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She had on her sports bra and short shorts. There was a collection of boys on the main house porch. Amber threw them a glance. They stood there, grinning, raising the middle finger salute. Amber furrowed her brows and turned away, waiting for Briana's answer. "I think. Why?" asked Briana. "It's really not important." "Then why'd you ask?" Amber thought about this for a moment. So far, what she's known of Briana was that she was forceful, supposed eye candy and a bad aim. The bad aim part was alright. If there was another fight, Amber was sure she could win. But Briana's forcefulness was suspect. Amber looked over at Briana who was twisting her sneakered feet in and out. It seemed mesmerizing. Amber began to stare at her feet and wonder just what kind of vapid person could sit in the sun with a sports bra on, twisting her feet like that. Propped up on her elbows at that. She noticed Briana's flat stomach and Amber ached a bit, remembering that kind of body. She had had that kind of body since her preteens. And I mean, body. All body. She wore a C cup at age 12, her butt high and in the shape of a C. She was a tomboy with a body that had killed the boys in her class. Jimmy. That boy from the seventh grade. The octagon desks that sat at least five people. Jimmy sat across from Amber every day. This was the routine- come in, hang your coat up in the coat room, pledge of allegiance and prayer. Every day after the Hail Mary they prayed they'd take their seats. Jimmy was always right there. But it was one particular day, out of boredom, that she looked over at Jimmy. He had his chin in his left hand, elbow propped up on the desk, staring right at Amber's rack. Amber had to double take. She let it go, but kept her eye on the boy that kept drooling over her breasts. She was at a loss. No boys had ever paid her any attention. Ever. Now this. A couple days later, feeling a bit creative, she made the twelve year old equivalent to an indecent proposal. She offered him a feel IF he gave her money. She knew Jimmy was loaded with cash. Parties at school. He even lived in the rare posh neighborhood in the inner city. It seemed an oxymoron to have such a nice, closed off section in such a deteriorating city. And he was staring at her. Thus, she had
grounds to swindle him out of a good chunk of change. He came back the next day with $20. She told him, maybe tomorrow. And so it went like this for two weeks, on and off. She came away with $160, spent on food, music, and books. But he wouldn't go away without feeling her breasts. So in the coat room, on a Friday, on the way to Mass, she led him to the coat room. "You ready to cop a feel?" she asked him. He smiled wide and giggled, much like a girl to Amber's chagrin. She told him to close his eyes. 1...2...3. She grabbed his hands, quickly put her hands in front of his and went he went to grab her tits he grabbed nothing but hand. He raged. That's not fair! I gave you money! To which Amber replied, stupid. All this she remembered staring at Briana's tight body. She raged inside, remembering how she spent the past two years eating and being medicated with meds that made you fat, the doctors really never seeming to care that Amber was already there. "Look, Briana," Amber said. "Yeah. What?" Just then Johnny came out on the porch. He sat down in the plastic lawn chair and bent his head down, looking at the baby blue porch, kicking the cigarette butts in to a neat clandestine little pile of germ markers. The Red River house was big. I mean big. The boys stayed in the mansion. Silver and clay brick foundation, with brown metal doors in the front and back, each having their own storm door, the screen having words etched in Sharpie. Ray and Tammy '74. Jonah and Leigh '88. You would think they would have replaced them but the storm doors gave the place personality. The green and brown grass bleeding from the baby blue porch was a favorite hangout of each gender of kids, the girls on one side, the boys staring on the other. Cigarette butts cluttered the lawn and the macadum on the side of the porch where steps led to the mansion from the side. Looking at that house and seeing Johnny in fron of it gave it a whole other meaning for Amber. Johnny made it human, Briana saw Amber staring at Johnny. Johnny looked at Amber and smiled half way and bent his head down again. If Briana wasn't annoyed at Amber's questions, this did it. "You know he'll never go out with you let alone screw you. You aren't..." Briana started. "I'm not you. Why the hell would I want to be? You're stupid and you're not pretty. I mean what have
you got besides a body? You don't have shit! Why the hell would I want to be you or anyone like you?" Amber yelled. "A body, girl, is all I need. You see how they stare? I can get them to do anything I want. I don't need smarts when I got these tits and this ass. If I want money, all I have to do is bend over. I don't need a job. I don't need your smarts Mrs. Joe College wannabe. You won't go to college. You're here. You're a Riveroid like the rest of us. Remember that." With that, Briana got up and switched all the way over to the porch. Johnny pulsed his feet furiously at the cigarette butts, messing up the pile and as he started to get up, Briana approached and grabbed his face and French kissed him, right there in Amber's view. He kissed her back and it was over for Amber. Just like that. The house looked a bit darker than it had, the baby blue porch became a dull navy. Amber threw her head back as Briana winked at her and led Johnny into the house. Amber began to laugh. The type of laugh that hides the cry that is hidden just beneath the larynx. She kept laughing like that until the tears stopped welling. She never cried and she wasn't about to do it now, but something about Briana hurt. And it hurt bad. She laid on the burnt grass like a beached whale. She laid there until dinner, when the winds picked up and clouds came in. A storm was coming.
Johnny shifted from foot to foot while Briana stared steadily into his eyes. He tried to look down at them but the heat from Briana's gaze prevented him from doing so. She had a way about her that kept him from thinking straight. Her body was like something straight out of Hustler and she was only 17. It was amazing. She stroked his hand, feeling his damp skin. It was cold and he knew it. Inside there was a typhoon swirling around his heart- she toyed with him like that, like in the hallway yesterday, making fun of the boner. The way the girls laughed. He shuddered thinking of the way they sounded, like 5 little
Tinkerbelles called out by Peter Pan. He tried to pull his hand away but it was chained to her palm. "Johnny," Briana said. He noticed how she sounded like she was having sex with his name. He dreamed of that day. The day she wanted him. "Gr...Mmmm...Ummm...hi, Bri. I-I mean, Briana." "Thanks for the kiss. It was," he watched as she licked her lips, sucking the bottom one, "wet." She smiled and it was fire. He felt his dick grow and grow. "Uh huh." That was all he could say. She gripped tighter, rolling his knuckles together, testing the hydraulics of his hand. The chain snapped and he pulled away. "Not now," he said. "Excuse me?" "I just don't want to...do this. Not like, um, this." She looked at him blankly, then she laughed. "It's...it's not funny Briana. Not this time." He backed away from her quickly and leaned against the wall. She walked towards him and looked him in the eyes again, but this time, there was a genuine sadness emanating from her face. It was weird, really. She seemed so stoic and untouchable for the time he had been here, a year now. This was the first time he had ever seen her like this. He wanted to reach out and take her in his arms, but there was that little problem of the wood in his pants and his previous position. She touched his shoulder, briefly. He felt connected to her, in that moment. She came in closer, then she punched him, as hard as she could it seemed, on his shoulder and walked away. He bent over towards the pain. It was a hard knock. He had never known any girl to hit so hard. He liked it. While all this was going on, Amber was watching from the storm door. She edged her thick frame through the crack in between the storm door and the entrance. She could do that. She had never felt as much dread as she was feeling now. The walls, painted a campy yellow, closed in tight. She felt enveloped in the misery that was shared between her and Johnny, all perpetuated by two different acts of viciousness by one evil girl. Though the terror was nearly unbearable she felt she had to come out and
tell him. She's a bitch. I can't stand bitches like that. Here, let me look at your arm. It all sounded good in theory, but as she knew from her days in academics theories were fleeting and often replaced by better, more palatable flavors of the moment. She shook it off and walked fully in the door. Johnny stood by the door leading to the day room. When you walked in the mansion there was a lobby to your right and then there was the staff office and within the staff office to the right of that was a door split into two halves, a top and a bottom, the bottom locking separately from the top and that was the nurses¶ station. About a yard down and to your left was the day room. Sitting in the day room were plastic chairs and couches colored dark navy and crimson red with even darker floral prints. There was a big screen TV, about 42", a Super Nintendo, a Sega Genesis and a few games straddled about on the entertainment center. Amber caught a glimpse of the game Mortal Kombat II and she could only think of this situation as the moment right before Mileena goes to finish you off, the feeling you'd get in your hands as they mashed the buttons, trying to come up with a combo to save yourself. She thought of that moment, the moment of the fatality, right when she sucks your body in through her mouth and spits out your bones into a neat little pile. She felt just like that. He had her in his palm, unknowingly. She hoped she didn't have to piece her bones back together when they were through. She walked up to Johnny. She laced her fingers together and had them in the form of a cradle in front of her belly. She puffed out her already chubby cheeks, filling them with air and then letting it out. She breathed three times through the nostrils and out through the mouth, like she learned in the many relaxation classes she took in her stints in psych wards. She walked closer. "Johnny?" she said. "Yeah." "Did it hurt?" "What?" "The punch..." "It's ok," he said looking in the direction of the nurses¶ station. "I wouldn't let her...I wouldn't have..." "What?"
"Is your arm ok? Can I have a look?" she asked. "No...it's...it's ok. I'm alright...what's your name again?" he asked. His brow was furrowed and his lips were parted. "It's not...never mind. It doesn't matter." "Right." The word coasted out of his mouth and into her ears and past her heart, acting as Novocain, the beating slowed and meaningless. She stayed by the day room door as Johnny walked away. He met up with Bill. "What's up with talking to that?" She heard Bill say. She thought about it and Bill for a few seconds. He had to talk. Fat with zits and a bowl cut. That mental jab she took at Bill didn't stop the dull beating in her chest. She walked down through the lobby and into vestibule that held the bathroom, went into the bathroom and locked it. She grabbed chunks of dry brittle hair and grimaced, letting out what sounded like strained sobs. It hurt. She could feel pain coursing through her body, at the forefront of her skin, bothering her nerves and it hurt like this every day. Only sometimes did it stop. And when it did she felt nothing. Painful days were better than any other. Because if for one moment she realized she was not feeling, was not alive, she would take her life. Pain and anger felt like rote routine. Wake up, feel pain. Eat, feel pain. Pee, feel pain. Think about killing yourself. Go to bed and dream about killing every single person who'd ever harmed you, then killing yourself and looking down on the carnage from whatever place that was now your home and feel good that it was over. Just as she was moaning she found a glass shard. Someone must have had a bottle of soda and broken it. She analyzed the shard. It was shaped like a blade, the crusty edges chipping as she ran her thumb over it. It was perfect. She took it to her wrist. This was one thing Amber was certain of; Heaven exists not in the universe but right here, in the oozing blood. The skin was cut and crimson bubbles turned into crimson rain. She sighed. She dragged the glass again across her skin, different place now. The skin separated and blood oozed and she sat there sawing, a smile on her face, intent slipping from her eyes. And it never hurt. God, it never hurt. It felt so good she did it again and again until the staff came and pounded on the door, unlocking it with a bobby pin and restrained her on the bathroom floor.
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