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Original artwork by the artist writing as Jillian Marks. Chinese ink on paper.

Loud, brassy, and seemingly hell bent on self-destruction, Angie seems larger to me than her life can contain. She is older– fifteen or sixteen. She wears her feathered hair bleached blonde with lots of metallic blue eyeshadow, skintight jeans and sequined tube tops that barely suppress  her ample breasts. Tummy, back, thighs, hips bulge through every straining seam.

I have never seen such a private bedroom for a kid before. I have grown up sharing rooms with my little sisters. Angie’s room is a cool, dark, mysterious world, smelling of incense, perfume, sweat and cigarette ash. I see a waterbed, worn beanbag chairs, a black light, neon velvet posters that glow in the dark. There is stuff strewn about every corner and the closet door yawns wide open, spilling wadded jeans and tops, shiny belts and bangle bracelets, makeup,   crushed cigarette packs, records.

The cigarettes and pot she smokes only add to her glamour, in my eyes. She takes Quaaludes and drops acid. She drinks hard liquor. She has random and indiscriminate sex. She is the personification of everything my  cop step-dad warns me I will turn out to be if I’m not careful. She is my new hero.

Her parents, by contrast, are calm, cool and reserved. They keep a tasteful home, decorated in shades of post-hippie garden party with wood paneled walls, macrame plant hangers and ferns.

I start hanging out at Angie’s whenever I can. Her parents both work, so after school is perfect. We spend hours of unsupervised time  listening to The Who, Zeppelin, Ozzy on her brand new turntable. I  learn how to smoothly inhale the thick, grey smoke of her Marlboros, which her parents include in their list of weekly essentials. I  lie across the queen-sized waterbed on my back staring up at the ceiling fan, practicing smoke rings while she regales me with stories of her latest party adventures and sexual escapades.

Craig lives down the street and drives a surfer car. He is tall, with a large build and sandy brown straight hair with long bangs that fall in a wave over his soft green eyes. He always wears flip flops and board shorts. He is a pot dealer. I have been warned that drug dealers are bad news. But Craig is just a regular kid, like us. He’s super laid-back and friendly. One day we are hanging out on the waterbed, just the two of us while Angie talks on the phone to one of her many boyfriends.

“Are you dudes coming to double roads tonight? We’re gonna get so fucked up, man!”

She stamps out her lipstick-stained butt on a thin, aluminum ashtray stolen from Burger King,  too distracted to notice the two of us inching closer. It seems like we are all alone, even though she is right there, across the room, sitting on the floor–digging through various purses and bags for phone numbers of people to invite to the latest pot party at the beach.

I never really kissed a boy before. Not for longer than an awkward second or two. And I have certainly never felt a boy’s tongue in my mouth. It happens so easily. He simply rolls over and locks his lips with mine. We are engaged–our movements easy, warm, liquid. Time slows down. I am barely aware of the distant chatter of Angie’s voice and Roger Daltrey’s anguished pleas from the stereo. All is reduced to this point of connection. I feel it all over my body…this melting, tingling rush. I am hooked.

One evening he calls and asks me to  meet him at the canal at the end of the street to make out. At least that’s what I assume we are here to do. As we lay together in the damp grass…thoroughly engrossed in what is fast becoming my favorite pastime, I hear a crunchy, plastic ripping sound as his shorts open and he produces a stout erection, seemingly in one swift gesture.

Before I can register what is happening, he explodes all over my flannel over-shirt. The kissing stops abruptly and he moves to get up, hastily stuffing his pants back together. He reaches down, helping me to my feet.

“I have to go…”

“Uh…okay.”

I enjoyed the kissing so much, never thinking about what would happen next. I don’t wash my flannel shirt for a very long time, only taking it out from under my bed now and then to examine the dried stain of his ejaculate, wondering what happened. What I did wrong. Why he left so quickly.

And why he never called again.

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