October 24, 2020

Ain’t No Stick of Gum

posted on: Thursday April 11, 2013

Keely Mohin ’14/Portfolio Editor

They called it clubhouse. Boy and Girl would nuzzle together, their chests touching, their limbs tangled together like yarn, and talk within that safe space constructed with nothing more than a bumpy mattress, a few sheets, and a flimsy blanket. With just their bed they blocked out light and sound and made it so that it was just them in the entire universe. Just the two of them who had anything to say, or needed anything to say, or wanted anything to say, and all the rest-grad school, friends, the entire world-could just go off itself. But clubhouse was not just about frivolous confessions of insipid affection. That space, that six-inch lumen between sheet and blanket, that pulsing, living life, saw serious discussion. Boy and Girl laid together there and laid all of their nonsense bare. “Boy,” Girl said, her mesh of auburn hair wrapped between Boy’s fingers, “didn’t you know that I love you?” Boy knew those words had been said a million, no a billion, no a trillion times over in the world-in poems and plays and songs, in cars and in houses, in truths and in lies, given out every time like nothing more than a stick of gum, outdated like a bad pop song. But to Boy, the word love still had some weight. It still placed pressure on the scale somewhere deep inside of him, in that place where no one had gone or touched or even pointed to since, well, ever. Boy’s initial reflex was to retreat back, like a kicked dog, and close that deep place forever and run away and leave Girl there completely vulnerable. Because that’s what Boy did when that pesky love word was thrown out recklessly into the oblivion. Run. There was something, though, about Girl’s eyes. They weren’t trusting or bright; her dark pupils were so small that Boy could hardly tell they existed at all. Girl buried her chin in Boy’s arm, turned on her side, and ran her fingers over his chest. Her hand shook. Boy knew this was no guise. Besides, even if her hand didn’t shake, even if her eyes were translucent, this was clubhouse. This was a place of serious discussion. Clubhouse didn’t stand for any stick of gum.

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Short Fiction