Can You Find Me? II: Exordium

Disclaimer: Mature Content

I always knew there was something fucked up in my head.

It wasn’t like I was really destined to be this way. Mom and dad were in the picture from birth. Neither of them ever raised a hand to me that was too harsh or spoke a word to me that was too cruel. My mother doted on me for every minor achievement I made growing up and my father was your typical suburban dad, dead-set on making me the king of football or baseball while teaching me life lessons on how to be a man. We had money, we had a nice house, and I never went for longer than a day without something I asked for. Sure, I was a spoiled kid but I wasn’t a spoiled brat. My best friend in high school was even more well-off than I was and anyone would call him a good kid. A good friend, a good guy, a good son, yet his only faults were a short fuse and a tendency to be over-protective. At least his mistakes never hurt anybody; Mine did.

In regards to the “Nature vs. Nurture” argument I have trouble seeing where my nurturing failed me. I mean, maybe my good life was the reason for my problems, but then I remember my best friend and that he doesn’t have the same issues I do. In fact, he doesn’t have any of the same issues that I do. He had his emotional outbursts so that it was no secret what was going on in his head. I was always calm, cool, and collected. My demons rarely came to the surface.

I grew up being everything my parents wanted me to be. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to play baseball and take photography classes, I’m just lucky that I wasn’t stuck doing anything that I hated. I was being cultivated into the perfect little plant for all to see. Once I hit high school my GPA and sportsmanship spoke for themselves. By junior year I was good-looking, I was successful, and I was popular. My future seemed unlimited to everyone else but me. My paraphilia was the demon hidden inside of me, waiting for me to slip back into his clutches at any moment. I started over-stepping my boundaries as a child. Many young children are caught and disciplined for certain behaviors before it can get worse. Sadly, I was never caught and never disciplined. Because of this, what started as simple curiosity morphed into a complete obsession. That obsession took me down an unforgivable road that put some of the most precious people in my life in danger.

It began with my mom. I know it’s going to sound like a total Oedipus complex but I’m just being honest. I, however, wouldn’t fuck my mom. A psychologist might some day tell me that sub-consciously I actually did want to fuck my mom but as far as I’m concerned, I didn’t. I remember my mom taking baths with me when I was really young, like 2 or 3. When I was 5 I had trouble sleeping and frequent nightmares so I got into the habit of retreating to her for maternal comfort while she took her late night baths. She always left the door unlocked for me and I ran to her on an almost nightly basis, even when I didn’t have problems falling asleep. She was the first naked woman I saw so I was of course curious about why her body looked different than mine. She eventually explained to me that she had “mommy parts” and boys had “daddy parts”. I sought her attention and examined her, but I never touched her and never wanted to touch her. I was just fascinated by her body: A woman’s body.

As I crept further into elementary school the speculations about “mommy parts” and “daddy parts” became rampant. The boys in my group of friends had all kinds of theories about how a vagina looks and what boobs feel like. One of our friends stole his mother’s Victoria’s Secret catalog and brought it to school for us to look at. We began spending our library time in the very back corners of the room hidden behind bean bags and book shelves so that we could enjoy our smut in peace. We eventually found the Holy Grail of dirty material for 4th graders: A biology book. The body parts were merely detailed drawings but were enough to keep us entertained. Scavenger hunting for books containing nudity in the library became a new pastime. The pictures made me feel funny but didn’t satiate the deep curiosity within. Long after the other boys got bored of this I continued to escape to the library at every chance just so I could see the pictures once again. They stayed in my mind outside of school and I imagined the illustrations lingering under the clothes of strangers, of people on TV, and even my action figures.

I usually found my own corner to sit in during reading time. However, I one day decided to sit near everyone else on a whim. As I laid on my back and flipped through an age-appropriate book for once, I glanced around the quiet room until my eyes locked onto something: Three girls, all wearing dresses, were sitting at a desk nearby. From my angle on the floor I was able to see up their skirts. How nobody in that room caught me staring is a mystery to me because it took me awhile to even catch myself. It wasn’t like the biology books, no, but it was just a layer of fabric away. I panicked and looked back into my book again. At first, I felt my cheeks flush with guilt. But every few seconds I could feel my eyes straining towards them and wanting to see again. I couldn’t help it. I was young and curious. But just like the anatomy drawings, I became obsessed. If I wasn’t hidden in the corner reading science books, I was strategically laid out on the floor within perfect view of any girl who wore a dress to class.

I know that some people got around to playing “Doctor” as kids but I wasn’t one of those people. If anyone had even offered I’m pretty sure that I would have been either too shy or too confused to oblige. It wasn’t until I was 13 that I saw another girl naked in real life. By then, I knew kids who had already had sex. As fascinated as I was by the female body, sex wasn’t a priority. I didn’t even know what I would do with a girl if she wanted to screw me. In all my life I never heard anyone say, “Man, I’m glad I lost my virginity in middle school!”

However, I did meet a girl who wanted to screw me for some reason. My so-called attractiveness had not kicked in yet. I was scrawny, my hair was a mess that curled up at the ends, and my body was wrought with acne. Not really fuck-worthy material but hey, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the beholder was an equally awkward-looking girl named Dakota. Dakota was a year older than me and had metal-rimmed glasses, frizzy brown hair, and a silver cross that hung from her neck at all times. She had been my friend and didn’t really bother me with her crush. She just always sat by me on the bus, acted amazed by everything I did, and insisted on hugging me at school every day. It seemed pretty innocent at first and in a way I enjoyed having a close female friend for once. And no, not because I wanted to see her “mommy parts”.

She did, however, start to bring up random questions for me on the bus. For example, she asked me about what kind of girls I liked and if I had a crush on anyone at school. At this point I knew that she liked me and I didn’t want to hurt her feelings by telling her that I kept an eye out for fully-blossomed cheerleader Amanda Laughlin. I just lied and said I didn’t know. She later asked me if I’d seen anyone naked before.

“You know, in real life,” she clarified nervously.

My mother flashed back into my head for a moment but I took the safe route and shook my head no.

“Have you?” I asked. She shook her head no as well.

The questions continued over the next few days. She asked me what I thought sex was like and if I knew anyone who had already done it. After I answered her she told me that her older sister, who was in high school, had already done it with her boyfriend. She said that she could hear them from her room when her parents weren’t home. Growing up in a very conservative Christian household had, of course, taught her that abstinence was the best way to go about things. But it was becoming evident that the lessons hadn’t resonated well with the two sisters. Dakota whispered to me about sex as a taboo subject, having no idea that my family hadn’t raised me in the same way as hers. Despite this, we were both fascinated and afraid of our sexuality. I could tell I was the first–and only–person she had talked to about it.

One day she got on the bus and seemed to be on edge about something. She was bouncing her foot up and down rapidly after sitting next to me, her knee practically beating the shit out of mine. I asked her what was wrong and she sighed heavily to herself before leaning her head close to me.

“My sister let me borrow her laptop for homework and when I went to type something into the search bar it… it tried to open something else.”

She took a sharp breath and her foot started to jump faster. I was about to ask her what it was when she opened her mouth again:

“A porno website. She was looking at porn,” she whispered.

“What?

That was all I could think to say. I didn’t have my own computer yet and I damn sure wasn’t daring enough to try looking anything up on my mom’s. Dakota continued with her story and I found out that her sister’s internet usage wasn’t the shocking part. Dakota had watched some of the videos herself. Having never watched it, I was curious. She told me that most of it was kind of scary, nothing really like the PG-13 movies suggested. For the next week Dakota started borrowing her sister’s laptop more often to secretly watch videos and talk to me about them. Eventually she found some that weren’t so “animalistic” I guess you could say. I wanted to see for myself but I didn’t know how. If only I had kept up with the kids who found out about watching HBO after 10 PM.

Dakota jumped between feeling shocked, intrigued, disgusted, and aroused by her findings. With the way that she talked about it one might think that she’d discovered a new planet. She couldn’t believe the dynamics there were to sex. She couldn’t stop talking about it. I call myself obsessive but she was a whole new breed of it. I guess that’s what happens when you give someone who was never taught about sex an archive full of biased sexual fantasies. She imagined that the rough, sweaty, hair-pulling, ass-grabbing videos were what her sister and her boyfriend were doing daily. I doubted it though. It’s not like they were being directed or perfectly choreographed with unlimited takes. As I would later find out, sex was everything we thought it was and none of it at the same time. It was a lot of things. It could be a lot of things. But Dakota had tunnel vision and a poor conceptual grasp of sexuality. This was an especially dangerous combination for me; her object of affection.

Our weird little conversations did, admittedly, bring us closer but I was still not romantically interested. We were both on a mountain of sexual development and while I was okay with camping in the valley, she was steady figuring out how to climb to the very top. I thought that our friendship would always exist innocently until one day she passed me a note during class that said: “Meet me in the downstairs hallway outside the girl’s locker rooms. During lunch :)”. When I turned to look at her she simply smiled. I wrote “Ok” on the paper and handed it back.

At 1:15 I was there. The hall was only one way to get into the locker room. The other entrance was from upstairs in the gym and was definitely less discreet. I waited a little bit down the hall so as not to seem so suspicious. I had a pass from my teacher to go to the library that I would use as my alibi if anyone caught me. A minute later Dakota peeked out from the locker room door and waved me inside. I rushed in and she shut the door behind me.

It was completely empty. She pulled me in between a row of lockers and stared intensely at me. It made me a bit uneasy.

“I like you,” she said. I mustered up the strength to not say: “I know“.

“Oh,” I muttered instead. Not much better.

“Do you like me?”

Not really.

“Kinda.”

Middle school romance at its finest. Regardless, her eyes lit up.

“I want to show you something,” she said.

She let go of my hands. I hadn’t even realized she was holding them in the first place. Before I could even get out another word she began pulling her shirt over her head, revealing the white cupless bra underneath. She then pulled off her pants to reveal equally unenticing underwear. She had light, thin hair on her legs but that didn’t bother me. I felt the back of my neck buzzing. What do I do now? Does she want me to touch her? Take off my clothes too? In my fleeting moments of panic she had gotten completely naked. Even her glasses had come off. She stood there and waited for me to say or do something.

“Wow,” I said finally. An Oscar-worthy performance.

No, she wasn’t a Victoria’s Secret model. She wasn’t hideous either. She definitely looked better without glasses though. We both lacked the “desired” shape of our sexes but at least she had boobs growing underneath her frumpy clothes. Still, I was busy staring at her body enough that I didn’t even see the impatience growing in her expression.

“You want me to…?” I asked. I didn’t even know what I was going to finish the sentence with. She shrugged and then nodded quickly. Still confused, I just decided to get undressed too. So there we stood in front of one another. Naked. Just looking. It was more clinical than sexual.

“Your body is nice,” she said. You could cut the tension in the room with a butter knife.

“Yours too.”

I felt something stirring inside of me that I couldn’t identify. It was probably a mix of shock, nervousness, and uncertainty all brewing together. I can’t really say I was aroused. My body certainly wasn’t acting like it. I was a 13-year-old boy, shouldn’t I have been bouncing off the walls with how horny I was? Maybe I was gay and just didn’t realize it yet. I mean, it wouldn’t bother me if I was gay. Was I bi? I don’t think “daddy parts” ever really struck me the same way. Maybe I’m being too picky. I don’t know. Regardless of whatever was misfiring in my brain, Dakota was obviously more into it than I was. It was understandable since she’d liked me since the day that we met. She probably felt like this was the best way of showing it. The old chorus played in my head: “When a mommy and a daddy love each other very much…

Suddenly she jumped on me and pressed her mouth against mine. I wouldn’t call it kissing since she was literally just pushing her lips on top of my own. I felt her soft skin rubbing against me as well as the thick hair she sported down below. She had been sweating.

Dakota then pulled away and looked at me. I couldn’t think of anything else to do but smile at her and pray to her God that she didn’t expect us to have sex right then and there. I knew what she expected sex to be like and I knew damn well that 13-year-old me couldn’t provide it.

“We should get dressed,” I blurted out.

“Oh–right. Class is about to start,” she replied nervously.

We silently put our clothes on again and left the locker room. She kissed me on the cheek before walking back down the hall. It felt better than her first attempt at least. When I got on the bus she was already in the back seat waiting for me. For once, I felt embarrassed to see her. When I sat down she took my hand into her own and held it the entire bus ride. No talk about her sister’s porn or screwing habits today. Just silence as I watched the world pass by outside the window.

Our strange encounter escalated into a weekly ritual. She would pass me a note in class saying something along the lines of: “Locker room? xoxo” and I would of course pass it back to her saying “Ok” or “Sure“. I really didn’t understand why the girl liked me so much. But of course we kept finding ourselves together in the locker room in various stages of undress and of course I never got it up, never even really touched her aside of hugging her when she started “making out” with me. I literally felt like a store mannequin. Just this sexless, impersonal being that stood stone-faced at the mercy of a girl who had an obsession.

Even though I was young and stupid, I still understood that she was a sensitive person and I had convinced myself that her feelings were better off untamed, both because I was afraid of them and because I pitied her. I’m sure she saw how her older sister got to be with her boyfriend behind the scenes and felt jealous of the fact that she got to revel in everything their parents had told them not to do. I was probably closer to liking Dakota before we even started the whole naked locker room hugging sessions. Was she taking advantage of me? Probably. I felt more apathetic and inconvenienced about it than anything, but then things just started getting worse between us.

The 5th time we were about to get undressed, we almost got caught. We didn’t know that the ladies’ basketball team was having practice in the gym that day and right before I could even get my shirt off we heard the upstairs door open. For some dumb reason we went to the side of the locker room that was opposite the door leading into the hallway so a swift escape wasn’t really an option. Dakota darted into a bathroom stall because she was obviously allowed to be there. I, on the other hand, needed to find a real place to hide. As the girls’ footsteps came down the stairs I panicked. There were full-length lockers lining one of the walls so I picked one that didn’t have a lock on it and climbed inside, praying that they wouldn’t need to come over and open it. The girl’s team flooded the locker rooms with bright chatter and shuffling sneakers. I was almost too scared to breathe. They started opening up their lockers, all of which were the ones away from the wall. Then they started to change out of their gym clothes and back into their normal ones. I started breathing again. My skin erupted in goosebumps. I guess this is where it starts.

Maybe it was because I was being served a visual buffet of girls who were, to be honest, far better-looking than Dakota. Maybe it’s because they were wearing cute underwear instead of Hane’s cotton brief panties from Walmart. Maybe it was because they weren’t obsessed with me, let alone aware of me. Or maybe it was because I knew I was doing something wrong, that I was intently watching these girls getting undressed without them knowing. Whatever it was that kept me more attentive to these girls, who weren’t even looking at me, than to the girl who practically threw herself at me constantly, it had me hooked. I was the little boy on the floor again looking up girl’s skirts. I was feeling everything that I had never felt with Dakota and I loved it.

I knew my sexual desire had to be lounging around somewhere, it just needed to be ignited. The only bad part about it was that it just made my meetings with Dakota even more unappealing. She must have been able to tell because I had still never shown arousal at seeing her naked. She took this extremely personally–as she should have–and decided to literally take matters into her own hands.

“You never get anything,” she complained one day after kissing me in the locker room.

“What are you talking about?” I asked, feigning innocence.

“Boys are supposed to get big when they’re… y’know…”

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

What was I sorry for? My Dakota-specific erectile dysfunction? I had gotten used to apologizing to her in order to avoid an argument. Up until this point it had worked well because we’d never had one. That must be the mannequin in me again. I had hoped that this would be an excuse for us to cut off our “date” early and reached down to pull up my pants when she stopped me. She held her hand on my chest and looked at me intensely, her lips parting slightly. Her fingertips drew down my chest and passed my navel. I inhaled sharply and my muscles tensed. Her eyes kept darting up and down my body, her fingers still dragging slowly down to my pelvis. I could have sworn I looked scared but somewhere in her mind she must have thought that maybe I was finally going to give her what she wanted. She pressed her palm down and grabbed me, moving her hands with ill tempo against my skin. I turned my head slightly and closed my eyes, trying to hide my discomfort. My body was not keen on reacting to the affair but for a few seconds it seemed like my blood had rushed down, tried to fruition me, changed its mind, and rushed back up to my heart again. Dakota’s eyes widened in those moments before becoming heavily-lidded once again. Her hand dropped pathetically to her side and I fell limp. I mouthed an apology to her, got dressed, and went back to class. The pornography of our lives.

She kept waiting for us to have sex and it just wasn’t gonna happen. Instead, I started paying attention to the announcements for when the basketball team would be using the gym during lunch so that I could sneak inside and watch them. It was almost therapeutic for me, especially after weeks of feeling stagnant with Dakota. I was too scared to do anything other than look so I just stood there dealing with the uncomfortable bulge inside of my pants, the bulge Dakota could never inspire. I’d have to wait until after school to relieve the ache and even that was difficult due to Dakota’s boner-killing behavior on the bus. She didn’t like that I had started turning down her invitations to the locker room. She didn’t know why, which was good, but was furious with assumptions. When she didn’t reach for my hand on the bus one day I knew that something had finally become unhinged.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, pretending to be concerned.

“Why don’t you like me anymore?” she asked bluntly. Oh my god, I thought to myself.

“I do like you, I just don’t wanna get caught in the locker room,” I lied. I hoped she wasn’t yet so daring as to start inviting me over to her house.

“You just seem… distant. It’s not the same anymore.”

Anymore? She really did live her life as a fantasy. Our sad attempts at turning each other on was hardly the passionate romance one would yearn for. I’m pretty sure that after this she would claim that her first boyfriend “used her for sex”, or naked hugging, or whatever. She was the orb weaver here and I was just trapped in her web. Even if I had turned her down before that shit started it would have still ended up like this: A disaster.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know what to tell you,” I said weakly. This only pissed her off.

“You’re such a jerk!” she said. “We’re over, don’t even bother talking to me anymore!”

And with that, she stood up and moved to a seat away from me. I slumped down, mostly unaffected, and gazed out the window again. I felt bad that this was going to be the memory of our first sexual experience. She just wanted to be like her sister, she didn’t understand how things really worked. We did have one thing in common though: We found pleasure in things that we shouldn’t have.

My disenchanting last year of middle school wouldn’t stop me from turning things around in high school. I felt the same anxiety that all freshmen do but I was ready to stop being the awkward nobody I had been before, partially because I was scared of ending up like Dakota. I joined the football team like my dad always wanted me to and instantly found my clique. It was nice to have normal conversations with the guys again. It was nice to not have someone living in my shadow.

Football helped me become more athletic and gave me something to do inside and outside of school. I wasn’t worried about girls, I wasn’t worried about my appearance, I was just enjoying the life of a normal 14-year-old boy. They handed out laptops to everyone at my school as part of a new district program to keep up with the digitization of everything. We were all super excited to have our own computers and it became normal to see a classroom full of students with their laptops at their desks. As part of my “revolution” I also signed up for a photography class as an art elective. My mom took me to the store that week to buy me my own camera. After an uneventful summer I was ready to kick off my first year of high school right.

But it didn’t take long for my perversions to return to me. A few weeks into school I was up in my room doing homework. It was late but I was wide awake and just about to finish everything when I felt a familiar ache crawling up my legs. I thought back to the girls in the locker room and those times Dakota talked about what she’d seen on her sister’s laptop. I shifted uncomfortably in my bed. After saving my documents I got up, turned the lights off, and laid back down with my laptop. I opened a private window in my browser. Then I stopped.

What now? I didn’t want to be obvious and just type “porn” into Google. The school monitored our usage and had sites like YouTube blocked let alone the dirty ones. Wikipedia had nudity but I wasn’t going to regress back to my childhood days of looking at clinical images of genitalia either. That’s when I remembered that the kids at school used proxies all the time to get on video sites and online games. The tech guys blocked the proxies as they became popular but somebody always found a new one. I sat for a few minutes trying to think of the most recent one people were using. It finally came to me and I typed it into the address bar.

Boom. Anonymous surfing activated. There was a rumor that they recorded our screens at all times but the computer savvy kids talked about the many reasons why that would be impractical. The placebo effect worked just fine for most people anyway. Regardless, I wasn’t the only kid doing this. I wasn’t looking up bomb schematics, I just wanted to get off. First, I needed to find a website that wouldn’t be littered with viruses. Check. Next, after taking in the shock of the obscenities on the home page, I had to actually find what I wanted.

Locker room, I typed.

Dozens of pages of results came up. There was something for everybody. I started watching a few minutes of different videos trying to find one that I particularly liked. There were some where it was just that, women changing in the locker room. Other ones were girls screwing each other after changing in the locker rooms. There was a lot of “coach and cheerleader” themed stuff. There were videos where the guy who was secretly watching them got caught, leading the girl to do what anyone would in that situation: Fuck him. I liked at least one thing about every video. My horrific affairs of body-mashing with Dakota were a distant memory now. When I’d indulged myself enough for the night, I went to bed feeling a bit more secure in my sexuality. There were lots of people who were into what I was into and that made me feel alright.

With my sex drive reactivated, I started to pay more attention to the girls around me again. I also got around to doing more “guy talk” which was way less awkward and taboo than it had ever felt before. It was also pleasantly more vulgar because although Dakota talked about sex I might as well have been listening to a 4th grader. “Doing it” turned into “Fucking“, “Vagina” became “Pussy“, “Boobs” became “Tits” and so on. Not to mention, this was high school and the girls were way hotter. One of my new buddies told me to stop by the gym after school one day and I was blessed with the sight of the varsity volleyball team practicing in those infamous short-shorts. Those grown, fully-developed young women put the girls I saw back in middle school to shame.

Watching porn on my laptop was fun and all for awhile but I started to long for the actual experience. Not just having sex with girls but of observing them. I started considering the locker room thing again. I didn’t know the layout of their locker rooms though or the gym schedule. I could probably find out but being so new to this school and building made me nervous. On top of that, I felt wrong for being aroused by it. Watching it on my screen at home was one thing. Invading the privacy of someone else was another. I couldn’t use the “pure curiosity” excuse forever so I decided that it was best that I keep my appetites online. Ironically, this is what would fuck me over a few years later.

In class I was doing great. My grades were always up and my photographer teacher recommended me to the yearbook crew. I basically entered an apprenticeship with one of the senior photographers and he started sending me on small assignments if I finished my photo class work early. I enjoyed hanging around the older kids. Seeing them impressed with a measly freshman made me feel accomplished. They even gave me my own press badge and lanyard that stated I was with the yearbook team. Fate seemed to be playing in my favor when one of them asked me to shoot the girl’s volleyball team after school one day.

“I have to babysit today so I can’t do it,” she said. “Jason told me you’d be up for it.”

“Oh well, yeah! For sure,” I said. I could have jumped with joy but then she’d probably retract her offer.

“You’re a lifesaver. Just drop them on this flash drive when you’re done. I’ll find you again tomorrow.”

She handed me a white flash drive and hurried off. I turned it over in my hands several times before pocketing it. When the final bell rang I headed to my locker to get my camera and lanyard. I walked back into the gym where nervousness and excitement churned in my stomach again. I brought my laptop with me so that I could busy myself while waiting for the game to start. I emailed my mom and told her that I would need a ride after the game. The bleachers finally started filling up with family and friends of the players. The girls themselves came into the gym soon after. I put my laptop away and moved to the floor of the gym. Even with my yearbook pass hanging around my neck and a DSLR in my hand, I felt like I was about to intrude on them. They’d never seen me shooting pictures before and I wasn’t well-known at school anyway. I tried to shake the feeling before the game started.

My nerves only got worse once the match began. I even became self-conscious of the sound of my shutter. A few minutes in I realized that nobody was even paying attention to me because they were caught up in the excitement of the game. Plus, I was already expected to be there since I was with the yearbook. The anxiety finally fluttered away to make room for the desires that I had felt before. With their tiny shorts and tight T-shirts, this was the closest I was going to get to seeing them nude. I started snapping away, taking advantage of my zoom lens to catch the more enticing parts of them up close. One of them in particular had me especially interested. She was a popular senior, one who seemed to make her rounds in all of the social circles. She had long blonde hair, an amazing body, and a cute face. Everything she did caught my attention, from the way she smiled after a good play to the way her full breasts bounced when she moved. Even the way she rocked back and forth beneath the net, waiting to send the ball back to the other side made my spine tingle. She was the new Amanda Laughlin. Number 17. I almost got lost taking pictures of her and had to re-ground myself in order to focus on getting the shots that yearbook wanted.

When my mom picked me up after the game she asked me if she could see some of the pictures. I told her that I needed to edit them first and she laughed it off, saying that I was already talking like a photographer. Thank god she didn’t press the issue. Once I got home I went straight to my room, pulled out my laptop, and started transferring the pictures over. I created a hidden folder on the computer just for the pictures I planned on keeping for myself. I put the ones that yearbook wanted on the flash drive before I deleted the pictures from the camera. Now it was just me and my imagination.

I went through the photos several times before attempting to find her look-alike online. The closest I got was a girl pretending to be a cheerleader but that was fine by me. Was this wrong? I don’t know. It couldn’t have been as wrong as being a Peeping Tom. I didn’t feel like I was hurting anybody but I also didn’t feel like I was taking the moral high ground either. Was I just a freshman who had the hots for a senior? Or was I harboring something else?

As one could assume, I didn’t get caught by Number 17 and offered hot sex as “punishment” at any point during my freshman year. I kept shooting sports for yearbook, kept close-ups of the girls I fancied, and kept looking forward to indulging my fantasies after every game. No one ever thought I acted weird or creepy at school. Like I said, I grew into a very likable guy. But just when I thought my sexual appetite couldn’t get any worse, someone leaked nudes of one of the volleyball players to the whole school.

Sadly, it wasn’t Number 17. But it was her equally attractive teammate, Number 15. I thought it was odd one day when I got on my school email and saw something with the subject line: “Revenge is a BITCH!!!“. Very atypical. Maybe one of our teachers had finally gotten fed up and flunked everyone. As humorous as that would be however, there was no way this wasn’t from a daring student. When I clicked on the email it immediately opened up to seven naked photos. I recognized the girl’s face instantly. The pictures weren’t that bad, it’s not like she was laying spread eagle on a bed or something. Most of them were just of her in front of the mirror in her room topless or showing off how her ass looked in a thong. The others were just close-ups of her tits. I felt a heat creeping up the back of my neck as I looked at them. I felt abashed because she was someone I regularly shot at the games but at the same time I could feel a familiar ache manifesting in my pelvis. My brain didn’t take long to start superimposing her pictures with the porn I’d been watching. I should have just deleted the email and moved on but I knew damn well that wasn’t happening. I saved the pictures into the secret folder on my computer and opened a proxy, ready to indulge in my imagination for the evening.

Those pictures fueled me for awhile. It was just another thing that I wasn’t supposed to see, another taboo that aroused me more than anything else. Whoever sent those photos was definitely in the wrong for it but I was too busy being a seedy freshman to care. The school erupted with gossip for the next few days and the principal made us all attend an assembly on cyber-bullying and sexual harassment. The girl’s ex, who sent the photos, was expelled. Anyone else caught being rude to her was threatened with suspension. Had she not been 18 the laws for child pornography would have been another thing for administration to deal with.

Every time someone talked about it I felt my heart beating a little faster. Of course no one knew what I did when I got home but I still felt suspect. Despite the fact that some guys bragged openly about jacking off to her pictures, I would never open my mouth about it. I wasn’t just jacking off to her pictures. I was putting my mind in a nightly frenzy imagining dirty things being done to her. I was hoping that maybe there would be a “Revenge is a BITCH!!!!: Round 2“. I knew it was fucked up. That’s why I liked it so much. But I kept wanting more. I wanted to see her like that in person without her knowing. I wanted to watch her get undressed. I wanted to take pictures of  her like that. People didn’t get tired of talking about it until the end of the school year and it was driving me crazy. It sucked that I had to settle for my place in the world. I couldn’t be some stranger that she fucked hard after she caught him spying on her. I had to be okay with being the “nice freshman kid” taking photos for the yearbook. At least for now.

The summer gave me enough time to cool off on my obsessions with the volleyball team. By the time I was 15 I was starting to actually benefit from puberty. I was gaining muscle from playing sports and cared to get a decent haircut and see a dermatologist for my acne problem. Say hello to the semi-attractive sophomore. Someone finally got a crush on me again and this time around it was a girl that I wouldn’t mind dating. Her name was Willow.

Willow was a lovely girl with dark porcelain-smooth skin and brown eyes. She sat beside me in English class and we became fast friends. Her crush on me wasn’t as obvious as Dakota’s, but having clicked so well with her I got the ominous feeling that something had to be there. I’m sure that we knew we were attracted to one another for awhile but existed in a state of contentment until one of us made a move. Up until I met her I thought that I had a “type” but I suppose sexual chemistry didn’t always discriminate. Besides, it went beyond her appearance. She was really nice to every body and was quick to toss out a joke to make someone laugh during a bad day. Now that I liked a girl that was within reach, I didn’t know what to do.

The first problem was that we never had any alone time to really let our feelings develop. She played tennis and I had either yearbook or football going on after school. I think she was too shy to invite me to hang out over the weekend. I ended up settling for our daily flirtations and didn’t expect it to go any further than that. My plans changed when I got a smartphone for Christmas. I could finally give her my number and at least text her after school. She stayed up late like I did so we started talking and getting more personal with one another. Hell, I was so interested in talking to her that I even cut down on my porn consumption in order to stay up late and text. We talked about all of our passions except for sex. Willow was an avid painter and regularly texted me photos of her works-in-progress. In return, I shared the creative photography that I’d done in class. The innocence of everything made me feel humble.

you should take photos of me sometime 😀” she texted me one day. I knew what kind of photos she was thinking of and it differed from the kind that I usually took. Still, I wasn’t gonna say no. Maybe this was our chance.

I told my mom that I had a friend I was going to take portraits of that weekend. My mom, who was so supportive of me, instantly agreed to give me a ride to the park by Willow’s house. It was spring time and everything was finally coming to a bloom. When she dropped me off I already saw Willow there waiting for me at the swing set. She waved and my mom waved back, commenting on how pretty she was.

“So that’s your friend huh?” said my mother slyly.

Mooooom,” I groaned.

She laughed and told me to text her when I was done. There were a lot of people at the park that day so Willow took me to a spot where we could do the photo shoot undisturbed. It was by a creek in a clearing of trees that let in just the perfect amount of light. Willow had worn a nice dress especially for the occasion. Before I started to take pictures I felt a coyness come over me again. When she asked me what was wrong I just pretended to be flustered about my camera settings. I finally looked at Willow through the lens of my camera. I didn’t see a fetish or a fantasy. I only saw her. My beautiful friend. The one girl who it would be an honor just to kiss.

After the shoot we sat together at a park bench to look over the photos. We laughed at the ones where she had blinked halfway or made a funny face. I noticed her leg touching mine and how close she was leaning into me while we looked at my camera. She must have realized it at the same time as I did. In the moment that our eyes met with electrifying intensity we both knew that it was safe to let the walls come down. I took a leap of faith and kissed her right then. Fireworks deployed in my stomach as she kissed me back. Her lips felt so right. This should have been my first kiss. Fuck it. As far as I’m concerned, it was.

I leaned closer to her and let my hand rest on top of her thigh. She raised her other hand to the side of my face. When we pulled away from each other her eyes were wide and glossy, staring at me. She suddenly began giggling and I joined in with her.

“Who said you could do that?” she asked, amused.

“Me,” I replied with a grin.

She looked away from me, still smiling. I watched her bite her bottom lip.

“So… you like me huh?” she asked.

“Yeah, yeah I do.”

I’m glad I didn’t hesitate. She looked at me.

“Good.”

Her lips collided with mine and I was happy to just be kissing her again. I didn’t want to strip naked. I didn’t want to fuck her. I didn’t know what it was about Willow that made me relax. Maybe it was the whole innocence of our friendship and the fact that she was probably waiting for me to make the first move before doing anything rash. Whatever it was, I liked it. I liked her. She was refreshing to me and I would be careful not to ruin it.

She wanted to walk around the park before my mom came to pick me up, so we did. She took my arm as we went down a quiet trail that looped back around the creek and over a bridge. Before we came back into the open, I stopped her for another kiss. I could feel her smiling in the middle of it. She would walk home after that and when I got into my mom’s car I had to put in extra effort to seem cool and apathetic. I was in the dreaded “You’re such a handsome young man, the girls must be all over you at school!” stage with my family and the last thing I needed was for it to get any worse. My parents would find out eventually. It was only day one after all.

We didn’t immediately go into a full-on relationship. We didn’t even show any PDA at school like so many of the other kids were keen on doing. This didn’t bother either of us. We just flirted a lot more and couldn’t stop smiling when we were in each other’s presence. At night, our texts were more ambitious and we started planning times to see each other alone. There weren’t too many options after school at first so we started using our study hour to go to the library together. It was a big library and there were plenty of places to find privacy while the librarians sat up front. If people could get away with fucking in there I was pretty sure that we could get away with just cuddling and kissing. And we did; Every study period we would meet up at the library, pick out a few books to share, find a random secluded spot, and get comfortable. They provided pillows and bean bags to students who didn’t want to sit in the hard plastic chairs so we’d always grab a couple to lean against while we sat on the floor. I usually held the book open while she leaned against me, head on my shoulder and legs against mine. For that peaceful hour we’d sit, engrossed in the books that we’d chosen and discussing nearly every topic under the sun. She picked out books about her favorite artists and I showed her books about technology and photography. We’d have intermissions of kissing and I dared my hands to explore beyond her waist, hips, and thighs but they never would. Everything in the formula was right except the one thing that hadn’t come up yet: Sex.

I couldn’t help but wonder about having sex with Willow. Hell, even just seeing and touching more than what I was used to would have been nice. But my encounters with Dakota always lingered in the back of my mind whenever I fantasized about Willow. Of course they were absent when I was thinking about women I’d never know personally which made it even more frustrating. I didn’t want Willow and I to just strip down in front of each other, stare for awhile, and then lay down and have missionary sex. I was all about the buildup, the anticipation, the unknowingness of what would happen next. Maybe most kids my age were content with bunny humping but I wasn’t.

Willow eventually ended up spilling the beans to her parents that she had a boyfriend now. What I assumed would be a disaster actually turned into a blessing in disguise. In a stroke of irony they invited me to their church so that we could all meet each other formally. I was nervous, not only from the whole “meet the parents” thing but about attending a church service. My parents didn’t go to church and usually filled their weekends up with other social hobbies. My dad thought it was a good idea that I at least try it out and see what I think. I wasn’t really interested. I’d done my research into religion enough to know that I wasn’t going to become a Christian anytime soon. But hey, I respected Willow’s beliefs and I wanted to make a good impression on her parents.

That Sunday my mom tried convincing me to wear slacks and a polo to the chapel. I felt silly and uncomfortable in them so I begged her for a compromise. She finally agreed to let me leave with jeans and a nice button front shirt. I thanked the God I was about to meet in a few minutes. My mother drove me to the church and dropped me off. I saw Willow waiting outside in a nice dark blue dress. She waved me over to her and took my arm as I got close.

“You look nice,” she said sweetly.

“So do you. I wasn’t sure what to wear, my mom was fussing over me all morning.”

“My mom does that too, it’s so lame.”

For real.”

She led me into the church as other people filed in behind us. Her parents were seated towards the middle pews and I was thankful that I wouldn’t have to sit in the front. My dad warned me that sometimes they ask for newcomers to stand up and announce themselves, to which I got good practice praying that it wouldn’t happen. We moved down to our seats and her parents stood up to greet me. I shook their hands firmly and smiled. I wondered if this was how Dakota’s unfortunate future boyfriend would meet her parents.

“Good to meet you young man,” her father said, shaking my hand firmly. “First time?”

I froze for a moment. I didn’t want to draw this out longer than I needed to. If I said I had never been to church before, I expected a bad mark in their books. I wanted to seem like the kind of boy they’d want for their daughter even if I didn’t actually fit the bill. I was a good person, I’d never purposely hurt her. That’s good enough isn’t it?

“No, not quite,” I said.

Willow’s mother, who she obviously got her good looks from, reached to shake my hand too before her husband could inquire further.

“Well we’re glad you could come honey. How about we all have a seat?”

The nerves in my spine were still buzzing but her welcoming smile made me feel a little better. We all sat together in the pews with Willow to my right and her mother and father to my left. More people were finding their seats and I watched the pastor wander among the front rows sharing small talk with his most familiar followers. Willow’s mother turned and began asking me about my photography. She told me that she loved the photos I took of her daughter and that I had a real God-given talent. I appreciated the admiration and smiled nervously as we talked. I was still getting used to adults recognizing my work.

When the service finally began I actually didn’t find it to be as “preachy” as I expected it to be. I mean, of course the pastor was preaching but I never felt unwelcome during my stay. He covered the topics of human compassion and how a little kindness can go a long way. His words resonated with me, even if he threw in a few bible verses and mentions of God’s hand in the inner-workings of the universe. I didn’t feel like I had to literally believe in God in order to learn something from the service. The pastor never once spoke ill of anyone, stating that denouncement and hatred are some of the most toxic spiritual paths a person can take. Willow gingerly placed her hand in mine for the duration of it. By the end I was actually glad that I got to go. Did I believe that there was only one invisible man in the sky who made the whole universe in seven days? No, but I believed in the lessons that the pastor was trying to teach. Again, I felt like that was all that really mattered. If God is as forgiving as he said he was then I had nothing to worry about. I’m sure He understands.

Willow’s parents thanked me again for coming and I told them that I actually enjoyed myself. They went to go get the car and left Willow and I alone for a couple of minutes to say our goodbyes.

“Did you really like it?” she asked skeptically.

“Yeah really. Felt more like a positivity seminar than anything,” I said.

“Our pastor is great, he likes being more accessible to people than some of the other churches do. I like it.”

I do too,” I smiled. “So, do your parents find me decent?”

Obviously, are you kidding me?”

I saw them pulling their car around the church. I was too nervous to kiss Willow in front of her parents so I just hugged her and said goodbye. My mom arrived shortly after that to pick me up and we talked the whole car ride about how it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was gonna be. My mom told me I was welcome to go to church anytime but I couldn’t really see myself going without Willow. It was just another thing that we shared between us and I liked it that way. It wouldn’t feel the same without her sitting there holding my hand.

Things between Willow and I only kept getting better. I’d go to church with her family every other Sunday and we both kept up with our own hobbies. We’d text or call each other throughout the night and looked forward to our quiet time in the library. As the end of the year crept closer her parents even became comfortable with letting me come over during the day to hang out in her room. Her father only made one comment about “leaving some space for the holy spirit” between us but that was the only mention of our intimacy, and even then he said it light-heartedly. Willow told me later that her mom privately admitted to having sex with Willow’s dad before marriage. She told her that while it was best to wait until marriage that sometimes life plays out differently. From what Willow said I guess her mom had a less conservative view on sex than her father.

Our make out sessions got a bit more ambitious while we were in her room. Sure we had to listen out for her parents and I could feel my heart almost thumping through my chest from going further and further each time but I never once felt uncomfortable. Willow and I had a foundation to lay on. We were always moving at the same speed and it just made things way easier. We found a way to communicate without words, just light touches and steady gazes. If anything she started taking the reigns more than I did. She was braver than I was and I saw her confidence shoot through the roof. That was the sexiest thing about her.

Dakota couldn’t even block my fantasies about Willow anymore. I stopped remembering the middle school locker room, stopped looking through those risqué photos I took, and stopped searching for blondes with big tits to get off to. When I did watch porn I started thinking about Willow more than the girl I was watching. It didn’t help that she kept teasing me whenever we were at her house, pouncing on me and straddling my hips as if I didn’t know what she was up to. I could feel that it was going to happen soon. It had to. We were just waiting for the right moment.

As if the world could hear our silent cries for opportunity we finally had it; a chance to fly through all the bases. Her parents had gone out early for the evening to have dinner at some fancy new place downtown. Willow, who had inherited her parent’s ability to have good conversation for hours, knew that they’d be gone for awhile. That day at school she came up with a plan for us to meet up at her house and have some real alone time. I’d tell my mom that I was staying after school for yearbook and that we were taking a late bus pass to the park, the one conveniently close to Willow’s house, to take pictures for an article about local hangout spots. After I got there I’d go straight to her house instead, sneak in once the coast was clear, hopefully fool around a little, and then go back to the park and ask my mom to pick me up. She was confident that the plan would work flawlessly and luckily for us it did.

When I got off the bus at the park I waited for Willow to text me and let me know when her parents left. A few minutes later she gave me the green light to start walking on over to her place. It was only a five minute journey until I was at her back door, nervous as hell for the first time in a long time. She opened the door with a mischievous grin across her face and pulled me in by the front of my shirt. I fell into a brief, deep kiss with her before she pushed me back again.

“Glad you could make it,” she said, grinning.

Me too.”

Yep, this was it. It was gonna happen. I followed her upstairs and into her room. I sat on her bed and she closed the door behind us. After that she leaned her back against it and looked at me, waiting for a subtle hint to approach. I reclined myself back to my elbows and started to look her up and down. She was in her loungewear; a pair of black short shorts and a tank top. It complimented her body well, a body that I knew was awesome but looked even better when she was poised with anticipation at a distance. I took one deep breath and my chest rose higher and higher before deflating again. My lips came apart as the air released. It was her cue.

She was on top of me, kissing me at different paces until I took control of the speed. My hands were no longer hesitant to explore. Her own fingers dug through my hair and grasped my back. Next thing I knew she was pulling my shirt over my head and I was quick to help remove hers, the thin fabric slipping off her shoulders with ease before being tossed aside on the ground.

Holy shit, I thought. This is happening. This is really happening.

Willow pushed me back against the bed and stopped for a moment to listen for any noise. Silence. Her parents had only just left twenty minutes ago and it took at least thirty to get to the place they were going to eat. Willow looked back at me and flashed me that beautiful smile. Okay, now the nerves are kicking in.

In a few minutes we were both down to our underwear and I was on top of her. We were taking a few moments to breathe and realize what we were about to do. My arousal was more obvious than ever at this point and I could tell that she noticed. I kept hoping that nothing would go wrong now. I was so close. We were so close. But before I could even dare to take off the rest of her clothes, I had to stop and remember the obvious precaution; Condoms.

Willow must have noticed me biting my lip and thinking about something a bit less sexy. Of course I was an idiot and forgot to bring any but Willow was good at reading my mind. Silently, she got off of the bed and went over to her closet. I listened to her rustling around in a bag for a few seconds before returning to me. In her hand was a condom in a transparent package.

“From the health fair at school,” she said simply.

“Oh, right. Yeah,” I muttered.

A few weeks earlier we had a big health fair in the gym and there was a booth about sexual health that was handing out multi-colored condoms and pamphlets about safe sex, consent, pregnancy, and the like. A lot of kids just snickered and grabbed a few to blow up into balloons and throw them around the hallways. We were given tote bags to grab stuff from each health booth and I could tell which guys were honestly stocking up for themselves. Smart girls like Willow weren’t embarrassed to grab some too. I’m just glad she didn’t grab a silly color like purple or green.

Willow handed the condom to me and gently pressed me back down on the mattress. She crawled over me and rested on top of my hips. As I opened the package she took off her bra and slowly leaned to the side to remove her underwear. As I stared at her gorgeous, naked body she reached her fingers into my waistband and looked back into my eyes. I gave her a nod and she took them off. I was now naked with a girl again only this time I was really turned on. I slipped the condom on and she moved over me again, kissing my lips gently. This is it: The moment of truth.

If I was to ask my guy friends about how their first time went there would be two answers: The first answer would be “awesome” because they just fucked the girl for three minutes before climaxing and subsequently slumping over and falling asleep.  The second answer would be “fucking awful” because the girl couldn’t stay turned on–probably from the guy’s inexperience–or they couldn’t get passed their performance anxiety. Or even worse; they got caught. If one of them were to ask me how my first time went I would probably tell them “pretty damn good“.

It didn’t go without a hitch. I mean, most people’s don’t. But it wasn’t as bad as some of the stories I heard floating around school. In fact, it wasn’t bad at all. I was already expecting intermissions while Willow and I got used to each other’s bodies or while we tried to figure out which position to be in. Unlike a lot of the guys who watched porn in my grade I wasn’t trying to do all that stuff the first time. That’s why a lot of them fucked up and disappointed someone. No, I needed to pay attention to what Willow wanted. When she wanted to go slow, I went slow. When she wanted me to move my hands somewhere else I’d oblige. There was nothing else I could think about but her. I knew sex was distracting but I didn’t know it made time stand still.

When it was all said and done we laid together, still naked, under the blankets. As much as I wanted to I knew I couldn’t fall asleep. I had to get back to the park before my mom got suspicious of anything. There was a brief and awkward moment while we debated on what to do with the condom but Willow figured if I just threw it away in her room she could just take the trash right out to the curb after I left. Her parents weren’t going to go through it or anything so I wasn’t worried. We made out again before I left and started walking back to the park. I felt relaxed as hell but more importantly I was happy that it went about as good as it could have, being our first time and all. My mom picked me up from the park and didn’t suspect a thing. When I got home I checked my phone again to find a sweet message from Willow on it. I texted her back with equal sappiness as I laid back down on my own bed. I’ll never forget the feeling I had that night. The feeling as if nothing at all could go wrong.

But of course things in my life can’t just go the way they’re supposed to. No, that would make it too easy. I was on cloud nine with Willow. We were so compatible with one another in every way. We still hadn’t fought or argued about anything. I had a clear and level head knowing that she was my girlfriend and that she was proud to have me too. We made plans for the summer and into the next school year as well. She became my muse and loved modeling for my photos just as much as I loved taking them. Sex just became more natural as time went on despite me having to sneak over to her house to do it. Willow was pretty much everything I could want in a girl. While everyone else got caught up in their high school drama, we were coasting along in the background.  I should have known better than to think I was immune to life’s fuck ups.

Finals were over and the end of the school year made the air thick with anticipation. As a gift for making it through another year my parents had gotten me my own personal laptop to use since we were going to be checking in the school computers that week. Willow was over at my place hanging out while I moved my school files on to my new computer. I took a break to turn on the TV and find something for us to watch together. She sat on the bed and placed my computer in her lap.

“Can I look through the photos you took of me yesterday?” she asked.

“Sure, go ahead,” I replied. As I scrolled through my TV options I listened to her click around on the computer for a couple minutes. Then I heard her stop.

What the hell is this?” she said sharply.

The tone in her voice alone was enough to make my heart sink. I didn’t even know what she was talking about yet but it was as if my body could already sense it.

“The hell is what?” I stood up and joined her on the bed. Every blood vessel in my body froze over.

The pictures. The naked pictures of Number 15. And if that wasn’t bad enough, below them were the close-up pictures of Number 17 and the rest of the volleyball team from when I used to shoot at their games. There was no playing off photos that were explicitly cropped and zoomed in to their tits and asses, nor was there playing off the fact that Number 15 and 17 had a disproportionate amount of pictures taken of them in general. The nudes were just icing on the cake. There was a fucking program on my new computer that gathered all of my transferred photos, hidden folder or not, and compiled them together. I hadn’t opened them in so long that I had honestly forgotten they were still there. Of course they show up at the absolute worst possible time.

Willow was still staring at me and waiting for an answer. I knew I didn’t have long to do damage control.

“That’s not–it’s–look at the date. It’s not even recent okay and I’m—”

“A pervert? Because this is really messed up and I don’t….I don’t even want to hear it,” she tossed the laptop to the side and began standing up. I grasped desperately for her hand.

Please you have to listen to me. Those aren’t—someone put those there. I didn’t take pictures like that I just–”

“Doesn’t change the fact that you’ve got like fifteen photos of me on your computer but a hundred of some random blonde girls.”

Fuck, I thought. I was fucked.

“Just hear me out for a second!”

She ripped her hand away from mine and went to the door. She held the doorknob and looked back at me, sadness and anger blazing in her eyes.

“I really thought you were special. I thought I was falling in love with you, you know,” she said. “But you’re just like every other guy.”

And with that, she walked out and slammed the door. I glared over at the gleaming face of Number 15 as she smiled topless in her mirror. I wanted to punch a hole through my screen. No, that wouldn’t help anything at all. Then I’d just be single with a broken laptop. I finally just got up and stormed out the door, hoping that Willow hadn’t already made it outside. As I flew down the stairs I passed my mom who asked me what was going on with Willow. I simply ignored her and headed straight out the front door. Willow was walking quickly down the street and I had to sprint to catch up with her.

“Willow!” I yelled. She glanced back briefly before turning and speeding up again. I ran fast enough to reach her before she could get too far.

Get away from me! I don’t want to talk to you. I don’t want to see you!” she shouted, tears flowing from her eyes. I tried to reach for her hands but she continued to pull away.

“That shit was before we even met!”

“Yeah, I know! I heard all about Megan and her nudes last year. You think I’m stupid? Every guy had a crush on her, they all talked about how hot she was and how they kept her pics. I never imagined that you would be one of them.”

“You’re acting like I’ve been cheating on you with her! I didn’t even know that stuff was still on my laptop!”

“What about everything else huh? Nice to see how you put your camera to use when I wasn’t around.”

“We are not breaking up over this Willow, this is ridiculous.”

“I don’t have anything else to say to you,” she replied coldly.

That’s when I stopped. I stopped reaching for her, stopped thinking of the next thing to say, stopped keeping pace with her. I just stood there as she looked at me; her first boyfriend, her first time, and her first breakup. It was like Dakota all over again, only Willow was actually worth a fuck to keep around. But I knew that we were both fifteen and our feelings were more subject to change. I knew that Willow was hurt because maybe she thought she wasn’t pretty enough or that I prefer blonde white girls in skimpy outfits to someone like her. I could have told her a million times over that she was wrong but she’d never believe it. I can’t blame her entirely, I mean from the surface I knew exactly what it looked like. She was heated right now and there was no calming her down. I had to let her make the decision on her own.

So I watched her walk away as she called her mom and told her to pick her up at the Sonic down the road. I stood there, waiting for her to turn back at least once, but she never did. When I gave up and walked back home my mom was waiting outside for me. She started asking questions before she saw the pissed off look on my face. Thankfully she just let me go up to my room after that. I deleted all the pictures of Number 15 and the volleyball team off of the computer. After the rest of my files transferred I laid down and tried going to sleep even though it was only 5 PM. I was tired of thinking and feeling for the day.

When I woke up I was desperately hoping that Willow had texted me while I was asleep but there was nothing. I sent her a couple of apologies but she never replied. At school she ignored me completely and I knew that all of our plans for the summer were doomed. When she finally did reply to me all it said was:

Pls stop texting me. its over, we’re not friends.”

Ouch. Now this turned into my first heartbreak. At least I didn’t have a whole semester of school left to deal with our awkward glances and the freshly-built barrier between us. I eventually told my mom that Willow thought I liked another girl and got mad, that’s why we broke up. She was of course very consoling to me about the whole thing. I didn’t talk to Willow again after that last text message. It was better that I not torture myself about the whole thing. In a couple months I was going to turn 16 and after that I’d be starting another school year as a junior. The world wasn’t over for me and I’d probably find someone else. It was just really hard to believe after losing a first love, especially someone like Willow.

I spent a lot of time more pissed off about it than anything. The one girl I wanted to actually invest in and I fucked it up. I didn’t want to believe in Karma but this sure as hell felt like it. I ended up deleting all of her pictures too as well as our messages. It made it easier to sleep at night instead of staying up until my eyes burned. On especially lonely nights I tried going back to my old internet habits but with how pathetic I felt it wasn’t really as enjoyable as before. I realized that I couldn’t stay holed up in my room forever waiting for her to take me back and I was tired of my parents being so worried about me. I started going out for walks in the evening and scouting out places to take photos that Willow and I hadn’t been to yet, a monumental task within itself.

Midway through the summer I found myself outside taking a walk through the neighborhood. I hadn’t heard much from my friends at school and since Willow was long gone I finally got used to being alone. As I was walking I heard something approaching me quickly from behind. When I turned around I saw a guy with long hair heading towards me on his bike at full speed. He yelled out and I jumped out of his way as he lost control and skidded his bike into the street. I got up and brushed myself off before walking over to him, ready to finally let out some of my pent up anger on somebody.

“What the fuck dude?” I said.

“Whoa man I’m sorry,” he replied, picking his bike up from the road. He’d escaped the fall with just a few scuffs. “Coming downhill too fast, didn’t see you.”

He seemed honestly sorry enough for me to cool off a little.

“It’s whatever I guess,” I said to him. “Just watch where you’re going next time.”

“I will, trust me!”

As he mounted his bike again I started examining some of his features. He had to have been around my age despite his well-groomed facial hair and height. He had a deep tan from being out in the summer sun and looked just about as athletic as I was.

“Hey, did you go to school around here?” I asked.

“Nah, just moved here from Texas. You?”

“Yeah, I go to Oak Grove.”

“Oh yeah? I start there this year,” he said with a grin. I couldn’t help but smile too. This guy might give me someone new to hang out with.

“Junior?”

“Yep! The name’s Aaron,” he said, reaching out to me. When I went to shake his hand I had no idea that he’d soon become my best friend. Nor did I know that he and I would go through some of the best–and worst–years of our lives together. All that drama with Willow, Dakota, and Number 15 was just the tip of the iceberg.

“Nice to meet you Aaron,” I replied. “I’m Nick.”

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4 thoughts on “Can You Find Me? II: Exordium

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