by Jennifer Geisinger
content warning: consent/sexual assault
We like it, they always told us that, when we didn’t like it, but wanted to like it, we liked the beginning. We liked the flirting, the dressing up, the free drinks that were never free because they came with a price. We wanted to be kissed, but somehow that wasn’t the priority. We didn’t push, we didn’t want to seem overeager to be seen as too much, too needy, too fast. We got in over our head so quick, and it felt delicious for a moment. Maybe we did like it, but stopped liking it, then tease, slut, all the words. We had been told this and we laughed inside at the idea of a girl who still loved reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn every fall and obsessed over tomato sandwiches in the summer with Hellman’s mayo dripping down our wrist, being a temptress, a vamp, a vixen. We had been curious, delighted, then confused, but we did like it, we did want to like it. We liked them and dreamed of pancake breakfasts and someone to watch Netflix with in our door room. We wanted to slow down, to get our bearings, to check the map again after it went from getting to know each other to being pushed up against a dumpster because we were so hot so fucking hot there was no slowing no stopping because we were making them so hot, even as our insides cooled and began to feel like cafeteria Jello-O on a beige plate that comes out of the dishwasher, melting onto the salad and the cottage cheese, and causing wreckage to lunch, but there really is no time to rectify the situation because we have to go to class, so we just eat it, or start to eat it and throw it all away. We do not like melted Jell-O but we do not talk about it, we don’t make a fuss about it because it was our fault anyway, we should have known the plate was hot. We did know it was hot, it had just come from the dishroom and we did it anyway. We did know from experience, but we still served ourself and had no one to blame, because it was just Jell-O and not a big deal, and nobody likes Jell-O anyway. We just keep going because it is too late to make them stop, and we just go to the pharmacy later and get the pill to make everything that wasn’t OK be OK just in case it wasn’t OK. Nothing to do for the ick. We got ourselves into these predicaments over and over again and next time, well, next time we won’t want the kiss. Next time we will not let it happen. We will always go in twos and not go to the parties and always wear sweats and not draw attention. Next time we will be sure before we get going or get excited or have stars in our eyes and vodka in our glass, and we will not lead on to destruction. We will protect our heart like we were taught. We will not start something that cannot be stopped. We will understand how it is; we will be clear. We will let our yes be yes and our no be no. We will give up trying, we will be realistic, it can’t always be good, it can’t always be about us and our needs, because we know that doesn’t happen, especially to girls like us. We know who we are, and we don’t want trouble.
Jennifer Geisinger is a writer of flash fiction, memoir, and poetry. She has been published by Parliament Literary Journal and is a recipient of the 2020 Rails to Trails poetry award. She has two young children and has a nightly habit of sitting on her porch watching the moon rise.