box of jars

madeline perett
We Used To Be Friends

After the movie, we walk around Boston Common, and Brendan and Jennifer keep stopping to make out. Me and Lisa sit on a bench and don't say much to each other. I tell her I'm a little shy—girls love that. I look at her sideways and she puts her hand on my cheek to turn my face to her and she kisses me. This girl is bold. I wasn't expecting that. I was just trying to buy time before I felt like I had to kiss her. I keep thinking about the kiss I had with Charlie. But then I also try to push it out of my mind. Lisa's lips are soft and taste kind of fruity. We get a light shined in our faces and a police officer says, "Go home." It is getting kind of late. The last train leaves South Station at 11:25. Me and Brendan have to run for it. We're laughing like crazy when we get on. There aren't a lot of people on the train, a few suits and a couple at the other end.

It takes an hour to get back into town and then it's a 15 minute walk home from the station. Brendan says he doesn't have to go home because he told his parents he was spending the night at my place. He asks me if I still have the vodka my brother gave me when he was in town. I do. We drink it with Red Bull. I get a pretty good buzz going.

"You going to see Jennifer again?" I ask him.

"Oh, yeah," he says. "You like Lisa?"

"She's alright."

He's smiling at me and I have the urge to lean in and kiss him on his neck. I wonder if I could get him to drink more then maybe he won't remember anything.

"What are you staring at, fag?" Brendan says, and laughs.

I don't laugh.

"Fuck you," I say.

"Whatever," he says. "You're drunk."

We're sitting on the floor. I push him so he's lying down and I get on top of him and pin his arms.

He says, "What the fuck?"

I want to kiss him but I know how easily he could change my life, spread rumors, turn people against me. Or he might like it. But I doubt that. My dick is getting hard and he can probably feel it. I get off of him. He looks at me like I have maggots crawling out of my eyes. He gets up and heads downstairs. He usually sleeps on the sofa in the living room when he spends the night. But I hear the front door open, and the screen door creek, and the door click shut, and the screen door slap closed.


On Monday in U.S. History, Brendan talks to me like nothing ever happened, like maybe he forgot about Friday. He tells me he wants to see Jennifer again but she won't go into the city without a friend.

"She said Lisa really liked you. I told her you were really into her too. So . . . this Friday?"

"Sure," I say.

In Chemistry, I watch Charlie for the entire class. There are all these things I've never noticed about him before. His hair color, light brown. His skin tone, kind of fair. The way he sits, very straight, good posture, with his head tilted to the right. I look at his exposed neck and think about kissing it. I think I see him look at me out of the corner of his eye. He's really thin but has broad shoulders. He's wispy. I kind of like that.

Chemistry is our last class of the day. When the bell rings, I follow Charlie, into the bathroom, to his locker, but I hang back enough so he doesn't notice me until we're outside, about two blocks away from school. I step into a pile of dead leaves and he turns his head around but doesn't stop walking. He turns back around and walks faster. I pick up speed too. I think he might start running but I know where he lives. Soon we're on his street, my old street. We pass my old house. It has clean, white vinyl siding now. There used to be a big willow tree in the yard across the street but now there's just a stump.

When Charlie gets to his front door he doesn't unlock it right away, just stands there with the key in his hand.

"Let's go inside," I say.

He opens the door and I follow him in.

"Is your mother home?"

He doesn't say anything so I take that as a no.

"This place hasn't changed much," I say.

He still doesn't say anything, just stares at me.

I go into his room and he follows me in. He puts his bag down and finally says something.

"What do you want, Michael?" He says it like a tired parent.

"Fool around?" I say, real quiet.

He looks surprised, probably didn't expect me to be shy about it.

"I'm supposed to be at practice right now," I say.

"I know," he says.

We stare at each other for a minute then he closes his door.

"Take off your shirt," I say, real quiet again. I don't think I'm asking for much but he's slow to do it and he crosses his arms over his bare chest, kind of covering himself. I take off my shirt too and then I take him in my arms and start kissing him. Having my arms around him and his arms around me, and our bare chests touching, skin against skin, it's like everything I've done with my girlfriends but 100 times better. I undo his pants.

He says, "Wait."

I feel him up. He feels pretty big.

He says, "Stop."

I turn him around and get him on his knees and bent over the bed.

He says, "I'm not ready."

I pull his pants down.

He says, "I don't want to do this."

I'm hard. I enter him and he lets out a scream.

He says, "Please." He cries.

He's really tight. I think about the guy I was talking to in the chat room last night. He said it always hurts the first time. I say that to Charlie but he just cries. His face is in the mattress and he's gripping the sheets. I'm going slow and being as gentle as I can. I don't really want to hurt him. After a little while, he takes a deep breath and seems to loosen up and relax. He turns his head to the side. His eyes are closed and he starts to moan a little, like maybe he's enjoying it. I smack him on the back of his head. I don't know why. He whimpers and he's shaking. His eyes flicker towards me and he starts crying again, but he's quiet about it. Just tears and sniffling.