By: Rose Ellen McCaig
He’s sixteen, never been to a movie theater. But it’s Friday, the night before Valentine’s Day, and Eric has a date for the ten o’clock show. Her name is Jamie, and she’s one grade younger. In the same way that he understands she lives with her mother in an old, metallic-blue Chevy Nova, which may or may not be stolen, he knows that she knows he doesn’t have a home at all.
It’s dangerous to get attached. That’s what he told himself for the thousandth time since he and Jamie locked eyes a couple of weeks ago, on the fifth day of a toothache so awful he could no longer focus in class. Hoping for some ice, maybe an aspirin, he got into the line of kids for whom the school nurse is an angel and outside whose basement office they collect, a throng of last resorts, snaking down the stairwell to her door.
In the overcrowded halls and along the rows of dented lockers, there are girls prettier than Jamie, with their breasts, bottoms that he’d enjoy seeing naked, but she’s the one he watches, craves: she’s raw and ropy like he is. From the way her brown bangs bounce across her lashes or stick oily flat to her forehead, he guesses the day of the week she has gym and gets to wash her hair. At night, wherever he sleeps, he thinks of that hair, his face buried deep and warmed by its every version.