by Lisa Vandevender
– February, 2012
I gave up virginity on Friday, December 4th at 5:35 p.m. It snowed that day.
Arriving at the rendezvous with my girls on this cloudy December Friday, that two-year old memory appeared out of nowhere and singed my insides like the steamer wand at the Mud had so often scalded my fingers.
After school my dad was on interview rounds, and mom seemed relieved that I would be gone for the weekend. Not that we had any tension going on, at least no more than usual, but the little room the three of us shared at the shelter was TIGHT, and she knew I hated it there. We had reached a silent agreement that I would be away whenever I got the chance. I’d spent most of the last month at either Addi or Jayla’s, and so long as I took MY kitten Score with me, mom wouldn’t even ask where I’d be this weekend. To be fair, she had a lot of her own stuff goin’ on.
Jan was heading into Annapolis, and offered to drop me at the Mud. She let me drive, like always, and we picked up Addi and Jayla on the way. Addi lived in a great house near Bodkin Creek where you could see the water from her bedroom window. Her dad walked out to the big Ford carrying Addi’s sleeping bag, and to say hello. He was a big man, with a backpack full of jokes and kindness, and he didn’t mind at all lugging her ‘My Little Pony’ bag. A memory rush hit me between the brain and the stomach as I recalled the sixth grade sleepovers when the four of us lay with our heads on Addi’s “Pony” sack, dreaming of fame and stardom.
“What’s up Nevaeh?”, he laughed, leaning toward my driver window.
“Not too much sir.” I replied, adding. “Hey Mr. Adams, have you ever met Jan? She’s one of the youth group leaders at school.”
“Sure, we’ve known Jan since you two went to camp with her last summer. What’s up JK?”
“Not too much Mr. Adams.”, Jan returned. I was a little startled by the obvious relationship. Seems like Jan knew everybody.
Addi walked out of the house then with her duffel, and kissed her dad. “Bye papa, see you Sunday. Sorry about the kitchen!”
“No worries darlin’, your mom’ll get it painted before you can say “obsessive-compulsive”, and I may even get to help.” We all laughed at that, and he added. “Take care of each other, and YOU young lady”, he said pointing at me with a smile, “drive extra careful and tell Jordie the same thing. It’s starting to flurry.” With that he bear-hugged Addi inside the car and I had a twinge of jealousy. Addi was much closer to her dad than I was to mine.
“Bye Mr. Adams!” Jan and I shouted in unison, and Addi followed with, “Bye daddy!”, waving out the window as I backed down the drive. The conversation in the truck turned to boys and school and snow and anything other than what Jordie had planned for us this weekend. Truth was we didn’t want to give Jan anything to worry about, not to say WE were worried. I was the one who had a naggy feeling about Jordie. But it was interesting that even Addi did not bring up the weekend ahead with Jan listening.
Jayla lived near Lake Waterford Park, and she marched out as the Expedition pulled into the gravel space in front of the Barnett carport. Jayla’s mom was at work, so she threw her stuff in the back of the truck and climbed in behind Jan. And damn if Jayla didn’t launch the vibe right back into school trivia, engaging Jan with what I was now convinced was meant to distract. It’s almost as if we’d made a pact to keep Jan out of the loop about this weekend. I giggled to myself as Jayla controlled the conversation. Sometimes girls do groupthink, with no words needed. I thought how that would terrify boys if they ever caught on. I also wondered what we were doing.
The Mud lay less than a mile from Jayla’s house. Pulling up I observed Jordie’s faded four door Toyota fronting the treeline, traffic crawling by on Ritchie Highway, the lights on inside Mud Princess, and a curious “CLOSED” sign on the highway side wall. All three of us noticed it, but none of us said a word in Jan’s hearing.
Waving to Jan as she pulled away we heard Alex Bondelle’s voice from the tiny coffee shack. Ric Bondelle was really the owner of Mud Princess, Inc., but his very cute wife Alex had done the hiring and all of the training. Learning the ropes with Alex and all four of us ‘princesses’ at the same time was the BEST. The path to perfect espresso and flawless foam had us on the floor laughing more than once, and we all trusted Alex.
With Jordie standing behind her she shouted over the traffic, “We are CLOSED girls! Put your stuff in my trunk. Jayla and Addi ride with Jordie, and Neva, why don’t you come with me?” And in the noise and shabby weather we just did what she said. Without thinking. I held Score in my right hand, and threw Addi’s sleeping bag in the car next to me. I am SO glad I kept the bag. We did our special girl hug and split up then. I haven’t seen my girls or my parents since, but they are safe.
Settling into Alex’s big Beemer, I noticed the digital clock read 5:35 p.m., and before I could take another breath that charring memory of a similar Friday two years ago was boiling in my deep place. Alex started the engine and looking down, I saw myself rubbing the steam scars on my fingers. The flurries were thicker now.
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