Empty SpaceMature

            In the cafeteria after class, some students waited for the second group of buses. Others waited for three o'clock, when band practice would start.

            Sarah ran her fingers thoughtfully down the wire binding of Erin's notebook. Her eyes were focused intently on the picture, scouring every line and shadow. "Pretty good likeness, for someone who isn't taking any art classes. Are there really that many scars on his arms?"

            Erin nodded. Music was pressed against her chest.

            "So, you've seen it. Uncircumcised?"

            Again she nodded, and then diverted her eyes.

            "Well, it doesn't make sense. He's a jerkface. We both know you're not attracted to who he has become. I mean, you kept yourself guarded as you said, right?"

            Erin smiled, and gave a third nod that was ever so slight.

            "Wait -- the two of you didn't... umm..."

            "Almost," Erin interrupted. "But something didn't click. We're young, that seems impossible, but that's the way it happened. Nerves that sensitively felt pleasure with every touch, but felt numb where it counted most."

            "What do you mean? He went limp?"

            "No, no, it's not that simple. Never is. Look, I'm a preacher's kid. I shouldn't be talking about this, let alone have any experience at my age!"

            "Well," Sarah asked. "Do you want to get over him or not?"

            "If you wanted to talk about why I might not be over him," Erin rolled her eyes theatrically, "it certainly has nothing to do with the sex. I mean, lack of sex."

            "He broke down your walls," Sarah asserted, "and pressured you into things."

            "Heck, it's Emily that pressured me. I mean, indirectly. Her and the six other skanks that fill the gap. They all went so far. She doesn't even know he cheated on her. But, look, I've heard some things that..."

            Sarah grinned, "Make you want to go around the schoolyard with a can of bleach?"

            "Yeah! Exactly!"

            "I caught them once, in my basement. We moved the couch to cover up that spot now."

            "Well, I broke up with him last night before he confirmed my suspicions about Julie. I set those suspicions aside. It was the toking and smoking, treating his body like a wasteland with no future."

            "What did you think of him going to Julie?"

            "Well, I don't know what I think of that now. Ray thought he was relieving me of the obligations. The thing is, I'm pretty sure he's incapable of romance."

            Sarah blinked, "That's harsh. I mean, he is a man. But still. Didn't he dote on Emily like she never got anything for Christmas?"

            "Okay," Erin corrected herself, "incapable anymore of romance. And besides, she was his first."

            "He was your first."

            "I wish I didn't have to call him that. Because I don't think I was anything more than a few memories for him to add to his collection. Y'know, that Fall Out Boy song he's always listening to. Thanks For The Memories."

            "I saw the dedication on Facebook. He broke up with a song? That's so immature."

            "Hey, now, I sent him one back. And we broke up before he sent me a song."

            "Wait, the lyrics about taste. Did he mean them?"

            "Ewww, no. God, nooo." Yes. Four or five times the first night. Lost count. And then never again.

            "What a pervert. Treating women like bottles of wine. I hate that band."

            Erin shrugged, "I gotta go to band. And your bus will be here soon."

            Sarah rose from her seat, "Yeah, I'll see you tomorrow, or maybe on MSN."

            "Bye," Erin said, grabbing her oboe case from where it lay on the table. And she walked off, too, wondering when she'd find someone to fell the proverbial empty space. An empty space that Ray had never filled. It had been there all alone, but that he'd let her know about.

The End

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