But I'm Wanted
April’s lips are chapped. They’re rough and scrape against mine, and the taste of nicotine fills my mouth. Her fingers are wrapping around the tendrils of my mullet. And she pulls my hair a lot harder than I expected. It’s my first kiss. Well, the first one I count, anyway. She’s my age, fifteen, but her face looks older, with a gap-toothed smile and painted-on eyebrows that would fit on any forty-year-old woman my dad might pick up at the bar. Her aggressiveness turns me on. The red plastic slide we’re leaning against digs into my back.
“You’re so cute,” she says.
“So are you,” I say back.
A month from now, I won’t think that’s true. But here, she’s the first girl to give me the time of day now that I’m a teenager, and because she’s the first person to ever tell me I was cute, she’s hot.
I met her last week, visiting my dad at his new apartment. He’s thirty-four, physically imposing, and I hate him. He’s not too fond of me either right now. Weekend passes from the group home I’ve been living at for the past eighteen months have been split between my mom and him. My brother and I share a room in his apartment. I sleep on a cot; Jeff has a bed.
April waited for me on the concrete steps of the building next to my dad’s. She smoked six butts waiting for me and her Looney Tunes shirt with the Tasmanian Devil dressed in Hip-Hop clothes has a few cigarette burns in it. She had pulled me by the hand into the playground with barely any words, and here we stood trying to devour each other.
One of her hands reaches under my shirt and scratches my back so hard I almost push her away, but the pain also brings this electric rush of desire I’ve never felt, so I do it back to her and bite her dry, lower lip. She tells me I’m learning.
I don’t know if kissing her will get me in trouble back at the group home. The Cardinal Rules are:
No Drugs of Alcohol
No Threats or Acts of Violence.
Two and three are pretty clear to me, but when she moves my hand to her chest and I feel a breast for the first time, I wonder if I have to confess this contact when I get back, or if only penetration counts. My hard on is noticeable and straining against my pants, I don’t know where this is all going to go.
During the week, I live in the coed house on the residential campus. The girls live on the first floor, the boys on the top. I was in a room with a kid who had molested his siblings when I first moved in, but once the staff noticed he was a head taller than me and 50 pounds heavier, I was moved into a room with a heroin addict, a car thief, and Mike, who we knew had done something violent, but never talked about it and was always laughing and joking with everyone.
April’s breast is full and round, and I paw at it clumsily as she guides it under her shirt and the Tasmanian Devil’s facial expression seems to shift into confusion with my hand groping underneath it. It is sundown on Saturday. The playground is empty. My dad and brother have gone to get us a pizza. My dad didn’t want me to bring anyone into the apartment. The rule was put down four minutes after my initial conversation with April. I thought him leaving Mom meant all rules were off, so why should I follow them? Probably because I’m not out of the woods yet. I have four weeks to go before I graduate the program and can come home, after two years of being away. I was in eighth grade when I was caught with a knife at a dance. I’m going to be a sophomore. Mom still has the house. I want to live with her anyway. Dad’s a dick.
I hear someone coming and I pull away. It’s just a dog. April laughs and then grabs the bulge in my jeans. “I always like to feel this,” she says. “This is what a girl can do to you.”
She’s been at this longer than I have, experienced compared to me, and I’m grateful for it. Once she touches me there, I know I can’t talk about it to anyone else, or else I might have to stay in the program for another, I don’t know how long. It ruined Mike’s release date when he admitted to sleeping with his girlfriend (or was it running away with Alyssa and having sex with her the week after?). And I’ve worked the program hard so I don’t have to keep living there. She’s still rubbing me through my pants and it chafes.
“We should find someplace private,” she says, and we leave the park and walk down the street toward the fitness and function room area. The weight room is rarely used in the evening, she tells me. I put my arm around her and she puts her hand in my back pocket and I’m swooning. I’ve got a girlfriend. And then a black Honda Civic comes up the road, and she pushes my hand off her shoulder and waves. The car slows, and the boys in the car, maybe a year or two older than us yell her name. She tells me to wait on the curb, and I do. And she leans into the car and I can’t hear what she says, but I watch the way she is swaying her hips back and forth and then I hear the three of them laugh as she pops her head out of the car briefly to look at me. When she comes back to me, she tells me they’re just some guys she knows. I‘m not stupid, but my teen hormones are raging and the fact I understand how she knows them, and how she avoids questions about it it makes me hotter than I’ve ever been in my short life.
Years from now, I’ll look back at my time with her without fixating on the young lust I felt. I’ll remember breaking up with her because she’ll lie about the hickeys on her neck that weren’t from me, her casual theft, and how, for six months her new boyfriend will call my mother’s house and threaten me. I’ll remember every mean thing she says about me, and how her confession of all the people she was sleeping with in the two months we went out didn’t phase me. That the only time she was ever nice to anyone was when they were touching her, or vice versa. But at this moment, at fifteen years old, I’m amazed that she chose me, maybe not for long, maybe not even after this weekend. But I’m wanted.
About the Writer
Steven LaFond is a writer whose work has appeared in apt, Little Fiction, The Drum, New Guard Review, and elsewhere. He runs the Belt It Out Reading Series in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is either the most highbrow karaoke night or the drunkest literary singing competition in the area.