The beer he handed me was half empty. I thought the bottle was sweating, but since the liquid was room temperature, it must have been my own hands.

“Have a seat.” 

I stood and inspected the room around me: carpet gray with dust, dirty dishes stacked next to a crusty computer keyboard, clothes piled on every available surface. The only place to sit was his bed, but I didn’t want to be that forward. I stared at his back while he opened and closed desk drawers.

When he turned around, a smile crept across his face, as if he knew I’d still be standing. He settled on the edge of the bed. “Have a seat,” he said again.

I sat on the floor, my back pressed against the wall, knees up to my chest. Neither of us said a word. It wasn’t what I imagined when I pictured myself with a boy.

Maybe there’s never anything to talk about in the beginning because you don’t know each other, I rationalized. I’d feel more comfortable if we couldn’t shut up, if we had a lot in common, like favorite bands or something. But I didn’t know anything about him except his brown eyes turned my insides to mush.

He slammed his bottle on the desk and wiped his hand across his mouth. “Man, I gotta get more beer. How’s yours?”

I held it up to the light so he could see the inch of liquid through the amber glass.

“You gonna drink it?”

“Do you want it?”

Crossing the room in two strides, he took the bottle from my hands. “Don’t wanna waste it,” he mumbled, finishing it in one gulp. Then he settled next to me, just as I suspected he would. Our shoulders pressed together, our thighs.

“Check these out,” he said after a moment, fanning out a deck of playing cards. I took one and was startled to see a picture of a bug on the reverse, instead of a diamond or spade.

“Fulgoromorpha,” he said, and I stared blankly at the card, then at him. His eyes softened as he explained. “Planthopper. They look like leaves. Here, let me show you my favorite.” He shuffled through the deck and held up a card. “Tettigoniidae. Bush crickets. Heh, bush.” I rolled my eyes and looked back down at my planthopper.

“Hey,” he said, letting the silence stretch until I met his eyes. “Isn’t it weird that we both chose bugs that just, like, blend in?”

I thought I was going to wait for him to make the first move because I wanted to be wanted, but I lunged at him, kissed him hard, grating my lips into my teeth. This is it, I thought. Your first kiss. Your first boyfriend.

He grabbed the back of my head and pushed his tongue so deep in my mouth, I could feel it tickling my uvula. I started coughing. He grabbed a nearby cup and held it out to me. I took a swig of the liquid, which burned the whole way down. When he tugged me toward the bed, I went willingly.

Under the covers, his hands were everywhere. I felt them on my shoulders then my butt, calves then neck. His breathing became ragged after he pulled my shirt over my head. I tried to imagine things from his position, this older guy who could probably have any girl he wanted. I wondered if he brought girls home after he went out to bars that wouldn’t let me in. I wondered if, once I was his girlfriend, he’d get me a fake ID so I could party with him. Or maybe, I thought, he’ll calm down, stick around to hang out with me.

My heart skipped a beat when I felt the pressure of his hand on my zipper. I wanted him to go slower so I could remember each sensation. I wanted to stop him. I wanted to get it over with. His finger slipped inside of me and my brain was swimming from the heat of the alcohol and the heat of his touch.

Taptaptap. Someone was at the door. I couldn’t tell how much time had passed.

“Yeah?” he called, finger still inside me.

“Want some dinner?”

“Yeah,” he replied. The door swung open and he wiped his hand on the comforter before taking the plate offered to him. I stayed flat on the bed, not moving, like that meant I wouldn’t be seen. For all I knew, it worked—the woman didn’t give me a second glance.

When we were alone again, I sat up, clasping the comforter over my bare chest. “Who was that?” 

“My mom,” he said, shoveling macaroni and cheese into his mouth.

“Oh,” I replied, though I’d known the answer.

“Want something to eat?” He tilted the plate to show me the leg of fried chicken, the heap of macaroni and cheese, the mountain of mashed potatoes with a river of gravy running dangerously close to his wrist.

My stomach churned. “No thanks.”

He continued to eat. I thought of my mother at home, asleep, not spooning fast food on a plate and calling it dinner. The stench of grease made my stomach hurt. Mom thought I was at Maureen’s house. If I left now, I’d have a cold, dark walk home.

I stood up and searched through the covers for my clothes. He didn’t notice I was out of bed until I picked up my bag and tossed it over my shoulder.

“What’s goin’ on?”

I didn’t make an excuse to save face. “I gotta go.”

“Oh. Need some change for the bus?”

I pulled the door shut behind me and hoped I wouldn’t run into his mother in the hall.