5
min

Looks Like Rain

Image of jordanroth

jordanroth

10 readings

2

It was raining when I left. The heat drained from my cheeks and I welcomed the drench, pairing with my shame the way only rain can. As I walked home, the shame remained, but it folded in on itself to make room for something else bubbling up in my mind. I couldn’t place what it was, but it made the humiliation bearable. It was pride- a grain of it- proud that I said no. Thanking me. It made the humiliation bearable.

Clouds hummed overhead when I rang his doorbell. I paid no mind- the storm in my stomach was louder, more demanding than the grey formations above. Lightning shot through my veins when the doorknob twisted from the inside. If a butterfly flaps its wings, a storm hits on the opposite side of the world. Can you have butterflies and a hurricane in your stomach at the same time?

He looked the same. I didn’t know why I expected him to look different. Maybe it was because we weren’t in school, maybe because it was my first time seeing him home, seeing his domestic. I’d thought he’d be different. But he was him, the same him I saw an hour or so earlier, minus the backpack: Same dark hair and matching dark eyes, same straight nose, quirked lips- into a smile. Always a smile. “Come in.” He nodded toward the sky. “Looks like rain.”
A kitchen table. Maple. Classy. Six chairs, but we only needed two. Homework out, pencils up, neither pair of eyes on their respective pages. I roamed through his dining room with my vision, pretending to derive 6x+32. I felt his eyes on me, but I didn’t dare look. I bit my lip instead- looking more lost in the easiest math problem I’d seen all day- so I didn’t have to look up, so his eyes wouldn’t dart away from my face. I looked up when I heard a crack, the crushing of soft metal against computer paper. His pencil broke. He cursed, softly, and I felt a grin break through my lips, releasing the bottom one from the cage of my front teeth. He got up. “I have to go grab my pencil sharpener. It’s in my room.”
“Can I come?” I forgot to say why I wanted to see his four walls, his bed, his knick knacks, but he didn’t ask. He just smiled, a little toothy, pearly whites, motioning me to follow him. Up the stairs, down the hall, thunder groaning outside.

His room just looked like a room, but it was his. So it was special. And I expected him to look different again, now that he was immersed in himself, reveal himself to me without him even knowing he had done it. I expected him to not be the same him, but all he was doing was rooting through his desk drawers to find a pencil sharpener. He was the same, again, but I didn’t mind. I liked him the same. I liked looking through his room while he was doing the same, perusing the walls, observing the posters, testing the softness of his blankets with my hand.
“You can sit, if you want,” he said over his right shoulder. “This may take a while.” Lightning cracked through the crack of his window. I pretended not to notice.

He gave up, flopped down on the bed next to me, lolled his head over to face mine. Sat up, his whole body mirroring mine. “Your eyes have a little green in them, you know.” It was a strange thing for him to say, but with the way he was studying my face, I couldn’t help but blush. He leaned in then. My lips met his, and it was nice, but it was quick, early. They stayed there, moving with his, butterflies on nectar. I liked him. I was nervous, but I liked him.

He kept going. Somehow I moved from upright to against flannel bedsheets, my head on his pillow, my socked feet meeting the edge. Thank God I took my shoes off at the door, I thought. Didn’t want to get his bed dirty. The thought was pushed out of me with the breath from my lungs, in a whoosh, as his weight startled the carbon dioxide out. My face started to heat up, shy, apprehensive, a message from my gut. He kept going. “I knew it,” he whispered to himself. I knew exactly what he was thinking. I felt the grin in his voice, the voluntary ignorance in his mouth. He kept going.

I was right. He wasn’t the same him. He was different, but this time, I didn’t expect him to be. He was feral, or hungry, or deaf. But the smile, always the smile, never faltering, even when his lips stuck to my skin- two leeches, upturned at the ends. Moving downward, following his hands, searing hot against my neck, chest, stomach. I’m not ready, I thought. I’m not ready. He couldn’t read my mind. I didn’t expect him to.
“Stop.” The word slithered out of my mouth, dissipated in the air. He still smiled. Enjoying this. The thought of what was to come next driving him, a carnival game you can’t lose and a teddy bear waiting on the shelf. “Stop.” Louder. A whisper, but audible. I lost track of what parts of him made contact with what parts of me. I’m not ready. I lifted my head. He didn’t notice. I sat up, and the change in my position shocked him off of me. “I don’t want to.” He looked at me funny, then. A puppy who didn’t know peeing indoors was bad.
“What’s wrong?”
“I can’t. Do... this.” It sounded lame. It had to be said. And I did say it, and he chose not to listen, because face rearranged itself into what mothers warn their daughters to stay away from, contorted, drew a curved line from ear to ear.
“Are you scared? Just relax. I can fix that.” My neck was at his will again, third degree burns forming. His hands clamped down on my wrists for good measure, forcing me under him and his body, his head so dense it clogged his ears with cotton. I looked at myself, then. Looked at me and him and his twin bed and his hideous sheets and my shirt on the floor and his shirt on his torso and the fly he was unzipping. I said stop. But I liked him, I’ve always liked him, I’ve envisioned this day so many times I said stop why couldn’t I just get into it? But the heat felt unnatural, the heat hurt me, telling me I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready.

“I said stop.” I said it loudly. He couldn’t have missed it. “I don’t want to do this.” I struggled against his grip, loosening up just enough for me to wriggle my way seated. He wasn’t smiling then.
“You asked to come over. You wanted to see my room. You wanted to kiss me, I could tell. What’s your problem?”
“I never said I wanted to do this. I said no.” I reached for my shirt. Cotton had never felt so safe. It protected me from his glare, his tomato-painted cheeks, not the heat I felt but the red of anger, of pseudo-betrayal.
“I know you want it. Stop being shy. God, why’d you even come over if you were gonna be such a tease?” I didn’t feel sorry, I felt mortified. What had I been thinking? That we would do homework, watch some TV, maybe kiss on the doorstep on my way out? That he would text me, I had fun today, we should do it again, wanna go out sometime? It was juvenile. But it was true. I could chastise myself for being naive, but I couldn’t be sorry. I wasn’t. I didn’t owe him anything.

“I’m gonna go.” The words were deflated, but they were spoken. I didn’t owe him anything.
“By all means,” he scoffed. Got off his bed, took a couple steps back, presented the door like it was a prize on a game show. I was no winner.

It was raining when I left. The heat drained from my cheeks and I welcomed the drench, pairing with my shame the way only rain can. As I walked home, the shame remained, but it folded in on itself to make room for something else bubbling up in my mind. I couldn’t place what it was, but it made the humiliation bearable. It was pride- a grain of it- proud that I said no. Thanking me. It made the humiliation bearable.

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