Thursday, August 11, 2005

Coming Home

Duncan’s motorcycle rolled into Jerrica’s driveway at about nine o’clock at night. She got off, they kissed deeply, and she walked, backpack on her arm to the front door, awaiting the inevitable.

Her hair hung loose. She was wearing her camisole, with jeans, under a new brown leather jacket he’d bought her. New pearl earrings and a gold rope necklace with a pearl locket hanging from it (with a picture of Duncan and her in it) adorned her face. She had lipstick on and had painted her nails bright red that morning. Her jeans were only half zipped, revealing more of her stained white camisole.

Her father, drunk, was pulling the door open as she put her old fashioned metal key in the lock. Downtown, keys had been replaced with finger and eye scans, but this was unfashionable Highlands Ranch.

“You fucking whore!”, he roared.

“Must be true,” she said, “look at all the jewelry Duncan gave me.” She smiled with an artificially huge smile.

He slapped her, leaving a red mark on her cheek.

“You are grounded for the rest of the term, Miss. And, if you ever do this again, you are not welcome in my house.”

Before she could say another word, Eunice had both hands on Jerrica’s hips and was forcibly moving Jerrica up the stairs to her room.

“Are you drunk?”, Eunice ventured when the sisters had reached the top of the stairs, while continuing to push Jerrica into her room.

“Drunk with love.”, Jerrica replied.

“Or lust, more likely.”, Eunice answered.

Once in Jerrica’s room, Eunice closed the door behind them. Jerrica tossed her backpack on the bed and took off her boots and jeans. The jeans smelled musty, with discharge from Jerrica’s sexual encounter with Duncan that morning now dried in the crotch. Nothing but the camisole was under the jeans. The camisole smelled of the blend of Jerrica’s perspiration and his.

“He’s the one. I know it.”, Jerrica said.

“That will look good on cardboard when you’re begging on the corner after dad’s thrown you out and he’s dumped you.”

“Sex with him is so pure. It’s like dancing when all the barriers come down.”

“Not that you have any comparisons. . . Besides, what about diseases and stuff? You scarcely know this man.”

“Haven’t they updated your health books since last century? I’ve had all my teen shots: AIDS, syphilis, HPV, warts. And, I won’t get pregnant either. I got my c-plant at fifteen like most high school girls, and it’s good until I’m eighteen, unless I go to a doc to have it taken out.”

“You wouldn’t!”

“I want to have Duncan’s children. O.K., not next month or anything, but I’m serious about him.”

“Just like everybody is with their first boyfriend? Love makes you stupid.”

“We’ve been going out most of the summer.”

“And now its fall and school’s back and things change.”

There was a gentle knock on the door. Eunice could see in the crack at the bottom of the door that it was mom. Eunice opened the door letting herself out as mom came in. A drunken howl wafted up from the living room.

“Jerrica, Jerrica, Jerrica, what are you doing? Throwing your life away, the way I did?”

“Mother, I’m in love. I though that you, of all people, would understand.”

“I understand what a hard life you have when you get too involved with an older man too young. And honestly, Jerrica; you know better than to bait your father the way you did. Show your father some respect, at least. Who is this man you ran away with really? It’s obvious what you did. Here you are standing in your own room in front of your own mother in a camisole that smells of him, and no underwear. You have to listen to your father. You are grounded, and if he catches you again with that man, he will kick you out of our house. Maybe we can save at least one of our girls. They always said girls were more difficult.”

Mom collapsed weeping in Jerrica’s bed. Ashamed, Jerrica held her.

“Mother, I don’t want to hurt you.” Jerrica pointedly didn’t extend this concession to her father. “Duncan is the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my entire life. We’re made for each other. We’re in tune. When I’m with him I feel so alive. If I have to move out of here and in with Duncan, I will. But, how many chances in your life do you have for real love? I don’t want to pass up the only chance I may ever get and end up living the rest of my life with a runner up.”

“You’re just barely sixteen.”, mom moaned, “Just the other day you were just my little girl.” Then mom sobbed some more and mother and daughter fell asleep holding each other in Jerrica’s bed.

* * * * * * *

“I’m home.”, Duncan said.

He took off his motorcycle boots in the hallway and tossed his things on the couch.

He heard a moan. He raced up the steps.

“Auntie? Are you O.K.?”, he asked loudly. He walked into her room.

Duncan’s aunt was sitting on the side of the bed. Her thin, white hair was flying everywhere. The room had that musty, old person’s smell. Some depressing music his aunt called grunge was playing on an ancient player, skipping over and over again, with the volume turned down low, but the player not actually turned off.

His aunt was trying to stand on the carpet, so faded that the original color could not be determined. Her ankle was trembling so violently that it made the unicorn tattoo on her ankle look almost alive. It had faded and wrinkled, giving it an otherworldly effect. Most people her age had tattoos removed, but she always said that she couldn’t afford it while she was raising Duncan. In any case, she defended this attachment to her youth.

“How long have you been in bed?”, Duncan asked.

“Not long, only since last night,” she said as the sun started to set in the window. He thought that one of the old person smells might be urine, no doubt trapped in an adult diaper which hadn’t been changed in a long time.

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