Aimes read a love story. It was short and broke my heart. Steeped in pain and sweetened with a thin slice of hope, her tale of heartache lay upon us all soft like a dusting of snow on the shoulders of Writers Club.
Cry read a vampire tale.
Brett read, like he did every time, a short little balled up piece of nothing that hit the back of the throat sour and dissipated into dust. No one would remember it. No one ever did.
Jammy read a piece on a jaded life. She had heard Harvard talk the night before about nihilism, and it had bitten her deep. Her piece was angry and shuffling. Perfect and pure. It was raw like so much of her work was back then, and it hit my ears like music.
I pulled out my comp book and opened it to the page I had worked on.
“This is for you. For all of you. No one has read this yet. No one has heard it.” I read. I will not tell you what it was about or anything about it. It wasn’t for you. It was for them. The group of them. The Degenerates that I had begun to live my life with. It was for those of us who had gathered that day to open ourselves up and bleed a little.
When I was done, I ripped the page out of the book. I locked eyes with Jammy and I crumpled up the page. The room fell silent and I grinned at them.
“No one will ever hear this again. This was for you.” I turned to the wastepaper basket and tossed. Perfect shot.
We rambled out of the class after group like a street gang walking their turf. Harvard out front, his arm around Chanel. Walleye beside me, talking about heavy metal. Cry spoke in low tones to Katty, and when we hit the parking lot, Walleye spoke.
“We ought to get some beer and go out to the bridge tonight.”
“No, no beer, no liquor, no drugs,” I said. “We have minds for art and hope. We have minds that build and stretch. We will protect them. No drinking. No drugs.”
No one fought me on it. They all accepted it as the way we would live. As our new law.
When we got to Harvard’s ride, we started counting heads. Cry, Gypsy, Chanel, Jammy, Me, Harvard, Walleye, Katty, and all our bags. We had too many asses for the car.
“We need to make trips,” Walleye said. “I’ll wait here with someone, and when you get to where you are going, you can come back and pick me up.”
“Not a chance. Me and Katty will take the trunk,” I said. The whole of them froze, except Harvard. He laughed.
“We get pulled over, I’m getting a ticket,” he said.
“We get pulled over, they won’t check the trunk. They do, and I will pay your ticket,” I said. “Me and Katty in the trunk with the bags.” I put an arm around her and she trembled. She blushed and could not look up from the ground.
“Why me?” she managed.
“My heart’s one desire.” I wrapped her in my arms and nodded to Harvard. “It will be fine.”
“You’re gonna deflower her and we won’t even get to watch,” Jammy said.
I did not want her body. I just wanted her. Her in my arms, her near and alone with me.
“We can get popcorn and watch Jesse fuck Katty in the trunk,” Walleye said.
Katty giggled and shook her head. She started hyperventilating, and I hugged her close and whispered in her ear.
“If you would rather not, then I will take Chanel. But I want it to be you.” I lifted her eyes to mine and smiled at her. “What do you say?”
They threw their bags in and I climbed into the trunk. I opened my arms to her and smiled. “Come to my arms, Kat,” I said.
She climbed in, giggling and trembling. I held her close and they closed the trunk on us. They piled in, and Harvard turned on Marilyn Manson. Katty shook uncontrollably in my arms, and I whispered in her ear.
“I wanted to be alone with you.”
“Why?” she asked.
“I don’t know.” And I didn’t. I couldn’t tell you—or anyone with us at the time—why, but I craved her, wanted to hold her near me and feel her in my arms. She was the most innocent of all of us. Sheltered by her parents and ignored by boys, she was the most tied up in her mind. The most haunted of our numbers. She was often too scared to laugh. She thought she was ugly and she hated anything that would make her feel soft. She was damaged, just like the rest of us, and I wanted to soothe her, if even for just a moment.
“I wish I had a sense of smell.” It was legendary in our crew that I could not smell.
“I wish I could smell you right now,” I whispered. “I want to savor this moment. Want to remember this for years to come.”
“Why?” Her voice was soft. She was scared, and I realized I could break her with the wrong word. I could hurt her if I were but to close my hand around her breast.
“This is our time, and it will be over too quickly.” And I knew it would be. Harvard was driving us across town, but here in the dark, it would be over so fast. “One deep breath and it will be over.”
She was so tense. Still trembling in my arms. “Let’s try not to breathe,” I said.
She nodded. The darkness was complete. The motion of the car thrilled and scared me. We were not safe. One bump and we could hit our heads. If we got into an accident, we were likely dead. I clung to her, and I whispered to her the things I wanted to tell her. Katty and I shared the darkness, and when we were done, when the car came to a stop and they all filed out, I whispered, “It’s over,” very quietly to her.
I hugged her tight and I held back that I loved her. I held back that I wanted to be with her. I held it all back because I knew it was unfair. I knew I could not be hers. So I kept it all back.
Harvard pounded on the top of the trunk. “Put your clothes back on. I’m opening up.”
“What do we tell them?” she asked.
“Anything you want to.” I kissed her hair, and they let us out.