Rich Martens

“I dare you guys…to do it.”

You lose your virginity on that simple line, a dare. More pathetic than that, it’s a planned dare.

Amy straddles on top of you on her Strawberry Shortcake bedspread while her roommate, Sara, sits poised and indifferent on her bed across from you.

Amy rocks back and forth slowly. She knows it’s your first time and she doesn’t want to risk getting you too excited. Her eyelids are emboldened by dark green mascara. Her hair is cut short in a sort of modern bob style, slightly upturned at the ends with a clear part down the middle. The joints in her coral painted toes pop at regular intervals as she keeps rocking back and forth, slowly, steadily, rhythmically, like the ticking of a metronome, the slight paunch of baby fat above your hips being molded by her knees. Her feet smell like the communal showers, bleached but still moldy. She looks straight down over her arched nose at you and says, “You better make sure to tell me when you’re close to being done.”

Sara and you perpetrated this whole thing the previous night. You’d been living on the same floor in the Grant dorm hall at NIU for about four months. You became fast friends and you developed an equally fast attraction to Amy. You tried dropping hints to Amy; you even went on a couple of faux-dates, but she never fully took the bait, so to speak. So, in her infinite kindness, Sarah promised to get Amy drunk and, therein, get you laid.

You feel no amount of shame then, even with Sara patiently sitting an arms length away in their cramped, narrow dorm room. It almost seems ironic now, the string of red Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling, illuminating the room with red light like a brothel in Amsterdam.

For a moment, you turn your head to the left, lock eyes with Sara, then quickly look away to avoid any further awkwardness later. Yet, even in that brief moment while your mind should have been focused on the 140 pound half-Irish, half-Lithuanian girl apathetically squirming on your manhood, Sara’s ashy brown eyes tell you so much; they told you how much you would regret this later, how much this would change things between the three of you, how much things would hurt later, and how the two of you never should have arranged this.

You feel a growing warmth below your bellybutton. “It’s…yeah, now,” you say and nudge Amy’s freckled, olive tinted left thigh. She rolls off of you, literally, and squats on the cold, tiled floor like a frog on a Lilly pad. You grab the box of tissues from the shelf above her bed and jerk off into it.

When all is said and done, you both put your pajamas back on as if nothing had happened. You don’t cuddle, you don’t share a smoke, you just go on living like it was any other Thursday night.

Somewhere between 5 and 6 am the next day, there’s a knock on your door. The sun is just starting to crest over the horizon and your room is bathed in warm, red light. There’s another knock as you pick yourself up and out of your clammy, sagging bed. It had gotten so warm overnight that you must have woken up briefly to take off your shirt, because when you open the door, all you’re wearing are your grey, checkered pajama pants. Standing on the other side of the cracked door is Amy.

“Do you want to fuck again?” she says, dreamily. You bite your tongue to make sure you really are awake and alert. You don’t say anything, you just move aside and open the door fully so she can walk in.

“Joey isn’t here?” she asks.

Technically, Joey was your roommate, but being on the school baseball team meant that he was out on the road half the time.

“Good,” she says, “then we can just do it in here.”

“Sure,” your say, rather empathetically. She doesn’t seem any more thrilled to start than your dare a few hours earlier, but you attribute both of your lackluster spirits to being so tired. She shuffles over to your bed, various crumbs, dirt, and shed body hairs clinging to the bottoms of her bare feet. She starts to undress, beginning with her homemade tie-die shirt. After slipping off her pants, she reaches into one of the pockets, takes out a blue condom wrapper and says, “This time, I brought one of these.”

This confuses you. “Why didn’t we use a condom last time” you think, “and why are we using one now? Is this her way of saying she wants to be exclusive? It must be, or else why would she want to have sex again?” A naïve sort of thought process, you know, but when you’re a recently sexually active eighteen-year-old living your first year away from a staunch Catholic mother at a state university, it seems believable.

So, once again, you have sex, better than the dare sex, but not by much. She asks that you be on top this time. In a moment of passion, you lean in towards her puffy, chipmunk-like cheeks for a kiss, but she quickly turns her head away.

“No kissing,” she says with dark morning breath.

“Right,” you say and nod, pretending to understand when, in fact, it raises more questions in your mind than when she pulled out the condom. You are, obviously, preoccupied with other activities to dwell much further on it though, concerning yourself instead with non-sexual thoughts to keep myself from finishing too soon.

When all is said and done, you both fall back asleep in your twin-sized bed. You don’t talk, you don’t cuddle, she doesn’t say, “I love you.”

You sleep together again that night, too, but things are different this third time. There still is no kissing, no perspiration, no noises or love, but you do talk afterwards.

She folds into herself and huddles against the bedside wall. “Are you ok?” you ask.

“Just…don’t Daniel.” Normally, you don’t like it when people call you by you full first name, but when she says it, it feels strangely appropriate.

Her shoulder is clammy to the touch. She shudders and curls up tighter. This was what Sara meant to tell you with her look.

Though you’re both in bed, her mind is some 1,000 miles away in a duplex in Florida with chipped, lead based paint and a graveyard of fried mayflies resting belly-up on the porch bellow a softly swaying bug zapper. This is the home of her boyfriend, Eric. You’re not so different, physically speaking. He’s lanky and skinny, wears glasses, and has straight brown hair that curls up and turns wavy at the bottom on humid days. Really, the only difference between you is that he could, and did, grow a beard.

To say he was her boyfriend, however, is somewhat misleading. To this day, you’re unsure as to how their relationship worked exactly. As you understood it, they were a couple in high school, but then she slept with a mutual friend of theirs and he moved to Florida to avoid confrontation, but they still remained faithful to each other. Or at least, they did until you interfered. You don’t know about any of this at the present time, of course, and all of this will soon become hindsight. Had you known then what you know now, you could have easily avoided the months of uneasiness that followed when Eric transferred to your school in the flatlands of Illinois.

It’s the following semester, some time in January. Not only does he transfer to NIU, he puts in a request to live on your floor. Worse yet, his request is granted.

That semester, they spend every waking (and sleeping) moment together. The empty dorm room that you once considered a safe haven quickly becomes a quarantine room. The air turns to a sinister mélange that stings with every breath. With no one to confide in, the room is little more than a holding cell.

You go out, rarely to class though. Mostly, you walk down the robin’s-egg blue hallway to Koala’s room. He’s muscular, yet lean, and always wears a thin, white, sleeveless t-shirt that accentuates his toffee colored skin. You imagine that he must own dozens of those shirts because they’re always impeccably clean, though you never see him in the laundry room.

He hooks you up with some weed and you take the elevator down from the twelfth floor, walk out the double doors past the sorority girls turned rag dolls from drinking too much vodka, through the court where the less paranoid stoners smoke their joints, along the fence of the visiting team bleachers at the football field, and into the thatch of evergreen trees that grow one next to the other along the outfield wall of the baseball field. There, you light up and chase away the shivers of the icy winter night only to return to your room, watch The Wall for the umpteenth time, and not wake up until 3 pm the next day.

“I dare you guys…to do it.”

You throw away a year of your life on that simple line, a dare. More pathetic than that, it’s a planned dare.

 
 
 


Rich Martens’ writing has appeared in The Foundling Review, Mad Licks, Going up: A Nanoanthology, and The 2009 Story Week Reader. He is also an editor for the Arizona-based publication West Valley Health and Living.