Gary and I were going to make love. For several weeks, I planned to linger after the bell rang with the excuse of needing help with homework. Once my classmates filtered out, I’d saunter up to his desk just as he was preparing to score our worksheets on the multiplication tables. As his back tensed and breath quickened, I’d finally make my move.
Every morning I dabbed the Jovan musk that Grandma bought from Kmart behind each ear, certain that the glandular scent of an endangered deer would work its magic quickly – the aphrodisiac transforming us both into hypersexual machines within minutes.
Gary was my third grade teacher. Facing away from the class as he wrote on the blackboard, my eight-year old eyes traced the outline of the muscles underneath his khakis. He had a beautiful ass. He also had a vast array of ties in a conservative diagonal stripe, and a compact body no taller than 5’8. He was my first love, aside from Michael Jackson.
For as much as I dreamed about what might happen after I approached him, I really wasn’t sure what was supposed to come next. I lacked an accurate idea of the parts that existed under a man’s clothes, so was left to improvise. I visualized his tightly cupped bottom, tanned and oddly oily, much like the ass of “Macho Man” Randy Savage of the World Wrestling Federation. What I pictured in front resembled a Ken doll’s amorphous mound of flesh, and on occasion, my imagination decided to throw in a vagina.
Gary must have noticed the attention. I often hung around class rather than go to recess like the other kids. I knew that he had particular interest in science, so I tried very hard to be curious about the earth and sky. He humored my inane questions, which only made me love him more. On some days I waited outside, long after school was dismissed, just to watch him walk across the parking lot to his yellow sports car. It was almost as sexy as my Barbie corvette.
I lacked the courage to make the first move, but I knew I had to act. One afternoon, I looked up his telephone number in the White Pages. When I found it, I traced the tiny letters of his name with my fingers and begged God to make him love me. I wondered what I might hear if I dialed. I imagined his voice croon, “Hello?” after picking up, followed by nothing except the sound of us breathing in unison. He’d know it was me without my having to say a word. Finally, I would tell him how much I needed to feel like a grown up. We’d arrange to meet in the back of his sports car after school. Then, on that smooth pleather interior, I’d finally understand what it meant to be a real, live woman.
One day I called. My heart was on the verge of exploding in my chest as my fingers dialed each number. There were so many things I wanted to say. He answered just as I decided that I no longer wanted him to. “Hello?” His voice was calm and welcoming. My mind blanked; I didn’t know what to do. A few seconds later, a slightly stern, “Is anyone there?” Another long pause. Click.
I sat for a long time with the receiver pressed to my ear, waiting for him to pick back up and say, “I know it’s you, Nicole. I love you.”
A week passed. In that time I sat at my desk, studying his face intensely, searching for a sign that he knew it had been me. A glance, a smile, a wink, anything. There were moments I thought I caught something, and told myself more desperately that the feelings were mutual. Our love was so close to being real.
I called one more time. On this occasion, it was a Saturday evening, as I hoped to catch him in a relaxed, amorous mood. I dialed his number more smoothly, now having memorized it. After a few rings, he answered, and I could barely keep myself from blurting it out: all of the ways that I loved him. We had to be brave, for the sake of destiny.
“Hello?” The voice had the same inviting tone, but now, it belonged to a woman.
I held the receiver to my ear, waiting for her voice to change into what I imagined. His voice, breathless, excited, in love, with me. With me. A moment later, she said “Hello?” again in frustration, and abruptly hung up. Dead air. My mind leapt into action, creating a woman to match the voice.
Her name was Tawny. She was a decade younger than Gary, and drop dead gorgeous. Like me, she was brunette, but with hair that had a lot more bounce. She was a perfect hourglass shape, with hips that swayed like the models’ in Robert Palmer’s video for “Addicted to Love.” She didn’t bite her finger nails, and the permanently red tips were perched upon delicate fingers. She wore a very small ring size, unlike my size seven stumps, fat and clumsy. She resembled a juvenile Brooke Shields, with perfectly symmetrical eyebrows and supple round lips.
I imagined her throaty laugh as Gary drove her around in his sports car. She always wore a translucent negligee, even for their Sunday drives. She had pert tits and never needed a bra. Tawny couldn’t cook worth a damn, and she wasn’t book smart, but that was fine with him because she was such a prize pony. He would love her forever, even when she woke up in the morning with nasty breath and snotty goo leaking out of her tear ducts. He would love her when she got her multiplication tables all wrong. And he’d still love her, even when she got impatient with ugly little girls who prank called her boyfriend on Saturday evenings.
Nicole Lacy is an MFA candidate in creative nonfiction at Carlow University. She currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and works in the field of mental healthcare. Other writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Revolution House and Sein und Werden.
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