It’s a party, all right. New people I didn’t know from town, and guys looking at me, they’re all smiling and one of them’s very red-faced. Why are they doing that? I ask Polly, she says, they think you’re hot, Sev!
I tell her I don’t have a temperature. She laughs. It’s a good thing, Sev. It means they like you… god, I keep forgetting how you don’t know stuff like this.
Wow. Makeup must be some good stuff if it makes guys like you.
Smile back, Polly says.
I feel weird, but I do it. I’m not used to smiling.
No, no no no babe, you look like a horse, let’s go practice – she grabs me, we go off and she smiles like the magazine girls in front of a mirror. Up, down, up, down. I remember an older man talking to me like she did, except he was much louder and cursed a lot. Up, down, up, down. Fifty more, she says. Fifty more, he says.
The practice part is over, I think. I try to smile, and she says No. No? Be more natural, let it come, just let it come, see? She smiles perfectly.
Up. No, Sev – think of something happy. I think about the time I saw a documentary on Clara Barton. There you go, what’d you think of? Clara Barton, I said. I don’t know why it makes me happy, but she was a good person, and she did good things for soldiers.
Now think about that when you smile. I try, but after five minutes, I’ve still got a kind-of-smile, and she says good enough, let’s go back now.
We go back, and I kind-of-smile at this one guy. He’s a little taller than me and dark brown hair. He smiles back and walks over. His name’s Matt, he’s a friend of Adam’s, and he works at a gas station outside of town. He loves his motorcycle, baseball (I saw a game last week for the first time, I tell him I don’t know how to play, he looks stunned but happy when I say I’d like to learn), and rock music. He’s got big brown eyes and he misses his high school “glory days”.
I tell him I miss mine too.
I don’t tell him why.
He thinks my parents were cool to name me a number. I just say thanks. I don’t know what I would say to them.
I show him my tattoo. It’s on the back of my neck, and he likes it a lot. He traces his fingers over it.
It feels really
He jokes and makes me smile. Polly grabs me for a second, Oh, I’m going to borrow her, she’ll be right back.
So? She asks.
I try to show her with my hands that I don’t get what “so?” means.
So, come on, are you gonna go for it or what? She grins and I don’t know why, but I’m pink like her bag again.
I don’t know, go for what? I ask. I’m confused and pink, but more confused than pink.
She rolls her eyes. Ugh. Come on, he’s cute, you wanna bang him, don’t you? She’s grinning again, like her smile holds secrets.
Bang? No, I don’t want to hurt him. He’s cute, and nice. I don’t want a pan to fall on his head and make the bang noise it does when it falls on the floor.
She laughs. No, Sev, there’s no pans. I mean are you going to have sex with him?
That word just rushes up inside of me. I remember what it means. I remember what it feels like. I don’t remember a face, but I remember a man, and maybe after I have a few of those drinks that Adam’s got in the fridge, I’d definitely have sex with him.
I blush a little more. Yeah, definitely.
Thatta girl. So take him by the hand, and tell him to come up to your room.
Pounce him. He’ll do the rest.
Pouncing? Sounds fun to me.
We walk back into the living room, and Matt’s there, but there’s a new guy right next to him. He’s familiar. I feel like I know him more than I do – blonde hair, green eyes, just like mine. Tattoos everywhere.
He sees me. He’s surprised. Shocked, like he hasn’t seen me in years.
A hand grabs my shoulder, a little rough. I don’t think for a second. Everything is a blur.