Work in Progress - Tess, Undressed


       Ethan and Zaye go back and forth about who should dive in the lake first. Emily giggles and I try to be involved but it’s not working. I need something else. I take the jug of wine and turn it up.

 Emily does a drunk girl “Whoo.” I enjoy how the wine burns my throat. It warms my chest and softens the sharp edges of my thoughts, at least until Ethan throws an arm around me, a heavy rope on my shoulder as though he’s docking a boat or merely just trying to keep me from running off. I stare off at the moon, but I can feel him turn to me.

 “So, want to swim?”

 I shake my head. It is after all, like sixty degrees out.  “No, I’m good.”

 “She’s good,” Emily says getting to her feet. She does some sort of silent signal to Zaye and they slink off towards the woods. 

 And I already know. it’s almost funny, how stupid it is. if I didn’t have to live it out, right now, under the moon at the lake where I fished with dad.

Months ago, this would have been my dream. I would have been quivering in anticipation. Instead, as I amble over to the end of the dock and plop down, my legs swing freely, I simply wait for this scene play out.

Sure enough, footsteps…

 “So…” Ethan’s jeans scrape the dock as he slides closer. The rope on my shoulders again. I sigh, knowing he’s going to kiss me, maybe try to do more than that. And again, old me would be more like Emily, giggling, giddy to be so lucky. My heart would putter and stammer as Ethan has chosen me for tonight’s conquest. But my heart doesn’t do any tricks. My heart is a stick in the mud. It rolls over and snores.

 My feet swinging, I glance down to my knees, to the two identical rips. The lines of fabric struggle to bridge the smile that keeps widening. They’re down to threads, won’t be able to hold on much longer. The rip will keep spreading, smiling, with nothing to restrain them. Oh, and Ethan is caressing my cheek. What the hell?

 I gently raise my shoulder and lean my head back. Bad move, it gives him an opening. He leans over and plants the world’s worst kiss on my lips.

 I try to roll with it. I mean, what did I expect? We snuck out, drove to this abandoned deck on the lake to sit under the moon and drink and… what? Talk politics?

 No, we came to get drunk and make out. To giggle and coo like Emily and Zaye over there, somewhere nearby in the darkness, groping at each other.

 Ethan’s tongue makes its first appearance in my mouth. I allow my tongue to touch his and they wrestle like two seal pups in the arctic, fumbling blind, clumsily, trying to get the upper hand. I try to power through it, but… Seal pups. I can’t…

 I bust out laughing, spitting, gasping for air. Ethan jerks back and asks what’s wrong. I know I’ve messed this up but it was too much. I hold up a hand, try to fix the laugh with a cough but once I see his face, eyebrows slammed down, nose scrunched, mouth agape, I realize my charade isn’t working. Boys don’t like girls to laugh at them.

 Not boys like Ethan. 


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