THERE WERE NO STARS • by Heather Rose

Before:

You met him at work. He was tall and it was hard to find a man taller than you. He was your friend. His voice was deep and with Rumple Minze and Vodka on your breath you begged him to say your name and he did.

You are breathless.

The air was cold and dry but the breaths between your voices were humid; thick. He pushed you up against a car that wasn’t yours or his. You thought it was a Camaro, but you thought every old, low riding car with big wheels and oversized windows was a Camaro. His body was bigger than yours and he kissed you hard. Your teeth hit. You tasted Absinthe on his tongue as he rolled it into your mouth and although you’d never drank it before you remembered the smell and it reminded you of your father.

His hands gripped your waist and he lifted you slightly. Your back pressed against the frosted windows and you balanced by wrapping your legs around him. You let him hold you there. Your back was cold but your hands were warm. Holding his face your noses touched and you thought maybe you could love him.

You felt light. You felt beautiful. You were twenty-one. You had kissed before, but never like that.

You went back to where your friends were; you went back to the party. Drunk college girls grabbed your arms and told you to drink more and you did. They were your friends, too. You played games with ping pong balls and cards and Kings and you switched to beer halfway through. You didn’t want things getting out of hand. You remembered the kiss and smiled and knew you had a taste of something the others didn’t.

The boys cheered on a game of shots and cups and you kissed a girl you had kissed once before. She tasted like sweet pineapple rum and this time you didn’t think of your father. Her lips were soft and she touched your face.

You went back to your apartment, the one you shared with the girl you had now kissed twice. Together you smoked a menthol cigarette and blew smoke through a dryer sheet and out a window. You were not supposed to be smoking. She said goodnight. You went to sleep. She was always a good friend to you.

You wake up not long after to a body on top of yours. It is his body. You are drunk; confused. His shirt is off and you feel his chest locked with tight curls you didn’t think most twenty-somethings had. He kisses your neck and it’s wet. He drools on your collarbone. His stubbly face feels like a Brillo pad against your skin. You try to remember what you are wearing. It is warm in your apartment and you are naked.

“You’re beautiful,” he says just above a whisper. He touches your legs and works his way up; ten pointy digits searching for a home. It’s dark; there were no stars that night. You can’t see and you’re glad. He smells like whiskey. You always hated whiskey.

His body feels heavy and strong and padded with muscles and you start to question yourself. Are you excited or frightened? Enthralled or terrified? Did you not want him just hours ago? Did you not lead him on, the way you kissed him? The way you wrapped yourself around his waist and constricted yourself to him? Were you asking for this? You remember he is your friend and he wouldn’t hurt you.

You shouldn’t have drank so much. You debate with yourself on awkward subjects that are more common than you think. Does this count? Maybe it is your fault.

You don’t hit him. You don’t slap him. Or yell. You should have yelled.

You give in. He kisses you with flakey lips and you kiss him back. You aren’t strong enough to say no but you aren’t weak enough to say yes, either. The room smelled like sweat and almost sex. He whispers to you again.

“You’re beautiful.” Only you don’t feel it anymore. His pushes his mouth farther into yours.

 

After:

You would tell people you tried to fight him off because you think you did. You hoped you did. You wondered if you secretly wanted to feel his fingers inside you pushing hard and making you squint out tears from your dark-adjusted eyes. They were the same fingers that had held you so passionately earlier that night. He hurt your body and for the first time you felt the pain of girls before you who just weren’t sure if it happened to them, too.


Heather Rose is a twenty-something writer from New Hampshire, though she currently resides in Florida. She finished her MFA in Fiction 2015. “There Were No Stars” is a short story from her manuscript.


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