The Bodies We'll Never Know
Jenna is the first one of us to give a blow job. My mother keeps Cosmopolitan Magazines from the nineties on the back of the toilet, dog-earing sections like “10 Ways to Please Your Man” and “18 Positions to Blow His Mind,” as if she is asking us to take notes. This summer, Jenna and I sit side by side on my bed, reading the magazines open-mouthed and afraid. We begin to understand sex as a giving action, always having a focus on the man and his pleasure, his hands always guiding you to the places he can’t reach.
Jenna blew her brother’s best friend, some line-backer who is three years older than us. We are thirteen and just coming into the soft spots of our bodies. Jenna is shorter, skinnier, blonde. I find comfort in hiding the compass of my hips behind men’s clothes. I am aware of my status as the bigger friend, the one who takes up the most space, the one whose footsteps fall the heaviest. I know what a blow job is by now, thanks to the magazines, but I can’t wrap my head around why someone would want to do it, and I can’t imagine ever being asked.
“It looked like a worm,” Jenna says, leaning in so close, I can smell the cotton candy perfume she always dabs on her neck. “And it was hard. And he kept pushing my head down.”
Jenna’s parents always lock themselves up in their room for hours at a time. My mother had once told me that they did meth in there.
“That’s why their teeth look like that,” my mother said, “Meth’ll fuck up your face.”
Jenna’s parents never came looking for her when she would sneak away to sleep at my house, so it doesn’t surprise me that they never noticed that she snuck out to meet the guy at Hagood Park. They started out kissing. It was her first kiss. She tells me his mouth was wet and hot and his tongue felt like a dead fish. I ask her if his breath smelled bad.
“It just smelled like breath. I don’t know. He just smelled like a person.”
First, the kiss was slow, tentative. He cupped her cheek in his palm. When things picked up, he began to push her head lower and lower. I am jealous. My mother’s magazines had informed me of the tell-tale signs that a man was into you, from the tilt of his head to the position of his feet. I size up every man I meet with those standards, trying to gauge the desirability of my body by the dilation of his pupils. When I finally kiss a boy a year later, I won’t notice any of these things, only that he’s five years older, that my mother could be home at any minute. I won’t think his tongue feels like a dead fish, but I will feel his hands tracing the waistband of my jeans, as if he was feeling for the light switch in a dark room.
That night, we stay up until the sun rises, haloed in pink, and Jenna tells me of the warmth of his body pressed against hers. The way he called her baby. The piney smell of his neck. We know it wasn’t romantic, but for the moment, we pretend. We press our bellies to my carpet, and flip through a Cosmopolitan, run our fingers over the bodies we’ll never know.
Victoria Green is a writer living in Clemson, South Carolina. Her work can be seen in Tempo Magazine, Archarios, and Outrageous Fortune.