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Jeffs

Jeffs

Jaime Fountaine

 
 

My mom's boyfriend Jeff drives an F-150 for work that he leaves unlocked. Sometimes me and Jason go in there and smoke his cigarettes. It's enough of a mess that he doesn't notice.

He says it's spelled "Geoff," but I still call him Jeff. There's a difference. 

Jeff tries to get in the middle of arguments between me and my mom, like he thinks he’s my dad or something. Joke’s on him, because I wouldn’t listen to that asshole, either.

Mom tells me I need to stand up straight and do something with my hair if I ever want boys to notice me. Like I care.

Jeff is maybe the third or second Jeff. Before him there was a Mark, a Carl, some Johns. They all come in like authorities, think they can teach me something, make me behave.


He says it's spelled "Geoff," but I still call him Jeff. There's a difference. 


I act just fine. I’m in the smart classes. I never get caught.

My mom pretends that we were real close when I was younger, that something’s changed, but it’s always been about some man or another.

When I get older, I’m going to live alone. Not some little kid “no boys allowed” treehouse bullshit. Just alone. No boyfriend, no husband. Just me. I won’t need anyone.

That’s my mom’s problem, that she needs this Jeff and all the others. It’s like she thinks she’ll stop being real if someone isn’t touching her.

Every one of them wants her to be something different. A good cook, a good shot, a good lay. She’ll never been good enough. That’s why they leave her. Every last Jeff.


I’m going to live alone. Not some little kid “no boys allowed” treehouse bullshit. Just alone.


I don't really like Jason, but it's the summer, and we are bored. So bored. Bored enough that I still talk to him after he told me I looked gross in a bathing suit in front of all his friends at the pool. Bored enough that I’ll let him pull my shirt and bra down, but not enough to let him take them off.

We started kissing each other because we ran out of stuff to do. We only kiss after dark, when everyone else goes home for dinner. 

We don't kiss in Jeff's truck, because he might like it too much.

We kiss behind the beat-up shed in my yard, avoiding the poison ivy that only Jason is allergic to. Or we kiss in the park down the street that closes at dusk but doesn’t have a fence, because the cops don’t check. Or we go on walks.


Bored enough that I’ll let him pull my shirt and bra down, but not enough to let him take them off.


We don’t kiss anywhere too close to his house, because his mom and mine got into it once over how my mom asked his dad for help with the lawnmower. She doesn’t want him hanging around girls like me. We’re the type that can really get a nice young man into trouble.

Jason isn’t a very good kisser, or otherwise maybe I don’t like kissing. His mouth is too wet, and he just kind of pokes his tongue in there.

“If you tell anyone, I’ll kill you,” I tell him, every time.

Once, he said, “No one would believe you,” and I didn’t talk to him for almost the whole next day. He rode his BMX around the block for hours, doing tricks in front of my house to try to get my attention. I didn’t budge. He called my house after he saw my mom leave with Jeff for the night. 

“I’m sorry," he whined. “Go for a walk with me?”

“How did you get this number?” I asked, but I still met him outside five minutes later.

We made out against a tree, and he got hard and pushed himself against me. “Sorry,” he kept saying. “Sorry.”

I told him to shut up, put my hand on it, looked him right in the eye. He looked like my mom, begging a man to stay. He would have given me anything I asked for. He was so hungry. Jason didn't have anything I wanted. I let him finish, just to be polite. 

When it was over, he kissed me better than usual and walked me home. “I gotta do laundry before my mom finds out,” he told me, beaming. 

Mom came home, maybe an hour later, crying. “I really thought this one was going to take care of me.” 

Anyone will touch you, if you let them. It doesn’t mean shit. 


 

Jaime Fountaine was raised by "wolves." She lives in Philadelphia, where she co-hosts the Tire Fire reading series.

Illustrated by Meghan Murphy.

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