These things scare me: other kids with IQs as high as mine, clowns,
cartoons, and the flowers outside my bedroom window before they open.
Even though Im just thirteen, I like to understand things, especially
my own fears. About the clowns, its easy. Its the paint
and puffed up clothing, its not knowing whats underneath,
or whom. And yeah, cartoons are animated with silly music in the background,
but theyre still the stuff that nightmares are made of, still
a hammer over the head or the long pull from a cliff to the earth. But
the other smart kids and the flowers outside my window, I dont
get. Especially the flowers. Theyre just sitting there, closed
up and full of fragrance. Whats there to be afraid of?
On a Friday afternoon, while my father is at the car lot, while my mother
is on campus, while my brother Adam is working at The Fish Joint, dropping
chunks of cod into hot oil, I offer up my virginity to my brothers
best friend Craig. I present my virginity to Craig on the hand-painted
clown platethere are chocolate cookies on the plate as well, ones
with white cream oozing from the middle. The more cookies Craig eats
the more of the clown I see, parts of him at a time. A painted eye here,
half of those red lips, until finally, all of him, his whole scary face
revealed. He looks up at the two of us from the plate, black crumbs
dotting his cheeks like fine hairs youd never find on a clown.
I am thinking about those hairs as the boy opens my thighs. I am thinking
about how a girl like me can be reading Ms. Magazine one minute, making
plans for college, then offering a boy her sandwich cookies and virginity
the next. The whole half hour that hes down there I hear him,
see him, pulling things apartlike the cookies, how he split them
in two, then scraped away their creamy middles with one swift sweep
of his bottom teeth.
In my sheets with a boy three years older I make myself into someone
new and tall. I plan a wardrobe in my head, tight jeans and short shirts
that will show my belly button. I see the top of Craigs head,
his dark curls swirling about like the tongue itself, and I see my whole
life opening up or closing. I start thinking that I could crack his
pretty skull in half if my thighs were stronger. But theyre not,
and neither am I, really.
A boy like Craig would probably never do what I really want of him,
which is to stand with me under the sun, holding my hand in front of
my third period gym class. Just stand with me. Lean against the wire
fence, touching my pink knuckles with his fingertips.
Now he stands at the foot of my bed with sweat on his face. He wiggles
into his Levis and almost grimaces. Yes, it is a grimacehis lips,
the same ones he kissed me withnow twisting into a sort of scowl.
Its not the face he made when he reached for my cookies. Its
not the face he made when he reached for my breasts. I have this feeling
that he won, though Im not sure what the game is called; I didnt
even know I was playing. If this afternoon were Monopoly, Id have
given him Park Place, Boardwalk, offered up my thimble, my pink and
blue and yellow bills
You can read Cream in its entirety in the premiere
issue of Swink.
Lisa Glatt's first novel, A Girl Becomes
a Comma Like That, was published by Simon & Schuster. Her poetry
and fiction has been published in such magazines as Mississippi Review,
Other Voices, Columbia, Indiana Review, Many
Mountains Moving, 5AM and The Sun.