“Kayleigh! Time for breakfast!”
My eyes snapped open, then immediately shut against the glare of the sun streaming in from the bedroom window. The smell of toast and butter, maple syrup, and pancakes warming fresh fruit floats around me like a dream.
“Okay, Mom,” I call, voice husky with sleep. Promptly, I rolled over, long pale legs tangling in the lavender duvet, the high thread count soft and smooth on my fresh-shaven legs. In a pleasant Sunday-morning haze, I listen to the clinking sounds of the table being set; I can visualize the exact scene from my room. The small, round wooden table, set with a neat blue tablecloth. Ceramic plates in four different hues—will I get the green or the orange today? Mom and Brian, my brother, always take the red and the yellow. Coffee mugs set beside small glasses for Tropicana Orange Juice. I hear Brian stirring in the room next to mine as a loud hiss downstairs signals the addition of bacon to the family breakfast menu.
I sit up and yawn, full lips stretched wide over white, straight teeth. I run my hand through my long, dirty-blonde hair, more blonde than dirty blonde right now thanks to the sun and the natural highlights it gives me. Absently I run a hand over my soft tits, enjoying the feeling of my body’s softness the way all teenage girls do. My phone buzzes and I lay on my back to check my messages. It’s from my boyfriend Alan, who sometimes I like and sometimes I find more boring than Mr. Allen’s math class.
Good morning 😊 How are you?
This is one of those latter times.
I set the phone down without opening the message and sit up, swinging my legs out of bed and rising to my full height. I tug a comfy hoodie over my head before going down to breakfast, but not before appraising my slim figure in the mirror. Obviously I would change some things about myself if I could—my small round butt could be fuller, my collarbones could be more apparent, I could have two dimples instead of one and eyes with more green than blue—but overall I’m happy with what I see every morning.
I step lightly down the thick-carpeted stairs and slide into my seat at the table last; Brian’s just finished setting out the little cloth napkins we only use for Sunday brunch, that Mom will wash after we’ve eaten.
Mom and Dad are a suburban-attractive couple if there ever was such a thing; Dad’s been salt and pepper for ages now and Mom keeps her fading-brown hair a youthful chestnut brown. They both have kind brown eyes and have always been able to afford mine and Brian’s extracurriculars—football and lacrosse for him and volleyball and dance for me. Next year they’ll go watch me play volleyball for a quiet Division II school about two hours away, and who knows where Brian will go at this point because he’s only a freshman, but you can bet it probably won’t be very far either.
Silverware clinks like familiar conversation in the silence, interspersed with normal chewing and Brian’s inhalation of about two-thirds of the available food. Mom asks Dad a question about work that she asked him during Friday night’s dinner, and he gives an answer similar-but-not-identical. Then Dad asks Brian what his plans are for the day, and Brian mumbles something through a mouthful of food. Mom turns to me.
“What about you, sweetie? Any plans with Alan today?”
Why is everything about me suddenly contextualized within the framework of my relationship? I’m chewing so I just shake my head, but Mom waits for me to finish with her head cocked expectantly.
“Nope. I’m thinking about breaking up with him, actually.”
I have no idea what makes me say it, but once the words are out I’m amused and pleased with myself—the atmosphere around the table changes, there is no script for what I just said, and even Brian looks vaguely interested in what’s going on around him now.
“But…why? You two are such a good-looking couple.”
I roll my eyes with no restrain.
“Kayleigh,” Dad says, surprise and warning in his voice.
I go back to eating my phone, feeling the energy crackle around me like the electricity in the air before the storm. Unfortunately, the storm passes without ever breaking and I’m stomping back upstairs for no particular reason twenty minutes later after having rinsed my plate and put it in the dishwasher and helped put the leftover fruit and food into Mom’s extensive Tupperware container collection.
Back in my room, I sprawl on my bed in a heap of soft pale limbs and long soft hair, and I scroll through my Instagram and Facebook feeds, ignoring a second message from Alan asking if I’d like to get ice cream today. We got ice cream last week, I want to tell him scornfully. Don’t you have anything original to suggest?
Without thinking too much about it, I click open his messages and stare at the boring, dull words sent by a boring and dull guy who will probably grow up to be my dad. They’re both nice and all, but the idea of living in this house forever with my dad makes me want to run for as long as I can as far away as I can, and suddenly what I need to do becomes a little clearer. I type the message that will free me from this weight of boredom, and immediately feel lighter upon hitting send. I set the phone down and leave it as it begins to vibrate with frantic “what happened what can I do to change your mind please don’t do this” texts. I dress thoughtfully, in a little bit of a daze. Tiny jean shorts with suggestive rips near the pockets, a flowing black camisole with a scoop along the bodice to tease a view of my generous-for-someone-so-slim cleavage. My bronzed skin glows against the plain black fabric, and I complete the look with small gold hoops, gladiator sandals, and a hint of blue eyeliner beneath my eyes.
As I’m heading down the stairs I call, “Going to get ice cream with Alan, be back later!”
There’s a surprised silence but then my dad calls “Okay!” and I close the door and walk jauntily out of the little cul-de-sac where my house is located. I start to make my way to the park, but stop halfway there, intrigued by a sudden idea. A little ways into the remnants of a densely-wooded forest that used to cover this area before developers made a subdivision is an area where a group of kids from my school who I never interact with hangout. It exists in a kind of bubble between kids and authorities—keep it to cigarettes and cheap beer and don’t bring it out of the trees, and we’ll let you be. The path in is clearly marked by many people regularly moving in and out of the underbrush. To the left, an abandoned train track is set on a small, gently sloping hill. I don’t know what makes me turn right and start walking, but I do.
It’s peaceful at first, or as peaceful as walking through thick forest carpeted with leaves and cigarette butts with the occasional crunch of an old Miller Lite can, can be. After about ten minutes though I start to hear voices, rough and loud and unmodulated, totally unlike Alan and Mr. Allen and my dad. I emerge into a clearing just as someone sinks a cup in beer pong, on a broken plastic table that’s being held as even as possible by two old broken lawn chairs, propped up in the middle.
“Kayleigh girl, you lost?” The words are slightly slurred but Kevin’s eyes are sharp and probing, surprised and not sure what to expect, or what to do in this situation.
Three other boys take me in, and an older, but still young man, who I don’t recognize. I’ve had classes or bee in school with everyone except the older guy since I was five, which I think we’re all realizing at the same time.
“Definitely lost,” Shane drawls. I bristle.
“Just trying to find something to do.” I try my best to sound unconcerned and bored, and to my surprise the tone comes out as intended. The guys exchange looks.
“You know we’re like, a group right? Not really looking to add new friends, if you know what I mean.” This time the speaker is the guy I don’t know, a rugged-looking outdoorsy-type with piercing green eyes.
“If anyone’s intruding here, it’s you,” I say coolly. “Who even are you, anyway?”
There’s a collective intake of breath from the other guys and immediately I’m worried I’ve gone too far, but my skin is alive with tingling goosebumps and for once I don’t know exactly what I should say or do but I’m not following any script and it feels wonderful.
“I’m Jake,” the stranger says, just as coolly, but I think with a hint of a smile playing around his mouth. It’s hard to tell because he’s got a beard and he could also be grimacing in annoyance. I roll back my shoulders and meet his eyes—we’re about the same height, not because he’s short, but because I’m tall, and for the first time, I’m not trying to conceal that. He advances on me slowly and I feel a small thrill and for the first time a pocket of fear, that I swallow like a bitter pill and ignore. He’s right in front of me now, and the other guys have slowly circled around me as well, much more uncertain than Jake but following his lead because they don’t know what else to do. They don’t seem to know what’s happening either, which gives me the courage to keep standing tall even as Jake runs a hand over my chest, dipping his fingers insolently beneath the neckline and grazing the soft roundness that’s spilling out. My eyes flash green, meeting his own gaze in a burst of disdain that he thinks he can just intimidate me by touching me.
“You’re going to have to work a little harder if you want a response,” I taunt.
He laughs once, dangerously, and suddenly grabs my arm and jerks me around so that I’m held captive in one place. There’s a muffled sound of surprise from the other guys, but none of them dares to interfere. I meet Kevin’s eye as Jake turns me around and, strangely, the first thing I remember is coloring beside him in kindergarten and admiring how neatly he colored, for a boy.
Facing the other guys, Jake keeps one hand firmly gripping my arm and lazily puts his other hand carelessly on one of my tits. He squeezes it experimentally through the cloth and over the bra before addressing us.
“Alright boys, I say she can hang out with us. But, she has to be initiated first.” Their eyes widen and only Shane is brave enough to respond.
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