It was spring. The acorns on the trees were green and a couple of months from browning in the sun and dropping to the ground. Sometimes while wandering around the yard, watching for Les and Al’s car, I’d find a seedling growing up from the ground, an acorn now growing into a tree.
I was on the pill, had been for almost a whole month. Now I could have Al in just the way I wanted him. My mom and her live-in boyfriend knew it was going to happen, and they weren’t doing anything to stop me. Just like they couldn’t stop me from going to the clinic in Sonora, getting a pelvic exam, and three month’s worth of birth control pills to keep me from winding up like Rachel and Winnie, or even like my own mother. I kept my circle of green pills within a big circle of white pills, with the foil on the back, snug in their little plastic case in my green army bag purse, and the second and third month supply in my underwear drawer in my room with my journal that I sometimes wished my mother would read.
Getting on the pill had been Amelie’s mom’s idea, and she drove me to my appointment at the clinic at the old hospital building, where my mom went only when she had to deal with welfare business, or to pick up her food stamps because she hadn’t sent in the monthly income report in on time.
My mom had become increasingly distracted by her habits and her illusion that we were all safe in our small town. I didn’t have to tell her anything and I knew she wouldn’t ask because it was easier pretending not to notice, or being in denial about what I was doing on the weekends in the dark. She noticed if I got a B instead of an A, but she never said much when I did get A’s; she noticed if I hadn’t done the dishes, but it was as if she was paralyzed to do anything about the fact that I was using sex to get another kind of attention.
Al came around with Les once or twice a week. I’d stay around the house, poking my head out the front door, every thirty minutes or so, on the days I expected them to show in Les’ white classic Olds. They were friends of my mom’s – some connection of some kind. Al closer to my age than either Les or my mom – eighteen or nineteen, I wasn’t sure, would only say that my being fifteen made me jail bait, a risk he didn’t take lightly. He and Les were growing weed out across the river and were careful not bring too much attention to themselves, which was probably hard. Al was lanky, 6’2 or more, with dark skin, long dark hair, and almond shaped eyes that were often covered by narrow, green or purple-lensed biker glasses. He was a Mexican in a white person’s body -- his dad Mexican like my mom and me, and his mom white. She lived in town with Al’s two Mexican-looking younger sisters.
Mom and Les would talk business in the front room with a joint, while Al and I sat in the kitchen, only not at the table where everyone could see us. I’d sit on one counter, and he’d lean on the other across from me, his long legs crossed and his dusty steel-toed boots planted under my bare feet, which dangled from the counter. Sometimes, he’d talk me into making him a quesadilla, but usually we’d just talk in veiled circles about what we both would rather be doing than sitting in my mother’s kitchen – always a variation of the same conversation.
“You’re gonna get me in trouble. You should be doing the dishes,” he said, shifting his weight on his elbow.
“Me? I’m just sitting here. I can go somewhere else.”
“Sitting there all wanton and shit,” he’d say looking over the top of his narrow shades.
“I’m just keeping you company, that’s all,” I said, kicking his thigh with a bare foot, letting it graze down the inside of his leg before pulling away.
“I’m keeping you company,” he insisted.
“Oh, you are? Then do something besides just sitting there looking cool.”
“Like what?” he said, grabbing my foot.
My breath caught in my throat.
The radio was on in the front room, and I could hear mom and Les talking.
“Like, I don’t know; I’ll bet you could think of something,” I said, pushing the sole of my foot deeper into the palm of has large dark hand, finally able to speak
“I could think of a lot of things,” he said, releasing my foot. “But like I said, “You’re trouble.”
“I thought you liked trouble,” I said, sliding off the counter, my legs straddling his feet.
“I do,” he said, sliding his feet away and straightening up. “But not jail – not that kind of trouble,” he said, putting a hand in his pocket.
“I see,” I said, stepping in close again. I could smell shampoo lingering in his hair and the earthy smell of soil and new perspiration on his skin.
“Hey, Al, you ready to go?” Les shouted from the front room.
“Yeah, man, I’m ready,” he shouted back, not taking his eyes off of me.