When I dove in the pool I stayed under water for a really long time, staring at Jason Miller’s skinny legs kicking out and pulling back together as he treaded water. I think he started to worry because he joined me beneath the surface and held his hands open like he was asking, “What’s up?” I grinned and swam toward him and I don’t know what came over me but I kissed him. It was soft and watery and how good it felt surprised us both because we kept staring at each other. The chlorine hurt my eyes. I didn’t care. I didn’t look away. I ran out of air and my chest was going to cave in so I pulled away. As I floated to the surface, he held my hand and floated with me. We were in a different world, where it was possible for a girl like me to like a boy like him and for a boy like him to like a girl like me. I was sad when we broke the surface. My chest was pounding so I took a deep breath and another deep breath and another deep breath. Jason Miller closed the distance between us and wrapped his arms around me. We floated together toward the edge of the pool but we never seemed to reach it. We didn’t talk but I wanted to say something to Jason Miller, something important we would both remember.
Billy Tomasetti came by work. I’ve messed around with him before. He has sweaty hands and works in a pizza parlor. He always smells like sauce and hot cheese. When you work in a restaurant, you always smell like something that once was good. When it clings to you that smell somehow goes bad. Billy never says anything nice but I don’t say anything nice to him either. He found me out back by the dumpsters. I was smoking and sitting and wanting to be alone before I walked home. He had a brown paper bag in his hand, a bottle of warm malt liquor. When I saw him walking toward me, I wanted to throw up. I threw my cigarette into the dumpster and told Billy I had to get back to work but he laughed. He said he knew my shift was over. He came up real close, his chest pressed against mine. He told me to open my mouth and I don’t know why, but I did. He started pouring malt liquor into my mouth and soon my face felt numb. Billy killed the rest of the bottle in like 30 seconds. It was crazy. I’ve never seen anyone slam back that much beer at once. Billy asked me if I wanted to go fool around and I told him the truth and said, “No.” He laughed some more but it wasn’t a real laugh. It was like he pretended I was saying something really funny. Billy grabbed my boobs and squeezed hard. I tried to slap his hands away and he shoved me into the wall. I felt numb from the malt liquor so I didn’t mind. I mean, I minded but there was nothing I could do about it so I let it go. “Don’t be such a tease,” Billy said. I told him I wasn’t being a tease. I told him I wasn’t in the mood. He slid his hand down my pants. I don’t know what he was looking for but he didn’t find it. Finally, when I didn’t respond, he said, “Fine, just blow me.” I shook my head and all I could think about was Jason Miller and how he would never talk to me ugly or touch me ugly. Doing anything with Billy felt like lying to Jason Miller and I don’t want to ever lie to Jason Miller. Billy wasn’t interested in what I didn’t want to do. He pushed me down to my knees and I got so mad because the ground was greasy and gross and I didn’t want to blow him but I also knew the easiest way to get rid of him was to get it over with. It was miserable at first but then I left myself, pretended it wasn’t me on my knees. When it was over, I spit onto Billy’s shoe and he laughed again and said, “I thought you always swallowed.” I told him it was the last time. He shrugged. I’m pretty sure that’s the last I’m going to see of him. I puked into the dumpster and went back inside to finish refilling the salt and pepper.
Jason Miller only kissed me that night at the pool. He held me close in the warm water. His fingers pressed against my spine and found the small of my back and locked there. I liked how his bare, damp chest felt. After we kissed, I closed my eyes and pressed my cheek against his shoulder, the bone of it. He didn’t try anything more even though I wanted him to. I would have let him do anything he wanted. That’s how I am with boys. I don’t even think. I pretend I’m not there and let them touch me and taste me and take me. Sometimes I like it. Since I went to the pool with Jason Miller, I haven’t wanted to let another boy touch me. I don’t want to forget what his hands felt like on my skin. I know myself though. I’ll probably do something I don’t want to do. After a while, it got cold and we were both shriveled up something awful. My whole body ached as I pulled myself out of the water. I was so sleepy. We dressed quickly and Jason Miller took me home. After he dropped me off, after he kissed me on the check and said he would see me around, I sat on my front porch for a good long while. I sat there, my hair still wet, smelling like chlorine, and I got mad because he was supposed to want me. I called him and before he could say anything, I shouted, “Why didn’t you fuck me?” and he said, “Because when we have sex I want to touch you in some place clean and soft and warm and safe, not the public pool where, honestly, you don’t want to know all what happens in that water.” I didn’t know what to say. I sat there stupidly, holding the phone to my ear. He listened to me breathe.