First Time

I sat on the side of her bed with my knees tucked up under my chin and watched the sun rise. She lived on the eleventh floor, and because the building was so far from the main campus, all I could see out the window were the sports fields and the river and the tops of a couple of tall buildings beyond the trees. It didn't rain that night, but it was cloudy and the sun made colors in the sky over the damp grass and dripping chain link fences.

M had turned off The L Word around 4:30 and she and J were trying to sleep. Poor J was curled up on the foot of the bed, not really able to fit. I had gotten myself out from under M's arm so I could sit up and look out the window. There was a pressure in my head behind my eyes, but I wouldn't sleep at all. The window was too compelling, and my brain was buzzing so I could almost hear it in my ears.

I had been standing at the window for a while when they woke up, glancing at the bed every few minutes before lifting my hands to my face to smell the novel spiciness on the tips of my fingers. That was one thing about M. You could always smell her. Even later, when we danced on an awkward club night, I could smell her through the press of bodies on the floor.

M didn't think we should walk home alone, so I went with J as far as the edge of campus. We grinned at each other a little bit sideways, and I apologized if we kept her up. "You don't mean that," she said, and smiled. I didn't think she'd minded. "I have a girlfriend" didn't mean she hadn't watched from her corner of the bed.

I stood for a minute or two and looked in the direction where she'd tromped off down the path. I was just breathing. My breaths had been shallow for months, my head pointed at the ground, and as I walked back across the empty campus to my room I finally filled my lungs. I smelled my fingers again, and the cold morning was like a seasoning for what was still there so strongly. I didn't want to wash my hands that day. Like the time in high school when I showed up to burgers with my friends and couldn't help but grin and announce "I smell like cock."

Before I took off my skirt and boots from the party and crawled into my bed, I scrawled a note on the white board outside my door. "Claire, don't worry about me. I got back okay. It's 7am now, and I'm going to sleep. I'll see you when I wake up." My sheets were so smooth, and my pillows so soft, and I smiled a little as I finally let go of my own head and let my bones sink downward.

My last thought as I fell asleep was excited, not foreboding. "I'll have to tell Morgan about this tomorrow."


On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

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