If I thought about it, I’d worry about the legality of our speeding relationship.
So I don’t think. It’s a stop sign we roll straight through.
We’re parked with the headlights off. My hand breaches the touch barrier, her cheek warm and blushing. In her eyes the stars glimmer, a celestial ocean begging to be explored.
Houston plays the right tune over the radio as we enter alien territory with tentative lips. I’m rusty, she’s new, but our confidence grows. The take-off has us gasping for breath. We hold on tighter, tongues interlock, and she grips the hair on the back of my head.
My knotted stomach unties with a sigh of relief. I entertain the thought of untying something else.
“It’s almost ten,” she says, stopping abruptly.
That’s the time her parents told her to be home by. She shows me what happens when she’s late, pulling up her shirt to reveal black and blue marks on her porcelain skin, tender to the touch, glowing in the moonlight cascading through the sunroof. For her sake, I figure enough chances have been taken and I put the car in gear.
Windows down, the ride falls quiet. But we’re both okay with it. With her head resting on me, beautiful and long black hair draping down my shoulder, we lose ourselves in thinking. Wondering what the other is wondering about. Our date at the movies is already repeating like a film-reel in my brain.
I’m afraid taking a drink of water might wash away her cherry lipstick. It tastes as good as it looks on her. Besides, I like her leaning on me too much to move my arm, and my hand’s occupied with her thigh. She has a hand placed the same on me, using her nails just right to get me going.
Moments later we pull into her driveway. Her house looks asleep, and to keep it that way I park halfway there, roll-up the windows, and turn the lights off. I hit resume on the music as she comes on top of me.
I’ve never known a girl who handles a manual the way she does.
“You’re a 20 year old, 6’2, 182 pound college football quarterback. She’s an 18 year old, 5’0, 101 pound high-school varsity cheerleader. I know how you men are,” badgers the prosecutor, appealing more toward the jury who are nodding in agreement.
She moves on before my attorney can object. Not that he would’ve; he’d told me right away I should just take the plea deal.
“Then what happened?”
I explain that soon after we’d broken up, she texted me a threat. How she’d have to ruin me if I didn’t marry her in order to repent for impregnating her outside of wedlock.
In response, I blocked her number. And sure enough, a rumor suddenly swept through town like a drug search. All my friends believed her lie and turned their backs on me. That’s why the gallery is full of her family and friends, not mine. The only person here for me is my mother, who was a real victim; my existence is evidence of that. My mother told me I have my father’s eyes, except mine have the look of innocence.
“And where is this text message now?”
“I… deleted it– I didn’t think she was serious!” I stammer.
The prosecutor says nothing, sitting down triumphantly.
“Anything you’d like to say before the ruling?” the judge asks me, looking down on me over the brim of her glasses.
Nothing hurt worse than knowing this stranger sitting there, staring at her hands, never daring to meet my eye, had once been my girlfriend. It was like I came home to find an eviction notice and the locks changed. Just hating her would’ve been easier. But I can’t. I remember the bruises she’d shown me, and God knows what would have happened to her if she hadn’t lied and told her father I’d raped her.
I turn to her. “I forgive you.”
“Very well. Has the jury reached a verdict?”
“Yes, your honor. We find the defendant: guilty.”
Smith is an 18-year-old writer from Michigan. During his senior year he wrote for the Romeo High-School newspaper “The Juliet Journal” and got about a dozen articles published online.