Pete and I lie side by side on the bare wooden floor and listen to sleet pound the roof. It feels a little creepy that for months we’ve been climbing up a rickety, built-in ladder just to make out, because the rest of the time, we pretend we barely know each other so nobody gets wind of what we’re up to. But everything seems off now that John F. Kennedy is embalmed underground, a flame burning perpetually above, and Lyndon B. Johnson, who looks like a cross between a gnarled elm and the Jolly Green Giant, is occupying the Oval Office.
Pete checks his watch. “Jeez, it’s four o’clock already.” He reaches for his glasses on the floor, puts them on and stands up.
While wind rattles the tower’s only window, I straighten my cranberry and blue polka dot blouse, and don my glasses. The tortoise shell frames looked so good when I put them on layaway four months ago. But last week, when I tried them on with lenses in, they didn’t look much better than the cheap frames they’d replaced.
“Do you like these glasses?” I stand and brush creases from my navy wool skirt. “I wish I’d gotten those mosaic-style ones, you know, like the ones Gayle has.”
“Glasses are glasses. No big deal.” He tucks in his green-and-white pinstriped shirt and walks to the corner where we’d peeled off our jackets and sweaters in a rush. He shakes our clothes apart and hands me my blue cardigan and jacket. The room is damp and pungent as we tug on our outer layers in the waning afternoon light.
A few minutes ago, I let Pete feel my breasts through my bra. Before, I’d always put my hand on his to stop it from inching up my ribs. But today, as soon as I would relax, his hand would creep up again. I finally just let go, and his touch on my bra felt thrilling—but now I feel awkward as an ostrich stuffed into a chicken coop as I wrap my coat tightly around myself. I’m embarrassed both that I didn’t stop him and that my breasts are so small. It’s not like he didn’t know before, but now he’s felt them, felt how flat they really are.
I follow Pete down the ladder and into the bright light of the hallway. “See ya,” I say, as we step out the door.
He pulls his collar up and hunches his shoulders against the ice pellets bombing everything in their path. “Do you want a ride? It’s really coming down hard.”
“No thanks. I’m going to the record store to listen to the Beatles. It’s only a couple of blocks.” Like everybody I know, except for grownups, I love rock and roll, and this new band from England gave me a jolt of joy when I heard them for the first time at the end of swim class today. I can’t wait to learn all their songs.
“Running through the sleet to listen to a band called the Beatles? Suit yourself, silly.” He gives me a you’re-too-lame-for-words look before darting to his car.
I leap over patches of ice in the parking lot and imagine he’s already dreaming of a girl with bigger breasts.
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