The Girl Next Door

I’d lived in an old log cabin with new furniture and a large patio my grandparents had left me last summer—with a view of Jessica’s front bay window, no more than a stone’s toss away. A lake, tucked in a valley, had men fishing. Now, the summer had blended to fall. Black cloud-shaped vapors floated from neighborhood chimnies. I sat in my chair reading my Bible with a Maxim magazine tucked behind, catching side-glances of Jessica pace her porch in a bikini, slamming what appeared to be shots of vodka and rum and coke. Jessica’s image, both her shadows and her figure, gave me an insatiable desire for her tantalizing frame. One night she caught me with my pants unzipped, staring and licked her lips, and slammed the blinds shut. But it wasn’t what you think: it was completely innocent. Jessica caught me changing clothes, nothing more. Other times, she’d dance to loud 80s music by herself, knowing that I was watching, reading blank sheets of paper. (I didn’t know it then, but Jessica could see my fingers splice the blinds and watch her. She said it made her feel sexy, and she hadn’t felt that way in forever.)

A dusty bottle of Chardonnay rested on her cabinet with crystal plates and spotless wine glasses neatly arranged on either side. The wine bottle untouched, but the other liquor half-empty. I tapped my chin, wondering why the wine had dust. If she didn’t want it, I’d drink it to the last drop. I was too chickenshit to ask, though. Jessica had a red leather couch, and a brown leather recliner positioned adjacent to a large flat-screen TV. A neat freak, I thought.

Jessica leaned against her porch rail, staring at folks getting their last boating in for the year. Smoke floated from a white stick she held between her lips.

I moved through the door, standing with my hands shoved in my back pockets. Jessica’s eyes drew to mine as I shut the sliding glass door behind me. Jessica’s gaze fixated my eyes on her apple-shaped lips (minutes before I was tangled in a California king-sized bedsheet).

Several bubbles of nerves and spit formed in my dry throat, wanting to say hello, but the pitch in my voice shook even without saying anything. Something about her smile pulled at my self-doubt. Heat floods my face, and my fingers turned cold to the touch.

It’s not as if she hasn’t tightened another man’s stomach in knots, wondering whether she loved his personality.

My blood ran thin, tickling my spinal fluid, weighing my posture. I was sure of it.

Jessica licked her apple red lipstick and my lips folded under my teeth. My spirit punched my gut. Come on, I told myself. Don’t be a bitch. Are you ever gonna get a girl? Or am I, your self-doubt, gonna have the last laugh? (I was sure self-doubt would gain another checkmark on its bedpost of cheapshots.)

I tried, but a hi wouldn’t float off my tongue.

She blows out her lips and swings her jet black bangs over her eyes. “Look, stop being shy, dude,” Jessica said. “I can feel your eyes glued to my ass and lips.”

I gulped, wanting the world to swallow me whole. I wanted to turn around, thinking, she couldn’t possibly be talking to me!

“Yes, you,” she said, pointing at me. “What’s your deal?”

“Whoa… I wasn’t looking at you.”

“Don’t lie to me. I can see lies written all over your face.” Jessica chuckled.

“You watch me through the window. And you fixate on the bottle of Chardonnay even more than watching me.

“Do you not like wine?”

“It’s a special bottle. For a special time.”

“You must be waitin’ for the end of the world because special times are hard to find.”

“In that case, come inside,” Jessica said, shutting the door behind us and wrapped her arms around my neck, kissing me as if I were a soldier that just came home from bravely fighting for (oil) my country.

Jessica threw me the Chardonnay bottle.

“You sure?” I asked.

“Go on.” she gestured.

I twisted the cork and let the fizz loose in the sink. I drank from the bottle, wiping my lips on my forearm.

“Want—”

I turned to see her stripped nude. Jessica grabbed the bottle slamming quick sips like she’s taking shots of whiskey.

Jessica’s nude body begged me to strip nude, too. I did. My body didn’t exactly cut loose ends and I hoped she wouldn’t notice.

Jessica’s eyes traced my body and she threw me on her bed, and we tangled in her sheets, doing things I hadn’t even seen on the internet. And there’s a lot of shit on the internet.

A woman knocked on the door and twisted the handle. I thought for sure it was her mother or boyfriend and I was good as dead. But at least I’d die happy. “What are you doing with my girlfriend?” her friend said, slamming her fists on her hips.

“No, it’s not what it looks like!” I said, stumbling to my feet.

“Well, it better be,” her roommate said, stripping nude. “Fuck that. Save some for me.”

From a virgin to sleeping with two fine women on the same day, I died in bedsheets—never looking at life the same.

Jessica, they, smothered my self-doubt in California bedsheets.

By AC

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