Tell Us About It
I was fourteen-years-old and had just started high-school when I got a part in the school musical. Everyone knows that Mrs. McNulty never gives parts to freshman, but I got one, and I even had a line- ‘Tell us about it, why don’t ya?’ I’ll always remember that line; I practised it so many times I wouldn’t be surprised if it was written on my headstone.
Night after night we rehearsed; singing, dancing, blocking our scenes. I got to tap dance. I always wanted to tap dance and I finally had my big shot. I was always slightly off-beat, just behind the rest of them, but I looked the part. Tall, slender, and so feminine; I was such a beauty and no I don’t feel big-headed saying that. That’s just how it was and probably why I got myself in so much trouble. You see, I know now that I was dangerously beautiful, but back then I was clueless as a babe and as innocent, too.
I was the youngest in the cast, but I kept up with the older girls. I made things up if I needed to, just to get into a conversation. We talked about all the usual high-school topics; boys, bras, periods, sex. At the time I was a virgin, but they didn’t need to know that. After all I was a very good actress.
The play ran for three nights and those nights were over in a sneeze. I wiped my nose and the set was being packed away. The high of those performances was more powerful than anything I’ve had since. Neither pill nor line of powder could match the feeling of pure adrenaline combined with teenage confidence. It was intoxicating and I felt I was coming apart at the seams, and urgently needed something to keep me in my own body.
One of the senior girls in the play threw a cast party on closing night, and as I walked through the door I saw that we were not the only people in attendance. There were so many boys there; big ones with stubbly chins, carrying fistfuls of beer. One of them with long curly hair winked at me when I passed him and the breath caught in my throat so badly that I coughed and he laughed.
I made my way into the kitchen where some of my friends were gathered around a marble island in the center, knocking back small glasses of liquor that smelled of mouthwash. Dying to fit in, I requested to try some and through a wall of cheers a glass was placed in front of me and filled with the emerald liquid. Everyone was looking at me with anticipation, so I threw that horrible stuff down my throat and asked for another.
The curly-haired, winking man-boy saddled up beside me and introduced himself as Jack. I’d had quite a few more green things by then, so I reached out, not to shake his hand but to touch the cactus of his cheek to see if it felt like I thought it would. It felt better. He removed my hand so gently I could barely feel it and kissed the top of it like I was royalty. His lips were hot and moist and I felt that kiss in places deep inside me, mostly below my belly button. I clenched my knees together as he looked so deeply in my eyes I thought for sure he could see the dirty movie starring us that was playing behind them.
I broke the spell he’d cast on me by promptly vomiting in my mouth and trying unsuccessfully to swallow it back down. He helped me to the bathroom and rubbed my back as I turned that toilet bowl the look of a four leaf clover with none of the luck or magic. Inside I was dying of humiliation, but I decided to try and play it cool, so I turned to him and tried to kiss him. He lurched back and caused us both to fall over, me on top of him, and we laughed; me at the situation and him at my green mouth. He then carried me back out to the party to a round of applause and deposited me on the sofa, covered me with a blanket, and left me to sleep it off as he rejoined the others.
I woke up with something soft as bubblegum and faintly salty filling the cavity of my mouth. I had the sensation of being cold. I tried to speak, but all that came out were moans on a count of the obstruction. I was awake, but I couldn’t open my eyes, or maybe they were open and it was just so dark I couldn’t tell. All I knew was that there was a dull pain where I last remember imagining Jack’s kiss and that I was scared. I bit down as hard as I could on whatever the hell was trying to make its way down my throat, which started someone screaming so loud that I started to scream myself.
I was awake now; electricity shot through my veins and animated my limbs. I was as naked as the day I was born, feeling around in that dark room trying to collect my clothes and my dignity. The other person in the room called me a ‘cunt’ and a ‘bitch’ and a ‘tease’ and anything else he could think of to punish me for refusing to allow him to remain in my catatonic mouth.
Tears stung my eyes as I ran blindly back out to the party, trying to redress myself as I moved. I was relieved when I saw Jack sitting on the sofa and I knew for certain it wasn’t him in that room shouting names at me in the dark.
I was suddenly the soberest I’d ever been in my life as I pulled the party host into a bedroom and tried to explain what happened to me, but I found I really couldn’t explain at all. She waited a few minutes until I had stopped trying and the tears had quit falling and all my buttons that weren’t ripped had been done up. Then she looked at me real sweet and sorry, like it was her who’d done something wrong. She pulled me into her and rested my head on her shoulder as she stroked my hair and whispered so sadly and softly in my ear I almost didn’t hear, ‘Tell us about it, why don’t ya?’
more by LEE ANNE HILL
photograph by Redd Angelo