Beginning excerpt of a piece I’ve been working on since December.
Please leave comments, especially if you want to see more of this.
Nicky called them caramel cigarettes.
“You’re bound to be the best sweet talker tonight.” She said, pulling two out of a half-empty pack.
I had never smoked before. The thought of smelling like anything else besides my usual scent, cinnamon sugar, seemed to be out of my nature. I turned away from her offer. Nicky rolled her eyes. Dark eyes, dilated like miniature eight balls.
In front of the mirror, Nicky, wearing an unzipped dress, lowered the straps and shuffled her bosoms which were tightly packed into her bra. With a caramel cigarette in mouth, she lifted her chin. Outlining her jaw line was a thick brush of bronzer. I was tempted to rub out the makeup, but I remained sitting on her bed.
How weird that would be to touch her.
I imagined standing behind her. Her chin lifted; her fingers tangled in her bra straps. I saw myself going to caress her cheek. I then saw her grabbing my wrist, leading my hand down, wrapping my fingers along the strap, until finally cupping my hand beneath –
I glanced over at her.
“Give me a light.”
Her tongue toyed with the cigarette, shifting it from one side of her mouth to the other. I grabbed the lighter off of her nightstand and walked up behind her.
“This is why I never wear anything too revealing. Look at my tits, Kell.” Nicky tapped the bottom of her breasts. They bounced. They jiggled. “I’m only twenty years old and I already have grandma tits.”
I leaned over her right shoulder and brought the lighter up to her cigarette. I could smell lemon grass.
Two weeks before, I met Nicky when we were partnered up in Chemistry. Our teacher, Professor Wilkins paired us up by lastname.
“Kelly Samson and Nicky Sanders,” he said looking up from his roster.
Nicky sat closest to the windows, near the back of the class.
I was sitting in the second row, closer to the center.
I looked behind me and saw her tap her thumbs along her cellphone’s screen, before struggling to slip the phone into her front pocket. She was wearing light tan dress pants that stopped right above the ankle. Her shirt – white button-down – was tied in the back. Hair was red, piercing in her nose was blue (matched her eyes). We made eye contact before leaving our desks.
“You’re Kelly, right?” she asked when we each reached for a pair of goggles.
I nodded. “If I’m Kelly, then you must be Nicky, right?”
She laughed. The type of laugh where she slightly arched her back and kept her eyes closed. When she fixed her posture she slammed her hand against the table. All of the goggles in the case shook. The other students looked at us. I looked at them. I looked back at Nicky.
She was catching her breath.
The next morning, we were setup as partners again. This time, her hair was loose in a bun. One thin strand slipped from the bundle and tailed the back of her neck. Her shirt wasn’t tied in the back; she was wearing a red hoodie. The draw strings were wet and frayed like she had invested some chewing time.
Nicky was already at the work bench, wearing a pair of goggles, when I walked into class. Professor Wilkins handed me an assignment sheet. A few students were at the goggles case. Nicky lifted her goggles, balanced them above her brows.
“Kelly,” she shouted my name.
I looked over at her and so did the other students.
She closed her eyes and leaned backwards, stretching her arms off to the side. Her goggles fell back in place.
The other students looked at me for a brief moment before returning to the case.
“Nicky,” I said, walking towards her.
She sat back up. Her sweatshirt slowly slipped down over her midriff, where a silver chain dangled from her bellybutton.
“I like your hoodie,” I said, standing next to her. I could smell lemon grass.
“What, this old thing?” She rolled up the sleeves. “Stop it,” she jabbed my left arm, “I barely made it to class this morning.”
“Couldn’t have guessed.”
She pulled the hood over her head and sighed. “Oh, Kelly.”
Nicky got up and walked over to the goggles case. My eyes followed her. One of her pant legs – ripped, frayed – covered her untied sneaker; the other pant leg was folded above the ankle. It was weird, but I found it cute.
She returned with a pair of green goggles.
“Whoa. Look how cute you look.” Nicky said once I put them on.
“Whatever.” I mumbled and then looked over at her.
Our eyes met for a moment. I heard her heart beat grow louder and faster like a kick drum. Realizing it was my own heart, I glanced down at my assignment sheet.
Fifteen minutes were left of class and the other students started to pack up and soon leave. Nicky and I had just finished the third experiment out of the five that were assigned.
“Let’s do this one fast,” Nicky said, pointing to number four on her sheet.
“Maybe he’ll let us do it next class.” I grabbed a test tube we used for a previous experiment, and started adding different liquids as instructed.
According to the formula, the mixture should have started bubbling. The concoction was still.
Professor Wilkins waved goodbye to the rest of the students and then approached us.
“Oh, shit Kelly,” Nicky grabbed for my left arm. Her hand wrapped around my bicep; nails dug into the skin. She squeezed and simultaneously whispered, “Kelly, Kelly, he’s coming; he’s coming.”
“You two just about done?” Professor Wilkins checked his watch.
“Is there anyway we could stay after?” Nicky asked. Her hand was still around my bicep.
“There’s a biology class after this one. They’re going to be using the lab.”
“Can we finish this next week?” I removed my goggles. “I know we are a bit late but -“
“It was my fault,” Nicky interrupted. Both hands were now on my bicep. “Kelly knows what she’s doing; I slowed her down.”
I saw Wilkins gaze down at her hands. They were probably white-knuckled on account of how tight she was gripping. His right eyebrow twitched; lips pursed.
He looked at me. “That’s fine.” He rolled up his sleeves. “I’ll see you two on Tuesday.”
After he walked away, Nicky loosened her grip; her right arm slipped into the crevice of my elbow. “That was close,” she whispered.
I just nodded and wondered if she knew I had been flexing the whole time.