And the Serpent Wilts -- fiction by Wyeth Renwick
“Don’t say anything,” he said. I couldn't anyways. My throat had turned into a snake and was suffocating me. This was happening. This was actually happening.
"Close your eyes," he whispered. He just told me to close my eyes. We were under the bleachers, I was wearing his jacket, and he was telling me to close my eyes. My serpentine throat squeezed even tighter. Mom was going to squeal when I told her. I was going to squeal, if my throat ever let go. Let go, I pleaded. It didn't.
He was smiling. Why was he smiling again? Oh right. He had told me to close my eyes. I tried to smile back, but my throat wouldn't let me. "Okay," I managed to choke out. The two syllables sat in the air right next to my cheek. I wanted to scratch it.
He was still smiling. Why was he smiling again? Right, the eyes, the closing of the eyes. God, Mom was going to be so happy when I told her. I was going to be so happy. No, I was so happy, I reminded myself as I shut my eyes. You are happy. You are so very happy. My throat clenched tighter.
He was leaning in now; I could feel his breath hovering right below my nose. It felt like the pants of a dog against my skin. Was that how it was supposed to feel?
"You don't know how long I've been waiting for this," he whispered. This was when my heart was supposed to be leaping with joy. Come on, start hopping. Jumping. Skipping. Singing. Anything.
His breath was still there. He was waiting. Why was he waiting? Just get it over with, I wanted to scream, so that I can go home and tell Mom and be happy. His soggy breath continued to hover. What was he waiting for? Oh, that's right. It was my turn. "Me too."
His breathing hitched. "Really?"
My throat wasn't letting me say anything, so I just nodded. What was I agreeing to? Ah well, it didn't matter anyways. The back of my eyelids seemed to get darker.
I could feel him moving in closer. He was so slow. I suppressed the urge to tap my foot and instead tried to keep very still. That was what I was supposed to do, right? Come on, hurry up. My throat muscles were getting sore from staying so tight.
That's when I felt something, something soft and squishy, press against my mouth. They were lips, I realized. There were lips. On my mouth. There was my mouth. On lips. I squeezed my eyes together even harder. Maybe, if I let the darkness of my eyelids envelope me, I could pretend that the lips didn't belong to him; they felt gentle, they felt feminine. Maybe, if I tried very hard, I could pretend that the lips belonged to a face that was smooth, a face without the prickliness of a stubble, a face that…
My eyes shot open, and I couldn't pretend. It wasn't a her. It was him. They were his lips. There were his lips, on my mouth. My throat suddenly exploded, and I pushed as hard as I could; anything, anything just to get his mouth as far away from mine as possible.
"I'm sorry," I managed to mumble, wrenching my face away and jumping to my feet, "I'm sorry, I forgot- I really have to..."
I was already stumbling across the soccer field. Finally, my throat would let me breathe. Was he behind me? Was he calling after me? I didn't care. I almost laughed. I didn't care.
The grass was wet; it felt nice. I like things that feel nice, I realized. Tears were rolling down my cheeks. When had that started? He was waiting for me under the bleachers, I was wearing his jacket, and I was crying. What would Mom think?
Oh my God. Mom. I fumbled with my purse, tearing out my phone. It only rang once before she picked up. "Mom?"
"Hi, sweetie. How did it go?" The voice of a newscaster was playing in the background.
I sniffed. "Um, yeah, yeah, it was good."
"You're sniffing. Are you okay? Is everything alright? Do you need me to come and get you?"
I wiped my nose. "No, no, everything's fine. I'm just a little sick, that's all." I looked down. "He gave me his jacket."
"Yeah, and brought me underneath the bleachers." I tried to smile, but then I remembered she couldn't see me. "He kissed me."
"He kissed you?" Mom squealed, just like I knew she would. "Look at you, all grown up and kissing boys."
I glanced up at the sky. I couldn't see the stars with the stadium lights on. "Yeah, look at me."
"I'm so proud of the young lady you've grown into, honey. Are you happy? I bet you're happy. How was it? Perfect? I bet it seemed perfect."
My throat was slowly starting to constrict again, and I didn't know how many words I had left before it completely strangled me. "Yeah, it was. It was perfect."
Wyeth Renwick has published poems in Soft Cartel, One Sentence Poems, and the Veggie Wagon Journal. Her short stories have appeared in 101 Words, We Write Here, and anthologies by Down in the Dirt Magazine. In her free time, she enjoys snuggling with her sisters and practicing martial arts.