Fiction

The Year I Learned Everything

I felt like I was about to have the best night of my life, so I took a deep breath and I jumped.

19.

When I went back to work, the first person I saw in the kitchen was Manny. I went to the sink to start on the prep dishes and when I turned back to look at Manny again, he started walking toward me. I was scared all of a sudden and tried to back away from him but there wasn’t anywhere for me to go. I reached into the nasty sink water, feeling for something sharp, and I felt a little better when I found a knife handle. I held it there under the water. Manny looked at the ground and mumbled something I couldn’t make out. I shook my head and he said, a little louder, “I’m sorry for what I did to you the other night. It wasn’t right. I hope you can forgive me.” He rolled his rs. I tried to figure out what to say. I didn’t want to forgive him. I’m tired of forgiving people who don’t deserve it and who aren’t really sorry for the things they have done. I let go of the knife and heard it land softly at the bottom of the sink. I wiped my hands on my apron. I said, “I thought you were my friend,” and then I took my apron off and I walked out of that kitchen. I didn’t want to work there anymore with that sad man who thought it would be OK to fuck me in a deserted parking lot when I said no and screamed and begged him to stop. It was still light outside and I started running and I didn’t stop until I got to Jason Miller’s apartment. I pounded on the door and when he opened it, he looked so worried. “What’s wrong?” he asked. I stood on the tips of my toes and kissed his face. I kissed his hands and I wrapped my arms around him and said, “Thank you,” and I said, “I’m going to say it first even if it freaks you out. I love you.” He said, “I’ve been saying I love you in my head since I first saw you stretched out under the lifeguard chair.”

20.

Jason Miller went back to school and we still haven’t fucked and it stresses me out. I want to know I will see him again and that he still likes me. On our last night together I shared my concerns and he said everything was going to be fine. He started tickling me and kissed me and I swear our lips and tongues were practically glued together for hours. If I never did anything but kiss Jason Miller for as long as I know him, I’d be fine. He’s a great kisser. He doesn’t slobber all over me and his lips have gotten soft now that I make him use Chapstick. He brushes and flosses so his breath is nice and he doesn’t choke me with his tongue. When we kiss he feels me up but it’s not gross. He touches me like he cares about what happens to my body. It makes me want him more. I like wanting him. The wanting leaves me feeling kind of edgy but in a good way. Since school started, we talk all the time and he sends me silly texts and emails and I started applying to colleges because it seemed like a good idea to have a plan. I run a lot and ignore most people at school because I’ve always hated them anyway and I know one way or another I’m getting out of here. It’s weird but boys have totally left me alone. They can see I belong to someone who matters now.

21.

Every month I take the train to see Jason Miller at school. He introduces me as his girlfriend and his friends are nerdy like him but really nice. I’ve fallen asleep next to him more times than I can count and he’s never forced me to do anything. Sometimes I worry one day he’ll change and become more like the other boys. When I tell him such things he takes me seriously and says he understands why I might worry. He doesn’t make me feel stupid or silly. The weekend after Thanksgiving I gave him a blow job under a blanket in his tiny dorm-room bed. I did it because I wanted to taste him and make him feel good and make me feel good. He didn’t force my head down. He just kept stroking my hair and saying “oh god” over and over. When he was about to come he tried to push me away but I held his wrists and let him come in my mouth. I swallowed because I wanted him to know nothing about him will ever disgust me. I didn’t know the right words but he got the message. He said, “Thank you, baby.” I am pretty sure I gave him his first blow job because he was kind of a zombie for a couple days after that and he started treating me even nicer, which I did not think was possible. Once in a while I pick a fight with Jason Miller about the annoying things he does (tickling me, pouring his can soda into a glass, reminding me to do my homework like a freak, watching CNN for too long when I’m visiting which is at all). I do this because my mother told me it’s not healthy for a couple to never argue. By her thinking, she and my dad are the healthiest couple in the world. Jason Miller and I don’t stay mad at each other for long. He asks, “Why are you picking a fight?” and I say, “Why are you letting me?” and he says, “Good question,” and generally that’s the end of that.

23.

My first kiss was with a man not a boy. I was really little and he was really big and he had no business doing what he did to me. I can’t really talk about it but most days I feel I wasn’t ever a virgin and once this man started fucking me, he didn’t stop. He told me what he liked and how he liked it. He said I belonged to him and that he was the only man who was ever going to matter, so at night I checked out. I’d turn my lights off and close my eyes and start thinking about everywhere in the world I wanted to be, which was anywhere but there. By the time he came to me, I wasn’t anywhere near my body. I was in beautiful places, mostly Paris or out at the overlook or in a hidden tunnel below the subway system in the city. Junior high started and boys noticed me because I had boobs and they were great. My second kiss was with a redhead named Thomas and all we did was kiss behind the baseball diamond at school but he told his friends we did a whole lot more and that’s how I lost track of how many boys I kissed. I hope Jason Miller is my last even though it’s not cool to say that sort of thing.

24.

I got into three colleges, including one in the same city as Jason Miller, and that’s totally where I am going. My mom was pretty happy because she actually spoke more than one sentence to me about it. My dad said, “Why bother?” but he’s an asshole who’s mad I’m leaving home. He knows I’m not ever coming back. When I told Jason Miller, he said he was so proud of me. That was the first time anyone said something like that to me. The next time I saw him, he was real quiet, kind of acting strange. I asked him what was wrong and he said, “When you go off to school you’re going to meet all kinds of hot guys. I know what I look like. You can do better.” He said, “You’re too young to settle down and maybe I am too but I know what I want.” It kind of broke my heart that he would think that. I pretended to get a little mad, and said something about how he must think very little of me and he started stuttering, trying to explain himself but then I sat on his lap and kissed him. I said, “I couldn’t possibly do better because you’re the best man I know.” I said, “I think you’re beautiful.” I said, “I know what I want and we both know I’m not at all young.” I kissed all over his face and I looked at him right in the eye so he would know I was telling the truth.

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76 Comments

  • whodatgal April 26th, 2013 3:41 PM

    omg this was so beautiful and gripping and I couldn’t stop reading. This is amazing omigod…

    <3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3

  • Libby April 26th, 2013 3:42 PM

    This was so beautiful; cried when I finished. Wonderful.

  • Lemons April 26th, 2013 3:44 PM

    Please write a book. This is some seriously beautiful writing and I haven’t been this engrossed in a story in forever. just wow.

    <3

    http://visualcoffee.blogspot.com

    • Anaheed April 26th, 2013 8:25 PM

      She has written a book! It’s here: http://www.amazon.com/Ayiti-Roxane-Gay/dp/145077671X

    • Roxane April 26th, 2013 11:31 PM

      I have a couple books coming out next year–a novel and some essays. And thank you Lemons, and everyone else, for such kind words, particularly about this story which means so much to me.

      • maria14 April 28th, 2013 5:40 PM

        Your short story blew me away. Love the style in which you write. Your characters are beautifully drawn, authentic and raw. I would like to know more about your upcoming books and essays. What is the title of the book?

  • goma April 26th, 2013 3:49 PM

    <3

  • Lemons April 26th, 2013 4:01 PM

    ok, double posting because you actually made me cry!

    I hope this all really happened, that Jason Miller really exists. You managed to describe true love honestly and accurately, thanks :)

  • Emmie April 26th, 2013 4:03 PM

    Beautiful, beautiful.

  • Maggie April 26th, 2013 4:09 PM

    This is taking me forever to read because it’s so good I keep pausing so I can save the rest for later. Gotta have something to live for

    • Maggie April 26th, 2013 4:54 PM

      OK I’m finally finished, but I wish I weren’t… It was just so good.

  • jwells April 26th, 2013 4:17 PM

    Beautiful.

  • dessertdesert April 26th, 2013 4:22 PM

    This has got to be one of the most amzing short stories i’ve ever read. I came to tears at almost every page.

  • blueolivia April 26th, 2013 4:27 PM

    wow. wow, wow, wow, that was beautiful. so well written and honest and pure. i love it. wow.

  • Lola the ladybug April 26th, 2013 4:44 PM

    I loved this story ,thank you.

  • sana haque April 26th, 2013 5:00 PM

    Wow! A beautiful tale about a girl trying to find what love really feels like.

  • Gracie April 26th, 2013 5:05 PM

    painfully beautiful, I actually cried

  • Caitlin H. April 26th, 2013 5:10 PM

    This is so amazing, Allegra, I love the illustration as well <3

  • madicps April 26th, 2013 5:11 PM

    So, so good. Thank you so much. This was so incredibly beautiful and one of the best pieces on Rookie. I wish it went on forever.

  • rachelisms April 26th, 2013 5:16 PM

    Your style is gorgeous! I typically have a small hatred for things written in the first person, but this, I must admit, is one of few exceptions. You even convinced me on Jason Miller, and I’m a cynic so that was always going to be a toughy. I would love to see more of your writing :)

  • Tyler April 26th, 2013 6:21 PM

    This is so, so wonderful.

  • Alex S. April 26th, 2013 6:24 PM

    I had no idea what this was going to be about, but I’m glad I was curious.

    Such beautiful writing, I felt like it was a story being told by a friend on the way to class or something. Conversational and honest, one of my favorite pieces on Rookie.

  • DrewNotBarrymore April 26th, 2013 7:08 PM

    What a wonderful read! :) The imagery and feeling of this was fantastic. I adored it, and I hope hope hope you write more. <3

    On an unrelated side note, today's background image looks kind of odd on my screen.
    There appears to some kind of weird, dark, shadowy, patch near the girl's armpits. This doesn't appear on any other webpages I open, anyone else having this problem? ^_^

  • paige.xo April 26th, 2013 7:27 PM

    oh wow wow. amazing….

  • Ruth-Ann April 26th, 2013 7:33 PM

    This is honestly so beautiful, perfectly paced and magnificently well-written. When you described Jason, I automatically thought about my crush. The acne, his kindness.. everything. I want to thank you for this so much. xx

  • Melissa Zheng April 26th, 2013 9:56 PM

    I read this twice just now, it was so good. Seriously amazing.

  • erika k April 26th, 2013 10:16 PM

    This is probably the prettiest thing I’ve ever read :’)

  • Zanna April 26th, 2013 10:24 PM

    this is just so beautiful… i couldn’t stop reading. amazing story

  • Rebdomine April 26th, 2013 10:29 PM

    This made me cry.

  • rubypowers April 26th, 2013 10:33 PM

    I feel really sad and happy, this was so great. Thank you for writing this.

  • emilycarolina April 26th, 2013 11:13 PM

    This is so unebelievably amazing. It made me cry because I want to be with someone like Jason Miller and I always feel like I’ll never find anyone who loves me. This story is just so beautiful, thank you for sharing!!

  • serena05 April 26th, 2013 11:38 PM

    Please turn this into a book and publish it. I swear it would be an extremely worn book on my shelf.

    • Roxane April 27th, 2013 1:16 AM

      I am definitely thinking about turning this story into a book. And thank you!

      • kolumbia April 27th, 2013 8:45 AM

        I really hope you will! This was beautiful and gripping and extremely well-written. Your writing puts little nuggets of beauty into a really bad situation. And of course, that makes the happy ending that much sweeter.

      • AnoHana April 27th, 2013 12:09 PM

        If this story is ever turned into a book, I want to be the first to order it from Amazon!

  • quieroserdemadera April 27th, 2013 1:28 AM

    Even though my whole self shed tears, my eyes are not wet.
    This story feels so close to my heart, it surprises me how much it made me remember. It made me feel like I’m watching “it” from the rear window.
    I’ve been trying to put some feelings together, and with this I nailed it. I’m dating my Jason Miller.
    Thank you for sharing <3 :)

  • Randilyn April 27th, 2013 1:48 AM

    This was so incredibly beautiful! Couldn’t stop reading it.

  • lishbish April 27th, 2013 2:08 AM

    Ack I loved this and I generally hate anything pertaining to love! It was so well written and just real and I was completely engrossed.

  • AriaZia April 27th, 2013 4:10 AM

    I am pretty sure that was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read…. speechless

  • shelley April 27th, 2013 4:47 AM

    This was amazing! Wow

  • RhiaSnape April 27th, 2013 7:36 AM

    This was so so beautiful and touching…if this were a book i’d have to buy it.

  • AliceS April 27th, 2013 7:46 AM

    This story makes me feel so good in so many ways. I can’t even know how to express what I’m feeling, and usually I have no problems in finding words.
    “He said he wants my heart not my body and that he’ll know I’m ready when I don’t shake or look scared after he touches me. He said other things I can’t tell you” is just one of the phrases I’d like to write down in a journal to read over and over every time I will need something to “stop the bleeding”. Thank you.
    I join those asking for a book.

  • AnoHana April 27th, 2013 12:07 PM

    I did NOT expect this story to be so amazingly beautiful. I just started reading because I was bored and then couldn’t stop because it felt like I was reading a thick book for hours…

    I am seriously speechless.

  • Lea April 27th, 2013 12:17 PM

    This is so beautiful, I cried. Thank you so much for writing like this. I hope you get to write lots and become famous.

  • Ally_O April 27th, 2013 1:52 PM

    This is probably the best thing I’ve read in a long time. I didn’t want it to end! Please turn it into a full-length book, I would read it again and again. Also, great job to Rookie because I’ve never read a piece of fiction on this website that I didn’t love.

  • figgy April 27th, 2013 2:02 PM

    This story is beautiful. I won’t even try and say anything else about it.

  • Anya N. April 27th, 2013 3:35 PM

    This is so beautiful. I hope we can all find our Jason Miller. <3

  • Gabrielle Micale April 27th, 2013 3:41 PM

    I want to hold this story close to my heart and never let it go. Absolutely beautiful and devastating. Such an engrossing read.

  • mokgadi April 27th, 2013 7:09 PM

    This was beautiful/ awesome/ amazing, made my study breaks just that much sweeter :)

  • unicornconnect April 28th, 2013 4:50 AM

    This was so beautiful, it kept me enthralled the whole seven pages.

    Is it weird I kept imagining Jason Miller as Bill from freaks and geeks though??

    • baex3 April 28th, 2013 11:11 PM

      I kept picturing him as Bill too! LOL.

  • wackygerman April 28th, 2013 5:48 AM

    Nice story, I really liked the style. The girl character is elaborate and deep. Jason Miller, though, was a bit too good to be true to me. Maybe it’s because I’m 25 and disaffected, but the end was a bit too happy for me. (Perfect man + acne = freak?)

  • eliza dolittle April 28th, 2013 10:41 AM

    this was immeasurably beautiful and hit me low and heavy in my gut and i wish i could understand all the ways it affected me because it feels really important and don’t mind me i’m just crying :’)

  • Grace Mecha April 28th, 2013 1:10 PM

    man, i love this. i seriously don’t even have words to describe it. calling it amazing would be an undesrstatement.

  • TinyWarrior April 28th, 2013 2:55 PM

    This is such a beautiful piece, Roxane. I couldn’t stop reading, even through the tears. You portrayed sexual abuse so accurately, the pain they go through, etc. I was a little nervous when I saw that it was one of the tags, but I’m so glad I decided to read the entire story. I really urge you to turn this into a book – I think this is a story that needs to be told, especially now.

  • Tallulah April 28th, 2013 11:02 PM

    this is so beautiful. I don’t know what to say, it just is so perfect.
    http://thuggestprincess.blogspot.co.nz/

  • Valerie Violet April 29th, 2013 3:54 AM

    So beautiful

  • dragonfly April 29th, 2013 7:06 AM

    Wow. That was amazing and so gripping. I loved it!!! :D

  • allie.x April 29th, 2013 3:08 PM

    one of the best things I have read, including non-fiction etc etc. one of THE BEST. so moving and I feel like everyone can find something they relate to in this story. I really felt compassionate towards the main character as well. very powerful writing!

  • christinachristina April 29th, 2013 6:58 PM

    WHY DID IT HAVE TO END

  • maxrey April 29th, 2013 9:54 PM

    This is beautiful, and I love the illustration at the beginning. I might have to print it out and hang it up. Perfect story!

  • ___ellarose April 29th, 2013 11:08 PM

    oh man.. this made my heart pound

  • EmmaF May 4th, 2013 11:57 AM

    WOW. Your story is amazing. I’m crying.
    <3

  • Sea goddess May 4th, 2013 12:45 PM

    this is so beautiful
    is it true?
    i literally couldn’t stop reading<3

  • Dominika Király May 15th, 2013 3:38 PM

    THIS STORY IS JUST AMAZING! LOVED IT!:)

  • Gwendolen June 3rd, 2013 4:44 PM

    That was really one of the most romantic and beautiful stories I have ever heard :D

    http://theirfancies.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Jes June 9th, 2013 3:03 PM

    this made me very happy.

  • orthopedicsaddleshoes June 28th, 2013 1:00 PM

    I’m still on the fourth page ‘cuz I keep pausing because IT’S SO GREAT but I’m so in love with Jason Miller. Oh god.

  • double-fantasy July 7th, 2013 10:00 PM

    THIS IS SO GOOD I CAN’T TAKE IT OMG I LOVE THIS SO MUCH

  • mollusk July 19th, 2013 2:26 PM

    beautifully written! can’t wait to buy the book.

  • mollusk July 19th, 2013 2:27 PM

    ayiti, I mean. i’m glad this story is the way it is.

  • Fee July 30th, 2013 7:41 PM

    I know this article is a few months old now but I hope that Roxane sees this – I read this piece while I was studying for exams, in the totally packed university library, and I was really shaken and teary afterwards. It is absolutely beautiful and really hit home. I read constantly but this made me feel things that no other piece has in quite a while now.

    contraluna.blogspot.com

  • Isabellla August 16th, 2013 11:52 PM

    this is one of the best stories i have ever read, it was so beautiful.

  • November 3rd, 2013 7:55 AM

    I’ve never read something that affected me the way this story did. This story made me feel so happy in a weird way and I’m glad I decided to read it. Actually, I’m glad Roxane decided to write it because I can easily say I’ve never read something so simply beautiful. I could read it forever and ever. I’m even tearing up a little bit. This is amazing.