By Anna Pulley
By Erin Sherbert
By Chris Roberts
By Erin Sherbert
By Rachel Swan
By Joe Eskenazi
By Erin Sherbert
By Erin Sherbert
But no one had gotten as close as Blaine and I. On Day 6 Blaine had offered me Copenhagen snuff -- It'll make you high, he said -- but it made me so sick I wanted to die, and he'd checked up on me later; he'd showed up at my tent and offered me water. I was so happy. We hadn't kissed yet, but we'd held hands during a hike to a waterfall. I was sure he liked me.
Still, I wanted as much proof as I could handle; we had only five days left before the trip was over. On the night of the Copenhagen, he stayed in the tent with me for hours. We took off our clothes. He was the first man I saw naked; the first man to hold me naked against him. The silk of him amazed me. I let him lead; I tried to follow, and to learn. I wanted to please him and impress him; I watched myself from a distance, as if my real body hovered in the corner. "I can't go all the way, I don't have birth control," I told Blaine. I was afraid he'd get angry, but he was so considerate.
"That's OK," he said, and he pulled me on top of him and rubbed himself against my stomach and came, and then he left, and I lay there amazed. I felt as if I'd given something, and traveled somewhere. I felt as if I'd somehow joined the club of women who men fall in love with, a membership that was far from guaranteed, and the happenstance seemed as monumental as it was beyond my control. Finding out whether or not I'd ever gain entry was a lot like how it had felt waiting for years to see if I'd ever get breasts. I couldn't believe my good fortune.
The next morning I sat in Blaine's boat, and he didn't say a word to me. He didn't smile. He didn't touch me. There was a part of giving that had started to feel like losing, but I didn't know what it was. All I could think about was our future together. His parents lived in California, not far from where I lived in Redwood City. He'd go back home after his work on the river, and we would be an item, blissfully in love, and all my friends would be incredibly jealous.
After lunch, when Blaine still wasn't talking, I switched to Ron's boat. And soon after that, Blaine misjudged the water and flipped over in the middle of a relatively mild rapid, an act that didn't sit well with the macho-river-man image. The ribbing started as soon as his passengers got fished out downstream.
When we set camp that night, Blaine made a beeline for the coolers: They were weighted down with beer, wine, and hard stuff. Boozing was a major part of the evening's activities for most of the adults, so Blaine's behavior didn't seem out of place. Except that I knew he was nursing wounded pride.
I hadn't had a drink yet on the trip, which was fine with me. I'd gotten a buzz off of beer a few times in high school, but I didn't really like it.
"Have some," Blaine said. He held up a bottle of tequila and launched into a tale about worms.
I remember cool sand, two logs in the shape of an "L," a fire, a table, and maybe some bushes to my right, some boatmen -- I don't remember who -- making dinner and pouring drinks. Blaine handed me a glass. "Come on, try it," he said. He was still moping.
"It's really good stuff," he said.
Ron showed me how: wet the crescent moon between thumb and forefinger, douse your skin with salt, lick it, toss back the glass, bite a lemon wedge. He and Blaine laughed at the wince I made. I probably wore cutoffs and a T-shirt: My bikini was probably underneath. I remember the bikini, a blue, flowered one: It tied on top with strings. I remember watching Blaine, waiting for him to meet my eye and start being friendly again. He poured me another.
I didn't want to leave the campfire, didn't want to budge from the arena of men who'd accepted me enough so far to give me drinks without hesitation. All those tanned men, rowing boats. They weren't telling me to grow up and get lost, and in my mind, I had the power I needed to hold them, a power I would later know as sexual but that right now I knew only as visibility. Men don't see little girls.
I watched the fire lick the dry wood. I counted the number of shots I drank: one, two, three. Four. And then I lost the ability to talk, lost the ability to move. Lost the picture.
What I remember next is not a detail, but a sensation. A feeling of overwhelming confusion, and embedded in it, a surreal type of surrender, as if I was swimming through a dream. I don't know why I didn't fight; even now, I can't forgive it. I opened my eyes and felt someone on top of me, hurting me, his face was turned away; I couldn't believe the weight of him, and then I knew it was Blaine, I understood that the pain was Blaine between my legs, his thighs pinning mine apart, and in the flash it took me to understand, it was over. It was too late. He didn't groan, or say a word, but he stopped moving. He rolled off me, sated, and went to sleep.