shriveled peach

Posted on: January 21, 2013

Beth’s virginity was plucked from her at the ripe age of fourteen. The plucker was a senior football star whose basket was already overflowing, but she was too green to see her place in the orchard of high school.
Beth became the plucker’s post-practice treat for the duration of football season. She would sit on the bleachers and watch him nurture his talents until the coach sounded his whistle. As sweat consumed the plucker’s jersey, Beth’s underwear became soaked in a different kind of fluid.
When practice ended Beth would dash to the plucker’s SUV and wait for him in the backseat. She would undress from the waist down and hang her dampened panties from his rearview mirror as if it were clothes hanger. When the plucker approached the door she would roll over on her knees and greet him with the fruits of her youth, but by the end of football season he had lost his appetite for her.
The plucker’s rejection poisoned Beth’s self-esteem. She tried to understand his change of heart, or whatever organ fueled his decision. Every conclusion planted a seed of insecurity deep within her psyche. The inklings eventually grew into a boundary that barricaded her from positive thoughts.
She tried various forms of self-mutilation to break through the fortress, but the resulting marks only strengthened her hatred for her own reflection. She attacked her malaise with the contents of her parents’ liquor cabinet, but her supply was cut off once they noticed the mysterious disappearance of their peach schnapps.
Beth continued her experimentation with alcohol at a party she was invited to by one of the plucker’s teammates. He spent the evening showering her with praise and booze in hopes of recreating the stories he had heard in the locker room. His advances were fruitless until the plucker arrived with another girl on his arm.
The teammate led Beth to his parents’ bedroom just as he had intended to do before inviting her to the unsupervised soiree. Aware of what the teammate expected, Beth flopped on the bed and undressed herself like she did in the back of the plucker’s SUV.
The teammate was pleasantly surprised by how easily his scheme was falling into place. He quickly kicked off his jeans and lucky boxers and clumsily climbed on top of Beth like she was a partially deflated raft.
As the teammate fumbled around for her entrance, Beth stared at the ceiling and replayed her rendezvous with the plucker on the dimmed plaster with the clarity of a film projector. She could picture the gleam of his perfectly aligned teeth when he opened the car door wearing an ear-to-ear grin. She could smell the excessive amount of body spray he used in lieu of a shower. And she could hear the way he’d call her name as their movements brought him closer to climax.
Lost in nostalgia, Beth wrapped her arms and legs around the teammate like a Venus Flytrap. Her tightened grip heightened his arousal, resulting in a premature ending to her fantasy. The teammate tried to pry himself free once he finished, but Beth refused to let go of the first happiness she’d felt since football season.
Unable to get a good hold on his shackles, the teammate took a handful of Beth’s tousled hair and pulled it with all of his might. She let out a knee-jerk shriek and thrashed wildly, allowing him to escape. The bedroom door burst open as the teammate tumbled to the floor. The room flooded with curious partygoers who had heard the commotion from downstairs, but Beth was in too much pain to notice their entrance.
When Beth regained her senses she found herself surrounded by familiar faces and flashing camera phones, but none of her peers were more recognizable than the plucker. She stared at him as if they were alone in his SUV, hoping to find a hint of remorse or jealousy in his eyes. Pity was the only response he offered.
The plucker ushered the others into the hallway in the same way he lead his team to the locker room after practice. He looked Beth in the eyes one last time and shook his head in disappointment as he closed the door. She turned and muffled her rampant sobs with a pillow until the plucker was out of earshot.
The teammate smiled as he slid each leg through his denim slacks. He imagined the hoots, hollers and high fives waiting for him downstairs.
Beth was on the unfortunate end of the double standard. She would be branded a “whore,” a “slut” or some other derogatory term her male classmates would wear like a badge of pride. Her reputation had finally plunged to the depths of her confidence.
By the time the teammate finished dressing, the only movement coming from his parent’s bed were the tears streaming down Beth’s cheeks.
“I’m gonna go downstairs now,” he announced to the back of her head. “Feel free to stay as long as you like, but only for like another hour or so. Is that cool?”

She didn’t acknowledge his generosity.

“Oh, and…thanks.”

Or his gratitude.
Beth continued playing dead once the door closed. She laid still and reflected on her heartbreaking forays into womanhood. The expectations she cultivated from movies and magazines were a lie. She didn’t feel glamorous like Holly Golightly or empowered like Marilyn Monroe. She felt worthless.    She thought about her remaining three years of grade school. All of the whispers. All of the nicknames. All of the unwanted sexual advances. Then, she thought of a solution.
The teammate found Beth in his parent’s bathtub the following morning. She was nude and lying alongside a crimson stain that flowed from her left wrist to the drain. Sitting on a table next to the porcelain tub was his father’s straight razor, an empty cup that reeked of cheap vodka and a ceramic plate filled with dehydrated rosebuds, lavender stems and a lonely shriveled peach. 

Photograph by: Whitney Ott

Written by: Mark Killian

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