Adolescent Nights

Each jolt of the milkman’s white van sent my bones jostling awkwardly against Essie’s knees. The van was stolen from Frankie’s backyard, where his father hoards a collection of elderly vehicles. Frankie chuckled about something from the driver’s seat and his friends seemed to join in on the inside joke. Beside me, Essie was filled with uncontained anticipation, reducing her body to a jello-like tremor.

“Here, this should calm you down.” The boy with the blue lidded eyes handed Essie a smoky joint. When he smirked I looked out the grimy window, only to see my own face reflected in the night. Pearlescent moonlight spilled gently over Essie’s face as she took a sweet intake of breath with closed eyes. She passed it to me in the dark and we sank deeper into the shadows.

For some reason, the thought of approaching our destination sent a flurry of anxiety up my stomach. Essie was obviously excited too, but she covered it up with a wild mutant of a giggle and a hiccup. Her raspy breath scratched my ear as she leaned her head against mine, which somehow caused us to collapse with sudden laughter. Her hair smelled like the ocean, that’s what I was thinking as the van veered into the parking lot.

Everyone piled out, with Essie tugging me along from the backseat. When my feet took purchase on the black pavement, the joints in my legs seemed to lose feeling. I slowly stumbled a few steps and then I saw him, standing there with his smile and soft plaid shirt. I groaned when he caught my eye. I was just too tired for this tonight, my legs were sleeping right here in the empty lot.

Yet when he approached me hesitantly, his shy shoulders seemed suddenly, undeniably cute. As he faded closer and closer, I knew I would be the one to start the hug. I gasped into his shoulder with a sudden giggle and a twist just beneath my gut made me grip his neck a little tighter. The solid warmth of his body seemed to make me greedy for every moment.

He tried to walk with me but my legs only wanted to slow dance. He laughed in my right ear as I swung my other arm around his neck. “Do you want me to give you a piggyback ride?” I nodded with childish pleasure and let him pull me up onto his back.

I couldn’t even tell it was nighttime with the yellow, buttery glare of the streetlights in my face. Somewhere across the lot I could see Essie along with clumps of blurred, happy people. Delighted shrieks of laughter and low, rumbling chuckles filled the brisk air like a symphony.

I dropped off his back with an embarrassed grunt and staggered until he fastened me before his eyes with gentle hands. Average eyes set off by an average nose, a sweet mouth, and a body softly sculpted under his red plaid button-down shirt. I didn’t want to remember his unmemorable face so I closed my eyes as I leaned up to press my lips to his. It was nothing more than that, nothing less. No tongue because he only kisses clean and dry.

I broke away first to catch my breath and to untangle my hands from his hair. My mouth moved along with his again, following its usual short melodic pattern. Then I softly jerked back again and allowed Essie to pull me away by the arm. I didn’t look back at him with regret but my teeth set on edge when he didn’t turn back to wave. I remembered why we never did work, not then and not now.





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