by Mary Miller
You're making out with a stranger in a trailer when the bed breaks. It reminds you of art class in fourth grade when you stepped on a soft spot in the floor and your foot went through, how you blamed it on a fat kid named Terry.
The boy says, "This isn't even my bed."
"Whose bed is it?"
"Um, not sure."
When you look at him for instruction, he says, "Fuck it. The door's locked. Nobody'll bother us," and rolls on top of you again. But then someone says,
"Hey, what's going on in there?" and the boy on top of you says, "Nothing, man," and the guy behind the door says, "I heard a noise," and the boy says, "Everything's cool, man," and both of you know that it's over. So you get up and get dressed, go outside and stand in the cold.
The boy smiles as he lights your cigarette. You take a few drags and drop it, cover it with your shoe.
"You only smoked it halfway," the boy says.
He shrugs. "You wasted it."
"I'm an American citizen," you say, because you have a habit of declaring your citizenship. Then the boy goes inside to get a couple of beers. You sit on the steps next to each other and drink them. You start thinking about poor people and how they fuck a lot because it's a free activity and not half-bad as far as entertainment goes.
You are not a poor person. You have a policy not to fuck strangers. The policy includes penetration and oral sex. The policy doesn't cover anything else.
The boy says, "My name's Wes."
"That's a nice name."
After a minute, you say, "I'm Val," and he says, "It's nice to meet you, Val," as if this is appropriate to say to the person you've been dry-humping for the last two hours, and then he goes inside to use the bathroom. He calls it "the crapper." When he returns, he smells vaguely of shit. You try to think of something clever to say but can't come up with anything so you ask his major.
"I dropped out last semester. School's not really my thing."
"What is your thing?" you ask, and the boy looks off into the trees so you figure he's either searching for a thing or else avoiding one. Then your friend Julie pulls up, and a short guy with a beard hops out. The beard is patchy in spots, makes him look mangy, and his eyes are too close together. You wonder if he has to look at his nose all day long or if he's mastered this particular challenge.
"I'm entering the hangover stage," you say, and Julie tells you to get to drinkin'.
The boy with the funny eyes goes inside. When he comes back out, he says, "Ya'll had a good time in there, I see," and you say, "We got a little carried away," and the guy says, "So long as you had a good time." You want to tell him that you didn't have a good time, that you never really have a good time.
"What'd you do?" Julie asks.
"Me and this guy here broke the bed," you say, pointing at Wes, who's laid out like an accordion beside you. Julie puts a hand over her mouth and laughs. It pisses you off but you pretend like it doesn't. And the boy with the funny eyes says, "It's okay. I needed a new one anyway."
About the author:
Mary Miller lives in Mississippi and works at a children's shelter. She has work online at Smokelong Quarterly and Barrelhouse.