The world is new and undefined. In the bathtub, or maybe at the beach, I notice that my brother is different from me. He is older than me. Is that why? Will I dangle between my legs like that someday?
In most other aspects we are the same. We have the same mom and dad, we live in the same house, we eat the same food, we talk mostly to each other.
Mom says it’s because he’s a boy and I’m a girl, now hold still, let’s get those potatoes out of your ears.
I’m in the basement with the other kids at a grownup party. My parents’ friends only have sons. I’m becoming interested in boys in general, but these ones specifically have soft bodies and cry easily and only brush their teeth when their mothers stand at the bathroom door and watch them. They are not what my girl friends and I refer to when we gather in our rooms and wonder what it is you do with boys. What we have gathered from TV is that a man touches you, and you change somehow. This may or may not happen in a bed.
The boys who don’t count are gathered around the N64, playing Goldeneye. It is tacitly understood that I won’t get a turn, but I don’t really want one. My older brother’s best friend is suddenly at my side, telling me he has something to show me, out in the backyard. Well, why not?
He takes me behind a bush and flops out the obvious. He is uncircumcised, and the bright pink head peeking out of his foreskin looks to me like an injury, an elephant with a bloody nose. I can’t understand why he wants me to see it.
Okay, show me yours.
I yank down the front of my pants to hide my uncertainty.
Whoa, you have hair already! He reaches out and strokes me like an animal that might bite. I pull back, confused and starting to get angry. I’m done now, I tell him.
Back in the basement, my brother’s friend whispers when can we play our game again? I find my brother and sit next to him so his friend can’t talk to me anymore.
At the foot of my bed, a boy undresses with surprising modesty. His back is to me, broad shoulders flexing as he pulls off his t-shirt.
Don’t laugh, he says, shooting me a look.
He probably thinks that I have expectations. A week ago when he felt me up in the front seat of someone else’s car, I let him push his fingers inside me without letting on that just moments before I’d never even been kissed.
It seems important that I maintain this illusion. He’s handsome and popular, and at school, my modifier is usually either “smart” or “weird.” Even though I like him, maybe even because I do, I don’t want him in this moment with me. I’m already naked, waiting with a practiced, suggestive smile.
He takes off his underwear and turns around.
His eyes meet mine for approval, but I don’t know what he finds there. I watch him come to me like a movie I’ve deleted from my browser history, positioning himself between my legs.
God, you’re tight.
It hurts, but there’s a richness in the pain. I like his serious expression, and the weight of his body, pushing me back into myself in waves. He shudders, suddenly, and then it’s over. When he rolls over, I don’t feel different.