By Lindsay Hunter
I kissed a teacher once. It ain’t as bad as you think. It was in shop. He was showing me how to use the band saw and I was in the crook of his arm and we were pushing a two by four together and he had the windows open and there was a breeze and I just turned around and passed my tongue through his lips, easy as pie, his mouth tasted like menthol and something else, something like vinegar, something that wasn’t from food or nothing, something like maybe want. Want is bitter like that is what I mean. Right after I thought of the Cheetos I had in my bag, while he looked at me from behind his dinged up glasses, while his mouth worked like we was still at it, I just leaned back against the table and thought how I’d eat the Cheetos on the bus home, how I’d suck the orange from my fingers.
Well, he said, when his mouth finally quit.
Yep, I said. He pushed up his glasses and I could see the grit under his nails, his knuckles knobbed and leathery.
I had been planning this for a while. This man, this teacher, he was like something whittled slowly going back to the block. All his edges was dull, if he had any edges left. I thought about putting my hands on his belt and so I reached out and pulled at his buckle. It’s easy as that if you want to know the truth. Just think something up and then do it. That’s all.
He pushed at his glasses again, both hands this time, and I felt his pants get tight. Alright, I told him, but he backed away and turned from me and went into his little office and closed the door.
That was that. I ain’t one for pushing it. I got my stuff and wandered the halls till the bell rang and it was time to get on the bus. I ate all the Cheetos, even the little bitty ones, and I saved my fingers for last.
I thought it was funny that here I was finally with my Cheetos but all I could think about was the man’s eyes behind his busted up glasses, the nicks and scratches making his eyes look smeared and splintered, like something he would have given a low grade to: needs sanding, needs varnish, needs attention.
Anyway. There was a rough bit on my chin from where his face met mine. If you’d seen it and asked me about it, I’d have told you I fell, told you it just needed a cool cloth and some Noxzema, told you I let a football player. Cause it’d have been none of your business.
I stole a coral lipstick from the grocery store while my momma was two aisles over with the frozen dinners, her hand to the glass like that’s how she could read the labels. The lipstick was on a can of refried beans, still in its package, I pictured some desperate woman realizing she needed the beans more than she needed the color and placing it there when she saw no one was looking. I picked it up and worked it out of its package, a thin boy in an apron watching me from the end of the aisle, and me watching him back, me taking that lipstick out and sliding it into my jeans pocket and the boy worrying his pimpled chin with his thumb and forefinger, the boy shrugging like I had asked him and me turning to walk the other way, running my finger along the cans and boxes and bags of food cause I figured he’d be watching, but when I looked he was helping an old man reach the powdered milk and I had to touch the lipstick in my pocket to make sure I had ever been seen at all.
I wore that lipstick one night when we all met up to swim and it was so dark I let a boy take off my bottoms, the lipstick smeared and greasy all around my mouth and its crayon smell all over the boy, and then I put a ribbon on that lipstick and gave it to my momma for Christmas.
I went over to a boy’s house one night when my momma had the TV on so loud it rung in my teeth, so loud she didn’t look up from her program when I shut the door behind me. I watched her from the window, holding her glass in the palm of her hand, flexing her toes and if she heard me she didn’t feel like doing nothing about it.
After all that loud, after all that laughter and applause and ding ding ding and welcome and goodnight, the quiet of the evening rushed in after it and filled me up with a fizzing, that’s all I can tell you, I was all fizz and crackle and burst.
This boy went with a girlfriend of mine. But sometimes that’s just tough shit.
I threw pebbles at his window till he came down, told me that was his little brother’s window, told me his little brother ran and told him some queer bitch was standing in the lawn and he better do something about it.
Show me your truck, I told the boy, and we went for a drive.
The boy told me after high school he was joining up, told me his favorite food was meatloaf, told me he put the transmission in his truck all by hisself, told me he had a dream about me two nights before where I sang like a canary bird and fed him a pizza.
And then what, I asked the boy.
He laughed too hard, covered his mouth with his fist like he could cough. Where we going? he asked, but I didn’t answer. I didn’t give him no destination cause then we’d have gotten there. And then what
He turned us down a dirt road, parked us alongside some trees. Well, he said.
Well, I told him. Come here, and the boy did, pulling himself across the bench seat and me under him, the door handle at my neck and that was good, I like to remember it ain’t always ideal, and the boy kissed me, his tongue fluttering in my mouth like it was a wounded butterfly, I realized this was his technique and I was touched at the effort.
You need to tell me something, tell me anything, the boy said, holding himself up, he was breathing hard, I thought of his girl, how she gave me some gold hoops for my birthday, how they turned my ears green but I never said, how she snorted when she really got going.
I can’t sing, I told the boy. And I ain’t no bitch like your brother called me. The boy lowered himself back down upon me, that weight and that heat making me feel all exploded, I was like to breathe him all up and in, Yes you are, he said, I could feel his breath on my face, yes you are a bitch, I could see up close how he was freckled, he smelled like grass and dirt, his heart like a mallet, ain’t you, he said, ain’t you?
Lindsay Hunter is a writer living in Chicago. Her first book, Daddy’s, is out now on featherproof books. Find her at lindsayhunter.com.