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by Branden Hart
Melissa fucks different than my foster mother.
It's hard to say what the difference is exactly. I don't have too much to compare it with. Forced to describe it, I would say Melissa is sort of clumsy, but a little more enthusiastic. With her, things feel more…organic.
During our dinner at the Italian restaurant, Melissa talks constantly. As much as I try to listen and participate, I can't keep my mind off the utensils in front of me. How could I know if they had been cleaned properly? In the life of a restaurant fork, thousands of people put that fork in their mouths. A restaurant plate, which usually has a longer life then the fork, can have tens of thousands of meals served on its surface. A restaurant glass is the worst. They are never cleaned properly. More often than not, they are simply emptied, dipped in a vat of tepid soapy water, rinsed, and left out to dry. The glass is the Petri dish of the restaurant world.
Even though I barely touch my food and have to leave three times to go to the bathroom and wash my hands, Melissa assures me that she is having a great time. When we walk out of the restaurant and get in her car, she asks me if I have to go home.
"Well, I have to go home at some point…" I answer, confused about the question.
"You are so weird," she says. As usual, it sounds like a compliment coming from her. "What I mean is, can you come back to my place for a little bit?"
She puts her hand on my leg, and rubs it a little with her thumb. I smile, and mumble that I suppose I can come over.
About an hour later, we're in her bed, and she's going down on me, and I'm thinking about two things: how good it feels, and how she washes her sheets.
Anything that comes in contact with your body, in my opinion, needs to be washed with the hottest water possible, as well as antibacterial laundry soap. And you can't simply throw the laundry into the machine and assume the water is hot enough. After all, if someone has just taken a shower, there may not be any hot water left. To make sure all bacteria is destroyed; you have to make sure that the water coming out of the washing machine is as hot as possible. It only took me a little bit of time at the foster home to realize that not everyone shares the same opinion as I do when it comes to washing things. And that's scary.
When Melissa quits going down on me and gets on top of me, I start to forget about laundry.
This is after Mr. Granger told me that he couldn't talk to me about sex—it could get him fired. This is after I tell him I don't know who to ask, and he tells me I should talk to my foster parents. This is before I decide to find out for myself what sex is all about.
The lights are off in Melissa's bedroom, but when she gets on top of me, she says she wants to turn one on so she can see me and I can see her. She reaches over and turns on the lamp on her bedside table. The room fills with shadows. Our audience.
As I stand at the top of the hill, the gun heavy in my hand, Melissa's labored breathing sending ripples through the pools of blood collected beneath her, I wonder how things would have been different if I had learned about sex before I went on my date with Melissa. Before I went on my date, I knew two things about sex: it was something people liked to do, and it had something to do with fucking.
After my date, I go home. My foster parents are out for the evening. I decide to find out for myself, once and for all, what sex is.
I go to the computer and type the word into a search engine.
It turns out that I had been having sex. I'd had sex with my foster mother, as well as Melissa. Sex and fucking, for the most part, are the same thing.
That's interesting, I think, as I browse through more pages on the subject, reading about positions, legal implications of sex (I laugh when I realize that, in some places, having sex with my foster mother would be illegal because of my age), and sex in religion. It's interesting, and for a brief moment, I relax in my newfound knowledge, happy that an answer to a question nobody would answer for me has been discovered.
But only for a brief moment. Because the next topic on the page I'm reading is "Sexually Transmitted Diseases."
Something in my stomach twists, and for a moment, I think I'm going to throw up. The feeling increases as I read.
Chlamydia. It can cause infertility in women. In men, it can cause painful discharge from the penis. An estimated three million people in the United States have the disease. One out of every one hundred.
Gonorrhea. In men, it can cause painful, colorful discharge from the penis. An estimated one million people get this disease every year. That's one in three hundred people.
Viral hepatitis—you can die from this one. It affects the liver. It's all over the place. Even being in the same house as someone with hepatitis puts you at risk of contracting the disease.
Genital herpes. The most common STD there is. One out of every five adults in America has it. And you can't get rid of it.
Before I can read anymore, I'm in the bathroom. Checking to see if my eyes are still white (the liver problems associated with hepatitis can make them turn yellow). Looking for spots on my dick with a magnifying glass. Forcing myself to pee so I can find out if it stings. I think it does, but I'm not sure if it is because I've caught something, or because of the force I use to get it out.
That night, I sit in the shower until all the hot water is gone. No matter how much I scrub, no matter what I do, I can't feel clean. I've exposed myself to disease. After all my work, after everything I've done to make sure I kept germs and bacteria out of my body, I've made the one mistake that could completely fuck me over. For good.
The website assures me that if I take precautions such as wearing a condom, I can still have a healthy and satisfying sex life. Which raises the question—in the life of a condom, how many people come in contact with it before I use it? Because if just one of those people has one of these diseases…
When my foster parents come home that night, they find me still in the shower. The water is cold, but it doesn't bother me. My foster mother turns it off and stands me up, wrapping me in a towel, while my foster father keeps asking what's going on, what's wrong with me.
"I think I want to kill myself," I finally explain to him.
The next day, I don't go to school. Together, they drive me to a small office in a strip mall. That's where I meet my psychiatrist.