Partial by Domi Shoemaker

Editor Matty Byloos, Fiction, April 28th, 2014

They all called him Asshole like it was his name...

domi shoemaker fiction
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You are fifteen and in a required class, Industrial Creative Arts. Sixth period. You have been stalling since Monday after picking the floral stencil to copy, cut out, and sandblast onto the back of a mirror as a wedding present for a man who has been trying to fuck you since you were fourteen.

 

You were fourteen and at his ex-wife’s house. You lived there all summer to watch their boys while she worked at the nursing home with your mom. They all called him Asshole like it was his name. Said he couldn’t be trusted. You watched from the door when he honked instead of taking the boys all the way out to his Bronco. Every Thursday, he smiled and hollered how y’all doin’ from the driveway. Carolina drawl and Ray Bans and he didn’t seem so bad. You started waving back.

One Thursday, he hollered come on along.

“The boys can fish, and you can swim.” he said. “I’ll pay you a little extra.”

You were waist deep in the river in the one piece that gave you costume pin-up cleavage when he waded over and offered you a beer. After the fourth Budweiser and too many earfuls of how grown up you’d become, you started to feel sick. You got out of the water and pulled your baseball jersey on over your head and said listen to your father when he told the boys to go wait in the truck.

You packed up the tackle and waited at the picnic table. Sat on the bench backward and crossed your legs at the knee as if you knew how. He straddled the bench right next to you and put his hand on your shoulder. Orange fish bait under his nails didn’t smell orange at all.

“Just one little kiss,” he said.

It wasn’t just one. With your mouth tennis shoe dry and your breath short, you pushed him away. But only a little. He sucked warm beer in past his teeth. His partial. Fish bait thumb brushed your bottom lip and you knew what he wanted. Thirsty for whatever it is that fourteen-year-old girls are thirsty for, you opened your mouth. Piss warm Bud from his mouth to yours. His sandpaper fingers squeezed just above your knee and you twitched. Boy crazy.

Your body pushed toward that familiar tingle you were too young to know was hardwired and didn’t want to want. The tingle started out a tickle but grew steady to the flat tire thwump, thwump, thwump deep inside that place you could never reach.

“No,” you said. “What about Daphne?”

His thick fingers didn’t know no. His fingernails scratched your babyfat thigh trying to wriggle under the hem of your wet Levi’s cutoffs. He removed his fingers, but they brushed across your c-cups on the way up to your face, lifted your chin.

You kept your eyes down.

“I thought you wanted it,” he said.

“I do, but I don’t feel so good,” you said. “I promise, next time.”

He took you and the boys home. Gave you five extra dollars.

 

The next week, he left for oil rig work in Alaska.

You felt unfinished.

Daphne called that Thursday. “Do you have the boys ready?” she asked.

Of course you had them ready. If she knew anything at all, she’d know that you always had them ready.

She called every Thursday for who knows how many Thursdays. She picked them up in his ‘Vette. Fire Engine Red, T-top down. You would never put two kids in one seat belt.

The last Thursday of summer you felt the rumble of his Bronco in the center of your belly before the sound of the mufflers reached your ears. Waffle-stomped gravel kicked up behind you before you realized it wasn’t him in the driver’s seat.

You walked the rest of the way to the Bronco smiling like it was her you were happy to see. You jumped up on the running board, and leaned through passenger side, still smiling that lie. Fish bait and Budweiser shot up your nostrils and climbed down your spine. Thwump.

 

“We should go to the drive-in tomorrow night,” you said when you didn’t know what else to say.

“Why not. We can take the ‘Vette.”

She brought box wine that made you sip instead of chug. She drunk-cried like your mom. She asked you about boyfriends you pretended to have, then told you about your cherry she assumed was intact. Said the first time you do it, there might be blood. You didn’t have it in you to talk about the crusty old uncle who got to you in the bathroom when you were four. So you asked her if the boys’ dad was her first. You just sat and held her hand when she told you how special he made her feel. You won’t remember the movie, but you remember learning right then how much easier it is to let someone go on believing what they need to believe in order to get by.

Every other weekend, you went to their apartment. To watch the boys, Daphne said, but she never went anywhere. You learned to drive the Bronco for when the box of wine went dry, and she told you more things that were none of your business. Like how romantic he is and how long he can screw. You started to have dreams about him and were ashamed when you woke up wet.

After a few months, she called you family, and let you answer the phone when he called. He asked you if you remembered the kiss. Though you will not have seen him since the fishing trip, you started believing you were in love. He asked you if you remembered your promise.

“Yes,” you said. “I promised you next time.”

Last weekend, Daphne pulled a black plastic garment bag out of the closet and laid it on their bed. Her t-shirt off over her head. Playtex living bra at least a double D. She pulled off her jeans. Control Top panty hose. Taupe. She is so fat. She is so old.

She handed you the garment bag.

“Help me get this on,” she said. “I hope it fits.”

Words whirled words.

“He said I could buy whatever dress I wanted.”

“Hold your breath in,” you said, and you held yours, too.

Next Weekend.

Zip.

Babysit.

Snap.

“Next weekend,” she said.

“Next weekend?” you said.

But what about. But what about.

“Sure I’ll watch the boys.”

 

You are fifteen and gifts are what you do when people you know get married.

You have everything you need to make them this wedding gift:

Tape.

A number two pencil and tape.

Tape, pencil, Exacto knife.

And a pristine mirror.

Pick the table farthest from the toothdrill screams of the goddamn band saw. Pick the table least likely to texture your tongue with fucking sawdust. Pick a seat and make sure it’s at the table closest to the pottery wheels and backed up to the drying racks, so you don’t go home after softball with that over-the-shoulder-Ernie-the-shop-teacher’s Old Spice funk infused in your Hubba Bubba.

Find the chair with four even legs, and remove all other chairs from around the table like it is what you are supposed to do. Wipe the white laminate table top with the sleeve of your V-neck sweater. The maroon sweater that clings to your tits and makes you look old enough to buy beer where the drinking age is 19.

Place the mirror on the table face down. Always face down.

Remove your supplies from your stencil kit and line them up perfectly. Line them up so that pencil and knife are perpendicular to the top edge of the mirror with the tape in the center. Perfectly equidistant.

Mirror face down, mask layer after layer after layer of tape top to bottom.

Six layers thick to keep the lines curving smooth and true while you cut. Stay in the lines, cut through the pattern on the back of the face-down mirror.

You cut and you pick and you cut and it takes you your whole life but you only have two days. You cut and you peel and pick through year after year until you turn the mirror back over and see the same eyes you saw in the bathroom mirror at four. The empty is the space is the you ready to sandblast. And paint.

Next time.

Two Days.

Next time.

You will be ready.

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If you liked this story by one Dangerous Writer, then consider learning more about the source, in Colin Farstad’s interview with author and teacher Tom Spanbauer, here.

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writer domi shoemakerDomi J Shoemaker is an Idaho-born gender flexer who created the quarterly reading series, Burnt Tongue, after cutting teeth in Tom Spanbauer’s Dangerous Writers workshop. Domi has published at [PANK], Unshod Quills, Gobshite Quarterly, and has a story in the anthology, The Night and The Rain and The River, from Forest Avenue Press. Domi has worked with Lidia Yuknavitch launching Dora: A Headcase, interned at Chiasmus Media,  and is currently an MFA writing student at Pacific University.

This piece has been excerpted from a linked short story collection, currently in progress.

 

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Matty Byloos

Matty Byloos is Co-Publisher and a Contributing Editor for NAILED. He was born 7 days after his older twin brother, Kevin Byloos. He is the author of 2 books, including the novel in stories, ROPE ('14 SDP), and the collection of short stories, Don't Smell the Floss ('09 Write Bloody Books).