Posted on: May 1, 2014
Jenna told her father that she had band practice after school, so he didn’t need to pick her up until five o’clock. When the bell rings at 3:30, she makes a beeline for the girls’ bathroom and changes into a black miniskirt, fishnets, and knee-high combat boots that she borrowed from Liz. She’s too young and excited to realize that her outfit doesn’t make her adolescent body look any older. There’s something about being thirteen that makes you feel invincible. You got your period, you shop in the Juniors’ department, and boys look at your butt instead of throwing footballs at your head. She even has a grown-up haircut, stacked short in the back and long in the front, framing her face nicely apart from the acne chin-strap left in its wake.
Jenna coats her lips with Cherry Coke flavored Lip Smackers and puckers up for her reflection. She’s about to meet up with Kevin Peeler, a high schooler three years older than her. They exchanged screen names at a band competition a few months ago and would chat late at night about Buffy and the latest Final Fantasy. She must have filled up three notebooks of sappy love poetry and name-change drills as Jenna Peeler. When Kevin asked her via instant message if she wanted to hang out by the soccer field sometime, he didn’t hear her fall out of her chair and scream into the carpet with delight. All he read was, “Sounds kewl.”
Jenna walks out of West River Middle School, navigating through a sea of her peers gawking after her. The whispers fuel her giddiness and propel her forward down the path that leads to the recreational fields. She forgets to pop a Tic Tac as she concentrates on acting cool and mature for her age. Kevin’s already sitting on one of the bleachers when she approaches, wearing black jeans and a matching long-sleeve thermal. His nails are freshly Sharpied and he’s wearing the spiked dog collar he told her about last night. Jenna cannot stand how hot he looks right now.
“Nice boots. Knee-highs are sexy.”
She wishes her skirt had pockets right about now, but decides to fiddle with her bookbag straps. Her stomach hurts and if this doesn’t go well, she’s totally going to have stress-induced diarrhea.
“Sit with me. Put your bookbag down.”
“You’re super shy in person. Don’t tell me you’re a poser?”
“Nah, it’s cool. So, I was playing FF7 last night and I finally got to the part where Sephiroth just goes total beast mode.”
“Omigosh, that’s so cool! I actually drew you a picture of him.”
She pulls out her binder and removes the sketch from a clear sheet protector, handing it to Kevin and smiling.
“Jenna, this is really good. Like his sword and eyes are perfect.”
She might piss her fishnets, she can’t believe how nice he’s being to her. He’s so freaking cool. His eyes are the deepest blue and his hair is spiked up just right. Jenna’s cheeks are getting hot and she’s trying not to breathe so fast.
“C’mere,” Kevin says, taking her hand.
She tries to straddle the bleacher without him seeing her granny panties, and their knees touch. Jenna’s head is spinning and she really doesn’t know what she’ll do if he kisses her. Before she knows it, his lips are on hers and his tongue is in her mouth. She feels awkward, wishing it was as easy as it looks in Disney movies. She’d spent so much time daydreaming about this moment, so many nights staring into the dark wondering what it would be like to have a hand behind her head and pulled into a kiss.
But it’s not what she was expecting. She realizes now as the romantic stupor wears away that he has braces and they’re catching her tongue. There are crumbs in his mouth from something he ate earlier and she’s pretty sure it was pizza and cookies. Instead of her gothic Prince Charming, all she sees is a sixteen year old boy who probably makes out with his pillow. Her first kiss is the most disgusting thing she has ever experienced. She can’t take it back. She can’t press rewind. This is it. Jenna lied to her dad for this.
When Kevin pulls away, he’s grinning like Sloth from the Goonies and rubbing her thighs with his hands. Jenna notices two small streaks of pizza sauce on the corners of his mouth. She offers a courtesy smile and then stands up, pulling her bookbag onto her shoulder.
“I should go,” she says. “My dad’s probably waiting for me.”
“Chat later?” he asks.
Jenna walks away from the bleachers and back toward school, spitting every few steps as if it will help. Her fishnet stockings are starting to sag and that straddle left her with a wedgie she wasn’t willing to adjust with her back facing Kevin. It’s 4:35 as she walks up the sidewalk, and her dad’s here early. She gets in from the passenger side and sighs, hugging her bookbag to her chest.
“And how was your day?”
“It was okay, I guess,” Jenna says.
“Uh huh. Did you have an accident?”
“What are you talking about, Dad?”
Jenna’s annoyed, just wanting to go home and hide in her room for the rest of the school year.
“Well, you were wearing some really nice khakis this morning…”
Her eyes widen and she covers her face with her hands before turning to look at him.
“Dad, I can explain. I spilled my Powerade at lunch and Liz had extra clothes in her locker...”
“Those are clothes?”
When they get home, Jenna fights the gravity of disappointment as she climbs the stairs to her bedroom. She shuts the door behind her and leans back, making eye contact with Leo DiCaprio on the poster above her bed. Jenna closes her eyes and smiles. There’s still hope.
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