by Jeannetta Craigwell-Graham

If you put your four eyes and my four eyes together we would have eight. Eight is not a dozen but it’s not just one. It’s enough sight to hide our shock that Shayla did the dirty deed on her grandmother’s good couch. She told us that the cover on the settee rubbed her rump raw when he started to rock into her. We were thirteen but we couldn’t see that we were too young for plastic rendezvous.

The mall was our office. We would show up on time and regular to the candy shop and the store that sold slutty club tops. We would suck on hard jawbreakers with a twelve-dollar top covered by our coats because, even if neither of our mothers were in close proximity, they would sense that our skin had been exposed when we got home. We both suffered from close mothers. The kind that knew your shoe was about to get untied while it was still knotted. This did not stop us from taking the cusp of our womanhood for ourselves. They obviously had had us. They weren’t telling us how we were supposed to get from here in the mall to the house with the rose bushes on Shelley Drive.

I remember our folded notes. I know now they were the love letters that I was waiting for from Darren or Chris, whatever knobble-headed boy that gave me that feeling in my eardrums that thunder could not get in if I tried. You were not afraid to tell me that you loved me even if my mother had bought my shoes two sizes too large. When I read them, I wonder where all those feelings have gone. If someone today would ask me to write how I felt about anything, I would use big words to cover up what feels like a whole lot of nothing. Our adult minds will tell us it is because of all those teenage hormones but I think it is just because we have to explain this shadow dancing that we call life.

When my dad got a new job and we had to move I thought we would show how made up miles and maps could be. There were no real lines separating North Carolina and Virginia. But on my first visit back the summer after the move, I found out you were dating Darren or Chris, whatever pointy-boned boy that had given me a feeling of sweating on the inside. I was upset with you. You locked yourself in the bathroom for two hours. You were the first person to show me the bathroom is the only true place someone can be alone in the world without anyone questioning it. When you came out of the bathroom you were different. You were hard and fast with your explanation of how Darren or Chris came to be. I was not even here anymore. You needed someone to love but not in a couch-taking kind of way. You explained that all you and Darren or Chris ever did was go to the mall, go to the candy shop and visit the store with slutty club tops staying only long enough for a jawbreaker to break down to a sugary little pill.