“Brooke Shields used to sit at that desk.”
I turned to look at the girl next to me and shrugged like I didn’t care.
It looked like all the others, but in an instant, I knew it wasn’t. It was special, it was possibly sacred, and why the hell did she have to say that just as class was starting? I closed my eyes and pictured her ass under a short plaid private school skirt rubbing against the cold hard plastic, and I was in heaven. Sure, I never met her, but my mom taught her and so did J’s Dad and that was close enough. All the stories got passed down year to year, and even ten years after she graduated, she was a presence that stimulated both pride and anxiety. But right then, in the middle of English class, all I cared about was the thought that my ass was touching the same damn seat that Brooke’s ass once touched.
“Tom, do you want to come up to the board and punctuate this sentence?”
The teacher’s voice brought me back to the horrible present, but all I could do was nod and try to figure out what I was supposed to do. Grammar wasn’t my strong suit, and standing in front of the class with a hard-on was enough to make me permanently decide that Mrs. Lindon was the devil. I muddled through it, got corrected and sent back to my seat, and as much as I tried to pay attention after that, it was no use. There are times when living in a fantasy world is preferred to the real one and don’t ever feel guilty for it. Sometimes running away is the best option. Especially if your run ends with Brooke’s teenage ass.
“Dude, that was pathetic,” Mark said as we climbed down the back stairs and outside the building. It was a horrible piece of ‘70s architecture and it lacked the typical luxury of a private school, but for some reason our senior year English class got sent up there anyway. I’m fine with old and I’m fine with modern, but this twenty-year-old buillshit was horrible. We crossed the driveway and then headed across the parking lot to the library like we always did.
“It was Jean’s fault,” I mumbled.
“What did she do, show you her tits or something? You looked like you had a banana in your pocket.”
“Fuck you, Mark. But no. She went and told me that Brooke used to sit at my desk.”
“What the hell is wrong with you? She’s like eight years older than you and hasn’t gone here in a decade. What do you care?”
“She’s hot,” I said with a shrug. It was the truth, although to be fair, she was my only celebrity crush, and that was just because it was personal. I didn’t like her because of her movies, I liked her because of her yearbook photos and the arguments the teachers had about how pretty she was and how smart she was. I liked her because she was close to home, and that was enough for me. I liked Brooke Shields because she made me feel like I could touch something bigger and better than myself and I was desperate for importance.
We found our seats in the back of the library and spent the next hour and a half bullshitting with whoever stopped by before the late bus. People came and went, and by four-thirty, most of the building was empty except for me and Tara Williams. We rode the same bus and everyone called her a slut. Which only meant that I liked her instantly. She was quiet, but she smiled at me, and on occasion, she even sat with me on the bus ride and we talked in the back row. I had some strange suspicion that she didn’t have many friends, especially guys since all they talked about was how badly they wanted to get into her pants.
We moved out into the hallway to wait for the bus, and I sat behind her gently rubbing her shoulders as we talked about class. We were in Spanish together and had just gotten into reading Neruda. Or at least attempting to. She thought it was hot and I thought it was romantic, and I mumbled the few lines I had forced myself to remember for just this occasion. Quiero hacer contigo lo que la primavera hace con los cerezos.
Tara leaned back as I whispered the words in her ear, and my hands slipped over her shoulders without another word from either of us. I could see right down her shirt to her bare breasts, and somehow I managed not to hyperventilate. As I moved my hands lower, she nestled in against my legs like everything I was doing was fine. I finally reached down the front of her shirt and began to massage her tits as she touched my arm gently and sighed quietly. I was gentle and careful, practically holding my breath for the moment she would tell me to stop.
A few minutes later the bus showed up outside, and I pulled my hands out of her shirt and we grabbed our bags. We were silent as we climbed on board, and Al, the bus driver, just nodded at us and then shook his head. What a crazy old man, I thought to myself, remembering how he ran us off the side of the road in a snowstorm one time. I liked him, but that didn’t mean much.
Tara sat down and I sat across from her. She pulled out her Spanish book and started reading through the last chapter, so I pretended to do something else. I was surprised that I hadn’t grown hard feeling her up, and I wondered if there was something wrong with me. Just the thought of Brooke’s ass had done it, but this was real and it was here and she was prettier and smarter than Brooke anyway. At least to me she was.
“Hey Tom,” Tara said, touching me on the shoulder a half hour later when we got to her stop. I looked at her big warm smile and my heart melted a little bit. She was more than pretty and I was an idiot who didn’t know how to say anything.
“That’s for the massage. It was nice.”
And then I watched her ass as she wobbled up to the front and climbed down the steps onto the sidewalk in front of her house. I pictured her going up to her room and undressing, and I got angry at myself for being so crass. She was a nice girl no matter what anybody else said. Why else would she have let me feel her up? Maybe there was something wrong with her too.
It got dark before I got home, and I was grateful for the cover of night. I climbed the steps to my house, my backpack heavy on one shoulder, and I stood in front of the door for a while trying to get the nerve to go inside. Maybe school wasn’t great, but it was full of pretty girls and good memories. It was full of old buildings, favorite teachers, and of course Tara Williams the slutty girl that was a saint as far as I was concerned. I took a deep breath and tried to forget about the desk and the imagined plaid skirt. I held my hands up to my face and remembered that just an hour before they had touched the best tits in school.
My key didn’t make a sound as I turned the lock and opened the door. It was quiet in the house, but I could smell dinner cooking. Macaroni and cheese most likely.
“Hey, mom,” I said to nobody in particular. “I’m home.”