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.”


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.


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.


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.


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.