Are you there, God? It’s me, Allyson.
They never came. The boobs. You know the ones. Aunt Emma has them. Hers are bigger than avocados but similar in shape. And I know—you already know that. You know everything.
I was sent to the office again for skin showing above my jeans, the smallest crescent moon of pale. Mr. Frost handed me a clipboard that clamped a note. The note held words: “dress code violation.” And he asked me to take it to the office. The girls pull their thongs above the bands of their jeans to show the boys behind them in class. The room is a sea of lace funnels into asses, but Mr. Frost doesn’t notice. He talks about Spinal Tap for fifty-three minutes.
My thoughts dawdle back to last weekend, reliving scenes and events, picking them up to consider, like the shape of rocks for skipping…
My mother is unyielding. Can I stay home instead? I think I’m getting sick. I have cramps. Terrible cramps and it isn’t my fault I have this stupid uterus.
No. You’re going.
She says. I would complete this final step in being confirmed into the Catholic Church. Whether I wanted to get married in the church or not, whether I wanted to get married at all, or not. And I would not complain about it.
The church retreat is in the desert, close to Mexico, far from anything else. We throw grains of rice into the wind, plucked from individual baggies and forge statements of grace. Gum wrappers litter from our shallow jean pockets, swept up by the wind and we don’t care.
That night, we girls lie awake in bunk beds. We’re a group of teenagers with Catholic roots so far back they grab onto us from behind — clinging to necks, pinning arms, pushing our knees together, throwing our smiles apart to whisper: We are sorry. We give these words out like candy. We are sorry for existing in a way that might inconvenience anyone else. We are sorry.
Our grandmothers whispered it to our mothers, and our mothers whispered it to us. We carry it, but we are still us: sixteen-year-olds discussing sex at church camp.
Who had done it? Who had not? And the girl that slept with the guy who was shot dead at that party? She had committed a mortal sin whether he was alive or dead. Whether she had an STD, ADD, or PMS — her mother made her confess to the priest.
Are you there, God? It’s me, Allyson.
It has been a week since I’ve returned from that weekend in the desert. I say hello when I arrive. I walk through the walls of the house that belongs to the boy I think is cute. You know him, the one from church camp. It is eleven in the morning. Saturday. After driving thirty-three minutes to arrive here, I exit the paint-chipped red Saturn, knock on the door.
We are in a bedroom. His bedroom? I don’t know. I know what happens next is wrong. His weight owns my own. I know that no person should push to exist inside you — partially, all the way, just the tip, just for a minute, just for a second, while you say no from a mouth, burdened to smile.
But I trick myself. This is an adventure. This is a sexual experience. Don’t be pathetic. You’re supposed to like this. Don’t be a prude. This is your fault. I haven’t found the home for that voice yet, the one that wants to say how wrong this is.
Afterwards, at home, I scrub myself with the brush used for the bottom of our shower feet, rinsing and lathering three times with the bristles, with the bar of soap my brothers use every day. I close my bedroom door. Call my friend from the floor of my closet, from the middle of a graveyard of fallen hangers.
He kept trying. He wouldn’t listen. He wouldn’t stop. I say, wanting someone to tell me it is alright, that what happened isn’t as horrible as it feels.
My mother is there and I don’t know her ears are swallowing my words through the thin wood until it is too late.
She is angry. Furious. Disgusted. I have lied to her. Who is this guy? She wants to know. Did I want to get pregnant? Did I have sex? Did I need to take a pregnancy test? Did I want to get HIV? Did I want to drop out of school? Did I? Did I?
No. I tell her. No.
I say this, and also wonder if pre-ejaculate has sperm in it. And how I can search for the answer to this on our family computer while my siblings stand nearby, waiting for the egg timer to go off to signify their turn.
God. My dad drives me home from school. I am grounded. Cannot be trusted. I’m a slut, a whore, and what kind of example am I setting for my siblings? I’m behaving like my aunt Emma — a woman with three abortions and a colostomy bag under her belt. Literally. I don’t think these matters are related, but my dad believes it’s the type of thing that’s bestowed on you after killing your baby.
Are you there, God? It’s me, Allyson. Again.
You seem to have blessed me with adult puberty. Some may attribute it to a slower metabolism, the cheese-heavy diet that can’t keep up, or the fact that I am one among the quarter of individuals in our society that has a weight gain reaction to antidepressants. My hips don’t fit into the vintage dresses I love. The clasps bite my skin, refuse to close. Skin that shows again, though this time more than the smallest crescent moon of pale.
I’m just not used to you being like this. My friend says. I don’t fit into her bridesmaid dress either. There is a wide “V” of zipper spread open across my back, jaws that won’t close. Can’t close. I ordered up three sizes. Can you make it fit by June? I’m just being honest. She says.
It’s just her and I in the room. It’s been years. Of friendship. Of “friendship”? Ten. And time has passed as it does, both slowly and quickly at once. Both eventful and remaining at once — with the lingering of events and nuances over New Year’s Eves, and picnics, concerts, and cries over men and mothers. I liked the way she brought people together, the mischievous charm of her spirit. And with the grand comes the dark — years of a whimsical friendship punctured by jabs — cruel like midnight.
It was familiar to be her. The girl that wanted to be told it wasn’t as horrible as it felt. You know her, the one from church camp.
I have a home for that voice of mine now. There is no room for another’s wants to push to exist inside me. And it is okay. To end a friendship that no longer serves you. To have casual sex. To have casual cries. To be casual about being emotional because you’re human and entitled to everything you feel. To roll your eyes. To roll your hips. To say no. To want what you want, when you want it. To never, ever apologize for the space your ass takes up in any seat, any bed, room, city, country, or swimsuit.
God, they came. The boobs.