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December 1, 2010 Fiction


Leah Bailly

Slots-of-Fun photo

You pop your cherry on top of a cliff at sunset, with a rainbow shooting from the roof and a cream soda tingling in its can on the dash. He is named Nick and he’s totally unreal. You neck for an hour, then he lifts your halter and sucks — you orgasm liquid silver all over his face and the pleather backseat. Afterwards, the radio sizzles and Nick weeps against the skin of your thigh. On the beach below, a pony rides. The mist over the water, a cellophane haze.

* * *

The next day at school, you get low-fives all up and down the halls while your pals crowd your locker and boof your bangs and sing the do-wa-waaas. From down in the smoke pit, Nick and the dudes are climbing the ivy. Greasy noses against the glass; they’re coming to rescue you from bunk-ass Chem. I am the teacher — trapped in scratchy corduroy, a pile of thin dimes shivering in my pocket. You leave a trail of choke-cherries behind you as you sprint up the empty halls.

* * *

It is Nick’s idea to launch the kiss machine in the teacher’s lounge, with all its silver knobs and synthesizer music. By now, Nick is real. When he passes me in the hall, my teeth pick up a radio station from the islands, the voices rattling my fillings. He perches you on the pleather seat and turns the knob. You just sit there, mewling. When you kiss us — all of us — your tongue is cat-rough and your eyes stay fastened to Nick, a silver stain spreading across your thighs.

* * *

The other teachers start calling you Slots-of-Fun to be mean, but only because they want to cup parts of you in their hands: a ponytail, a heel, a cheek, a wad of eyelashes. You have grown bored of the kiss machine, of Nick crawling up the ivy. Now he’s building bombs to get you out of class. I find a remote control in my waste-paper basket. A rash blooms across my neck and chest. The radio voices are preaching damnation now, the mercury in my molars a stentorian mess.

* * *

I follow you to the wind-swept fair. The smell is cloying candy, horseshit, and Nick-sweat. I watch you eat the candy-blue sharks and I hide behind the freaks, my chest a web of abrasions. On the Ferris wheel, you and Nick shoot rainbows out of your fingers, right into each other’s lovesick eyes. Then you fuck again, right there on the wheel. The silver drips down on to me in the cage below and one drop slips into my eye. The chattering in my teeth turns to a singing choir.

* * *

The rash spreads to everyone. You retreat to the cliffs where Nick builds you a shelter of cream soda cases. The beach below is empty except for the ponies. The ponies can save us! Nick says, the words in a word bubble, gum-pink, that pops. He tries to lasso a pony with his rainbow, but they’re spooked by his pleather smell. They are drawn only by my corduroy, a scratchy, animal thing. There is no kiss machine to diminish the spreading lacerations. Nick grows feeble, the smell of rotten choke-cherries belching from his pretty mouth.

* * *

The ponies and I nudge you with our moist noses, out of the shelter, into the cellophane mist. I want to give you back your cherry, but I cannot. Instead, I wrap you in corduroy, I shower you with dimes and make a little step with my interlaced fingers. You climb up your pony’s back and your bangs boof up. I am the kiss machine now. I am the bomb. As we ride, our ponies’ backs grow wet with silver. The voices in my teeth are a symphony; I am singing the do-wa-waaas.

image: Valerie Molloy