Mum said she could go to the party. This is very rare. Mum thinks she’s too young, only just 13, but it’s Fran’s 16th birthday party and Mum caved after Fran called, begging for her favourite little cousin to come.
The entire city is sweltering with heat so she puts on her denim skirt with a t-shirt and conceals her shiny nose under a puff of Mum’s heady beige powder.
Fran lives a few streets away and Mum and Dad agreed that she could go on her own but that Dad would pick her up at 11.
She enjoys the solitary walk, the warmness of the evening on her bare limbs, the hum of the busy streets, the smell of food and cigarettes emanating from the nearby cafes. Somewhere, someone is playing the saxophone, and long, weepy notes float in the balmy air.
Moments later she rings Fran’s doorbell. Music and specks of conversation seep through the door, followed by an uneven clattering of high heels. Fran greets her warmly, her clammy arms around her, before abandoning her in the middle of the lounge to welcome more guests.
A couple of girls stand by the buffet and she smiles at them, but they only stare, long enough to make her uncomfortable, before going back to their conversation.
She pretends an exaggerated interest in the CD collection, looking at each one of them for far too long, drinks a soda, bubbles too quickly chugged stinging her throat, and eventually sits on the edge of the sofa, clutching a plate of untouched sandwiches. On the wall clock, only five minutes have gone.
Just as she decides to go, the tall guy comes and sits next to her. “I’m Lily’s brother”. Ensure of who Lily might be, she just nods.
Soon they are talking and laughing, and the seconds on the clock rush around. Someone dims the light and changes the music and they start dancing, barely moving to the rhythm of an unknown song. The two girls stare at her again, but this time she doesn’t mind.
He’s holding her tight against him, and she likes this long, musical hug. She’ll have to ask Fran what this song is.
His face comes closer to hers there are small flecks of green around his dilated pupils. She hasn’t kissed very much before. She’s learned the technicality of it with her childhood friend a couple of years ago, the unromantic experience providing much giggly. And her boating buddy kissed her on the last day of the holiday, his sea-salt lips on hers leaving her feeling tingly, trying to put a name on the warm, bouncy feeling in her stomach.
“Come”. He takes her hand and leads her to Fran’s room, closes the door and kisses her again, his tongue insistent. His moist hands move slowly down her back, pressing her against him.
They are underneath her shirt now, unclasping her bra. His fingers press too hard on her breast before making their way up her dress. And there is a growing bulge in his trousers. The bulge rubs on her. Up. Down. Up. Down. Rub. Rub. Small grunts come from him while she stands there, not knowing what to do.
So she just keeps kissing.
She doesn’t know what this feeling rising inside her is. It’s not the tingly warmth from the summer. It’s more like a heavy, crushing sensation. Maybe that’s normal?
She doesn’t know, so she just keeps on kissing.
Her name is suddenly shouted in the corridor prompting him to jump back. He pulls a strand of her hair behind her ear, gives her a smile and a wink as she battles her bra clasp. She shyly smiles back, trying not to look at those hands, now rearranging his trousers.
She and Dad silently walk back. The saxophonist has stopped playing and the cafes are clearing tables.
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