-on on her that was shaped like the number nine. She said one of her fellow Mensa members had invented it. The kids at school think we’re lesbians, but Marcy says we’re just being resourceful. At fifteen, she’s the oldest Girl Scout in our school. This is the first year I haven’t helped her sell cookies, and that’s only because I’ve been working with my dad over at the flower shop. It’s been in my family for three generations, and he says if I manage to remain a virgin until I’m eighteen, he’ll let me run it someday. My sister, Mary, is seventeen and she already has two kids. For Christmas one year, my dad bought her a chastity belt as a joke and she wore it around the house for a few days before she forgot about it. My dad says he’s not making that mistake again. Ours is a verbal agreement, and he says there are medical professionals who make a living examining girls like me. Some nights I lie awake thinking about it. I’m hoping the “medical professional” turns out to be cute like Dr. Grossman, my friend Jenny’s father. He’s a gynecologist and, according to my mother, he has a waiting list longer than his receptionist Annabelle’s legs.
I’ve gone a lot farther with Marcy than she’s gone with me. She says her troop leader, Mrs. Delmonico, taught her it’s very important to respect other people’s limits. The thing about the number nine strap-on, she told me when she first showed it to me, is that you can only go so far. She said it was made with girls like me in mind. I went online to research the number nine, but all I came up with was a bunch of sites talking about nipple clamps, and you had to pay to see anything. The next day, when I saw Marcy, I asked her what she knew about nipple clamps, but she told me to be quiet because we were at our lockers and someone might hear. When we got to her house after school, she took a couple of clothespins out of her drawer and set about educating me.
Marcy says as long as we both know what we’re doing is for the purpose of research, we won’t get in over our heads. That’s why I haven’t told her there are a few a things I’ve seen in The Joy of Sex, this book my mom has next to her bed, that I’ve wanted to try. So far, all I’ve let her do is feel me up. One time I asked her where she got all her information, and she shrugged and said Freddie, this boy she met at Junior Mensa, showed her most of it. Marcy and I have been friends since way before she knew her IQ, so I say why haven’t I heard about Freddie before, but she says it’s healthy for best friends to have secrets. I want to ask her what other boys she isn’t telling me about, but I’m a fast learner, and if Marcy doesn’t want me prying into her sexual education, so be it.
This one time, we were fooling around in Marcy’s room when her mother knocked on the door and asked us to go downstairs to dinner. I kept smelling my fingers to see if they smelled like Marcy, and her little brother, who’d just gotten fitted with braces, kept looking at me with these little pieces of squash and bread stuck to his teeth. I thought about stuffing him with what was left on everyone’s plates, propping him up in his chair with his legs in the air, but I was pretty sure someone in the family would object. The trouble with going around behind people’s backs is you can never just sit there, eating squash.
The day comes when the principal calls us into his office. I’m pretending to read the Cathy cartoon that’s hanging just beyond his head, and Marcy’s staring at her hands, which are folded like a little bird in her lap. “Let’s get right to the point,” the principal says, picking at his nails with a letter opener. “There’s a rumor going around that you two are quite the item.” Neither Marcy nor I say anything. “Now, if I wasn’t such an advocate of early sexual education, I would have called your parents in here today.” Marcy and I exchange relieved glances. “What I’ve decided to do, rather than punish you, is to give you a quick overview of the human reproductive system.” The principal proceeds to walk out from behind his desk, undo his belt buckle, and pull his pants down until they are covering his feet. He is wearing boxers depicting the American flag, and I have to suppress an impulse to salute him. “Do either of you know what comes next?” he asks, pointing in the general direction of his lower body. Marcy, who is always first to raise her hand, says, “I believe, Mr. Peabody, you are going to provide us with a hands-on tutorial of the male sex organ.” Mr. Peabody obviously likes this answer. While he is standing there, his male sex organ has made its appearance from beneath the red and blue, there is a knock at the door. “Mr. Peabody,” a woman’s voice calls, “your wife is on line one.” Things happen quickly after that. Mr. Peabody is dressed and seated at his desk before I can fully memorize his details. “Yes, dear, of course, dear,” he is saying into the phone, motioning us out with his free hand.
On the way out of Mr. Peabody’s office, I feel like someone who’s just had sex or gotten her period for the first time. It’s as if I have a big scarlet letter tattooed to my chest, but the thing is, I don’t, and no one pays any attention to Marcy and me as we’re walking down the hall, just like no one has paid me any attention my whole life. The thing is, and I can’t quite put my finger on why, I’m pretty sure they can tell something in me has shifted. It’s almost time for lunch, so we head over to the cafeteria where all the kids who don’t have anyone to sit with are claiming their spots at the various tables. This way, they will appear haphazard by the time the other kids have arrived. I know, because deep down, I’m one of them. The truth is, if word was to get out about what we’d been called into Mr. Peabody’s office to discuss, I’d be worse than one of those kids. Whatever shape that might take. Marcy and I haven’t yet reached the age where it’s cool to be lesbian, and it will be years before I even begin to grasp the magnitude of what we do up in her room, so I’m not expecting anybody else to understand. Instead, I put the piece of tape in place, over my cherry flavored lip gloss that will keep me quiet for as many years as it will take for me to do some semblance of growing up. By the time I take it off and open up to the woman who will become my first girlfriend, I will be far from this cafeteria, this town, this small set of circumstances eating away at my insides.
A former poetry editor of Stirring: A Literary Collection, Kate Hall's poetry and stories have appeared in numerous journals. She was awarded the Robert Frost Poetry Prize by Kenyon College then earn a J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.