by Morgan Atwood
It laughed at him. The gold foil packet, one end torn open. He sniffed the air inside the Taurus. It smelled like Febreze. Fuck. He picked the wrapper up, the remnants of lubricant slick beneath his fingers. Standing upright, he held it up outside the car. He looked at it again. Internally he asked what he expected to be different about it in the new light. Then the same mocking voice shut itself up, had to give him this one, with a snicker. There was just a little touch of something pink on the wrapper. He brought it closer to his eye, there was a little glitter in it. It smelled of strawberries.
The house door slammed, and he tucked the wrapper in his shirt pocket quickly. Turning to meet her his hug over-swung the teenager. She ducked under the arm and partially to the backseat, shoving her backpack in. Slamming the door she gave him a hurried look. She was all eyeshadow and pink lip gloss - Denim and purple and black, stripes and bangles.
Did you find it?
He was lost, she didn't sound guilty. His mind caught up, no, not the wrapper. She'd borrowed a CD from him and he'd gone to find it, Erh, no, but... I'll get it later.
Cool she leaned in and gave him a peck on the cheek, “love ya - see you later! Her lip-gloss smelled like strawberries. The little foil in his pocket felt suddenly heavy.
She opened it with her teeth!
Marguerite was still looking at the foil he'd dropped on the kitchen counter. She nodded, not listening as he said it. The word Magnum, black on gold, glittered in the yellow morning light of her kitchen. Mmhmm, she muttered, in lip bitten fascination.
What's she doing with this kind of a boy, anyway! He wasn't sure, saying it, what kind of a boy he meant. Obviously the sort of boy who would, what? Wear Magnums? Not having a less personal reason only made him madder.
Oh Jeffery. Marguerite was in thrall to the glittering wrapper, “He's not bad, he's just, hung. She coughed to cover the bitten tongue. “They weren't discreet. That's all.
She opened it with her teeth! He pointed to the corner of the foil, pink and strawberry. Emphasis to cover the ridiculousness of his repetition.
So? She's seventeen Jeff. We had the talk with her two years ago. We even bought her condoms.
Not those condoms. Normal, respectable, little dick condoms for little dicked high school boys, the voice said.
Well Jesus! At least he brought his own and is using them!
Margie, I think we need to talk to her about this boy. If she's doing this kind of thing...
What kind of thing Jeff? She cut him off, pinching his name out and giving him a stern look. Sex. Yes, but, what's so bad about it? She's safe. She's been dating him for several months.
He fought for an explanation, something valid, and felt himself losing, I still think we should talk to her.
I'll talk to her. You're too emotional. She's not a little girl anymore, Jeff.
A visual he didn't need, cartoonish engorged caricatures of entwined genitalia, finally defeated him. He wanted shut of the little foil, glittering in the sun. Wished he'd fixed that place on the stairs, painted that thing Margie asked him to, just stayed inside and ignorant. Anything but gone looking for that stupid album.
She'd come home more than an hour ago. Marguerite had disappeared with her upstairs, leaving him with strict instructions not to follow. He tried watching the television. He turned it down low, tried to hear what was being said upstairs, and still couldn't. He went to the kitchen and got a diet pop out of the fridge. The voice was just laughing now. Betrayed by his own internal dialogue he stalked around the kitchen barely drinking the pop. Finally he went and sat in front of the television. Calm down, Jeff, he tried to tell himself. It's just fine. He nodded, stared through the figures on the flatscreen and sipped pop. Then he repeated the mantra and the ritual of gestures. The more vigorously he nodded, the less he believed. By the time he heard steps on the stairs, he'd been sipping on the empty can for several minutes. Coming out of the chair and into the door he slowed himself and tried to look casual. Just passing through.
They were coming down, side by side, and talking quietly. Small smiles danced on their lips in moments of stillness. Mother and daughter both, faces warm, flushed with suppressed giggles. Their feet seemed to bounce, happy and mockingly, down the steps. When they looked up and saw him, they both burst quick giggles and darted looks at one another. The smiling, arm brushing, girlishness turned into a great big hug of feminine solidarity. Solidarity against everything good and decent. Against normal sized dicks and sex in beds. Something felt very tight behind his eyes.
Her touch startled him, the hug hot around him. “Jeez, don't look so much like you're gonna stroke out! Just wanted to say I love ya!
I, uh, yeah, he floundered, love ya too.
Her arm slipped away and she was gone. A flash of loose clothes and bangle bracelets, in between the open and slam of the door. He looked from the hardwood to his wife. The tightening in his skull almost unbearable.
Oh, Jeff. Don't be like that. She's just got a date is all.
With him? The softness of his voice surprised him. His tongue, his lungs, weren't working right. The yell he'd meant it to be was lost somewhere. The little voice helpfully supplied: resolute defeat, and went right back to laughing.
Morgan Atwood is a specialist; He hasn't found his specialty yet, but once he does, he'll set the world on fire. Until then, he writes things. His work has been seen in BULL: Mens Fiction, and Miners Ink. This week he is proud of having completed a persnickety project at work, and learning he was not in fact a year behind schedule as thought, but merely ten months. He blogs at: