by Susan Minot (1989)
Leo was from a long time ago, the first one I ever saw nude. In the spring before the Hellmans filled their pool,
we’d go down there in the deep end, with baby oil, and like that. I met him the first month away at boarding school.
He had a halo from the campus light behind him. I flipped.
Roger was fast. In his illegal car, we drove to the reservoir, the radio blaring, talking fast, fast, fast. He was always
going for my zipper. He got kicked out sophomore year.
By the time the band got around to playing “Wild Horses,” I had tasted Bruce’s tongue. We were clicking in the
shadows on the other side of the amplifier, out of Mrs. Donovan’s line of vision. It tasted like salt, with my neck
bent back, because we had been dancing so hard before.
Tim’s line: “I’d like to see you in a bathing suit.” I knew it was his line when he said the exact same thing to Annie
You’d go on walks to get off campus. It was raining like hell, my sweater as sopped as a wet sheep. Tim pinned me
to a tree, the woods light brown and dark brown, a white house half-hidden with the lights already on. The water
was as loud as a crowd hissing. He made certain comments about my forehead, about my cheeks.
We started off sitting at one end of the couch and then our feet were squished against the armrest and then he went
over to turn off the TV and came back after he had taken off his shirt and then we slid onto the floor and he got up
again to close the door, then came back to me, a body waiting on the rug.
You’d try to wipe off the table or to do the dishes and Willie would untuck your shirt and get his hands up under in
front, standing behind you, making puffy noises in your ear.
He likes it when I wash my hair. He covers his face with it and if I start to say something, he goes, “Shush.”
For a long time, I had Philip on the brain. The less they noticed you the more you got them on the brain.
My parents had no idea. Parents never really know what’s going on especially when you’re away at school most of
the time. If she met them my mother might say, “Oliver seems nice” or “I like that one” without much of an
opinion. If she didn’t like them, “He’s a funny fellow, isn’t he?” or “Johnny’s perfectly nice but a drink of water.”
My father was too shy to talk to them at all, unless they played sports and he’d ask them about that.
The sand was almost cold underneath because the sun was long gone. Eben piled a mound over my feet, patting
around my ankles, the ghostly’ surf rumbling behind him in the dark. He was the first person I ever knew who died,
later that summer, in a car crash. I thought about it for a long time.
“Come here,” he says on the porch.