Book Two: Beauty - Excerpt with Rape
In this excerpt, Greta has been in the late summer doldrums, so she is dragged to the beach (on Cape Cod, Massacshusetts) in the hopes that the outing will cheer her up. Instead, she recalls the details of the experience that broke her irreparably.
There is some sweetness (Jessica is there, too, and gives everyone a math lesson), but for the most part, nastiness. If you want sweetness between Jessica and Nelson, stop reading now, and go up one thread.
WARNING: SPOILERS. UNRELEASED DRAFT MATERIAL.
Codes: Mf, Romance (recollections), Rape (recollections), Violence (recollections), Torture (recollections).
On Saturday morning, when the Westfords pulled up to collect the Turner girls, for their outing to the beach, it became immediately evident that one participant in the, Greta, had not been informed of that Jessica had been invited. Greta looked out at the sidewalk from the front seat and did a doubletake at the sight of Jessica standing there on the curb beside Colleen, but in retrospect, she realized she should not have been surprised.
She turned to her mother and accused, "You called her."
Anne Westford hissed, "I did not. Colleen invited her."
Greta didn't buy it. "You called her and put her up to it. You set me up with a chaperone."
Anne sneered at the windshield, climbed out of the Hummer, slammed the door, and joined her son, who had stepped out to help Colleen into the back seat.
"Good morning, Jessica." Anne curtly greeted the girl.
Jessica could taste the friction between Greta and her mother, and did not want to be in the middle. "Maybe this isn't a good idea, Mrs. Westford."
Anne forced her grimace into a smile - after all, Greta was right that Jessica would make an excellent chaperone - and said, "No, no. Plenty of room, and we would love to have you along. All of us," she added loudly, casting a baleful eye at Greta, who refused to look at any of them.
Greta watched and listened to the whole exchange from the front passenger seat, and cursed under her breath. Jessica would just be a major pain in the ass, with her goody-goody outlook and her indelicate questions and her smug attitude and her fucking Saturn-and-Titan engagement ring. Anne helped Jessica up into the front seat with Greta, who had climbed out to let Jessica get into the middle. Greta would do a lot of staring out the window on this trip, she decided.
Caz and Colleen had the back seat to themselves, and Anne warned them, without much hope of its effectiveness, "Hands where I can see them, you two, from here all the way to the Cape." Anne heard a soft giggle from her son's fiery, freckled bombshell girlfriend, and seethed. Well, she had to concede that Casimir had to be the most self-assured, balanced sophomore boy in her social circle. Nothing like a dependable sexual outlet, sure as clockwork, to balance a boy. To Anne's knowledge, Casimir didn't even masturbate anymore, and she was the only mother of a fifteen year old boy in Winchester, to her knowledge, who could say that. Casimir and Colleen had been getting together four or five days per week on average, all summer long, and Anne supposed she knew what they got up to all day long. At least the girl was on the pill, so why should she, Anne, have qualms?
Besides, Casimir was the least of her troubles. Greta had not improved one iota since the locker room incident last fall. Three diferent school appointed counselors, and two different expressly referred specialists, on top of all the other counselors they had retained over the two previous years, and Greta had not opened up to any of them. She remained absolutely incorrigible. She still snuck out constantly - Anne was certain they only managed to catch her one time out of every five - and her so-called "steady" relationship with Christopher Albrecht had not done a thing to settle her. In fact Anne had begun to suspect that Greta's prolonged episode with Christopher had served only to exacerbate her angst. And now, the biggest outrage yet, Greta had explicitly defied Anne's will and had gone out for cheerleading, behind her back. This deceitful act should have come to nothing, since freshmen never took the severely limited open slots, yet somehow Greta had achieved the impossible and had made a spot on the varsity squad. Anne did not want to contemplate what her darling daughter must have done to have pulled that off. The only shred of hope Anne now had rested in Jessica Turner. Greta and this strange, engimatic prodigy had become inexplicably close. Anne had to concede, uncharitably, that she couldn't understand the mutual attraction. Greta and Jessica Turner would appear to have had nothing whatsoever in common. Yet, back in the winter, the girls had struck up an intense and resilient friendship. Anne could not help but wonder whether Greta might have confided in Jessica, after having divulged nothing of substance to any of the so-called professionals.
had insisted on taking the window seat, and had made Jessica sit between herself and her mother, so that she could ignore everyone and stare out the window, all the way to the Cape. Of course it did not work out that way. Jessica could be counted upon, almost immediately, to offer an unwanted olive branch.
"Colleen invited me," Jessica explained affably enough, yet Greta found a way to interpret the comment as petulance.
Greta fought the urge to take her eyes off the window, and finally could not help peering into Jessica's silly canvas bag full of junk. The girl appeared to have brought all of her life's possessions. A large beach towel, a calculus text that might have passed for a dictionary, a couple changes of clothes, and the portable paint set that had been given to her by Aunt Abigail for her birthday. Greta uncharitably speculated that Jessica might not be so much trouble after all; she might be too preoccupied by all of her petty diversions to play chaperone.
Then, from Route 99 all the way to the Tobin underpass and the Southeast Expressway on-ramp, Greta had to stomach the sickeningly saccharin exchanges of goo-goo talk that constantly passed between Casimir and Colleen in the back seat. Casimir had been on top of the world all year, and apparently had no prospects for every returning to land. Seeing Colleen up close and in the flesh, it was not hard to see why. Colleen had been blessed with classical beauty - a perfect conic figure, rendered in miniature, since she stood only five-three. She had lightly freckled, fair skin, red hair, red eyebrows, complementary amber (check!) eyes, full rounded lips, and breasts that seemed to never stop growing. The fourteen and a half year old girl had recently switched to a C-cup, and on her ninety-two pound frame her breasts looked disproportionately ample. And that knockdead body belonged all to Casimir, the lucky little bastard. Greta just listened to them and seethed. No doubt Jessica and her mother heard Caz and Colleen, too, but somehow they could stomach it without wanting to tear their ears off their own skulls. The pair constantly tickled each other, and groped, and slapped, and kissed, and they did this insipid babytalk thing whenever they weren't making out, where they would goo-goo and gaa-gaa to each other like puppylove inflicted daycare buddies. No doubt they got onto a good deal more whenever the opportunity presented itself. Greta supposed she should be happy for Caz, but she couldn't find it in herself to be charitable.
As the Hummer turned onto a ridiculously indicative bridge, a cable-stayed monstrosity known locally as the Zakim (sp?), a billion dollar hunk of concrete and steel hubris that spanned nothing but a narrow creek of fetid oil, Greta finally decided that she must either find an effective diversion from the backseat soap opera, or launch herself right out the window. So, she took out her little black diary, and an ultra-fine black pen. She curled away from Jessica and her mother, and commenced with a frenetic scratching of ink to paper, facing the window.
Sure enough, Jessica butted in. "That's your diary, isn't it?"
Greta inclined her head, nodded once, and went back to writing.
Jessica sighed, but did not press further. She looked straight ahead, watched the tunnel. She had not been this way, in a car, down into the Southeast Expressway tunnel, since the fair Commonwealth had seen fit to waste seventeen billion dollars on adding a lane in each direction; just as well, Jessica observed, that the Commonwealth in its infinite wisdom had seen fit to shunt all the potential tourists and consumers underground, where they would never see fair Boston above them; the dirty tunnel walls significantly improved the view.
They emerged from the tunnel, with the city and its many undoubtedly compelling attractions safely behind them, by the time Greta finally gave in and remarked, "I told you last week that I would show you some letters from this nasty little thing," referring of course to the little black leather bound book in her hands.
"You don't have to."
Several more minutes passed.
Abruptly, Greta added, "Actually, I have been. That's what I've been texting you."
"Those poems are from your diary?"
"My whole diary is in poetry. It's a form of code."
Jessica's curiosity got the best of her. She peeked over Greta's shoulder, but warily, expecting rebuke. Greta saw her do it, but made no effort to cover the pages, which should not have been surprising, since the individual letters appeared to have widths of a millimeter or less.
Greta quietly whispered, "I could show you today's."
"It's not much. I might add to it, later."
Jessica just waited.
Minutes later, Greta twisted around, and held out her diary, with all but one entry on the open page carefully concealed by her two hands. She had written the letters so small that Jessica had to put her nose to the paper and squint.
From Greta's diary.
do not think of me too fondly
as the curling wake places
its distance between us;
do not turn and call to me after
the signal fire has exhaled
down to ash; this world is too
large to hold us together
Jessica reread the entry three times with a deepening grimace, raised her head without comment, and stared straight ahead at Quincy, which apart from the absence of mile-high smokestacks appeared indistinguishable from her own land of rust and ashes. She resolved to think fondly of her best friend, regardless of whatever her dark little diary might advise. Greta gently removed the diary from Jessica's unmoving hands.
Inexplicably, Greta seemed to take satisfaction in Jessica's silence, and said, "I will continue to write to you, after all. Despite your knowing the source, now. And show you more. From time to time."
"Okay," said Jessica.
For the remainder of the drive, they said not a word to each other, and now the inane banter between Casimir and Colleen grated on Jessica's nerves, while Greta blithely scratched away with her ultrafine pen.
By and by, the party arrived at Horseneck Beach. A significant fraction of the main parking lot was occupied by a nasty little traveling carnival. Everyone agreed, without debate or even discussion, that the beach and sun would come first. They unpacked the Hummer and began to make their way over the dunes. Colleen and Casimir, still as effusively giggly as ever, trundled the big furled up sun umbrella between them. Jessica and Greta's mother carried the cooler. Greta just hunched her head over the shoulder strap of her bag and looked injured. Jessica could already tell that Anne was losing patience with Greta, and they had only just arrived. No discussion transpired between the members of the party as they made their way over the dunes, apart from the inane and increasingly irritating banter between Casimir and Colleen. Jessica disassociated herself from the noise by concentrating upon the pleasant sensation of the hot dry sand pouring between her exposed toes as she shuffled across the landscape in her open sandals; she smiled at the perfectly blue sky, smiled at the sun, smiled at all the other people who carefully picked out trajectories up over the dunes and toward the beach; smiled at the cooler between herself and Mrs. Westford; smiled at the notion that Mrs. Westford had been married for seventeen years, and had the joy of watching her children grow up, and seemed happy, content, fulfilled on the whole; smiled at the notion that she, herself would be married as well, all too soon, with children of her own, that the years that must transpire between now and then would seem like forever, would sorely test her patience, yet she couldn't help but smile at the fact that she could anticipate and welcome her future, in its entirety, with surety. And most of all, she smiled at her engagement ring, which filled her every thought, and had a dedicated allocation of her attention on every waking moment, a crystalline proxy of her beloved Nelson himself, a pale shadow to be sure, yet an ever-present reminder of her darling love. Jessica tried to be nonchalant about the askance glances that she stole, particularly in the company of her girlfriends, who were still at stages in their lives where the prospect of a steady boyfriend filled them with the conflict between devotion and freedom, a conflict which Jessica had settled, to her complete satisfaction, with finality; she endeavored not to let her glances devolve into stares; kept her head up, and cast her eyes at the ring aslant, from behind her sunglasses, so as to minimize the chances of detection. Casimir and Colleen were busy enough entertaining each other to fall for the subterfuge, and Greta appeared to be too busy moping and holding court with her own nasty little demons to pay much attention, but Jessica supposed she wasn't fooling Mrs. Westford for a minute, the way she stifled a wry smile every time she cast her eyes back, ostensibly to check on how Jessica was doing with her half of the cooler. This suspicion was confirmed for Jessica, halfway up the largest dune, when Mrs. Westford playfully teased, "Mine is prettier."
Anne Westford laughed lightly at Jessica's deep blush.
"Pretty obvious, huh?"
"Oh, I suppose you could be excused," Mrs. Westford magnanimously offered, advising her, "It will feel heavy and new on your finger for at least three years, and you've worn it for all of two weeks."
"Not quite that long," Jessica feebly defended, and held up her left hand as she walked. Her retina executed rapid, subliminal saccades about the glittering diamond, tracing the path of its platinum Saturnian ring, punctuated by tiny golden Titan. "I suppose every woman thinks her ring is the prettiest."
"One would hope," said Anne, and silently completed a rather dark thought: it might be that, when one's ring is no longer the prettiest, that is when one has neared the end.
This dark observation could not have occurred to Jessica, since she had nothing before her but her future, and she observed aloud, "Well, I should think the ring beautiful. It represents being chosen and loved by the most beautiful person ever to have lived."
Anne snidely said, "Nelson would debate that."
Jessica conceded, "As much as I love him, he can be argumentative. But what else could it possibly mean?"
Anne smiled and replied, "Your acceptance of him. He is, after all, as incredulous as you are."
The revelation knocked Jessica back on her heels, that her acceptance of Nelson could ever have been called into question. Who, on the whole wide earth, could not have wanted him?
They topped the dune. Anne led them down toward a sandy, flat spot clear of debris and not too close to the rising tide.
Greta had listened to the exchange between Jessica and her mother, and had let it all pass with what one might have adjudged to be healthy disinterest, except that she had lost herself in her own, ever-compulsive game. Like Jessica, she kept her head straight up, but her eyes cast from one direction to another as she checked out every guy, rated each one for desirability, and imagined all the things that they might do to her. The especially attractive ones she imagined hooking up with through thinly contrived interceptions. Getting picked up by guys came easily to her. In a crowded setting such as this, all she had to do was feign the damsel in distress - to approach a guy, preferably in the presence of his pals, which would embolden him, and claim that she was lost. Inevitably the guy would offer to help, or better yet, claim that 'you're not lost anymore.' Then they would go swimming. She would ask to be thrown into the waves. His hands would grip, tickle, fondle, grope. She would giggle, and set inane rules. 'You can touch me on exposed skin only, young man,' she would say, and she would loosen her bikini bottoms, to make it easier for him to flout the rule. Or her target might be the artsy type, maybe a guy with a guitar, who would play for her, and she would soulfully assure thim that he had to be the most talented musician she had ever met. Or she would find some other mark, a lone guy, twenty-something, building a ridiculously monstrous, overtly phallic sand castle, and she would amble over, hand on hip with an appraising eye, drop her sunglasses halfway down her nose, curl a blonde ringlet in a finger, and coyly declare to this adult, who really should have been far beyond the phase of formative development that craves uncritical praise from adolescent goldilockses, 'Mmmm, very feng shui. This sand castle is fantastic. You are, like, the most talented sand castle builder on this whole beach. Could you teach me? Pleeeassse?' And the lucky lottery winner would ask, 'What's your name,' the universal opener, to which the girl would spin a dense web of lies, 'I'm Goldi, and I'm seventeen and a half, but you might as well just round up, and I'm a Virgo, and I was bored and had nothing to do all day until about two minutes ago. Can I help? Let me help. I promise I won't mess it up,' and of course she would help, on her hands and knees, or perhaps she would stand, but with her legs wide apart, bent right over at the hips, and the young lech would seize every opportunity to work behind her, on a bridge, a road, or some other puerile sandpile, to afford himself the best possible view of this slender, winsome little blondie who pretended to be seventeen and a half and pretended to be bored and pretended to be in need of rescue with nary an altruist within a ten mile radius, and all the while she really would be bored out of her mind, and sick of sand castles, and busily hoping that the guy had somewhere to take her besides his Mom's basement. Already Greta had identified several such opportunities, and had earmarked acquisition strategies for each prospect.
Today might be a little harder than usual, but the difficulties had nothing to do with her party. Casimir and Colleen were so wrapped up in each other that Mom would be busy chaperoning them all day. Greta had lost count of the number of times that she had gotten herself raped, sometimes by multiple assailants, right under her dimwitted mother's nose.
Jessica would be easy to escape, too. She would be lost in her dictionary sized calculus text, working her tan, beautifying herself for her darling love, or perhaps she would wile away a few happy hours fiddling with her new oil paints, or she would just lose herself on the expanse of her towel and admire her new jewelry all day long. The girl clearly had hopped on a one-way flight to la-la-land, had been hopelessly doe-eyed ever since Greta had met her. So Jessica would be no problem, either.
The only possible impediment to getting herself laid today would be Greta herself. She had taken it just a little bit too hard last weekend, when she had snuck out and had gotten herself gangraped by three guys down at the pond. She had known, at the time, that the losers had been way too rough, but she really had hoped that the after-effects would have faded by now. She still had coffee colored bruises across her stomach, thighs, and ass. The cleft of her anus was deeply bruised, even after a week, and scabbed lacerations marred her torso, from the puncture wounds inflicted by thorns that the fuckers had tied onto her chest like a set of reins, so they could play horsey as they had fucked the hell out of her. Consequently, she had been compelled to leave her most enticing beach gear at home. She wore a sundress and sarong over a lycra one-piece swimsuit that covered her entire front and back, the sort of suit - the only kind, in fact, that had her damned mother's approval, which in and of itself struck Greta as ironic, because it was only for her mother's presence that she had made this concession. If she had been here on the beach alone, she certainly would have put on a thong and skimpy top, and would have pressed her injuries to advantage, as she had done at the cheer tryout (another sore spot with her dear mother). In the act of presenting her injuries to a guy, there could be only two reactions. Greta contended with the somewhat quaint and optimistic notion that people are diverse, that the subtleties of human behavior comprise a continuous spectrum, represented diversely in any random sample culled from any village; perhaps the youngster had become jaded before her time, but she had lived long enough to have reached the conclusion that the diversity of human experience reduced ultimately to the imperatives of need. She had once held the provisional view that need and desire offered a narrow sort of duality, but she had since come around to believe that desires reduced to need as well, that the one drove the other, a belief that had been amply supported by experience over the past few years, and so she knew, without a doubt, that the male, presented with evidence of the harsh use to which competitors had recently put her, would react either with an oddly inverted altruism somewhat reminiscent of the Florence Nightingale effect, the odd paternal empathy that would evoke an outward show of indignation and revulsion even as the soulful empath conjured a massively hard erection; or her injuries would inflame the animalistic arousal of naked lust, as the guy, having been presented with the evidence of abuse writ across her body, would see nothing but opportunity, free of transparently facile encumbrances, would feel nothing but the will to power, would desire nothing but the possession of the golden haired knockdead piece of jailbait who evidently acquiesced to being used roughly. All Greta would have to have done to have evoked either one reaction or the other, had she been wearing a string thong, would have been to present herself to some stranger, any stranger at all, bend over, spread her legs, and pout, 'Look at what my boyfriend did to me. He's such a jerk, and he knew I was coming to the beach today and he hurt me anyway. He spanked me so hard and he wouldn't stop no matter how much I begged.' The sensitive types would beg to save her, and the animals would demand to possess her, yet in either case the end result would be the same, the fevered, animalist rutting, the pressure, and the inevitable injection of hot fetid sperm. The cruel ones would waste no time. Presented with the vision and thus inflamed, they would boldly press their fingernails right into her worst bruises, pinch the purple blood blisters until she cried out, twist the welts, and pull the back of her thong's crotch panel out, right there on the beach, perhaps shielded by four or five admiring pals, to get a better view of the deep purple bruising around the roughly used rosette of her anus, and the stranger would pull the string aside to look right down into Greta's upended rectum, a view she would dutifully assist by pushing at her bowels just hard enough to open herself up for cock, and the stranger would growl, 'Well, well, you are a rudely used little girl, aren't you,' and Greta would make a show of playing for sympathy that she knew she would never get, by biting her lip and whining, 'He's so mean; he uses me that way all the time, even when I'm sore, and he does it so rough, he doesn't even let me get used to it, and he's so big, and he pulls all the way out and slams back in, over and over, and he enjoys hurting me back there, and making me bleed, no matter how much I cry,' and far from being given sympathy, she would be taken by the scruff of the neck, and would be dragged right off her feet by the animal who would taunt, as he dragged her off behind the dunes or out back behind the rest rooms, or to some ratty car that had been baking in the sun for the past three hours, 'You deserve a hard assfucking, don't you, slut,' to which she would sob, 'please, mister,' and then the slaps would start, and the prompts, and he would feed her lines, force her to sacrifice herself, and long before she reached the dunes or the restroom or the car, she would be crying, 'Yes mister I'm a slut I'm a whore I need a hard assfucking I'm sorry I talked about my boyfriend I love him and I'm sorry and you're right I need a beating so I'll learn,' and all too soon it would start, all over again, maybe just the one sadistic animal, or it might be even worse if his four or five pals followed him to join in, and they would take her over the hood of the car that had been baking in the sun all morning, upon the paint that could have fried an egg, and her ass would blister as they achieved the imperatives of their need to assuage their will to power, yet it could just as easily go the other way, if by chance she offered herself to the soulful, altruistic variety; the sensitive ones, presented with evidence of the artwork inflicted on her flesh by animals, might assure her, 'You are so pretty, so beautiful, Goldi, don't you know that? Don't you know you could do better? Why don't you just break up with him if he can't respect you?' And she would sob in the hands of the sensitive, soulful ones, as they tickled her flaxen haired little bird's nest to comfort her and to show her that there can be more to male companionship than just cruelty, domination, and pain, and she would lay her little heart bare, saying, 'I've tried to break up with him a dozen times, but he won't let me, and besides my Mom really likes him, and that first time she just sat downstairs with the TV turned up and sent me up to my room to show him my stuffed animals, and then he started hurting me, and Mummy wouldn't come up to save me, and no matter how hard I screamed she just turned the TV up louder, while my new boyfriend beat me with his belt all over my body to break me like a horse and told me I would be getting a lot more of the belt because dumb twats don't learn, and he made me watch while he cut the stuffing out of my favorite stuffed animals and said he'd do the same thing to me if I didn't shut the fuck up and then he gutted the teddy bear that Daddy gave me before he left my Mom and he fucked my teddy bear to show me what was gonna happen to me, and then he threw me right down on my slashed animals and raped me, raped me, raped me over and over and all I heard was the blasting TV downstairs and my own screams for help but no one came, and I heard my new boyfriend yelling to shut the fuck up, and he hit me back and forth with his arms, and kneed me in the belly, and he raped me all night long, and the next morning Mom made him breakfast and thanked him for breaking me in so good and teaching me how to heel and serve a man properly like a good little poke, and now he comes around all the time and uses me just as hard as the very first day, and if I complain or beg Mummy for help she just ties me down on the kitchen table and leaves me there with notes to my boyfriend, telling him that I've tattled and that he has a naughty tattler on his hands and he'd better teach me some manners, and then Mummy goes off to work and leaves me there and I have to wait, tied down to the table, for hours until my boyfriend shows up and heats the metal soup ladles in boiling water, so they'll be burning hot when he beats me with them, and I hate my boyfriend so much and he says no one breaks up with him, he's gonna use me as long as he wants and I'll be a good little poke if I know what's good for me and he'll dump me when he's good and ready, and I wish some nice boy would come along and save me,' and Greta's bullshit monologue would persist as long as it had to, in order to persuade her savior that he had a duty to show her how much better it could be, to be loved by a man, and he, too, would take her to the dunes, or behind the restrooms, or to some half-baked car, and would ply her with soulful, attentive affection that would equate ultimately to the same pressure and pain, from climax to denoument, replete with inane utterances and enough empty promises to fill just about any innocent starstruck Goldilocks with dreams and sweet longing. Sometimes Goldi never got as far as trading a false phone number, but she did always get laid, because the two possible flavors were in fact dual yet equivalent expressions of the same animalistic need, as her abductors and saviors had demonstrated time and again. Yes, she conceded, it would be somewhat harder to initiate the routine today. Marginally harder, in that the one piece lycra swimsuit looked marginally less inviting than the string thong that she had left at home, yet ultimately, the one piece suit would merely provide her chosen animal with a brief conundrum, as he puzzled, with his blood-deprived cortex, over how best to get the foolish thing off. Somewhat more challenging would be overcoming the competition - not so much from Colleen, even though the feisty little cunt was already drawing male eyes from a quarter mile in every direction, with her bright red hair shining like an emergency beacon in the bright sun. Colleen would be literally wrapped around Casimir all morning and afternoon. Game over. But Jessica might be another story. Still too small and fresh to pass for anything but jailbait, she would nevertheless draw attention in spite of herself and all the silly diversions she had stuffed into her tatty beachbag that morning. Jessica was growing up fine, and it would never occur to attracted boys and men that little Jessica could already be engaged for marriage, despite the overt evidence upon her ring finger, which male eyes seemed so adept at filtering out. Jessica would dismiss them all as bothersome flies, of course, but she would still pose a distraction. Well, no matter. Maybe Greta could parlay the attraction that Jessica presented, by capitalizing on interested eyes, the same way she had scooped Coach Peter the Magnificent right out from under oblivious, lovesick Jessica's nose at Wildcat last winter. Jessica and Colleen might be forces of nature, subjects two and three in their formidable triumvirate, but so was Greta, and she would not be deterred.
First, she still had to contend with her mother, who seemed to be inordinately cross and already acted harried. Cazzie and Colleen were already making a grand project of setting up the sun umbrella, by conveniently getting themselves tangled up inside of it. Mom forcibly extricated them. She pulled the umbrella open and presented herself with a view of Colleen's flush, firm, brand new cleavage, and the hands of her son, in the midst of exploring that warm, humid terrain. She loudly cleared her throat, and Colleen covered up with an embarrassed giggle.
"Damn it, Caz, this is not getting off to a good start! Try to remember that this is a public beach."
Colleen blushed even deeper, and giggled inanely as Cazzie labored at looking contrite.
Not five minutes later, Anne Westford, from under the umbrella, which she had claimed soley to keep the pair out of it, snarled, "You two! The towels go underneath you! And they stay there!"
She shook her head with frustration. This day would require constant vigilance, yet surely they would find some means to satisfy each other - in the water, or off in the dunes. It would be inevitable that they would succeed. It pleased Anne to see her son well balanced and happy, with a single steady girl, and a girl who was overtly, objectively desirable to every male within Colleen's olfactory range. Anne derived vicarious pride in knowing, having heard it often enough from other PTO mothers, that Caz was the envy of all his friends. She only wished that Colleen could be just a tiny bit more demure, and slightly less accommodating. To be more like her little cousin, more like Jessica? No, that couldn't be right, either. Enough hints had been dropped to convince Anne that Jessica was no stellar angel - that she had ensnared Nelson in every possible way, that she never left Nelson dissatisfied, that she played with every bit as much intensity as she studied. No, Jessica could not be much of a role model for Colleen, at least, not in terms of her comportment with Caz. And that left Greta.
Anne's daughter had openly defied her two weeks ago. Greta had agreed to abandon her half-baked, impulsive plan to try out for cheerleading despite the impossibility of securing a coveted spot as a freshman. Not that Greta wasn't attractive enough - she was certainly an attractive girl - if a bit flat up top for a cheerleader - and she certainly had a set of lungs. But freshmen never got the slots, and besides, cheerleading struck Anne as an unseemly form of exhibitionism, despite its recently acquired pretensions of supposed athleticism and purported respectability. Too unseemly, too unbefitting her daughter, to Anne's mind. Cheerleading offended Anne's feminist tendencies in a visceral way. The girls lined up like chorus girls in skimpy outfits, and did splits for all the drooling teenagers and gray-haired dads, contorted themselves, put themselves in straddles with big welcoming smiles, while digital cameras snap-snap-snapped away, and all for some thinly rationalized pretense having to do with team spirit. Please. If school pride and team spirit were truly the points behind the institution, why should girls do the cheering in the first place? Why not the JV football team? Anne kinew the answer, of course: because spirit really had nothing to do with it. Because the skimpy outfits, displayed by lithe teen girls spreading, were the only point. The girls were the show. Not to mention the darker musings, the rumors Anne had heard of newbie initiations, and girls raffled off for incentive, and the outer fringes of their fundraisers - the weekend auctions, where supposed 'maids' sometimes did much more than housecleaning, and the team car washes, at which the biggest tips were earned by participants who did more than clean cars. Too unseemly for Anne's daughter, too far beneath her. And they had reached a tacit understanding, or so Anne had thought at the time. Greta would go out for a sport, instead - a real sport, like tennis or the swim team. Greta had gone out every morning over the past two weeks for try-outs and practice, only to return with the news that she had been selected for the varsity cheerleading squad. Greta had made the announcement to her father, at the dinner table, and he had immediately congratulated her with a hug, had thereby thrown cold water on Anne's predilection to explode. Anne had still not confronted Greta about it. She had been waiting until this morning. Greta seemed to be in the midst of an especially sensitive time. Hopefully it was just the impending first day at a new school, and all the concomitant pressures, complicated by the desire for a fresh start, after the debacle at the middle school last year, when those three monsters had dragged her into a locker room and molested her. Anne had fought to convince Max to sue the parents and the school, but Max would not be persuaded, and Greta herself had been no help, had outright refused to denounce her molesters. No doubt she had been coerced, threatened, maybe even blackmailed. So Greta wanted a fresh break from that nightmare, and an opportunity to establish herself with a new circle of friends. Anne could understand that. But cheerleading! Anne had to somehow convince her daughter that this choice would only land her right back into the same pernicious meat grinder. Something had to be said.
Jessica and Greta had laid out towels, and had taken off their sun dresses. Anne approved of the one piece lycra suit that Greta had selected for herself (she had not seen the concentric rings of puncture wounds around her torso, of course), and thanked her lucky stars that she would not have to force her daughter to change into the suit that had hidden in the bottom of her bag. Jessica wore a bikini that consisted mostly of string, with bottoms that barely covered her butt and tiny triangles across her slender chest - a pink thing with vertical white pinstripes. God, did the girl ever pull it off. Anne tried to visualize little Jessica smothered underneath Dr. Nelson Spencer, and the effort failed her. Now the pair were rubbing sunscreen onto each others' backs. Anne wondered whether the girls would separate long enough to give her time to confront her daughter about the cheerleading. Her cell phone rang, startling her out of that particular contemplation, and she remembered that she had been expecting a call that morning.
Anne abruptly stood up and walked away as she took the call. Greta watched and glared. Jessica instantly registered the sudden iciness in Greta's demeanor, and straightened up to gently stroke Greta's back. She did not ask what was wrong. She had seen enough mendacity between parents, and the effect that such petty, selfish deceits had upon children, to know that details about the underlying causes of Greta's current rage would only sadden her. And it disheartened her to realize that so few couples were immune. She did not know what was worse - the low grade psychological and sexual abuse that her own mother had suffered throughout her childhood, forced into a shotgun marriage and forced to subsist in a state of de facto indentured servitude, or Greta's parents, people who had money and liberties, educated and cultured couples possessed of every superficial advantage, people who should have known better than to hurt each other and the people around them.
"Maybe it's your Dad, or a relative," Jessica offered, without much hope.
Greta shook her head and whispered, "She would not have walked away. She would have stayed right here, if it were Dad."
"I'm sorry, Greta."
Greta looked down at her lap and said, "Daddy suspects. He works so hard. For her, and for us. And this is how she treats him. Day after day at that fucking sports club, wetting God knows whose fucking dick. She should have stuck with her tennis racquet, and kept plunging that up her filthy twat. I want to lay into her fucking cunt with a power drill."
Jessica blanched, and stared out at the sea.
Presently Mrs. Westford returned and announced that Greta's counsins would be joining them, and would be bringing lunch, which would absolve them of having to wander across to the seedy carnival for stale, reheated pizza. Jessica glanced at Greta, said nothing, but waited with a hopeful expression.
Greta smirked at Jessica and whispered, "Good try, Mommy dearest, but that's old news. They made the plans, and Aunty Val confirmed yesterday. I read the text on Mom's Blackberry yesterday afternoon."
Jessica laid face down on her towel, and purposefully pulled her new oil paint set out from the canvas bag. Casimir and Colleen were busy cavorting on their towel. Anne took her opportunity without so much as acknowledging Greta's present disposition, and did so at her peril.
"Young lady, we still have to talk."
"Who, me? I'd figured as much. Mom, can't we do this another time?"
"School starts tomorrow. We are not going to have another opportunity."
"I would rather you didn't embarrass me in front of my friends," Greta pleaded, making eyes at Jessica.
"She's not listening. And even if she were, this is too important. I am not putting it off any longer. Your cousins will be here in less than half an hour."
"I don't want to fight," Greta insisted.
"Neither do I. All I want is to talk. If you're concerned about eavesdroppers, let's take a walk on the beach."
Greta thought that over, and realized her mother would be more likely to pull her punches in the presence of witnesses. "No. Let's talk here. Whatever you have to say, I'm likely to tell Jess anyway."
Greta's mother glanced ruefully at Jessica, who pretended to fiddle around with her new paints, and ground her teeth together. "Fine. We had an agreement."
"That you would drop this ridiculous idea to go out for cheerleading. That you would go out for a real sport, like tennis or swimming. You're good at those."
"I'm good at cheerleading."
"It's not even a sport. We had an understanding, and you intentionally defied me."
"We did not have an understanding. You talked at me, and I ignored you, as always."
"You certainly do."
"Mom, I'm good at cheerleading. I made the team. Freshman never make the team. I don't get this at all."
"You made the team," her mother scoffed, "faint praise indeed. It's cheerleading. It's just flaunting yourself like some kind of- of-"
"Don't even, Mom." Greta could feel her ears burning. Jessica might still be pretending to have lost herself in the paints, but Colleen and Cazzie had stopped cavorting and were certainly listening in. She tried to reason with her mother, in a harsh whisper. "They never pick freshmen for varsity. They picked me. I'm good at it. I'm at a new school. I need friends. All the most popular kids in school are on either the cheerleaders or the football team. Cazzie gets to be a football player, and you have no problem with that. Just because I made a little mistake last year, you expect me to be some kind of nun."
"That is not what I expect at all, Greta. I don't mind if you have friends and a social life. Of course I want that for you, the same way I want it for Caz-"
"I am not Caz!"
"You're not a floozy, either! I've heard the stories. Most of those cheerleaders are just sluts and nothing more. Having friends and being popular - that is one thing. But there are right and wrong ways to go about it."
"Casimir has good friends, and all my friends are sluts. Real good, Mom."
"You could make friends in tennis or swimming, too. This is not about making new friends or gaining popularity. I am not some idiot or typecast parent from a cheap sitcom, and I resent the insulting tone you've been taking since this discussion began. You are intentionally defying me. That is what this is about. That is all this is about."
"Jessica thought it was a good idea."
While Jessica cringed and scrunched her eyes tight, Greta's mother hissed, "Jessica might be exceptionally bright, but she is just fourteen. I wouldn't call her the be all and end all for proper behavior."
Greta snarled, "Daddy thought it was a good idea, too."
Anne Westford stopped dead in her tracks. "He what?"
"You heard me. Daddy thinks I'll make a great cheerleader." Greta regretted dragging Daddy into it, but since it was too late to take it back, she might as well load it on.
"I'll just bet he does."
And that was how, for better or worse, the conversation ended, because Greta hopped up onto her feet and stalked away.
Colleen and Casimir fell into a huddle of hushed whispers, but went back to cavorting, too. Jessica continued to pretend to be lost in the subtleties of her paints.
Mrs. Westford violently rearranged the contents of her beach bag. Minutes passed before she implored, "Jessica?"
Jessica didn't move, didn't respond.
"Jessica. I know you're paying attention."
Still Jessica didn't budge.
"Greta has confided in you."
Not a question.
"You know what happened to her. Why she is the way she is."
"I know it," Anne Westford bitterly declared. Then she flew at Jessica, so abruptly that the girl rolled backward with alarm. Anne grabbed Jessica's wrist tightly and demanded, "What happened to her? What happened to my daughter?"
Jessica just glanced with alarm from Anne's distraught face to the fingers that painfully clenched her wrist. Anne must have realized that she was hurting the girl, and carefully relaxed her grip.
"I'm sorry, Jessica. I'm sorry. I just- I just don't know what to do. She won't talk to me. Or anyone. Five professional therapists. School counselors. She hasn't opened up to any of them. She talks to you. You know. You know what happened to her."
Jessica breathed hard, looking down at the red handprint on her wrist. "She- she told me a little. But not nearly enough. She told me the bare minimium, only enough to explain... the way she had treated me last winter."
"What did she tell you?"
"Mrs. Westford-" Jessica felt like she wanted to just fall apart. "Greta is my only friend-"
"She's my daughter!"
"And your daughter didn't tell you! Please, Mrs. Westford, please! If I thought it would help Greta, to tell you and lose my best friend, I would. This second. You wouldn't have to even ask. Because I've been struggling to find a way to help her, and I'm at a loss myself. But she wouldn't tell you what happened to her, and she must have her reasons. That's between you and her-"
"But just a hint! Anything!"
"Mrs. Westford, Greta is a lot better than she was. She has gotten a lot better. If I told you- God- I just know it wouldn't make her better."
Anne Westford, perennially preoccupied with appearances, now made some insipid remark to the effect that her sister would be there soon with lunch in tow, and Greta had disappeared, God only knew where.
"I'll go find her," Jessica said, without much hope of success, and hopped up.
Greta nearly broke her personal record by picking up an adult male stalker within three minutes of stomping off on her own. Greta could not have made more than a five minute head start, but that was all it took. She had wandered away aimlessly, on a path vaguely toward the dunes. Her head darted this way and that, and her fine flaxen ringlets bounced around her shoulders. She had only been growing her hair out since January. She wished it could have been longer; the bouncing of her curls would have transpired to better effect. She looked about furtively, with her bottom lip between her teeth and her gray-blue eyes peeking above the rims of the sunglasses that hung on the bottom of her nose.
Men were everywhere. Screw the boys. Fuck'em. The men, everywhere, checked her out as she moved. Greta became aware of herself, and of her effect on all the roving eyes, and played that awareness to advantage by twisting just so to look behind her shoulder, and by leaning on a hip, and by arching her back to push her small a-cup chest out and accentuate the curve of her firm narrow bum. She played to the hilt the pretense of being lost, and not a single man on the beach felt a trace of concern for her distress. The men felt lust, nothing more. Most of them could not, or would not, act on it. But on this crowded beach, with at least five hundred males in the immediate vicinity, there would inevitably be some who would be there alone, there on the prowl, with neither wives nor girlfriends in tow, there for one reason only, that being to pick up a hot girl and get lucky. Greta pretended to be lost, yet she was busy, too: checking out the men, not to gauge their interest, but to pick her mates. The damning thing of it was that the men whom she found most desirable, all too often, were already with partners. Not that she cared too much; that status hardly invalidated them, in her experience. Why should that be surprising? Why should it not be the case that the men whom she found most desirable were in fact unversally desirable, and desired by others? She concealed a smirk as she caught, out of the corner of her eye, a woman scowling at her husband, who castigated himself for getting caught checking out 'that kid.' The man looked buff, cut, fit. Looked like he worked out. His wife had let herself go three brats ago and felt so bad about herself that she couldn't take her sundress off in this ninety degree weather. She couldn't stand herself, yet she expected her husband to settle for her. He probably had children of his own. Maybe daughters. A daughter Greta's age, off somewhere on the beach, on a mission not entirely unlike Greta's, a daughter whom he dreamt about. He dreamt of his own daughter, and hated himself for it. He closed his eyes when screwing his wife from behind- or worse- would fuck her only in the dark, so he wouldn't have to look at her at all, and he would dream of stretching his own daugter from the inside, and pacing himself to her screams as he raped his own little girl. How many times had Greta heard that 'you're so pretty, I have a daughter your age, she's a pretty little angel, just like you, do you have a Daddy who loves you the way I love my little girl? I could be your Daddy just for today, and I could love you just how you like it best,' and now Greta looked for blond blue eyed men, or better yet, blond couples together with pretty blond children, and she identified such a family almost immediately, and fortuitously split up, to boot: a man surrounded by towels and plastic pails, with the toys' owners absent, yet no doubt somewhere nearby. Greta cast a quick appraising eye toward the surf and spotted a woman with two blonde children, one little boy, and an older girl. Greta made eye contact with the man for a split second. He pretended not to acknowledge her, but as she passed at a diagonal she could see his neck move, almost imperceptibly, as his eyes tracked her from behind his glasses. Greta intentionally stopped, twisted full around at the hips, showed him her slender profile, accentuated to alluring effect by the one piece suit. She could feel his eyes boring in now. From the corner of her eye she could see that his head had turned right around; he was looking up at her ass. Greta pivoted and faced him. He gruffly cleared his throat; his head snapped back to his family. Then he turned again, transfixed by the ringlets that framed her heart shaped face, unable to help himself. The wife must be watching now, from the surf line, throwing daggers. Greta wondered if she could get this idiot to stand and follow her, to abandon his wife and children, even for a second, that critical lapse when he forgot himself, forgot his responsibilties, forgot that he was standing and flaunting a rock hard erection in the presence of some little piece of jailbait. Greta might instigate a divorce, with any luck, right here on the beach. She would give him an out. She would let him speak first. The idiot did not disappoint. By now the tweener daughter must be watching, too, right along with the mother. Watching her venerable father figure acting like a reprehensible little pig. The man's mouth opened. Words came out.
"Hello, there, may I help you?"
"I'm sorry. I thought you were someone else." Laconic, polite. Give him another out. The wife had taken a couple steps forward. He could still redeem himself. Wish her luck, and turn away. Back to his wife and children.
No. He stood up. He actually fucking stood up, and approached her, for his wife and children to see, the dumb miserable fuck.
"Well, I am sure I could help. We could even be related."
Greta sweetly replied, "You did look just like the man I am looking for."
"Are you looking for your Dad?"
"At least you're not alone. Or maybe that's too bad." A moronic laugh. A moron. A middle manager, no doubt, who lorded it over subordinates from a fancy Herman Miller chair while surving the internet for bad porn all day long on a crappy little computer that faced away from the door so he could hit Alt-F4 in time, on the off-chance that his own boss might take a break from hours-long bouts of profligacy.
"Roger? Who is this?" The wife. Here already. She had moved fast.
Greta said, to the incensed woman, "Hi. I'm Goldi. Roger was just going to help me find someone."
Just when it started to get good, a quick tap on Greta's shoulder. Fuck.
Jessica sweetly said, "There you are."
Greta smiled brightly. "Oh, thank God! Like, I've been looking all over." Then she turned back to the man whose wife was about to provide him with a new asshole. "Thank you for your help, Roger. It's been nice meeting you."
The moron said to Jessica, "You should put her on a leash."
Greta sweetly said, "Maybe we'll try that," as Jessica dragged her away.
"You sure do work fast," Jessica fretted.
"Ahh, it was only fun. Nothing was gonna happen, with his wife right there."
"Hah. That man was ready to abandon them and take you straight to the parking lot."
Greta gave Jessica a devious grin, and said, "Would have been fine with me."
"Greta, you would have ended up in a catfight with the guy's wife."
"I could have taken her."
Jessica hugged Greta as they walked.
Greta said, "Let's not go back there. Not yet."
"Your cousins are bringing lunch in a few minutes."
"All the more reason to stay away," Greta retorted darkly. "Come on, please? Let's go in the water for awhile."
Jessica exhaled into her lower lip, to blow the bangs out of her eyes. "As long as you don't hit on a few guys and give me to one of 'em."
"I know, I know. You're taken. I really am happy for you, Jessi, when I'm not being a sicko twisted goth perve."
They walked down toward the surf. Now all the eyes were on them again. Not only the men, but the boys, too.
They entered the water, and kept going, until they had to hold hands and hop up and down as the swells passed them, to avoid going underwater.
"Thanks for not judging me back there."
"Who says I wasn't judging you?" Jessica demanded.
"Well, at least you kept it to yourself. I've told you many times that I am not in a good place right now."
"Yes, you have. But you made cheerleader! That's great, isn't it?"
Greta shrugged, and swiftly recalled the ordeal that she had endured to secure the spot. Jessica's next question put it right out of her mind.
"So, Christopher hasn't come to say good-bye, has he?"
Greta sighed and shook her head.
"I'm sorry. You deserve better than that."
Greta quietly said, "He's never been all that nice to me. What I mean is, this isn't entirely out of character. As far as he's concerned, no doubt, we're still a couple and he can still come around when he feels like getting some."
"Umm, well, can he?"
Greta shrugged, "I suppose so. I mean, like I said, nothing has really changed."
Jessica squeezed Greta's hands and said, "You will meet someone who will treat you better."
"It's not his fault, Jess. I think he really is making an effort. I can't expect him to be good for me, if I'm not good for myself. I've been thinking about it for a long time. You know how, when we first met, I was so jealous of you, because I had the hots for Nelson?"
"Sure, umm, I remember."
"Yeah. Well, I wanted to be treated by a man the way Nelson treats you. It wasn't so much Nelson, per se. Don't misundertand - not that he isn't, like, some sort of Greek god. You, like, so cashed in when you landed him. What I mean is that, for me, any man would have sufficed, as long as I could have been loved and adored, the way you are. But that's how Nelson treats you, because you are good, and lovable, and adorable, and most of all, happy."
Jessica softly chided, "You never knew me before Nelson came into my life."
"Oh, please. Come on, Jessi. You were happy before Nelson, admit it. Not as happy, I'll grant you that. What I mean is, you had it all together."
Jessica inclined her head, and found herself impressed with both Greta's perception and her grasp of human nature.
"As for me, I was none of those things. Neither good, nor lovable, nor happy. Nelson would not have treated... someone like me... the way he treats you. He would have treated me like dirt, like furn... like an object to use. He would have been awful to me, and he would have hurt me, because I am not good, and I'm not supposed to feel loved or pretty. I'm just trash for assholes to whale on."
This little soliloquy had Jessica distraught on several levels, not the least of which being the word that Greta had caught mid-syllable, which Jessica had sworn would have come out as furniture. "That is so not true, Greta! You are good and lovable and beautiful! You have a beautiful heart, Greta."
"Yeah, right. You're blinded by your adoration for Nelson. My heart is destroyed. And Christopher hasn't called. He goes back to school today, and he has our cell. He could have called anytime this morning, just to say good-bye. But the thing is, if he had come over this morning, just to fuck me? I would have let him. He could have used me any way he wanted, and I would have let him, as much as it would have hurt me. He's nothing but the best that trash like me will ever get."
"Greta, I'm scared for you!"
"You don't have to be. I'm resigned to what I am. One of these times someone's gonna fuck me up bad. Gonna go way overboard. But I can't find the energy to care. I- I'm not suicidal. I'm sure of that. I couldn't be bothered to end it myself, to be honest. But I can't find the energy to go on, either."
"You can't be that way, Greta! You can't! You have so much to live for. You can't let people hurt you like this!"
Greta smiled wanly and gently said, "I know you mean well, but you really are very much the hypocrite."
Jessica had no idea what Greta meant, and said so.
"Come on, Jess. You've told me about your reckless devotion to Nelson. I admit I'm not devoted to anything, except my need to feel, for lack of a more formal diagnosis. But your recklessness is just as dangerous. You'd do anything with Nelson, and he works on you, too, you've even told me."
"Not anymore," Jessica tersely insisted, now very uncomfortable.
"What do you mean?" Greta grabbed Jessica's left hand and shook it, making the engagement ring jiggle on Jessica's finger. "You've given yourself to him, for fuck's sake. He works on you now, more than ever."
"No. Really, Greta. Not anymore. I mean, sure, I'd let him, if he wanted to, you're right about that. Anything he wants. If it excited him, or even if he just felt like it, for whatever reason. I'm his, for whatever he wants, however he wants it. But he doesn't. Not anymore. He just isn't rough with me anymore, ever."
"No, it changed before that." Jessica had not told this story to anyone, and did not want to tell it now. But she knew that it had to be of importance to Greta. Perhaps it might even be crucially important to her best friend. "Secret," Jessica demanded.
"Secret," Greta agreed.
"I had a deathwish, for lack of a better term. I wasn't suicidal, not at all, which I suppose is what made it so sick. I got this twisted kick out of placing myself at Nelson's mercy. I had this craving to serve him, and to prove myself to him, by submitting to whatever he wanted. But I am over it. He cured me."
"It is not something that could apply to you. Or anyone else, really. The circumstances were unique, and it couldn't help you."
Greta crossly said, "Nothing could help me. I am beyond redemption. But I just want to know."
Jessica scowled at the ground. She did not want to have this conversation. Greta was bad enough already, without Jessica's own demons for further inspiration. "Greta, it's a beautiful day, and we're on a beach, surrounded by buff, available guys."
"Not that you'd notice."
"Come on, lighten up. Let's check out guys. We can rate them. It'll be fun."
"I'll take a rain check on that, and I'll hold you to it. First, tell me how you got over this deathwish of yours."
Jessica knew that Greta would not relent. And it might help her, though at this point she did not see how. "I've told you that Nelson can have anything. That he can do anything he wants. And he can be very imaginative. But he has no limits, even today, and I occasionally remind him of that fact, just for nostalgia, and to assure him that nothing has really changed. In case he wants to, umm, have a little fun at my expense. The point is that I am a danger to myself, still."
"Yeah, you've told me that. But you keep saying, 'even today,' and, 'still,' and it's driving me crazy. What happened that made him stop working on you?"
"You know that we hike. All the time. We're always up in the woods, right?"
"Yeah, you exercise so much you're gonna die young from the strain. It's weird. So, what of it?"
"Umm, well that's exactly the point. We did nearly die of the strain."
"Back in March. Remember when Nelson was in a cast, and I had a shoulder brace and a broken nose?"
"You said you wrecked yourselves skiing."
Jessica just looked archly at Greta.
Greta blinked and gaped, "You didn't?"
"Secret," Jessica demanded again.
"Cut the crap and tell me!"
Jessica looked as though she would not say another word.
"Okay, okay, secret!"
"We were out ice climbing early one morning. We crossed paths with another team of climbers. The other team - three college guys from New York - stranded themselves under a giant shelf of snow. They were about to trigger an avalanche, so Nelson crossed over to help them. You might have read about it or seen it on TV."
"I've been kind of out of the whole pop culture thing for the past three or four years." Greta admitted.
Jessica sighed. "Anyway, Nelson fell when the avalanche hit, but I braced him on a rope. He says I saved his life, but not even. I was just being a good teammate. But that's how I wrecked my shoulder, by anchoring the rope so he wouldn't fall. Then, above, we got stranded ourselves. I was too weak to go on, but Nelson wouldn't leave me. I... knew I couldn't go on, and... begged him to leave me, and live. But he tied me to himself, and when another avalanche hit, he held onto me and somehow also kept us from getting swept away. Then he carried me down. So he saved my life. And, having been nearly dead - it does wonders for one's clarity."
Greta could do nothing for a moment but gape and squeeze Jessica's hands. Finally she summed up, "So you saved each other's lives. In one day."
"It was mostly him."
"Your whole life is a fucking fairytale."
"It didn't feel that way at the time."
Greta shook her head at the enormity of this new revelation. Greta had always known that Jessica and Nelson were almost freakishly tight, but God!
"And what about those other guys? The New Yorkers. Nelson saved them, too?"
"Yes and no. That's the other thing. Only one survived. The leader fell eight hundred feet in the first avalanche. On his way down the leader hit another one - Josh-" and she nearly broke up saying the name- "and with steel crampons on his feet he shattered Josh's skull. The third guy survived, but he must be a mess. No one can find him. See, Josh didn't die right away. Gregg was stuck up there with him, on the ice. They were just a few feet apart, and for almost three hours Gregg just tried to keep Josh breathing - and Josh's skull all shattered - and his brain - well, you can just imagine how messed up Gregg must be. He disappeared. Didn't even go home. Fled the hospital as soon as he could stand, and just disappeared. Dropped out of Columbia University. Nelson has tried to get in touch with him, but his parents don't even know where he is. And that isn't even all. We ran into six other people on the way down. They were coming up. Three men and three women. Two of the women took one look at me and turned right around, but the other four proceeded straight up into a hurricane force blizzard and got themselves lost on a slope under the summit, called the Alpine Garden. Because of the ice climbing fiasco, the rescuers were stretched thin already, and it took ten hours to find the four who had insisted on going on up. By the time they got them down, one was so bad that he died three days later in the hospital, and the other three had to have fingers and toes amputated. So, three dead, three mutilated, and one - Gregg Collins - presumably in a gutter somewhere, insane.
"As you can imagine, Nelson and I have been nothing but gentle and tender to each other, ever since. I do reassure him that he can play with me, or as you would say, work on me, to his heart's content, but I think he just doesn't have it in him. It's hard to get him to even think about tying me up, when we're both having flashbacks of me getting my arms torn from their sockets on the wall of Huntington Ravine. Kind of makes dungeons and racks seem rather lame by comparison. I think I'd just die of laughter if he ever tried to restrain me with silly props."
"So the sex has gotten rather lame, too, I take it."
Jessica smiled and gave that trademark bashful blush. "Oh, no. Tender and gentle is very, very nice. Better, in fact. Much, much better, for both of us. After all, I don't like to be hurt. I mean, it hurts, right? I only ever submitted to Nelson for the rush that submission gave me. If, down the road, he comes around and becomes - playful - again, I will give myself over to him completely, and that will be another kind of nice, because it's him I will be submitting to. But the compulsion to prove myself to him - to put my life in peril for him by some dare or some monumental act of stupidity - I think that's pretty much gone for good. Been there, done that."
"Yet you two still hike, and I take it you'll be back up there again this winter."
"Sure. I love the outdoors, and so does Nelson. And I'm sure we'll get into scrapes. But not to entertain some deathwish. I'll be fighting like the dickens to live, and so will he. We look out for each other all the time, now - even with things as simple as crossing the street. The mutual protectiveness has become second nature. And from now on we're going to steer well clear of other parties, to minimize collateral damage and reduce the potential for errors of circumstance."
"Well, you are right. That solution would not work for me. I don't even like to camp, let alone hang off an icy cliff like some idiot."
"And besides," Greta continued, unperturbed by Jessica's chagrin, "I've never been with a guy who would not have cut loose and bolted on me, and left me there to freeze to death, after getting one last blowjob."
"Christopher is nice," Jessica insisted, perhaps too obstinately.
Greta snorted and muttered, "If he ever calls me again, I'll be sure to confirm that for you."
They held hands for awhile. Jessica realized that Greta had tuned out and must be thinking her own inscrutable thoughts, because she seemed to be staring right through Jessica's eyes. There were several high school aged boys not far away, fighting for control of a tire tube, and magically defying the current to edge their game gradually closer - transparently showing off, advertising. Jessica glanced at the boys, and arched her eyebrows significantly at Greta, who apparently failed to notice. Yet Jessica was mistaken. Greta did notice. No male ever escaped her attention, least of all the interested ones.
Without so much as glancing up at the boys, Greta registered and catalogued their presence, imagined herself being taken by them, over the dunes, taken and ravished. She had to clear her head of these compulsions, at least for the time being, because she felt embarrassed to be having them in the presence of her best friend. She recalled an all too familiar dream, in which family and friends, in public, attempted to hold normal conversations with her, and attempted not to notice, while she quietly masturbated right in front of them. Greta often caught herself, in public, at school and on widewalks, not only thinking about masturbation, but even catching her fingers as they crept under the loose leg holes of her shorts while she parted her thighs, subliminally offering herself to any male in the vicinity. She couldn't help herself. She must be going mad. Sooner or later she would fail to catch herself at it, and she would be arrested on a sidewalk or in a public cafe or at a library, caught in the act of desperately manualizing her trembling clit in the presence of mothers and chlidren. Would it matter, to the eyes of the law, that she would not have been aware of having been doing it? Most likely not. That excuse did not work with child predators, so why should it work with the most passive and complicit of their supposed victims? Child predators were simply locked away in the sanitorium for a daily regimen of tazers and sodomy beneath pig orderlies, and electroconvulsive therapy to the purportedly evil bits of their fucked up brains. Greta couldn't imagine a reason why she should hope for better. Thank Christ Jessica held both Greta's hands at this point, because she needed to touch herself, in the crowded water where she just might get away it, so badly that it hurt. She forced herself to speak.
"Thanks for telling me that. You're my only friend, Jessi."
"I don't believe that."
"Makes no difference. I will add it to the list of secrets I will never betray. I do hope Nelson finds that one who survived."
"I wonder whether being found would help him," Jessica mused.
Greta had to concede that Jessica had a point, because in her experience no amount of revelation and carthasis had ever done any good. "It might dissuade him from killing himself. If he hasn't done that already."
Jessica ground her teeth and fought back tears. "And what about you?"
Greta resolutely said, "I told you. It's not like that for me. I know you're afraid for me, but you don't have to be. I'm not suicidal."
"Greta, come on. Really. I'm seriously asking. I love you, and I'm so afraid."
Tears suddenly welled up in Greta's eyes. "You love me?"
Jessica threw her arms around Greta and hissed, "Of course I do, you idiot!"
This emotional display, and the hug between the girls in particular, had captured the undivided attention of the high school boys, who had dropped the pretense of the tire tube battle and now just gaped.
Jessica broke the hug and snarled at the boys, "Buzz off!"
They returned to their game, but in close proximity, undeterred, splashing all the more, hitting the girls with collateral splashes as though they needed to be reminded of the boys' presence.
Greta rolled her eyes at the buzzing flies and said, "Them, for instance. I registered them long before you did."
"How do you know?"
"Because I'm better at hiding the fact. I saw them from more than a hundred yards away, before we stepped into the water. They've wandered so far from their party just to reach us that their Mommies are probably filling out missing person reports."
"Umm, well you're right. I didn't notice them until they were on top of us. But given my perpetually besotted state, I imagine that would be understandable."
Greta took another absent glance at the three boys, smiled wanly, and divulged, "Those clowns are fairly obvious."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, to your left there's a man with a beer belly and a balding pate, and he's nearly drowned his daughter three times, from being distracted by us. Then there's the black guy thirty yards away on your two o'clock, watching us while he pretends to play ball. Then there's a guy on the shore, pretending to be on the phone, while he takes pictures. Mostly of little girls with plastic pails leaning over holes with their asses up, but he got a few snaps of you and me as we came out into the water, and he's about to enter the water for more, because he thinks we're a pair of smitten lesbians. And also, the guys with the dreadlocks, to your eight o'clock, signalling to see if we want to party with them, and another guy to your six o'clock, who just got yelled at again for the third time by his wife-"
"Okay, okay, I get it."
"In my defense," Greta persisted, "I wouldn't be getting half this much attention alone. You're pretty darned hot yourself, and your bikini looks so pink and so... removable."
"It's double knotted," Jessica coldly insisted.
Greta snickered, "The point being, while I may not be suicidal, I am rather self destructive. None of these guys want me for my personality, yet I'm pretty much open to anything. And with my Mom right up there on the beach, watching us and wondering and whispering to my bitchy aunt, it really is a good thing you came and found me, because I would have been picked up by now, right under my mother's nose, if you hadn't come."
Jessica furtively looked around and asked, "By which one?"
"Any one. Or any of them, plural. Wouldn't matter. As I said, I'm self destructive. I'm not good for myself. And most guys, when they realize I'm pretty much open to anything at all, well they do tend to take advantage. Because most guys, believe it or not, don't get some anywhere near as regularly as they let on."
"When you say 'anything at all,' do you mean-"
"I mean anything. Anything at all. And not just sex. Anything. It is a problem. These nuts on the tire tube - they're kids. Probably get off easy with them. A circle jerk, maybe. Or I might have to swallow for them. But the older guys- the guys who have been begging to put handcuffs on their wives for fifteen years- or the guys who have just divorced and want to work off their frustrations against the entire female or gender- or the guys who've been lying in bed wide awake wacking off to their own daughters for the past decade and hate themselves, one, for having such vile thoughts, and two, for lacking the balls to just sneak down the fucking hall, and three, for their wives' refusal to get themselves killed in car accidents to clear the way for the attainment of all their fucked up fantasies- well, for those guys, it takes more than a handjob or a suck to satisfy them. And those guys- they can make it hurt. Bad. Sometimes it only hurts getting raped. Other times- well, most guys can be pretty sick, when they finally let their fantasies loose in a situation free of repercussions."
"So, umm, would you try for the high school boys, or the dirty old men?"
"Doesn't matter. Last one's a rotten egg. As I've said, it's a problem."
"So you do like being hurt, I take it."
"No, of course not."
"Then you think you deserve it."
Greta laughed. "No. No one really thinks like that. Only in men's moronic fantasies. They sure do make me say it often enough."
"Come on, you know. 'Please beat me, please hurt me, please cut me and fuck me up, I'm a bad girl and I deserve to be beaten.' Nelson's never made you beg for more?"
Jessica quietly said, "I used to have to convince him to spank me, beause he didn't like to do it."
"Sure he didn't," Greta scoffed.
Jessica bit her lip and quietly admitted, "Once he was hurting me, he would warm up to the task, I guess. But he didn't want me to want it. I would have to submit, even though I didn't want it."
"You say that as though it's ancient history, and he'll never rough you up again."
Jessica shrugged and said, "The climbing disaster is still kind of raw. It was only six months ago. My shoulders still hurt to this day, when I stop and think about it. And Nelson is still careful with his whole left side - he punctured a lung from three snapped ribs. I suppose we might play more... creatively... again, and if he wants to, that will be fine. I will always have that need to please him, however he wants. But I suspect we'll always be more careful with each other, after what happened. But even if he does get rough - which would be okay with me - it would be just another dimension of our love, and our need to please each other. It would be just another form of play - of lovemaking - but with the pain. For instance: he has even offered to submit to my hurting him."
Jessica nodded earnestly. "Oh, yes. He has told me that he is at my pleasure, and that he would submit to anything I wished to do to him - to hurt him - if I wanted to. Of course I have never taken him up on the offer. The idea repulses me. I'm just not wired that way, I guess. But like everything else that transpires between us, this dimension - the subjugation and submission - really is entirely reciprocal. And that is why it is okay with me, I guess. My Dad used to thrash me a lot, on any thin pretext, and I am sure he enjoyed doing it far too much, if you know what I mean. And I hated it. I hated him for it. I guess I still do hate him, on some level. But I love Nelson so much. I would do anything, submit to anything. But only for him. I could never be that way for a stranger. That would be rape, plain and simple. Like all those pigs you've mentioned: I would fight to the death if any one of them so much as touched me, because this body belongs to Nelson, and I would be obligated to defend it against the violation, for him."
Greta glared and said, with conviction, "It's rape for me, too."
"Yet you walk right into it, knowingly."
"Yes," Greta sighed, "I do. I do not pretend to understand it."
"Greta, you're like an adorable little doll. Now more than ever, now that you've let your hair grow out. For most of these pigs, you're a dream come true, and most of them are too swept away by their good luck to really work you over. You've just been lucky that nothing really bad has happened."
Greta nodded briskly and said, "That is absolutely true."
"Do these guys even wear condoms?"
"Usually. I do tell them I'm not on the pill."
"Usually? You let them cum in you?"
"I seldom get a choice, Jessi. And telling them I'm not on the pill can be perilous. I'm as likely to be sodomized as raped with a condom. I can usually distinguish between Don Juan and Roman Polanski, if you get my drift, but my judgment is notoriously unreliable."
"What about STD's?"
Greta just shrugged.
Jessica shook her head and hissed, "Sooner or later you're number's going to come up, and you're going to be snatched by some genuine sicko who's going to leave you for dead."
"That's- you're- Greta, you are suicidal."
"No. Not suicidal. Just- oh, I can't explain it. Maybe it's apathy. But that's not right, either. This sort of thing gets pigeonholed so conveniently in movies. If only I were as simple as a screenplay. I can't explain it. I have tried. I've put a lot of effort into it, actually. You might be surprised how much. The thing is, I don't even enjoy it. Usually I'm fucking terrified. Especially when they're cruel."
"Then you enjoy the terror."
No. I don't. I don't enjoy any of it. Usually I just want to be alone, back in my own bed, under my covers."
"Then don't do it, Greta! Stop coming onto these perverts and getting yourself picked up!"
Jessica exhaled with exasperation. Two seconds later they got bumped, hard, by a tire tube, and a randy high school boy fell right between them, the splash mitigated by lots of contact between skin on skin.
"Fuck!" Jessica yelled, but Greta just looked down at the spluttering boy with bemusement, already falling into character without even realizing she had done so.
A second guy came around the side of the tire tube, and the third flipped over the top, all teeth, and said, "Hi. I'm Paul."
"Fuck off!" Jessica snarled.
The guy who had fallen between them said, "Come on, hang with us. King of the mountain. Guys against girls."
"I said fuck off!" Jessica yelled again. She grabbed Greta by the arm and had to drag her away. Jessica caught Greta looking back wistfully, and growled with fury.
"Admit it," Greta urged, as she was dragged, "they're doable."
"Our age. Definitely virgins. No STD's. Come on, Jess, admit it. Doable."
Jessica smiled wryly, and with a pained expression, conceded, "Okay. They're doable."
"And they would not have left us for dead."
"I suppose not, but they might have drowned us inadvertently."
Both Jessica and Greta, reaching the crowded shore, could now just make out the umbrella that marked their site. It looked very busy up there. Greta's aunt and cousins had arrived twenty minutes ago with the lunch. They would have to be getting back.
Jessica knew she didn't have much more time to bring this conversation to some sort of tentative resolution. "Your Mum begged me, just awhile ago, to tell her what happened to you."
Greta pursed her lips and kept walking, but asked, "And what did you tell her?"
"That you must have your reasons for not telling her. She was very angry."
"Good," Greta spat. Then she added, softly, "You're my best friend."
Jessica didn't reply.
Greta remarked, off-hand, "You would be my best friend, still, even if you had told her."
"You know I wouldn't do that."
"But maybe you should tell your Mom, yourself. Maybe it would help."
Greta shook her head. "No. It definitely would not help. Jess, you have to understand that my little ordeal - the part I've told you, anyway - is fairly obvious. It wouldn't take a genius. My whole family suspects. They have enough reasons for suspicion to have done something about it by now, if they really wanted to. I'm not the only niece dear Uncle David has molested, so they've gotten enough hints over the years. But they're all bound and determined to maintain the facade, the semblance of normalcy. We must keep up appearances, after all," she said bitterly. "If I cracked it, over something that happened three years ago, my Mom would only resent it, and my grandparents, too. It would make everything worse, all around. All because of me. And in the end, me being me, I am certain that they would find a way to turn the whole thing around and construe it in such a way as to suggest that I somehow brought it on myself and asked for it. Mommy dearest would be right at the front of that line, believe me."
"But you're hurting."
Greta hissed and shut her eyes. She kept walking, and trembled. She said, "That's what I do. I hurt. It's nothing new. And besides, that worthless fucking loser - he's hurting, too. He hurts every day of his miserable fucking life. Prison would have been too good for him, and believe me, he'd take prison in a heartbeat, in exchange for the hell he's in right now. In fact, I'm pretty sure he'd take a bullet to the fucking head, in exchange for the hurt he's in. Yet that doesn't help me, does it? Not one fucking bit. So much for the notion that punishment confers justice."
Not for the first time, Jessica wondered just how much her Uncle David was hurting, and suspected that Greta had understated the level of mayhem she had inflicted on the jerk with his own spiked brass knuckles. Back in the winter, Grea had said that she had raked the spikes down his face badly enough to render him partially blind. Greta had also said that Uncle David couldn't get it up anymore. Jessica had assumed the sexual dysfunction to have been a consequence of psychological scarring, but now she wondered whether there could be more to it, a physiological basis for Uncle David's perpetuated purgatory.
All Jessica could say, as they approached Greta's family plot, was, "Thanks for opening up to me."
Greta smirked and said, "My pleasure. In return, I'm going to hold you to your pledge. You agreed to check out boys with me, and I'm holding you to that. Don't worry, I promise I won't rat you out to your darling love. And you will need the distraction from my dipshit cousins."
Jessica grinned and put her arm around Greta. Every man in the vicinity noticed. The purported teen lesbians were still at it. "Are they really all that bad?"
"Oh, you'll see. They're slumming it, just by being here. I imagine this is the first day of the summer that Aunty Val dragged her two spoiled slobs out of the house. An eighteen room house in Weston, by the way. But they spend their summers here on the Cape, in their sixteen room cottage in Falmouth."
"Gosh. And I thought you were rich."
"Naw. My Dad works for a living. My Mom's bitch sister, dear Aunt Valeri, married a fucking ultra-left asshole with a trust fund. Marvin Schildt. Inherited his money from a kraut bastard who made concrete for the Nazis two generations ago. Everyone calls him Skip. Even his wife. It's sickening."
"So we're all constantly reminded of the eighty foot boat that he pocketed when his Dad attained room temperature. The S.S. Scherazade. Fucking left wing moonbat heats his sixty foot pool with solar panels, corresponds with fucking Ariana Huffington about forcing the world to go green, and putts around the harbor in an eighty foot yacht. Fucking pompous self-righteous sanctimonious dweeb."
"He must do something constructive with his time."
"No. Nothing. Has a family foundation, set up decades ago by his Nazi ancestors. How the Nuremberg Trials ever missed them is anyone's guess. Not too surprising though. The fuckers who run this state are purported to have been tight with apparatchiks of the Third Reich back in the day, so Skip could very well also be a survivor of twentieth century war profiteers. His family gives money to halfway camps for little boys, and he gives half-assed investment advice to everyone he meets, as though he came to his wealth by skill on his part. Daddy hates him, and the irony there is that Daddy fixed him up with Aunty Val. Skip and Daddy were floor mates at Stanford, you see."
"Ahh. And the kids?"
"High school. Goth slobs. As I said, pasty vampires. Brent is seventeen, and he's never been laid. His sister is sixteen. Wouldn't know a dick if it slapped her in the face."
"Jill will ignore us all and not say a word. Brent will be just the opposite. He'll try to talk a good game, and bore us all to death. He thinks Daddy's money is his money, and that the money alone ought to be enough to open a girl's legs. He'll be all over you, by the way."
"Does he know about me?"
"I'm sure he's heard the gossip. Poor little Cinderella made good. The whole MIT business is what will make him think you're worthy. Given that you're a poor nobody from a slum, and not even descended from Nazis, that is."
Jessica held her engagement ring up to the sky, smiled warmly, and resolved, "I'll just have to keep my little adornment conspicuous."
Greta chuckled, "The dweeb won't get it. One last thing. Aunty Val brought the lunch, so I hope you enjoy chives and paté."
"Never had them. What does paté taste like?"
"It tastes like stale cum."
"Greta, those boys on the tire tube are looking better and better."
Her friend let out an authentic laugh, the first of the day. "You had your chance."
They stopped at the towels, and Greta's mother said, "The prodigal returns."
"Just a pitstop," Greta muttered.
Anne Westford cast an icy glare at her daughter, recovered, and began introductions. Jessica's instant impression was that Greta had not exaggerated a bit. Aunt Valeri wore a large Talbotts sun dress and a matching hat. Jessica could see nothing but her double chin. The daughter, all of sixteen years, wore an elaborate black costume with three different layers, and held a black parasol. Jessica could not imagine where one might buy such a ghastly thing, and wondered whether the girl might have spray-painted it. Upon the daughter's lap was propped a wicker tray with a double helping of a panini with munster cheese and paté with chives. Then there was Brent, an overweight slob with a gut that overlapped his ridiculously small Speedo. Seventeen years old, with more pimples than body hair, and white creases in the rolls of body fat made him look like an upended zebra whenever he moved. As they had approached, Jessica had watched him staring longingly at Colleen's chest in a way that obviously made Casimir want to beat the daylights out of him, cousin or not. Colleen had been studiously ignoring the pathetic, portly boy, but the lump of breathing swill would not be deterred. But now, with the arrival of Greta and Jessica, he had obviously become sorely conflicted, at a loss as to where to focus, and seemed on the verge of throwing his neck vertebrae out of alignment, with the way his head flung back and forth. Too many nubile females had converted on the immediate vicinity for his own good. His eyes lingered briefly on Greta, and then fell on Jessica herself, who suddenly felt distinctly underdressed in her pink and white string bikini.
Aunt Cindy's chin raised even higher, revealing her wrinkled nose from beneath the hat, and disdainfully said, "Be a gentleman, Brent, and greet your cousin."
"Greta. Hi," he grunted, drooling at Jessica the whole time, as he added, "Your hair has grown."
"You look like Goldilocks," he said, still staring at Jessica.
"So I've heard. Never met her."
Aunt Valeri and her pugged nose peeked out entirely from under the hat to make a formal assesment of the object of her dear son's attention.
"Val," Anne announced, "This is Greta's friend, Jessica Turner."
"Charmed," said Anne Westford's sister.
Jessica forced her lips into a small smile.
"We've seen so much of you on TV."
"I am pleased to meet you."
The daughter, Jill, who had not been introduced, said, "You look more like a cheerleader than a brain."
Jessica clenched her teeth together, and nervously eyed Greta.
The black-clad bitch's mother airily said, "Yes, well, looks can be deceiving."
The bitch blurted, "Is it true you're from Everett?"
"Yes, it is."
Greta's detestable cousin turned her head toward the beach and would say no more.
Brent, drooling and smitten, drawled, "Don't mind her. She's in the math club, too, but it won't be enough to put her into MIT."
Greta sympathetically said, "She shouldn't fret. Money opens doors, too."
The bitch snarled to the beach, "Math club is easy. Most of the answers are either zero, one, or pi."
Jessica remarked, "I'll try to remember that. Abraham Lincoln Middle School didn't have a math club."
"Hmpf," said Jill, as though her point, whatever it had been, had been made.
Aunt Valeri must have thought this whole conversation rather unseemly, because she hastily said, "Yes, well, whatever your circumstances, it is surely a good thing that people such as yourself are given chances. Do you like paté?"
Jessica replied, "I adore it."
The two girls sat crosslegged on their towels. Brent insisted on joining them, the cock in the henhouse. He struck Jessica as reminiscent of Uncle Phil, twenty years younger and somewhat better spoken. He insisted on rambling about math club, and jazz club, and chess club. Jessica did not let on that she played chess. When she absolutely could not avoid speaking, she restricted herself to monosyllables, in a futile effort to avoid encouraging him. He went on and on about his precalculus class, and trigonometry, and limits; Jessica merely nodded sympathetically over his travails until Greta reminded him, in no uncertain terms, that this was a beach.
Colleen, in the midst of having her kidneys tickled for five minutes straight by randy Casimir, gushed for all to hear, "I think Jessi has a secret admirer."
Brent haughtily asked the current object of his infatuation, "Oh? And who would that lucky fellow be, Jessi?"
"It's Jessica," she asserted with a snarl.
The rotund lad would not give up. Rather like her first boyfriend, Jimmy, from last summer, eons before having met her Nelson. Brent inquired, "Would you mind taking a walk with me?"
Jessica's eyes went wide. Colleen's head whipped around, too. Greta just smirked.
Jessica gulped, "I'm comfortable right here. With my paté."
"But I'd like a word," he insisted, as though his insistences settled every matter with finality. No doubt he had seldom ever heard the word 'no' in his formative years, and perhaps he labored under the misapprehension that Jessica had been brought here by design, expressly for his amusement.
Jessica just waited, cheeks red. She couldn't believe this was happening. Colleen would never let her live it down.
Brent said, "It's a shame you don't live on the South Shore. We're back up to the Weston house tonight, but that still puts us too far apart."
Jessica rapidly demurred, "Brent, I don't date."
"Neither do I. Ordinarily."
Colleen cracked up, and Casimir tried to cup his hand over her mouth, but missed, cupping something else entirely, which only put Colleen into deeper hysterics.
By now almost any young lad, no matter how hopelessly deluded, should have realized things were not going his way, but Brent obliviously soldiered on. Well, Everett is not so very far, and I suppose I could drive out in my 328xi, with incentive."
Caz tackled Colleen, to no avail. Her giggling had taken her so intensely that she could no longer breathe, and seemed on the verge of passing out.
This had been entertaining, and Greta had had just about enough, when relief came to Jessica from a surprising source. Brent's own mother suddenly piped in, from under her ridiculous flowered sun bonnet. "Ahh, Brent, honey?"
Brent's eye twitched, and he turned his head imperceptibly toward his mother, clearly resentful of the intrusion. "Mother?"
"Dear, take a breather, and open your eyes. What is the young lady wearing, apart from her bikini?"
"Uh- nothing?" he muttered, as though it were obvious.
"Not quite, dear. Check the young lady's jewelry."
Brent saw Jessica's engagement ring, for the first time. His eyes boggled.
Jill suddenly took an interest, too, with narrow beady eyes.
"For future reference, honey, jewelry on that particular finger generally means that the young lady is spoken for."
Brent obviously couldn't get his head wrapped around the concept that lithe Jessica could be wearing a real engagement ring. The rest of his family had the same difficulty. His bitchy sister, who still had not been formally introduced, coldly surmised, "So, done with high school, off to college, and going steady. You sure do work fast."
Colleen, from underneath Cazzie,laughed even harder, and mocked, "That's not some brat's class ring! Open your eyes."
Now the bitch sister frowned and peered at the ringmore intensely.
Brent said, "So she's wearing her mother's ring. Big deal."
Greta coldly retorted, "It's not her mother's ring, either. It is her very own. Dweeb."
"There's no need for that," Aunt Valeri admonished.
Greta sweetly corrected herself, addressing Brent himself, "Pardon me, Skip Junior, you fat dipshit."
Colleen gave everyone her patented OMG look.
Aunt Valeri obviously wanted to snatch up her cooler ahd children, and leave right then and there, but Brent was still enthralled, and still determined, because the slovenly, pasty mama's boy still had not gotten the hint. Undoubtedly, Jessica reflected, he must be an identical clone of Jimmy back home, but with money. The kid said, "I don't get it. You're like just fifteen."
Jessica took a bite of her cheese and paté sandwich, chewed on it with the growing conviction that her beloved Nelson's sperm tasted much nicer, and nodded toward Greta, saying, "So, time to play. What's the rating scale?"
Greta clapped, smiled happily at Jessica, and turned her back on her mother and Aunty Val, who obviously hadn't though't they had been done with her yet. "Goody, game on."
Anne interrupted, "Young lady-"
Greta cut her off, "Jess isn't interested. She's trying to be nice about it, but the dweeb won't get it. Tell him to go swimming or something and buzz off!" To Jessica, "So. Rating system. Nelson's a ten. My dweeb brother is a five, and my dipshit cousin is a one."
Colleen snarled, "Hey! Cazzie's a ten!"
"Maybe to you."
Before they could fight, Jessica briskly said, "Right. Game on." She nodded toward some guys playing volleyball. "Red Speedos. Eight."
Greta chuckled and said, "I'd say nine." She pointed at an old bastard whose gut hung almost to his knees, and declared, "Two."
Colleen scoffed, "Two! Come on! Even Brent rates higher than that."
"Not by much."
Aunt Valeri demanded, "Anne, I insist you put a stop to this!"
Mrs. Westford said, "They're just trying to get a rise out of you."
Brent finally stood up and stalked away. Aunt Valeri seemed more incensed than ever, and at that point, the bitch sister, of all people, came to their defense.
"Mom, give it a rest. He asked for it. She's not interested. Obviously. And believe me, that's no great crime."
"There's a way to say it."
The sister retorted, "She tried everything! Maybe you should have said 'no' to the idiot once or twice in his pampered life, because he obviously can't cope with it. And Greta's just defending her friend."
Greta and Jessica turned to the bitch cousin with expressions of admiration. Jessica made a fresh assessment of the girl. Her age could not be determined by her appearance. She wore a black skirt with swirls of off-black tie-dye. She wore black combat boots, and forest cammi socks. Around her neck hung a pewter ankh. She wore silver rings on every finger, and had three piercings in each ear. A metal stud pierced her lip. Her hair had been shorn over her ears, and had been dyed as black as her lipstick. On her wrist she wore a silly band bearing the family crest of her apparent infatuation, a fictional teen vampire. She might have passed for a college student, if Greta had not already informed Jessica, on their approach from the surf, that the cousin was still in high school.
Greta murmured, "You haven't come to my defense since nursery school."
"Because you're a dizzy cunt without a single redeeming quality. But even a broken clock is right twice a day. Introduce me to your friend."
"Jessica Turner. Jill Schmidt. Jill, Jessica."
Jill said to Jessica, "I followed your story when it broke. I'm a junior in Weston. I've applied for MIT, early admission. I doubt I'll get in."
Aunt Valeri cut in, "Of course you'll get in."
Jill rolled her eyes, and retorted, without taking her eyes off Jessica, "There's no such thing as 'of course.' Anyway, I'm stressed over it. That's why I said those things about math club. I didn't expect you to be so - pretty. Here I am, thinking I'll be all right getting dragged to this fucking beach, because at least I'll meet this amazing heroine I've idolized since December, and she's in college already, on full scholarship, and not just any college but my first choice, so she'll be hip, someone I'll finally be able to relate to. And what do I find? A fricking doll with a perfect tan, wearing a pink candystrip string bikini that makes Greta here look conservative, and you're playing some sophomoric boy-rating game like a goddamned airhead. It's a big kick in the crotch, let me tell you."
Jessica grimaced and said, "We could talk math, if you'd prefer. But this is a beach, and it's a nice day, and school starts tomorrow."
Jill nodded and said, "You're right. Of course you are. And I'm torn."
"I'd like to just hang with you. And just have fun. But I guess just having fun isn't in my nature. It wouldn't occur to me, except that now I see you doing it, and I can't imagine how you could ever have had fun and still found the time to graduate high school at thirteen and enter MIT. So I also want to ask the question I've been dying to ask since I first heard about you. Especially now. Just to find out if you're real, or if you're just the hoax of the century."
Jessica chuckled and said, "Maybe fun is the key."
Jill mulled that one over and said, "You may be right about that, too."
Jessica suggested, "Why don't you hang with us, and ask your question later, if it's still important to you."
Both Greta and Jessica simultaneously expected two reactions from Jill. One, that she would decline, with some haughy snub. Two, that she would defiantly tell them that she would rather rate girls. Therefore, it came as a surprise to them when Jill gestured, with her eyes, toward another one of the volleyball players, a six foot-four chiseled godling with a shorn head and a stomach like a stone wall. "Best of show," Jill declared.
Greta nodded appreciatively.
Jessica wrinkled her nose and shrugged, "Eight. I prefer hairy chests."
Greta chuckled, "He'll have one in a year or two. Your problem is that you're into old men."
Jill cast an eye at the piece of jewelry on Jessica's scantily clad body, and demanded, "So what's the deal?"
Jessica smiled demurely and inquired, "Is this your question?"
"No. My question is about math. You're really engaged? That's an even harder kick in the crotch, on top of everything else. I can't even get a date. So, some college boy, I imagine."
Greta laughed and scoffed, "Not even warm."
Jill arched a studded eyebrow. "Not a townie. No way."
Jessica took pity and ended the speculation. "He is older. And settled. And yes. I really am engaged. Have been for two weeks tomorrow."
Jill skeptically pressed, "How can that even be legal? You're only thirteen."
"Fourteen. He proposed to me on my birthday."
"And you said yes."
"Without a moment's hesitation."
"It's still, like, totally illegal."
"The minimum age for marriage is seventeen with parental consent, but there are no laws governing engagement. One can accept a marriage proposition in kindergarten. I'll grant you, social convention is another matter. In Massachusetts, one is supposed to play house with roomies and spread for fuckbuddies, and share venereal diseases until thirty-five, or until the trust fund kicks in, whichever comes later."
"You're supposed to try women and animals, too, for the mind-expanding experiences," added Greta with a bit of iciness.
"So, you're going to be engaged to Mr. Right for at least three years."
"Three years to the day. We've set the date for my seventeenth birthday."
"And yet you're on the beach with Greta here, rating boycake."
"Sure. If he were here, I imagine it would amuse him. Nelson - that's his name - is my ten, not because he is objectively perfect, but because he is mine."
"And you're not tempted to play with the boycake at all?"
"Oh, no. No, no, no. I am Nelson's. He doesn't share with anyone."
"What about him?"
"I don't share, either. He is mine. Every hair, every breath."
"How do you know? I mean, he's not here now."
"Oh, yes he is, " Jessica declared with a wink.
Jill looked mutinous, but Greta assured her cousin, "She's serious. And she's right. His balls are hers. If you ever saw them together, you wouldn't even have to ask."
Jill studied Jessica for a long moment and declared, "That is absolutely fucking cool. So, has he poked you?"
Aunt Val and Anne had been muttering to each other, but Jill's last question caught her mother's attention. "Jill, enough!"
"It's a fair question. She's like, way under age, and this guy is, how old?"
"Twenty-seven," replied Jessica. "And he doesn't 'poke' me. We make love with each other, at every possible opportunity."
"Like, for real, with full penetration?"
"'Full' is a relative term, but essentially yes."
"Absolutely fucking cool," Jill repeated.
Greta leaned into Jill and muttered a loud aside, "And he really is objectively perfect. You wouldn't fucking believe it."
"Better than my volleyball monster over there?"
"No contest," Greta declared.
Jessica glowed; being extremely proud of her most precious possession, she appreciated him all the more when others expressed their admiration.
Yet she also felt a bit discomfited, as she always did, when Greta herself broached the issue of Doctor Nelson Bernard Spencer's intrinsic desirability.
"So, you had another question for me," she prompted Jill, so as to change the delicate subject.
"You're supposed to be able to calculate in your head."
Jessica bit a lip and shrugged noncomitally.
Greta urged her to stop being modest.
Jessica quietly demurred, "My mathematics advisor discourages those sorts of performances."
Jill skeptically demanded, "Why?"
"Because performances are unseemly."
Jill pressed, "There's a boy in math club who can multiply five digit numbers as fast as a calculator. Can you do that?"
Jessica didn't answer.
Greta answered for her. "Caz and I have seen her do it. Giant numbers that a computer can't even do."
Jill urged, "How does Matt do it? How do you do it?"
Jessica, quietly said, "I couldn't tell you how your Matt does it. There are several ways that work."
"What do you mean?"
"If he's multiplying five digit numbers, he could be doing it right to left, the same way you do it on paper, holding five partial results and adding them. If that's what he's doing, he'll probably hit a wall if he hasn't already. Meaning, he won't ever be able to multiply much bigger numbers than that."
"But you can multiply much bigger numbers."
Greta interjected, "Jess can multiply septillions."
Jill glowered at the two of them and scoffed, "You're shitting me."
Greta retorted, "I've seen it."
Jill demanded, "How?"
Jessica shrugged and replied, "I was being only truthful earlier when I said fun is the key. Most people could hold enough partial results to multiply five digit numbers, with lots of practice. To go higher than that, it really does have to be fun. And for me it is. I've been practicing math all my life, just for fun. A benefit, I guess, of growing up too poor to afford games. I had to make up games of my own. Of course it also helps to have a big mental scratchpad."
"What does that mean?"
"It's what the press call photographic memory. Most people can hold a few numbers in their heads for a few seconds with minimal effort. That's how you remember a phone number long enough to be able to dial it. I have this big multidimensional whiteboard in my head. I can put a great many numbers and pictures on it, and they stick. But I couldn't tell you whether or not it is something I was born with. It is equally likely that it has just grown over the years, as a consequence of all the math practice, because math really is fun for me. After all, everyone seems to go on about multiplication, and I am asked to perform at least once a week, in one setting or another, because people can relate to multiplication. People use it every day themselves. But multiplication is a low order operation. I've been practicing higher order operations, for fun, since kindergarten, so multiplication is trivial."
"I don't know what you mean by a high order operation."
"Whole and fractional exponents, for instance, are the next order above multiplication and division. There are orders above exponentiation, but they are hard to conceptualize. Degrees of infinity, for instance, which come into play with set theory. But as far as the low orders go, I've been memorizing times tables since childhood, because they make exponentiation easier. The higher your times tables go, the easier it is to multiply, because there are fewer carries. Someone who knows the times tables up to nine hundred ninety-nine squared would be able to multiply six digit numbers with just three steps. I doubt your friend Matt is doing it that way, because if he were, he would be able to go a lot higher. The point is that multiplication is just a means to an end, if it is fun."
Jessica shrugged and said, "Factoring, for instance. And approximations of irrationals. Such as pi. Since fourth grade, pi has been a favorite game of mine. I used to approximate pi for fun, to put myself to sleep."
"How? By dividing twenty-two by seven?"
"No. That is an approximation, and it is good enough for carpentry. But as approximations go, it is poor. There are more effective methods, such as the Leibniz Series. It is a progression that one can use to calculate pi to arbitrary precision. It's tedious, though. Requires a huge mental scratchpad, to do it without a computer. I think - and I could be wrong - that I developed my so-called photographic memory as a child essentially by accident, by playing with pi as a way to tune out the incessant fighting between my parents."
"How did you ever hear of this Leibniz Series? I'm in college prep calculus, and I haven't ever heard of it."
"You wouldn't have. Infinite series are only touched upon before the second undergraduate year."
"So what gives? You said you've been playing with pi since grade school."
"My fourth grade teacher knew I was bored, so she would leave her old college text books around the classroom, accidentally-on-purpose. Most of the kids would ignore them, but I got to the point of looking forward to them, sort of like an easter egg hunt just for me. She planted a third year analytic geometry text in the C.S. Lewis bin one morning, and I took it home and read it cover to cover. I eventually returned it with a big, big thank-you note, after I had memorized just about all of it. I would also find cool stuff in the library's reference section. Like factorization methods, and prime sieves, that sort of thing. Anyway, now I don't even really think about low order operations. Multiplication and division are second-nature."
Jill grunted and quietly said, "You really are not just some hoax who lucked out of Everett by affirmative action. You're the real thing."
Jessica chuckled and said, "I've reached a point where I am not sure what is real, anymore. But if all of this is just an illusion, that's fine by me. I'll take it. Here. I'll leave you with something. A way to keep up with your friend, Matt."
Jill smiled for the first time that day. "Okay. Hit me."
"You only need your times tables up to twelves. I have a hunch this is what he is doing, or he would be much more impressive. First a small one. Twelve times fourteen: it is equivalent to twelve times ten, plus twelve times four. The partial results are easy. Then you simply add them together. Try it."
Colleen and Casimir had inexplicably disappeared when the subject had turned to math, but Greta and the parents, who had been listening breathlessly, were already lost.
Jill replied, after a few seconds' thought, "One hundred sixty-eight."
"Good. The point is, it works for numbers of any size. In principle. It would be too unwieldy for septillions, but for small numbers it works great. And the partial results are easy, because they're all congruent to ten."
"You've already lost me."
"Sorry. Number theory. I've been doing a lot of that lately. Okay, I'll try to explain with a demonstration. A bigger one. Two hundred fifty-four times one hundred fifty-seven. It's the same as twenty-five thousand four hundred plus twelve thousand seven hundred plus one thousand four hundred plus three hundred fifty plus twenty-eight. That's just five numbers to remember and add up, which most people can handle with a bit of practice. And it is a lot faster than going right to left, like kids are taught to do on paper."
Greta muttered, for Jill's benefit as well, "That is still more than I'll ever remember in my head."
Jessica shrugged, "It does take practice, like anything else."
Jill resolved to practice, but she also held the secret conviction that she would never be able to multiply five digit numbers that way, like Matt. All the same, she said, "Jessica, thanks. For what it's worth, you've redeemed yourself in spades, and almost restored yourself to the level at which I had idolized you prior to this morning."
"Thanks, I think."
"You'd restore yourself entirely if you lost the candystripe bikini."
Jessica laughed at that and said, "I do prefer being naked, but going in the buff would not be fair to your brother at all!"
Jill, to the amusement of everyone, even the parents, looked mortified, and said, "I meant that you'd change into something less ditzy."
Jill concluded. "But you're not ditzy. Not at all. And I apologize for implying as much earlier."
"It's alright. I initially took you for a lesbian."
No one knew what to say to that, least of all Jill.
Greta snapped, "Can we go back to the boycake game again?"
Jessica enthused, "Yes, let's play. Jill, you have to play, too. Humor us and suffer for your art."
Casimir and Colleen returned from wherever, and Colleen asked, "What are we playing?"
Greta replied, "Boycake."
"Goody," said Colleen.
The girls rated beachbums. Casimir, who had just gotten his pipes cleaned by Colleen in the deep water, laid in the sun and munched on potato chips, unperturbed by Colleen's apparent enthusiasm for the boycake game. Casimir could afford to act charitable.
At some point, Brent returned, looking more surly and despondent than ever. Casimir made a brief, half-hearted attempt to involve him with a foam football.
Once again, within thirty seconds of the spoiled boy's return, Mommy came to his defense. "We don't believe in football. It can damage adolescent growth plates."
Just as well, Casimir thought.
Colleen giggled and nuzzled Casimir's neck, and said, "Your growth plates look fine to me."
"Thanks, doc," replied Casimir, and attacked her kidneys.
Aunt Valeri had been muttering with Anne all the while, on an entirely different subject. Greta caught enough snippets to realize, eventually, that they had been trading proprietary gossip about their mutual baby brother, the twenty-four year old loser who lived in their parents' basement to this day, dear Uncle Dave. When Greta made the connection, her temples and ears flushed red. She ostensibly played the boycake game, but listened in as well. Uncle Dave had gotten into some kind of trouble again. Police had shown up at ther granparents' house and had seized all the computers. Uncle David had been caught cyberstalking again. Greta scowled and ground her teeth together so hard that they hurt. Just as she was about to storm away, or snarl at them to change the subject, or kick sand at Aunt Val to get her to shut the fuck up, relief came from an unexpected source.
Jill lashed, with shocking bellicosity, "You don't know the first thing about your own brother, Mom, so don't pretend you do. Just because he got his face fucked up in a bar fight, you all think you can judge him."
Everyone gaped silently at Jill, Greta most of all. Her eyes filled with tears, thankfully concealed by her sunglasses. Great. She, Goldilocks the boytoy, newly inducted freshman varsity cheerleader, had something in common with her nerdy, goth, vampiric loser of a cousin after all. Greta jumped up and kicked sand across the food as she stalked off.
Jessica tried to follow.
"Get the fuck away from me! Just leave me alone."
Jessica raced to catch up, and got ahold of Greta's shoulder.
Greta wept, "I've hated that loser cunt all my life, but she's good enough for David. Great. Just great."
Jessica pleaded, "You don't know that he and she-"
"Oh, please!" Greta collapsed and sobbed. Jessica crouched and held her. Greta cried, "Why did I ever think I was special? Even to him! That fucker! I should have killed him when I had the chance."
Jessica rocked Greta in her arms.
"Why me, Jessi? What's wrong with me?"
"You're a beautiful person, Greta."
"I'm a worthless whore. I'm a fucking furniture girl, nothing more."
Jessica blanched. She had never realized that Greta felt quite so badly of herself, nor had she ever had an inkling that the deep dark secret beneath the Dymetrix sales department could have been out.
"I'll be okay. Just- go back. I'll join you in a while."
Jessica wanted to follow, but the revelation had paralyzed her.
Greta escaped. She wandered down to the beach, followed the long row of volleyball courts, played the boycake game, rated them as she walked by with her bouncing ringlets. The boys and men rated her, too, and she lingered at every net both to rate the boys and to put herself on show. It would have been so easy to ingratiate herself to one of the players, or even a group of them. To wager herself on one of the matches, her body to the winning team, to do with as they wished. Greta lingered and watched a game between two local trios. The guys appeared to be of college age, but could just as likely be local losers - Cape townies who maybe tended bar at nightclubs for pocket money and hung out on the beach all day. Most of them looked old enough to shave. Maybe two or three might be old enough to buy their own booze. With luck, one might have his own place - a real apartment of his own, and not the basement of his mother's house. Greta could get herself fucked properly, not just a quickie for once, not just five minutes of pleasure for the goddamned mister, but something for herself, as well. Not happiness, or contentment, but something, if only just the sensation of pressure, just enough pressure to ward off the pain that always burned her from inside like hot charcoal shoved up her uterus.
Sure, the beach bums were just local losers, ambulatory driftwood wasting their youth upon a trashy shore, but Greta wasn't the only girl whose attention had been drawn. These guys were popular, desirable, hawt. They even had groupies. Other girls - older girls, seniors in high school, or maybe even older, college girls, women. Good looking women, too. A court adjacent to this one seemed to be hosting a revolving women's match, and the two genders intermixed between the courts. The women looked as good as the men. Tall and buff, with lean, cut physiques and deep tans. On closer inspection Greta realized that the men and women were dressed very well, for townies. They wore expensive designer sunglasses, fancy brand name sandals, and water shoes. The women wore Speedo swimsuits just like hers. A group of the women had registered Greta's presence by this time. They stared at the strange interloper with the slender frame and blonde ringlets. Greta stared right back, assessed her competition. Definitely out of high school. Like Jessica, they probably had classes, scheduled to commence this week. College classes. One last fling at the local beach with all their old pals. They would all be partying later on, either here on the beach, or they would all pack into cars and drive into the city, to a college dormitory, or perhaps to an off-campus apartment, to drink and fuck. Maybe they'd spin their asses and cunts away on a wheel of fortune, or hold a slave auction. The girls all seemed very smug as they assessed Greta, looked down their noses at the little piece of jailbait who had stopped to drool open-mouthed at their guys. Little did they know, that Greta had played all their games, too, had taken those games farther than these stuck-up little tarts could ever have dreamed. With satisfaction Greta realized she had been drawing the attention of the guys, too, who were having trouble keeping their eyes off her, and were missing easy shots and blocks on both sides of the net.
Then one of the guys - the best looking of the possee, six foot two with a deeply muscled stomach and enormously thick legs, grinned straight at her with thirty-two pearl-white, ramrod straight teeth, and said, "Cooler's over there, grab one and hang out."
The fourteen year old soon-to-be-freshman had just been offered a beer by a college guy.
All the other guys openly checked her out now as they played, and the girls looked mutinous. The women wanted to tear her flaxen hair out by the roots. She knew the look, but they'd never get the chance, because Goldi had been offered a beer, had been invited to hang, and the guys would protect their new toy from the crows as they fucked her and raped her and broke her, and it would be so easy now, to strut her pert bum between the guys' and gals' volleyball courts, while the guys cheered, and to chug a sixteen ounce plastic cup of cheap swill while they watched, and to let a stud refill the cup and pour it down her upturned throat, and the guys would all marvel at how she could swallow the beer without choking, and calloused sets of fingers would creep up her trembling thigh, and baritone voices would inquire as to her name, to which she would reply with her simpering soprano, "My name is Goldi, and what you're doing is really nice; I love when men do that to me, feel me up and put their hands on my bottom; it reminds me of when I was a baby and my uncles would pick me up by my bum and lift me up until I could touch the ceiling and walk me around the house singing to me, crooning Up, Up and Away in my Beautiful Balloon, and fly me with their fingers up my panties, while my Mum and aunties laughed, and my most favorite uncle of all would fly me all around the house, and carry me down the halls, in and out of the rooms, even the dark unoccupied ones, and into the closets, and whenever he turned a corner into darkness he would lower me, and grope me, and rub my bum on his front, and I'd beg him to take me back to my Mom and my aunties, and sometimes he would, he'd carry me back out into the hallway and the light of the party just in time to stop himself from making my panties all wet from his stuff, but he'd sing again, and carry me around, and my other uncles and my aunts and my Dad would take pictures of the pretty Goldilocks and his charming uncle playing Up, Up and Away, and the game would resume, and we'd go up the stairs, up to the bedrooms, alone in the dark again, and each time we went into the dark he'd rub against me more and more, and get closer and closer, and his big purple thing would be sticking up out of his rhinestone belt, it felt so hot and angry, and he'd say, 'Yeah, keep singing you little slut, you little fucking whore, you're going to get it proper one day, you know it and I know it; I've wanted it all your fucking life, and you should know, because you have, too, you don't fool me for a minute you sexy little cunt,' and sometimes he'd manage to get me downstairs for another lap, but inevitably the game would end, and he wouldn't make it out to the light in time, and the splashes would soak me from my tailbone to my shoulders, and he'd groan, 'Yeah, yeah, cunt, yeah, whore, just wait, just you fucking wait until me and all my friends get it in you,'" and the present hour's epiphany of male perfection, the six-two beach bum on the volleyball court, took Greta out of her reverie by stopping dead in his game to regard her. 'Maybe not,' he thought, 'maybe Goldilocks doesn't want to have a beer and hang after all.' But Greta's ambivalence had nothing to do with cold feet. It would be so easy to ingratiate herself to these guys. Not just the superb specimen who had made the offer, but to each and every one. Greta understood the rhythms and drives of the male animal. Men were not complicated. But then again, in their defense, nor were women complicated. Well, at least, not those women who by dint of some combination of luck or virtue somehow managed to achieve adulthood without having encumbered themselves with needless inner conflict. All animals, through every epoch, had been designed to kill, eat, and fuck. People were animals, both males and females. The human brain, irrespective of its propensity for needless encumbrance, served evolutionary advantage by making the human animal a superior killer and fucker. The human brain made fucking sweeter, and thereby imparted incentive. Anyone who had ever seen the ejaculation of a dog would be bound to conclude the vile beast barely felt it at all, and perhaps distracted itself with just enough rudimentary pleasure to prevent itself form chewing through its mate's neck. Human animals fucked more effectively, concomitant with their superior utility at killing and reveling in the violent death. Men lived to fuck, and women did, too. To the extent that females experienced conflict and complication it could be derived only from their foreknowledge that they might be burdened with the consequences. After all, fucking did have a base purpose, videlicet, to bring new spawn into the world. Unlike most animals, that took their regular rapings with grace and obliviousness, women knew what they were in for, knew, as they took that fetid slime into themselves, that it carried a fucking curse, that with significant probability their lives would change forever and for the worse, that they could very well become utterly dependent on the fuckers that ruined them, that their bellies could swell and distend like gaseous bags filled with heavy, sickly cancer; their breasts could swell, ache, burn, and for the rest of their brutal lives there would be nothing but the awful subjugation, giving themselves over to the mercy of some piece of shit who might feed them or not, clothe and shelter them or not, water them or not, and fuck them senseless through the duration of the ordeal, past all utility or need, spewing them full of their fucking poison with obsessive compusive indifference, twisting their nipples through full revolutions and crushing their fat guts against their pregnant whores' drum tight bellies and the putrid parasites that sweated within, and that was why - the only fucking reason why - good girls found the fortitude to say 'no' once in awhile, because all animals fucked, all else being equal, but Greta was not a good girl, neither good to herself nor good for anyone, and it would be so easy now to give herself over to these superb male specimens on the volleyball court, to crash their little party and drink herself sick with their fucking slime in every hole; all she had to do was strut to that cooler, and drink herself drunk, and let herself be taken, and for Greta there would be no conflict, no complications, little or no chance of repercussions, because she was no good for herself , of no good to herself or anyone else, because when a pretty blonde blue-eyed goody-girl plays Up Up and Away with her cool, worldly, handsome, hair-chested, tattooed, nose-pierced uncle - when she allows herself to be played with and carried one too many times up out of the light and into the darkened bedrooms, and down out of the familial din to the quiet of the basement and its humming computer lit up by the glowing Internet cable and chattering with a motley assemblage of cruel and jaded anonymous misters, when a goody-girl allows herself to be taken that far out of the light and the comfort of the familiar by some gorgeous fucking bastard who convinces her that she is the most special fucktoy on earth, well, there's just no way of foreseeing where that Beautiful Balloon is going to take her, and Greta had long been fascinated by the sweet smelling pipes on his basement bedroom shelves, and the old tattered magazines under his bed, riddled with faded Cyrillic and grainy black and white photographs of bearded misters and lascivious traitorous mommies and transfixed little girlies just like Goldi, and all the odd belts on his wall, and leather wrist bands, and leather collars adorned with mysterious metallic contrivances whose function eluded her, and had Greta not asked for everything that had happened, by sneaking down into the cellar to get glimpses into the illicit trappings of her idol's mysterious life? Had he not caught her down there innumerable times, up on tip-toe, perusing the shelves to inspect the numchucks and octagons and Chinese stars, and the razor sharp samurai sword he had picked up for three weeks' pay, and the beveled hunting knife with a boning saw on one edge and blood gutters down the sides, and the steel police handcuffs he had once let her try and then had refused to take off for a whole hour while he tickled her, and fondled her, and groped her, and threatened to bring dear father down to show him, saying, 'What will your dear Daddy Max think, hmm, when he sees his little blonde angelcake handcuffed to the bed like some slutty little whore with a wet pussy, hmm? You think dear Daddy Max will be mortified? Think again. Big man Max with his fancy Stanford science degree and his judicial doctorate degree, he's been around the world just like his little angelcake is gonna be, all those fancy college fucks think they're worthy, and that's all your father is, a miserable pseudointellectual wannabe-libertine who never got his dick wet before my dumbfuck big sister spread for him and whored herself just to get her dumb twat married to a dick with a law degree, that's right, your stupid whore Mommy sold herself for a fucking wad of cash and had the gall to strut down the fucking aisle dressed in white and tell herself it was all for love, and you're gonna be a stupid little whore just like Mommy, I'm gonna see to it personally while I fuck you up silly and send your fucking pictures from here to Singapore so every swinging clap infested dick on the whole goddamned earth lines up for your fucking gash, and your dumb fuck Daddy is just another fucker in line, so go ahead angelcake, yell for Daddy and see if he'll come running down to help. You think he'll take those fucking handcuffs off for you, or do you think he'll pull your scrawny little legs apart and shove his fucking half-limp prick up your slimy little gash? Go ahead, whore, go ahead! Yell for Daddy! Yell for Daddy to save you! Right now! Or say Please Uncle Dave please uncuff me so I can kiss your beautiful prick! Come on, say it! Beg for me to let you kiss my big fucking prick with your filthy little whore mouth.' Sometimes it would all be in fun and he'd eventually let her go and show her the other things on his wall, like his deck of playing cards with faces of the presidents, and all his books about the world economy and the evils of property, and a book about how to sharpen razor blades by storing them overnight inside glass pyramids, and books of wisdom and the secret meanings of numbers, and books of palmistry, books with pentangles, books about ritual sacrifices, and then the pretty ring with silver snakes, and the brass knuckles with half inch razor spikes on top, that Uncle David sometimes used to fuck up stupid pimps, and the cocksheath, a ghastly leather thing perforated with anterior-aligned wire needles,custom fitted to his own cock, that he sometimes had to use to fuck up stupid braindead whores, it went in easy as you please, because the barbs pressed back against the leather as he pushed the thing hard up the the dirty wet hole, but that bad boy motherfucker didn't come out again without shredding the whore to pieces like she deserved, and he'd say, 'How would you like that, hmm, angelcake? Doesn't that sound like fun? How's that for birth control? That badass cock catching my hot splooge and keeping you squeaky clean while I rip your filthy little slut belly to pieces so you never feel good or feel pretty anymore, hmmm, angelcake? Well that's what happens to whores who pass their sell-by date, they get fucked up and fucked up good, because they're no use to anyone once the mister's done splooging them, and whores don't get to feel pretty or make babies or have friends, they sleep on the fucking floor on a mat tied to the footboard by a leash strung through whatever's left of their filthy clits, and they live on piss, shit, and cum until the mister doesn't feel like feeding them anymore, but don't worry, don't cry, you're my little angelcake and you're a pretty dolly, you've got a few good years in you and I won't be done with you for a long time,' and he'd go on in that fashion until she couldn't cry anymore, and then her cool uncle would get bored, and sometimes release her to give her the full guided tour of his personal hell, but other times he wouldn't let her go, and he would keep her handcuffed for what felt like hours, until people elsewhere in the house finally registered her absence and undertook a search. Yet none of those happy memories posed complications for Greta as she stood there in the baking Labor Day sun at the volleyball courts and returned the intrigued gaze of the Oakley-adorned Adonis who had offered her a cold beer out of the communal ice cooler; for Greta the only considerations were minor issues of logistics, and even those did not amount to much. There was her dear beloved Christopher, of course, who hadn't been in touch with her for two weeks, since Jessica's birthday party, and had most likely headed off to Andover Academy by now for an entire semester without ever having contacted her to say good-bye, despite his promise to write to her, and despite Greta having demeaned herself by writing several preemptory letters into her little black diary, empty replies to empty conjecture, on the unlikely chance that he might surprise her by keeping the promise, since he had never really given her anything since last January but an occasional poke and a sore belly, yet he had not even bothered to dump her two weeks ago, so maybe she could find a way to forgive herself for waiting around the house all day yesterday, three doors from Christopher's, and waiting on her bed all night long, wide awake, waiting for him to come over so she could give him his glorious sendoff, but he had not come, he had left her waiting all night long wide awake, clutching her shins and slowly rocking herself, but Andover really wasn't so very far away either, and maybe they had not left yet; maybe they would not leave until tonight, and Christopher might come tonight, around dinnertime, and what if he did come over for dinner, to surprise her, and ring the doorbell, only to hear from Dear Mum that she had disappeared at the beach and had not come home with them, 'because my wretched daughter is a useless deceitful shiftless little slut who never learned her lesson last year after whoring herself out to a locker room full of middle school trash, and Christopher you seem like such a nice boy and I hate to tell you this because I like you, but it is because I like you that I must say, as much as a small part of me must still love my own daughter, she reallly is no good for you or anyone else, she is deceitful and dirty and vile, and Christopher you deserve much more in your life than my daughter could ever give you, because as much as a small part of me does still love her, she won't be able to offer you anything but some filthy disease, so please just go, don't look back, it will be best for you in the long run, and your leaving will serve Greta right,' but even this logistical consideration seemed of little consequence to Greta as she weighed the pros and cons of carrying her stupid twat to that beer cooler, because her beloved Christopher had to be a lost cause regardless; he might be just about as dense as her impenetrable brother Cazzie, but he also had to be convinced of her obvious worthlessness, or else he would have come by for a free fuck more than once a week on average since school had let out in June, so that left just one very minor consideration, namely the likelihood that if these college guys dumped her in a trunk and trundled her off to some Boston dorm or frathouse to pull a train, there was no fucking way she'd ever get a ride back to Winchester in time for curfew, in time for school tomorrow, with all its pressing responsibilities, not the least of all being the Faustian bargain she had struck with the athletics department in exchange for getting a varsity cheer letter; more likely these fuckers would just chain her to a bedframe in the attic for a few days to be shared like a communal piece of meat, which of course would be just as well with her, and probably far preferable to getting fucked up by a bunch of balding, sweaty middle aged high school teachers, but she would definitely end up grounded for life, if and when she ever found her way back home; in fact she'd probably come back to changed locks, and Greta knew that she did have to somehow get through four years of high school in order to move on to whatever glorious fate awaited her. Not much of a complication at all, really, which left the one remaining consideration, that being her best friend on earth, and if she had to be honest, her only friend, really, namely Jessica Turner, who had tagged along with them and would be disappointed with her, if they did not return together. And that was it, in the final analysis, just that one last minor impediment to getting herself abducted to be a frat whore for the weekend. Because that other complication, the one she had begun with and had summarily dismissed in the course of her deliberations, the complication involving the consequences attributable to her femininity and its capacity for encumbrance, had been effectively negated by her hip, cool, mature, worldly uncle and all his sophisticated opinions and bohemian philosophies, and his infatuation-inspiring je ne sais quois, because when the time came, inevitably, to dispense with all the talk and speculation, and to do what they had both wanted, equally, over all those rosy formative years, well, how could Greta ever have thought that the consummate occasion would ever have sufficed with mere tenderness? How could she ever have imagined that she would prefer to have been taken, and made into a woman, in the ordinary, provincial fashion? Any schoolboy could have opened her with his prick; didn't she want more? Didn't she expect more, for so memorable an occasion, between such bohemian libertines as they? And Greta did have to concede, on reflection, that when she had finally opened up back on winter vacation, at Wildcat Ski Area, and had shared her deepest secrets with her very best friend, well, that she had left a few details out. But minor details, after all, mere nuances that could easily be dismissed as tangential to the greater enormity of her forced deflowering by her own uncle, a sophisticated authority figure whom she had always revered and worshiped and adored. But little did she know at the time, that those innocuous details would reverberate through the rest of her life, leaving consequences that would chase her like echoes, and to this day in the silence, when she waited around in the darkness past midnight for visitations by erstwhile semiboyfriends in need of a quick screw, she still heard his brash mockery, the easy power and cruelty mixed with reasoning, the combination of persuasiveness and rebuke, her terror at the overwhelming compulsion to simply accede, the insidious persuasion that she still heard ringing in her ears this very day with a clarity that belied the passing of years, 'Fuck, angelcake, don't you get it? Four hundred twenty of my buds are watching through that fucking webcam, and what are you gonna do? Tell me we gotta let 'em all down? What, you think we're just ordinary, we're just rutting dogs? Any fucking schoolkid could just bust your gash with his prick in the goddamned playground, you silly twat, and here I thought - all those guys, all my buds - thought that you were special, hell, I even thought we were special, but you know what, if that's all you want, just some fucking schoolboy to bounce you on the see-saw, hey, fine, just get the fuck out, go back to the party, stop wasting my fucking time, I'll just go jerk off like I always do when you show up and give me blue balls and then run off with Mommy and Daddy and leave me high and dry,' to which she could only sob, knees to her chin, curled on the bed, glancing furtively at the lens of the webcam and trying not to imagine four hundred twenty pairs of eyes staring back with expectation as they stroked themselves, and all the while her best uncle stood over her and mocked, as always, threatened to fuck her up with his belt for being such a dumb little twat, and Greta loved him so much, her very favorite uncle, who had played with her through childhood and had been the very best at the Up Up and Away game through all of her living memory, and why could he not see that she was just afraid, and shy, and embarrassed by all the strange misters watching, and why couldn't they just throw a blanket over that stupid webcam or shut it off or something, and couldn't he understand that all she really wanted was to be held right now, because she had never done this before, and since she had never done it before, how could he be so mean as to accuse her of wanting their most sacred act to be merely ordinary? But he spoke so maturely, and used words she didn't understand, and he could be so persuasive, and she didn't really know what provincial meant, but he threw the word out like a barb, flung it so hard that it made her hurt, but couldn't he see that this, what they were about to do, meant every bit as much to her as it meant to him? Couldn't her beautiful Uncle David see that she wanted so much to please him, to be good for him, to be a woman for him? Yet here she was, naked on his bed, with the party going on upstairs, right over their heads, her own Mom and Dad and big brother elsewhere in the house, laughing and talking elsewhere, oblivious to her terrible peril, as she offered her virginity to his formidable manhood, which he had taken out of his pants and which Greta's mind magnified to colossal proportions with the dark lens of her terror, and why did he think that her submission to his beautiful manhood could ever have been insufficient to prove her devotion to him? Why did he think he needed to 'plow the road,' as he had so cruelly put it, with that awful thing? That horrible thing he had made himself in Grandpa's woodshop just for her, just for this special occasion, that thing he had named, the name he had etched down the length with a hot soldering iron, "Greta's Cunt Wrecker," that horrific oak cylinder, as long and thick as corn on the cob, roughly filed into a cone on a grinding wheel, with a jagged iron cap, held securely to the apex by finishing nails, and with four long brass woodscrews pointing up out of the top? She had been curled up on the bed, gaping at it in horror and stupefaction, and he been growing more irate and strident, with each passing minute, with his cruel demand that she beg for it in her useless hole. All girls hurt the first time, he had said; all girls have to bleed, he had said, with such persuasive authority; he had been showing her present to his buds online all week, he had said, through all the phases of its construction, he had said, so that all his online buds could fully appreciate the build-up right along with him, and enjoy the anticipation of its presentation to the dumb twat, and revel in her first glimpse of the ghastly thing, and her tearful mewl of horror at the unveiling, he had said, and how could she just disappoint everyone now, when he and his buds had been looking forward to seeing her stupid gash bashed to shit all week long? How could she just turn up her nose like some kind of stuck up little bitch and fuck up all his preparations for their special moment? 'But I'm so afraid,' she had cried, 'I'm so scared, please don't use that thing on me, I want you, just you, please, David, please!' And he had reasoned with her, in his persuasive, sophisticated way, as he had scraped the wood screws slowly across her incipient breasts, her ribs, her belly, had explained that it would hurt one way or another and she would have to bleed one way or another and he had to open her up good if she expected to take his whole fucking prick properly, and the whole time he fondled her virginal cunt, and got her wet, and convinced her with artful persuasion that her wetness meant she wanted it, whether she realized it or not, and dipped his fingers repeatedly into the vaseline to splay her vaginal lips nice and wide so the screws would seat properly into her hymen for the deep ripping plunge without catching on the delicate petals of her labia minora, where the fuckers would snag and prevent the full penetration that he needed to give her, and then she felt the sharp points of the brass between her legs, and he had to warn her that 'if you don't fucking hold still it'll be a lot worse, and I swear to Christ you'll be in a world of hurt afterward when you take my fucking dick,' and Greta couldn't believe how bad she already hurt all over, even though he hadn't really even started yet, apart from dragging the horrible thing across her torso, and she flung her head about, and craned forward in search of the source of the hurt, and the bloody score lines appalled her, the burning cuts that crossed each breast, met at her sternum, and etched down to her belly in the shape of a 'Y,' and Greta began to cry with terror at the sight of blood welling up and dripping from the score lines in her skin, and her beloved Uncle David mocked, 'Those fucking screws weren't sharp enough, so I ground the tips down to needles; it'll go into you much easier this way," and now, before she could summon the courage to protest, before she could beg one more time to take her with himself, the part of him she loved most, to beg her beloved uncle, please not to really use that horrible thing and ruin her, before she could so much as think, she felt the ghastly wooden thing pushing at the thin taut ribbon of her hymen, whose elasticity resisted upon the needle sharp points for just a moment before snapping back and puncturing itself upon the invading screws, whereupon Greta let out a wail that might have been loud enough to have been heard by the party upstairs, so he angrily clamped a hand over her mouth, gripped Greta's Cunt Wrecker in a fist, and punched it in, all eight of the inches exposed above his clamped fist, punched it into her belly all the way. And pulled it out, and punched it in, and out, and in, out, in, all the way, twisting, pressing, grinding, tearing, all the way, while her terrorized eyes wet one hand and her bleeding vagina soaked the other, and then he ripped it out, and flung himself between her legs, with two fists clamped so tightly over her face that she couldn't breathe, and bored himself into the sopped mash of flesh and blood he had made of her incipient femininity, 'Yeah,' he said, 'yeah, yeah, yeah, engggh, enngghhh, enngghh, yeah, you fucking piece of shit, you fancy fucking Daddy's girl, pretty little angelcake whore! Ennghh! Take it, angelcake! Enngh! Take it! Engghh, all the way, whore, all the fucking way! Take it all, or I'll tear your fucking clit off with my teeth and really give you something to cry about, you fucking stupid little twat,' and he had not let her breathe in so long that her vision filled with black stars, and she went dizzy, and all she wanted to do was die, but death would not take her, and all the while she stared at the reflection of her own anguished eyes in the webcam, as four or five hundred best buds stared back and soaked their keyboards with ribbons of filthy slime. He picked himself up off her body all too soon, and she curled herself into a ball, groaned that she hurt, begged for help, 'Please help, I hurt, I hurt so bad, please help me David, oh god it hurts so bad,' and her beloved Uncle Dave coldly advised, looking more at his five or six hundred best buds than at her, 'Don't act like it's a big deal, angelcake, there are three billion pieces of smelly twat on this earth, and every last one of 'em has either been fucked or soon will be, so grow up.' In the aftermath, Greta had tried to hide her injuries as best she could, from her Mom and from everyone else, but eventually her mother had observed Greta clutching her belly one too many times and had dragged her to a gynecologist, where Greta had insisted on being examined alone by the doctor, thankfully a female, who had inserted the speculum with some foreboding, given the way Greta had sobbed at the mere contact, and the doctor had taken just one glance, had gone into cold tremors, and with a distraught voice had cried, 'I must report this to your mother, stay right there,' to which Greta had snarled, 'fine, bitch, go ahead,' and the moment the appalled doctor had left the examination room, Greta had tried to escape, and they had caught her by the waist, halfway out of the window, and then the questioning had begun, but she had already planned her alibi. 'I did it to myself,' Greta responded to her mother's grief and rage, and her mother wailed, 'with what,' and Greta replied, 'a power drill.' Their unquestioning acceptance of the alibi stood as a testament to the mastery of Uncle David's art. Thus began the biweekly sessions with the retinue of psychiatrists, and for the full duration of three years and several subsequent episodes in Uncle David's basement bachelor pad the specialists got from reticent Greta not a single word. So, when Greta had poured her little heart out to Jessica last winter, she had left out the minor details of her deflowerment, and other consequences, just minor tangential points, really, such as the sharp burning pain that now accompanied vaginal stimulation or contact of any kind, due to the nerve damage that made her entire uterus feel like being impaled by a hot soldering iron through every waking minute of every fucking day, and other mere trifles, such as the appalled gynecologist's prognosis that Greta would have perhaps a one in ten thousand chance of ever conceiving and successfully bearing a child, not a big thing really, in view of the fact that the girl couldn't imagine ever wanting to curse an innocent newborn baby to this wretched life, and other irrelevant little trivialities, such as the fact that beloved Uncle David had never cleaned off Greta's Cunt Wrecker, and her blood had permeated the oak and left it the color of rust; or his cruel predilection for putting the vile totem on prominent display on his bookshelf full of necromancy and thaumaturgy whenever Greta came over for family gatherings on birthdays and holidays; or the other tiny detail, just a little inconsequential point, which really meant nothing to anyone, that on the evening when her beloved Uncle David posted their most recent consummation on the Internet for all his buds, not two hours after having soulfully promised that the filming would ever and always a secret between them and would be solely for them, and asked all his buds what they would like to see him do to her next, and when all his good old buds replied, by text, that they wanted to see him use the Cunt Wrecker on her again, but this time up her asshole like bitch dogs deserved, and when her beloved Uncle David responded with, 'well fuck, guys, that sounds like a great idea, why didn't I think of that,' and when he gamely, playfully dragged her downstairs from the party with her sperm infused crotch to read the email thread and asked her what she thought about his best buds' cool fucking idea, well... Greta had not been entirely truthful when she had told Jessica Turner that she had raked his spiked brass knuckles across his face. No, not quite... it had happened somewhat differently, but what were details, after all, but distractions from the essential point that beloved Uncle David had robbed her of her womanhood, and of her ability to feel pretty, and to feel loved, and to feel useful, and to be of use to herself or to anyone else, ever again, because in light of the enormity of her loss, did it really matter that she had kissed him, from his head to his crotch, and had undressed him with her playful nibbling teeth, and had drawn him in so that he would let his guard down, and had smiled into the webcam for all his best buds, and had told all twelve hundred of them, live and on camera, that she was ready to take her most special toy again, this time up her dirty rectum, as deep as it could go, because all filthy whores have to bleed out of their asses, and had spread herself, and had shown his thirteen hundred best buds her chewed up cervix, and had told them, with her acquired talent for sophisticated persuasiveness, that she wanted her anus ripped apart from the inside out, so she'd be able to heal with a permanent gape and have to wear a plug up her ass for the rest of her life to hold her shit in, but at least she'd always be ready to take cock up her dirty shitter from now on like a good whore, and then she sucked her beloved Uncle David's straining cock on camera for all his best buds, and reached up to the shelf, and grabbed Greta's Cunt Wrecker with its blood-red oak and razor sharp needle point tips, and raked it down her own belly, grinding her teeth through the pain, to show everyone that she had grown up to be a big girl, and knew how to bleed like a good whore now, and the sting of the cuts felt like nothing as compared to the ever present burn in the pit of her guts, a mere distraction really, but boy did it ever impress good old beloved Uncle David and all his fourteen hundred very best webcam friends, because evidently Greta was ready to play more enthusiastically this time, and then she pressed Greta's Cunt Wrecker into her own vagina, points first, and pushed it in for fun, ripping herself and bleeding for all her beloved Uncle David's admiring and envious pals, and made herself bleed until she dripped red, and pulled it out, and then pressed it to her own virginal ass, hard enough to hurt, stabbing the points into her own unyielding pucker, hard enough to stick herself, her back to the camera, so everyone could watch the violent deflowerment of her ass, and she urged her beloved Uncle David to come up underneath and do the honors while the whole world watched through his fucking camera, and then as he crouched under her spread thighs, she gripped Greta's Cunt Wrecker in two tight fists, tensed every muscle in her arms, and stabbed the thing up into his right eye with all of her strength. And twisted clockwise. And twisted counter clockwise, and he fell back howling,dripping ocular fluid down his pathetic face. So she staked him in the mouth to shut him up, cracking his front teeth in the process, but hell, just a detail, just a detail. And raked the razor sharp screws from his mouth to his cheekbone, ripping his stupid fucking grin to pieces. And laughed at his lopsided scream as she tore the cartilage of his nose into a gaping mess. And straddled his bloody face, and humped her bloody clit to a fantastic climax on his torn nose while she raised and plunged the lovely homemade fuck toy up and down, over and over, into his belly, and his dick, and his fucking balls, tearing and twisting and wrenching to the rhythm of her intrauterine contractions until even she had had enough fun for one day, and leaned over his gasping, twitching torso, and made an honest attempt to clean up all the mess by licking up the blood, and tasting the raw meaty gore in her teeth, and chewing on bits of warm pale meat, and swallowing inconsequential little pieces of her beloved Uncle David, until she could stand the raw uncooked cannibalism no more and vomited all over his perforated urethra and mashed, permanently ruptured nuts. Ahhh, details, details, details, she mused. So many decisions, both then and now. To have tortured him for hours longer, or not. To have killed him slowly, or not. But killing him, she had decided in the end, would have been too merciful. Why should beloved Uncle David escape his agony, when she would have to go on, with the ever present burn, the constant pain that would mock her perdition and ruination, a testament to her essential uselessness? Decisions then, decisions now: Greta really wanted that beer, wanted so much to be a fucktoy for all these dumb college pigs at the volleyball court, wanted to spread and get herself raped, to divert herself from the burn with happy contemplations of all the ways she could return the favor someday, long after they had let their guard down, long after their memories of ganganging the shit out of stupid little Goldilocks had been relegated to a happy memory, but Christopher might not have gone back to school that morning, and might come by later for one last throw, and she would disappoint Jessica if she disppeared now, and if, by some off-chance, these moronic lummoxes failed to find some dumb pretext for trundling her off into a trunk, her beer breath would be impossible to explain to dearest Mommy, and Greta was on Mommy's shit list already, for the whole cheerleader business, and well, life was always just so fucking complicated, and to this day Greta could find herself amazed by the capacity of seemingly minor little details to echo through her entire tedious unending lifetime. Well, there would be other opportunities for loving male companionship, there always were. It was so easy to pick up detestable scumbags and ruminate on their violent ends while persevering their stale breath and dripping sweat from underneath, now that she had grown her pretty blonde ringlets out and had learned how to pretend to enjoy having her core reamed out by mindless fucking dick, and had drunk human blood, and had acquired a taste for raw meat, and had transformed herself into a hot, wet, delectable, amoral, psychotically homicidal little piece of filth.
One of the dumb fuckers had offered Greta a beer.
"Umm, thanks anyway, but I really can't hang. School tomorrow. Thanks, though."
"Maybe next time," the guy replied.
"We're here every weekend."
Fuck. Not college guys after all. Townies. Thank Christ, narrow escape. Oh, well. Both she, and they, were much better off. "Yeah, okay. See you, then."