The Reader - Week 12
“It’s your turn,” said Jennifer.
“My awakening or my awakening of someone else?” said Andy.
“I was fifteen, maybe still fourteen, and there was a carnival at the neighborhood Catholic Church. Most of the attractions there were for little kids: a fish pond, cakewalks, face-painting and the like, with bingo for the grown-ups. There was a stage, however, with teen-aged bands playing cover tunes. One girl, a little younger than me, was looking at the band. She wore glasses, and had a “duck-face” mouth. We stood near each other, watching the band. Somehow, she was suddenly closer, she snuk up on me, I think. I looked at her and said something stupid, something like ‘Cool band, huh?’ I thought she was cute. I ran into her again, about a week later, this time I was going to the local mall that was about two miles from my house, it had a place where you could race slot cars. She was with a couple of friends, we got to talking, we walked together for blocks. She told me her name—Lynette. She reminded me of my mother. When school started again in the fall, we’d see each other in the hall. There was a girl in my neighborhood who lived with her mother on one of the slab houses on the next block over. I had spent some time with her in the summer, just hanging out. This is terrible, I can’t remember her name. Anyway, she knew Lynette and said that she would be coming over that night. I went over to her house after supper, with my friend Kevin. There were five or six of us. Her mom had a boyfriend that went with her into the bedroom. We sat in the living room and watched TV for a while, and then went out to her mom’s car. Lynette and I were in the back seat. We began to make out.”
“Did you touch her? Petting?” asked Jennifer.
“Yes. She got pretty excited. I was excited too.”
“I’ll bet you were. What did that lead to?”
“Nothing. Nothing with me that is,” said Andy, “But later on she did get pregnant. It was with a guy who lived on the next block, he lived in a house that only had grass in the yard—no trees, no flowers, no shrubs. I guess he was under stimulated. I saw her a few years later, on the bus, we talked a little. she said that she found Jesus.”
“You caused her to get pregnant, from a groping session in a car?”
“I don’t know. I felt responsible, somehow, for making her sexually active,” said Andy, “Maybe she was wanton. But I don‘t think so. Am I a bad person?”
“Fifteen? She was fourteen? If you had been caught now you’d be on the sex offender registry. I’m not going to hold it against you. Kid’s stuff. You kept your pants on?”
“Oh, yes. I stayed away from girls… in high school at least, after that.”
“But you’ve had other relationships since high school, I hope?” said Jennifer.
“I just broke up with someone a few weeks ago.” Andy said, quietly.
“You aren’t ready to try again, are you?”
“No. I suppose not.”
“Look. I’ve got some things I have to do today,” said Jennifer, “Here’s my number. Call me tonight. We can work on this some more, later, if you want. We won’t drink so much.”
“I’d like that. Thanks for talking to me. I’ve never discussed this with anyone before. Do you need a ride?”
“No, I’m good. I can use the walk,” said Jennifer, “Thanks for breakfast.” She got up and walked out the door.
Andy cleaned up the breakfast dishes and sat down with his pile of manuscripts.