Carbon

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Chapter 3

Heath and I just sat on the leather bench across from Heath’s friend and his girlfriend—or I at least hope that was his girlfriend. Uncomfortable and unsettled, I was tired of parading around in this formal gown and this makeup. The sweet scent of Heath’s mist tainted my scent, which I didn’t particularly mind, but the groping that occurred on the dance floor soiled me. Heath did not dare touch me in that way, but just seeing other girls being touched like that and enjoying it made me feel nauseous. Physical harassment was absent, but their eyes stuck to me. Heath swore he didn’t notice glances or gawks, persuading me that I needed to up my dosage of anti-anxiety medication.

I hated when people ever mentioned my medication, but Heath was an exception to that because he understood. I look back and feel like he was me but he was also himself. Emily Bronte said, “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” I never existed. He just was me because he knew me more than I did and knew how I would react. He was the calmer me that never fully developed in my brain.

His hand fell on the small of my back as he directed me throughout the night. Even though Heath enjoyed the adjective “lay-back,” I knew he was always watching, too. Those emerald eyes scanned the public for anything that detracted from his world, his utopia; a blemish on his world would be hidden furtively, quickly. No one could capture his imperfections in memory or in photographs—it was his obsession, while I couldn’t keep myself together even in my mind. He was perfect in every sense of the word to the public while he himself struggled with his biggest imperfection.

Even in the cramped limo with his friends sucking face, Heath protected me as my body tensed as these two fell into each other’s curves and crevices. His hand slid across the lace stitching peeling away from the lavender satin of my dress and found my hand balled into a taut fist. His index finger tried to separate my fingers, assuage the paranoia. He leaned into me with his breath warming my ear in the brisk May night. “Hey, you know how to get them to stop?” he whispered into my ear.

I was exhausted by the numerous questions prompted by Heath’s friends asking where I was from and who I was and why they never saw me before now. Why I was never in any of their classes. I skirted around ways to forego telling the guy his girlfriend knew me fairly well because she caused quite a few rumors about me, a few insulting and one that I wish was actually true. Maybe she didn’t know me, but she knew who she wanted me to be. Plus, I tried to hold back any comments regarding my intellectual capability to be invisible in the classroom. I had been in their class since elementary school, literally sitting a seat or two away, but my transparency becomes apparent when I am of no immediate value to the world.

I turned to Heath and glared at him. “This is so awkward. They don’t even look like they notice us; what are we even supposed to do?” I pulled my hand away from his protection and barricade because I should by now be able to handle things. I should be able to handle my psychological issues. I shifted further away from Heath’s leg to just get away from this reality. How did he ever get me to attend this stupid thing? This is not who I am.Prom is an event constructed of my juxtapositions.

Oh, Heath just asked and I can’t deny the righteously self-proclaimed “Glare o’ Despair.” Sadly, it’s just a stupid face that he used to be cute, but it didn’t work on me. He would hollow his cheeks as he puckered his lips, whimpering like a wounded animal. His great, green eyes made negotiating pretty reckless from their distraction, so I somehow said yes. I’m a stupid girl who fell victim to her wanting to make this stupid guy happy, so I succumbed to his childish need for me to accompany him because he did not want yet another girl to get the wrong idea. And then he didn’t want to go stag.

A wet, moist sensation streaking across my cheek broke me from my nostalgia. My skin crawled, and my nerves ran raw. I shoved Heath off of me as if by my nature, my fixed action pattern like those of geese. I squealed as I tried to rub his saliva off of my cheek and scoffed, “Heath, do I look like a popsicle?”

A wide smirk slithered across his muscles, and a hearty laugh accessorized his charm. “I just need some attention…” And then I had to laugh at his whining as he framed his face like an overgrown Shirley Temple. His tousled hair fell across his left eye as he nodded his head toward his friend and the shenanigans occurring five feet away from us, and I gently pushed the strands away, remembering what trouble he seemed to have in taming his hair. I pulled my hand away to put in my lap with him trying yet again to lick me—specifically my forearm. “I’m jealous—“

“Of them tasting what each other had for lunch last week?” I interrupted, my eyes now fixed again on the Discovery Channel documentary taking place before us. Look as the male homo sapien gropes the gluteus maximus of his mating partner in an effort to regale his dominance of this female towards the rest of the pack. Don’t worry, dude, neither Heath nor I are interested in stealing your mate. She’s probably infested with diseases, just FYI.

Heath ran his hand past my ear and attempted to slide his fingers through my hair, but he always seemed to forget that my hair tangles like a necklace chain left in a pocket. I turned back to him to aid him in the detangling of the shrew, but he just suavely took another route. His fingers abruptly stopped and just fell down to my bare shoulder. He stared deeply into my eyes and said with a vulnerability I had never seen escape him, “Devin, I have something to tell you.” His other hand gripped my chin and twisted my full attention to him, fixing my eyes upon his.

Trying to be less uncomfortable and make things less tense, I narrowed my eyes and grabbed his ears delicately, rubbing the cartilage and massaging the muscles just below his skin behind and around his ears. The warm blood pulsated against my fingertips, matching the rhythm of the music that once beat inside his chest in his room as we goofed around in his room, lip-syncing break-up and love songs to each other from across the room. “I’m going to rip your ears off,” I whispered seductively in the most romantic voice I could muster without breaking character. Channeling some sexy vixen was really hard when I am the aardvark of the human population.

He rolled his emerald eyes with annoyance reddening his cheeks and flaring his nostrils. “No, I’m serious. I’ve got something to tell you that is really important.” His hands rested on the sides of my neck, and his body softened as he leaned into my neck. His face burrowed through my hair until his lips pressed into my ear. “You want to know something?”

My grip on his ears loosened as his hands fell down to the middle of my back, and, if I didn’t know Heath, I would think he was going to try to be fresh and grope me or something. He would never do that to me because he told me he had respect for me, and I almost wondered if he merely avoided it because it was me and not anyone else. Made me wonder if I was just his exception to every rule in the playboy book. I gently closed my eyes as his shoulder brushed against my face and his body fell into mine. He heaved a sigh against my bare shoulder, and the hairs on my neck stood as all of the muscles of my body tensed under him. His arm slid as he leaned further into me with his cologne probably melting into my pores. Our bodies fell into the same rhythm. Ba-bump. Ba-bump. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. “I really wanted that water bottle behind you.”

I heard plastic crinkle as he pulled away and sipped on a water bottle. I laughed and snorted, “You dick!” I punched him in the shoulder playfully.

“Yeah, you said you weren’t into me. You were really, really wanting me to try out that frozen yogurt you had yesterday. Well, guess what—“

I lunged at him and tackled him into the back of the seat with my hands stapling him against the used leather. I couldn’t keep a dominatrix, sexy demeanor as I couldn’t hold back my laugh as I slid my tongue up his neck to behind his ear. His whole body stiffened and cringed as my tongue left a soft trail of warmth up his neck. I pulled away and smiled at him childishly, sitting back in my seat like the driver initially instructed. His face unveiled a look of repulsion and disgust. His hand slid down his neck and flung an invisible solution off dramatically; he pretended to yak on his lap. He shot up off the seat like Michael Jordan away from gravity (sorry, really old reference). A hyperbole of anguish stained his face as he glared at me furiously as the corners of his lips tore through his flesh leaving grave creases of flesh around his nostrils and chin.

“And you said you weren’t into me,” I mocked in a faux accent—a mixture of Irish and British and somehow Indian. I flipped my hair off of my shoulder nonchalantly.

Heath stuck his tongue out and shoved his face forward like a drunken cobra. “Take this!” His hands grasped my shoulders and pulled me into him with a gasp escaping me as I got violated, once again. I cringe to even remember when his tongue tapped my front tooth.

Shaking off the disgust, I warned, “I parry!” I stuck out my own tongue and touched the tip of his with mine. Somehow this had turned into a war of who was more disgusting. This battle had escalated very quickly.

Heath grabbed my shoulders and peeled me off of him for a moment and tried to grasp his friends’ attentions. “Hey, look, Devin and I are making-out! Woo! Watch out, we’ll be conceiving at any time now. Better put the tarp down!”

I laughed so hard another unbecoming snort escaped from inside my belly. I fell limp in his arms as I strained to keep from laughing. I finally calmed down and followed Heath’s stare at his friends.

Heath and I stared as the male homo sapien continued to consume the bestial sacrifice of the female’s face. Cannibalism of a female’s face is brutally natural to this certain male, discerning no interest in the rest of the pack or any of the pack’s psychological scarring due to this episode.

Heath turned his attention to me and made a face inferring an expulsion of emesis. “Dude, don’t throw up on this thing. I gotta sell it when I get home,” I murmured as he continued to pretend to up-chuck.

“Aw, fine. I guess I don’t get to fuck you in the limo.” Heath let go of my shoulders as he saw me begin to laugh, leaving me vulnerable to falling on the questionable leather of the bench seats. I smashed the back of my head into one of the cup holders, and an audible crack echoed in the car. The monkeys across from me actually stopped mating for a second to see if I broke anything and then went back to mating. I just lay back and burst into laughter at all of the ridiculousness of the situation. What else could I do but laugh like an idiot?

“Oh my god, Devin! I didn’t mean for you to lose brain cells during this night… Oh no, there goes ACT scores, SAT scores… I guess you’ll just have to be a Disney princess for the rest of your life. Is there a princess who is bitter, vulgar, sarcastic, and bitchy?” Heath grabbed my arm and pulled me up off of the bench.

“Oh, shut up. You’re not much of a pretty picture, either.” I rubbed the back of my head, a noticeable knot already forming just above the nape of my neck. And then something wet touched my skin. I pulled my hand back to the front of my face and burgundy alarmed me.

“Oh, crap, Devin, I didn’t know you cut your head open. I’m so sorry. Here, let me see it.” Heath already tried to swivel me around by an arm to look at it before I could even register blood was coming from my knot.

“It’s fine. I promise. I’m fine.”

Heath finally grabbed my other arm and pulled me on his lap swiftly. I relaxed as he at least let me help him a little bit. “How the hell do you get these bobby pins out of your hair? These things are like fucking thorns.” His arm wrapped around my waist as he became useless in my medical care, and that was one of the times I truly noticed how tall he was. I pulled the pins out strategically, and my elbow would graze just the middle of his ribcage. I was on his lap, but his torso still was taller than mine. I could feel his eyes staring intently at the back of my head as my hair finally fell back into its normal, straight mess from the bobby pins. “You got some blood in your hair,” he whispered as his fingers separated strands from the back of my head to see the wound better.

“Yeah, that happens when you crack your skull into plastic.” I tried to pull his hand away from my head to not get any blood on his nice suit. He actually owned one of those penguin suits, which I didn’t quite understand. I never got invited to any parties needing formal wear, but he persisted theme parties were quite a phase in his mom’s maturation of her parties. He wore the same suit at his funeral.

“Yeah, yeah, I don’t think you have a subdural hematoma. We can chill.”

“Dr. Frey, what am I supposed to do while I wait for my brain to get infected with staph?” I dramatically asked as I turned to him with a pout on my face. “I don’t want my brain eaten.”

He smiled mischievously. “A little TLC can’t hurt it.”

I furrowed my brow and growled, “Don’t you dare.” And before I could even finish getting my statement expressed, Heath’s lips fell on the nape of my neck and sucked in hard like a vacuum cleaner. “Heath!!!” I squealed. My hand shot back to peel him off, and then he just licked the palm of my hand.

He pulled away and regaled the proudest grin. “Two things can’t hurt at once. I’m just helping you out. Now you may need a purple nurple, too.”

“No, sir.” I flared my nostrils at him and blew on him.

He pecked me on the forehead and then blew on me to my dismay. “Very unbecoming, Miss Devin Paulina Sebold.” I hated people touching my face, and blowing on it was even worse.

I leaned in and grabbed his chin, and he jutted it out like a proud falcon. I closed my eyes and kissed him gently. As I parted from him, I blew on him before he could even open his eyes to which he blew back at me.

And the rest of the limo ride to his house, we just playfully fought off each other’s carbon dioxide like we never even had a trouble in the world, grabbing each other’s wrists and lightly slapping each other’s faces. Like nothing ever happened to us. That night was perfect because we forgot everything before then.


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