Carbon

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Chapter 8

“Just say something. Please, God, say anything, Devin. For God’s sake, I can’t handle this all by myself,” he cried hoarsely. Heath stared at me aloofly, still naked under the covers. My bare back faced him as I sat, lost in thought, facing out the wide window of the cheap motel into smog hanging low over an open field. His fingertips brushed against my blonde hair.

I sat with my bare chest cooling in front of the A/C. My head ached from the alcohol or maybe it was because of last night in general. How was I supposed to even talk to him after we did this? I didn’t know what to do or say. I didn’t know he and I would get as intimate as sex that night, and I did not know when he finished as I blacked out from the alcohol I chugged upon hearing of the awful intentions. Heath appeared to not have partaken in alcohol as I arrived in our motel room. I didn’t want to do it, but I had to.

My right hand pulled my blonde hair over my shoulder, resisting his warm touch. Goose bumps rose upon my skin as the A/C kicked on again. My fingers twisted around the ends of my hair like curlers, but my impromptu curlers did not affect my hair in the slightest kink.

My blue eyes observed stories below two truckers arguing about which route to take that day. One wanted to take the back roads, and the other wanted to take the highway.

The cheap sheets loudly crinkled as he sat up beside me. I imagined how his alabaster skin glowed dully in the dim morning light, and I imagined his emerald eyes pleading for me to talk to him. After a few minutes of his eyes boring into my back, he finally admitted, “I didn’t want to do this to you, either. I wish I could take it back, and I wish I didn’t have to even have this conversation with you.”

I didn’t answer. One of the truckers gave the other one a rude hand gesture. I folded my hands in my lap, noticing how my hips already curved and how my breasts seemed non-existent. A fourteen-year-old plaited her fingers together, realizing that Heath had no inclination to do any of what he did to her. If it wasn’t forced upon him, I feel as though he would have never committed the act. Two kids lost in the struggle between identity and what is expected of them.

“I didn’t want to take your virginity… and I don’t—”

“It wasn’t.” My voice sounded strange and different. My throat burned from the dry air, and my mouth felt dry.

Heath paused for a moment.

I twisted my face towards his to see him bury his face in his large hands. It amazed me how proportionate this fifteen-year-old was, and I could not understand why he had this sage-like demeanor or just really anything. He did not act like a freshman in high school, awkward and unwanted. In fact, if I did not know him as well as I did, I would think he was totally the guy his reputation perceived him as—the lovable goof ball and playboy.

I murmured, “It’s not a big deal.”

Heath scoffed, “Have you told the police?”

I was taken aback as to how attentive he was to relationships and the way people did things. I turned back to the window to see the two trucks had departed, and part of me wondered which route they decided upon. Perhaps they took to the roads separately. I languidly shook my head.

A silence fell between us.

Part of me was terrified to get up to make a phone call to room service for a light breakfast to soak up the remaining cheap wine in my system because he would see my naked body. He would see the scars that stretched across my legs from soccer and the one hidden on my scalp from all of my hair. Even though we were the same year in school and in the same soccer club, traveling to the same tournaments and everything, I never knew him. And knowing him in the biblical sense was extremely intimidating before I even knew his middle name.

I heard him slide out of bed, and I quickly twisted behind me to be in awe of his beautiful complexion marbled with very few freckles and a birthmark place high upon his right buttocks. He leaned over and called the front desk for the “best breakfast” they had, and he gingerly hung up after thanking them politely. I snapped my chin back to the window as he glanced at me from the corner of his eyes. I could imagine him smile. He admitted, “You’ve seen it. I mean, you’ve seen me naked. And I’ve frankly seen you naked. You don’t have to pretend you don’t know what you’re looking at.”

Blood rushed to my cheeks as I stared at the empty parking lot. My fingers folded into two fists as I thought about how I could never see this kid again, and I thought about what my father would ask once I got back home. Or if Mom even knew I was gone.

“My Sex Ed class says it’s appropriate to shower after intercourse to prevent UTIs and stuff.”

I jumped at his voice, and then I nearly leapt a foot away from him as he nestled directly beside me on the bed. Our bare thighs touched before I inched away from him.He rested his hands patiently in between his knees as he just stared at me like it was perfectly acceptable to not know someone’s middle name and know every inch of her body. I snatched the comforter from the bed and covered my small breasts as I remembered some decency. I pulled my knees up to my chest to further separate us.

The black mop of tousled hair bounced as he laughed cheerfully. His emerald eyes seemed to smile as well, crinkling around the edges as he just watched me. “You don’t have to worry about those. You know I’m not into breasts.”

My knees lowered as I felt partly relieved as well as insulted when I remembered his sexuality.

“Well,” – he clapped his hands together—“I’m going to take a shower. We have to check out at eleven, so thirty minutes from now we have to be outta here. You can join me if you want one because I’m taking as long as I can in there.” He popped onto his feet spritely and waltzed to the bathroom.

My eyes fell back to the A/C, debating on what I could use as my alibi from last night to this morning. Running water thundered against the linoleum floor in the bathroom, interrupting my train of thought. Mom wouldn’t believe I slept over at a girl’s house because I did not have many friends.

A boisterous knock startled me out of my trance. “Room service!”

Embarrassed and nude, I replied, “Wait a moment!” I shuffled around the room, looking for my clothes, but someone must have moved them after I passed out. I frantically wrapped myself in the sheets, realizing they were inappropriate in this exact moment. God, I’m in a hotel! They are going to know I had sex… I threw the sheets back upon the bed and snatched Heath’s t-shirt. The same problem rang true as I realized my petite frame would not fit into this giant’s clothes without looking suspicious.

“Ma’am, may I come in?”

“Uh, uh, wait!” I cried. I pulled the bed skirt away from the bottom of the bed to see no hiding place underneath the bed.

“Your breakfast will become cool, ma’am.”

“Almost!” I squealed as I wound myself in the curtains. The faux velvet irritated my skin, and I immediately peeled out of my cocoon. Crap, crap, crap, I thought. The stale musk of sweat permeated from my skin, and I kind of understood the scent to be Heath’s as it did not smell like my pungently sweet perspiration.

“Ma’am, I’m coming in.”

The door began to creak open, a sliver of artificial light seeping into the room. I glanced at the bathroom door beside the door. I bounded over to the bathroom, slamming the room door before I slipped inside the bathroom. I latched the bathroom door shut and finally released a breath of air as I heard the woman open and close the door loudly, not even knocking on the bathroom door.

“Ma’am, you coming in?” Heath asked, mocking the employee in a harsh Southern accent. He stuck his head out from behind the off-white curtain. His coal hair looked less wild wet, but I somehow suspected that his hair was still predominantly unmanageable even with the most expensive conditioner or gel in the world.

I turned to the shower and hesitantly stared at him, weighing the consequences of any action I took.

He tilted his head quizzically. He mused, “Suit yourself.” Like a turtle, he pulled his head back into the shell of the shower. A few moments passed before he finally lured me into the shower. “You can go around town smelling like sex and alcohol all day.”

Extremely frightened and embarrassed of my so-called scent, I pulled open the curtain hastily, fully exposing Heath to the outside world before jumping into the shower. The scorching water beat against my back and shoulders rhythmically, soothing the soreness of my lower back. My neck rolled back as the water seeped to my scalp, and I felt the water assuaging the stench of my body from the world.

“Damn, you are short,” Heath admitted in a detestable tone.

I then realized how much shorter I was to Heath. My head barely reached his chest, and his waist fell to my upper stomach. I pursed my lips as our eyes met. I felt my brow furrow as I recollected all of the times I abided by my mother’s rule to drink one’s milk. My twin sister obeyed the rule also and towered above me by at least six inches.

He glowered down at me and then laughed. “I know some people have sex in the shower, but holy cow. You’d have to climb up me like a tree. I could foresee many hazardous situations.”

I glared at him silently.

“Oh fine, just turn around. Didn’t you separate your shoulder last weekend at that tournament?”

My mouth dropped. My hand shot to my left shoulder, recollecting dislocating it after having my hand stomped on whilst slide-tackling a forward before she shot. My lips quivered, trying to separate and dissect which question would be logical to ask this kid. Here I was invisible to nearly the whole population of the town, but he knew about me. He saw me when everyone else walked on me without hesitation to stomp on me.

“Here, let me at least wash your hair for you.”

My blue eyes nailed to his face. “Why?”

He shrugged his broad shoulders with embracing, emerald eyes. “I would hope someone would do the same for me. Now, come on.”

I turned around as he guided me with his hands upon my shoulders. His fingers laced through my thin hair, massaging my scalp with nimble joints. I closed my eyes as the water drenched the soap from my hair, and his hands slid down my neck upon my shoulders once again. His thumbs kneaded against my scapula, sliding into the cartilage between my bones, and then my shoulder awkwardly ground against something porous before falling into place. I squeaked from the rush of pain but immediately felt relief. I felt a bar of soap rub against my back lightly in circular motions. He gently rubbed my body’s past away, and then I felt his hand slide to my lower back. I snatched his wrist immediately.

“Sorry,” he mumbled as he handed me the soap. I washed the rest of my body unapologetically, my shoulder creaking and aching like an old man’s back.

The water cut off once I rinsed off, and a towel rustled against my hair. He left it atop my head like a veil, and I turned around to see him wrap a towel around his thin waist. He leaned back across the towel rack to grab another towel and gingerly wrapped it around my small body like a child encircled in a blanket.

He hurdled over the edge of the bath elegantly and left for the bedroom. I considered staying in the bathroom, fixing my hair or pretending to do something in the least bit feminine, but I lost my insecurity as it began to sink in that this guy was not interested in me.

He was not expecting anything from me.

I finally mustered the courage to join him in the bedroom. I strolled in lazily still in the two towels to find him perched nonchalantly upon the bed like a bird in a nest. The pillows framed his back as he leaned back, snacking upon a large assortment of fresh fruit and it appeared to be four bagels, all of different varieties. His emerald eyes glued to the cheap television screen across the way. Part of me expected some channel most people pay for and indulge in when staying at a hotel, but he silently watched an English Premier League game.

I leaned against the wall as I watched the red and blue uniforms whip across the field after a singular ball.

“Who you for?” he asked.

I did not remove my eyes from the television as I answered, “Manchester United, for sure.”

He groaned loudly. “Oi, no. You gotta go for Arsenal. Arsenal is the best. Guess how many world class players come from Arsenal. We are like the training ground for fantastic futbol.”

I turned to him and smiled. “You watch Premier, too?”

He didn’t even look at me as he sang the introductory theme for the Champions League. He threw out his arms in a great half-circle. “THE CHAMPIONS!!!”

I turned back to the television to catch a chance to secure a lead zooming away from Rooney’s left foot. I hissed under my breath as my forward failed to complete his chances.

“I took the liberty to go ahead and ask for a late check-out. We have to vanish from the motel before the clock strikes two, so we can fully digest this game.”

I turned my gaze back to him and furrowed my brow. “Why are you so nice? Is there at least one blatantly wrong thing about you that will make me hate you a little bit?”

Heath patted the mattress beside him. He still donned his towel proudly like a small kilt. “Yeah, I’m not straight.”

I sat down beside him in my towels and leaned back against the headboard. I stared at his angular face as Ian Darke commentated a replay of a great string of passes from the Arsenal team. His emerald eyes absorbed everything so easily, and I could tell he was computing it in his mind with great attention to detail. “There isn’t anything wrong with that.”

He didn’t take his gaze away from the screen. “Ask my dad, ask the church, ask your dad.”

I turned back to the technical game. I crossed my arms, trying to somehow understand why it was so wrong to be homosexual. I mean, I understood the Bible to say that I should accept everyone for who they are, and even though sexuality does not define someone’s identity, it is a part of them. I’m not supposed to judge; that was what God was for.

Heath pointed to the bagels and fruit. “You like a certain kind?”

I leaned over his bare chest and snatched a blueberry bagel and a banana.

“Peanut butter or cream cheese?”

“Peanut butter, please.”

“Good, leave the plain one for me. You know why everyone chooses the plain bagel when they can’t find their favorite?”

My eyes met his. I shook my head.

“Because you can make it be whatever you want it to be.”

And that was one of the most revealing things he ever said to me about himself.


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