Image: Copyright free from Pixabay.
Seventeen-year-old Andrew uses girls for sex, and Julie is his next target. Will he treat her like the others, or will she find a way into his heart?
Andrew looked up at the sound of giggling.
‘Can you believe it?’ his sister told her friend as they passed his door. ‘He told me he likes me. I feel like I could fly.’ Renee’s bedroom door banged shut behind them.
Andrew snorted to himself and switched on his iPod. Girls. They had no idea. Guys wanted one thing and one thing only. He should know, he was seventeen and had already fucked ten girls. In fact, he could go for one right now.
He rested back into his pillows, turned his music up and pulled his cock out. ‘Bring me the Horizon’ pounded in his ears as he masturbated.
‘Mmmm, Julie,’ he groaned—his next target: tall and slim, blond haired, with tits so perky they could have pierced holes in her school shirt. Rumour said she was still a virgin. Not that it mattered. A wet cunt was a wet cunt no matter if it had been already poked or not.
He froze at a pounding at his door. The doorknob twisted, the lock bending at every turn. ‘Andrew!’
‘Jesus.’ He shoved his erection back in his pants, anxious the lock would break. He popped out his earphones and stumbled to his feet as he struggled with his fly. ‘What do you want?’
‘You said you were going to mow the lawn,’ she shouted through the door.
‘For fuck’s sake.’ He unlocked the door and yanked it open, but only partway so it concealed the bulge in his pants. ‘I said I’d do it, and I will.’
It was midday, but his mother was still dressed in her robe, looking every bit of her forty-five years, cigarette pinched between her fingers, lank blonde hair with its dark roots spilling in an oily mess over her shoulders. He really wished she would see a hairdresser. It annoyed him. Maybe if she took better care of herself, Dad would still be home. Then again, the years of alcohol abuse and smoking had shrivelled her into something a simple cut and dye job couldn’t fix.
‘Oh, yes,’ she snarled. ‘Just like you said you would the weekend before and the weekend before that and the weekend before that.’
‘I said, I will do it.’
‘Do it, now.’
‘Oh, get out of my face, you ugly cunt.’ And he slammed the door shut.
He dropped onto his bed with an angry grunt, shoved his earphones back in, turning up the volume some more before unzipping his fly again.
‘Come on, Andrew,’ Julie giggled. ‘Class is in.’
She tried to open her locker, but he pressed his full weight against it. Andrew was so cute: six-foot, sandy hair, blue eyes, with a smile that could make her heart flutter. He was smiling now, deep dimples in his cheeks.
‘Mr Dooben hates tardiness,’ he said. ‘Do you really want to get into trouble just because you won’t go out with me?’
Biting her lip, she curled her fingers through the end of her braid. ‘Okay.’ I can’t believe I’m doing this. And with Andrew Beatman! She smiled up at him, and it took all her effort not to burst into giggles.
‘Good.’ He pulled away from her locker and opened it. ‘Saturday, then? Five o’clock? I’ll pick you up from your place.’
‘No,’ she said quickly. ‘Why don’t you pick me up at Bennington Park?’ There was no way she was going to let her father know about this.
He shrugged. ‘Okay. Bennington Park it is. Five o’clock. Don’t be late.’
He winked, and heat flooded Julie’s cheeks.
Julie couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the week. Classes sped by in a whirl, her time at home was a blur. It was as though she was floating. At night she barely slept, staring at the ceiling as she imagined what it would be like holding Andrew’s hand, hugging him, kissing him—and more. To have his arms wrapped around her—oh. She buried her face into her pillow. When she saw him during the day, she would flush and quiver, and her friends would notice and tease her about it, and all she could do was blush deeper.
Then Saturday arrived, and she was dressed in the little pink dress she bought on Thursday: reaching mid-thigh, tight around the waist, strapless. It was sexy but cute. Something that said, ‘I want to give myself to you but not straightaway.’
She tugged at her bra, adjusting it, as she sat waiting on the bench. The sun was setting, a pink glow splashed across the horizon. Her father thought she was out with Kelly tonight. As long as she was back by eight, he would think nothing amiss.
Julie’s heart leapt as a car pulled up at the curb. She stood, recognising Andrew’s sandy hair through the window.
He grinned at her as he approached. ‘You look beautiful.’ He held out his arm. He was smartly dressed—and startling handsome.
‘Thank you,’ she smiled, hooking her arm in his.
It was the date of her dreams. He was funny, kind, patient—perfect. He paid for dinner, touched her in the right places, looked at her with eyes she could melt into. By the end, she knew he was the one.
Over the next three weeks he was much the same. At each encounter they drew closer. On the third night he kissed her on the cheek, on the fifth the lips, on the twelfth night they were petting. By the twenty-first he was sprawled on the hotel bed, naked, his penis engorged and blushing and waiting for her.
Julie stood at the foot of the bed in her underwear, hands folded in front of her, so nervous she could barely hear anything but the blood thumping in her ears. The lights were off, the room dark, but moonlight filtered in through the curtains, illuminating him. She stared at his penis, afraid, disgusted and aching for it, all at the same time.
He patted the bed beside him. ‘Come on, Jules. You don’t need to be scared of me.’
It was never her plan to make love to him so soon, but Andrew was insistent and after all his love and patience, it was only fair.
She eased in beside him, her shoulder against his, glanced at him, smiled, then looked away, pretending to be fascinated by the curtains. A cool wind blew, making them flutter. It was a standard room: beige carpet, simple furniture, king-sized bed, en-suite, but she had never been in one without her family and certainly never with a boy. It was frightening, exciting.
She felt Andrew slip his hand into hers. He squeezed and she squeezed back. Then he leant in and kissed her. He was tender at first, lips soft, tongue sweet, but quickly became more passionate, kissing along her collarbone, sucking at her neck, as he undid her bra.
Then his mouth was on her nipples, licking, sucking, teasing, until she became sopping between the legs.
Julie arched her back, lifting her bottom, as he dragged down her knickers. Then they were both naked, and Julie stiffened as he opened her thighs and slid his body between them.
‘Oh, Julie,’ he groaned.
The feel of his penis pressing against her navel turned her stomach. Bile swelled in her throat. Something switched in her brain, and suddenly she didn’t feel excitement anymore—only terror.
‘No,’ she gasped, as he dragged his fingers along her opening. He didn’t seem to hear her, eyes closed, breaths wet against her throat.
‘No,’ she said again, louder.
His eyelids flickered but he didn’t stop; she gasped as he pushed his finger inside her. His finger was hard and deep, and it stung.
She tried to slide out from under him, but he pinned her wrists to the bed, his left fingers wet with her come. He kissed her hard on the lips as he positioned his groin above hers.
‘Let go!’ She squirmed and thrashed and kicked out, connecting with something soft.
Andrew released her with a gasp and a grunt and collapsed beside her. Julie scrambled out of the bed, cold with guilt and fear as he curled up on his side, gasping for breath. She hadn’t meant to hurt him.
‘Stupid bitch,’ he coughed, holding his abdomen.
He spat on the carpet and wiped his mouth, glaring at her, the moonlight catching in his eyes. And for the first time, Julie saw the truth—he didn’t love her at all.
‘What a waste of fucking time this has been,’ he said, panting as he got his breath back. ‘I should have known you were frigid. I should have listened to my friends. Julie Charters—the coldest cunt at Charleston High.’
He spat again, a globule of phlegm at Julie’s feet.
‘You’re sorry?’ he snarled. ‘Get the fuck away from me.’
Feeling numb, shaking all over, she searched for her dress on the floor. She pulled it on, fingers trembling so badly she tore the lacing on the hem. Then she fetched her shoes and purse, and fled.
If Julie thought that night was bad, the weeks following were hell.
The Monday after the incident, Julie looked around in confusion as she walked up the path to school. Everyone was looking at her: students she knew, students she didn’t, friends and strangers alike, juniors and seniors. Some were shaking their heads, some were sneering, others were whispering behind their hands:
‘That’s Julie Charters.’
‘She had sex with Andrew—’
‘Fucked him good, I heard—’
She rushed over to her friends, needing support, but there it only got worse. She was new to Charleston High, only a few months in, and nobody believed her when she tried to explain what happened. Not even Kelly, whom she thought was her best friend.
The rumours spread so quickly, and they were disgusting. The kind of things Andrew said she did—
Closing her eyes, she slid down the bathroom wall and sat on the floor, weeping, books tossed to the side and soaking on the wet concrete, phone switched off so she wouldn’t receive any more abhorrent messages, make-up running. She dropped her head into her hands. How could she have gotten everything so wrong?
By the end of the first week, not even her parents escaped the lies; Julie burst into tears as she fled the house, her father’s shouts chasing her down the street.
By the end of the month, she dragged herself to school, head down, books crushed to her chest, hair draped over her face so she wouldn’t see anyone.
And yet, though her days at school were agony, her weekends little better, the nights were by far the worst. Out of all the sneering comments, bullying and harassment, nothing bit so deep as what she thought of herself, particularly while alone in the darkness. It didn’t matter that she had refused him. She had fallen for his charms like a slut, like an idiot. She should have known better and deserved what she got.
One night it got too much. She carefully eased her car out of the driveway, wincing as the gravel crunched underneath, her lights on low beam so she wouldn’t wake her parents. Once she reached the road, she accelerated. She was still only on her Learners but what did it matter? She was beyond caring about anything anymore.
Copper Cliff was as beautiful in the dark as it was in the day. Dressed in only her nightie, barefoot, she shivered and clutched onto herself as she stood at the edge, hair whipping and twisting around her. Far below, waves crashed against the rocks, sending mists of spray into the air. She could almost taste the salt.
Julie glanced one more time at the moon, took a deep breath and closed her eyes.
Julie’s death shocked everyone, including Andrew, but he didn’t let it get to him. It was not like he had killed her. Though you wouldn’t think it by the way everyone was treating him—like he had just stepped out of radioactive waste. They all watched him as he strode past, keeping their distance, even his so-called friends. He scowled at a couple of girls as they stared and whispered. The school was going to hold a memorial service in a couple of weeks. He would not attend.
Back home, his mother was talking quietly on the phone. She looked up at him, then away again as he walked passed her to his bedroom. The whole community was talking about it, about Julie and Andrew both. It had been three days since the news of her suicide got out, and the police had already questioned him. He had answered truthfully, knowing he couldn’t be in any real trouble. Though they didn’t say it to his face, he could see they despised him.
Fuck ‘em. Who are they to judge? And Mum—fuck her too.
Andrew always went to sleep well after his mother and sister did; lights out, dressed in his singlet and boxers as he lay his six feet diagonally across the bedspread, listening to music and playing on his phone, the little rectangle of bright light burning into his corneas. On a weekday, it was usually around one-thirty when his eyes drifted shut and he would sleep the night away.
But that Wednesday night was different.
He woke with a start and sat up, his phone slipping into his lap. Something had startled him, but he didn’t know what. He blinked in surprise, squinting against the light.
‘What the—?’ He looked around; his lamp was on. He flicked its switch off. Nothing. He flicked it on and off, but it only seemed to make the light glow brighter.
He gave an annoyed grunt, chucked aside his phone and swung his head over the edge of his bed, peering beneath. His mouth went dry as he stared at the electric cord hanging loosely on the floor, far away from the power point.
He sat up. ‘What the fuck?’
He tried to unscrew the lightbulb, but it was too hot to touch. He tried the switch again. Still, nothing. Heart pounding, he slid to the other side of his bed, staring at it wide-eyed like it was about to grow legs and bite him.
There was a faint ding, and the light went out.
Panting, pulse hammering in his ears, he groped for his phone amidst the folds of his bedspread but couldn’t find it. He looked up at the sound of a creak, and froze. There was a figure, a silhouette in the darkness, standing beside the lamp. He stared at it and it stared right back. He could hear it breathing, and the sound of it filled him with icy terror.
He dropped to the floor with a cry, lurched to his window and ripped open his curtains. Moonlight poured into his room, glancing against silvery hair and eyes and a face as pale as the moon itself. A face he knew.
‘Julie,’ he breathed.
She wore a long nightie, hair tumbling down her back. His heart thundered against his ribs. He broke out into a cold sweat. He could see straight through her, to his cupboard behind.
‘You’re a—you’re a—’
He swallowed, shook his head. Impossible. There is no such thing as ghosts.
A strange iciness filled the room. His breath started to mist, and he shivered. She simply looked at him with that silvery gaze. Then she moved, a slow drift through his bed, her bottom half dissolving into the bedspread. His phone lit up as she passed through it, then darkened again.
Andrew pushed back against the window as she approached. She was too close, a wall of air against his face. He could smell her—a light, flowery perfume that tickled his nose.
‘Andrew,’ she whispered. She lifted a transparent hand, and Andrew banged the back of his head against the window as she brushed his cheek. A shiver ran down his spine. She dragged her fingers down his throat, his chest. Then she stopped—right at the level of his heart.
He shook his head. ‘No.’
She looked into his eyes. ‘Know me.’
And she plunged her hand into his chest, into his heart. He instinctively grabbed at her arms, only to seize empty air. He dropped hard to his knees, squirming and weeping and gasping at the pain as she twisted. It wasn’t a physical pain. Guilt, sadness, misery—he knew them, though he hadn’t felt them since he was a child, not since before his father left, before he had learnt to keep them way down deep and locked away. Then there was the love, a hot flood of feeling that made his heart ache, and he hated that most of all.
Tears flowed down his cheeks. ‘Let go!’ And she did. He dropped to all fours, panting, clutching at his chest. ‘What have you done to me?’
She didn’t answer.
He sat on his knees, wincing as a fresh flood of tears coursed down his cheeks. It was as though her hand was still plunged in his heart, twisting and twisting and twisting some more. He groaned and craned his head back as he tried to stem the tears. It didn’t work. The problem was in his chest, not his eyes.
He dropped his chin, intending to beg her forgiveness, to beg her to leave him alone, but she was gone.
Andrew stayed home the next day. There was no way he could go to school, not with the way he was: a wreck, weeping like a girl. He tried to smoke and drink the pain away, but it only dulled it to a throb. He rubbed at his chest, clutched at his stomach. He was so nauseated; he couldn’t eat, even the whisky he could barely stomach. Was this really the way she had felt? How could anyone sane feel so much? Because he knew, he knew what she had done to him. Know me. She seemed to whisper it in his ear at every nasty throb, at every painful twist. Know me before. Know me after. Know me.
Why couldn’t she have just killed him instead and be done with it?
He waited for her that night, in the darkness. At every creak, every whisper, he would stare into the night, terrified, hopeful. But she didn’t show.
She didn’t show the next night either, nor the next. To keep himself occupied, he mowed the lawn his mother kept pestering him about, cleaned the house, washed the dishes, anything to help keep his mind off the pain. But the days were nothing to the nights. He kept his lights off, hoping to see her again, but it only festered his thinking, making his guilt, his sadness, his misery, his need to see her again, so bad he curled up in a ball and wept himself to sleep.
It was a week before she finally reappeared. The light pinged on, then off again, and Andrew sat up. She was there, a silvery silhouette, just like before, and for the first time in days, something other than pain filled his heart.
She didn’t respond. He slipped off his bed and dropped to his knees. ‘I’m sorry. I’m really sorry, Jules. I didn’t know you’d do that. I didn’t mean for—’ he took a breath—‘please make me me again.’
She gazed down at him with her transparent eyes, and he almost lost hope. Then she gestured him to rise. He scrambled to his feet. She put her hands against his chest.
‘Thank you,’ he said, his breath misty, shivering in the sudden cold.
He sighed in relief as the pressure in his chest eased. Thoughts that had been eating at his mind vanished. He collapsed onto the bed, revelling at the feel of a lighter conscience. He smiled, smoothed his hand down his chest. It was good to feel nothing—well, almost nothing.
The burning sensation was still there deep in his heart, and now that he was free of despair, it was hotter than ever. He held out his arms to her. Her image wavered, as though she was considering. Andrew gasped as she fell into him. It was the most erotic, the most sensual, the most incredible feeling in the world. It was far beyond the physical. Their hearts touched, their minds were one. He could hear her thoughts, smell her all around him. More than that—he could almost taste her, feel her in his pores. He wrapped his arms around himself, as though he was embracing her. He shivered as hot come jetted into his pants.
He lay in a daze, eyes closed, panting, a wildfire burning a hole in his chest.
‘Julie?’ He opened his eyes and sat up.
She was gone.
Everybody stared, whispering to each other, as Andrew made his way into the auditorium. Pictures of Julie, some framed, some tacked to the walls, some dangling from the ceiling, watched him pass, each one driving a pin into his heart. There were flowers everywhere, mostly red and pink, in vases or pots. They should have chosen daffodils or sunflowers; yellow was her favourite colour. Petals were strewn over the floor. Music played quietly in the background, and it was the wrong music. Julie hated Mariah Carey. She loved the Bangles. Didn’t they know her at all?
He chose a spot at the back, well away from everyone, both teachers and students. Andrew’s old gang of friends looked back at him, then turned quickly to the front again. Andrew ignored them.
The memorial didn’t even reach an hour; the teachers looked bored; kids were talking, even giggling. It was a waste of time.
After everyone left, Andrew remained behind, standing in front of the stage, gazing at her pictures. He hadn’t seen her for over a week, not since that night. Every night he sat waiting for her, hours ticking by, staring at his lamp in the darkness. He knew he was wasting his time. Somehow, he knew she wasn’t going to return, and yet it didn’t stop him from hoping.
‘Andrew, what are you still doing here? Class was in forty minutes ago.’
Andrew looked up. It was Mr Dooben: short, fat, bald patch, white fuzz above his ears, pale as a sheet. Andrew smiled, recalling how Julie liked to tease him: ‘He reminds me of a giant marshmallow.’ Mr Dooben frowned at him.
After three more nights of waiting, Andrew decided to act; if she wasn’t going to come to him, then he would go to her.
It was a Thursday night when he kissed his mother on the cheek. ‘Good night,’ he said. ‘Love you.’
She touched her cheek in surprise. ‘Love you too.’
It was midnight when Renee finally went to bed and Andrew left the house dressed in only his thongs, boxers and singlet, swinging his keys around his finger. It was a new moon, and he used his phone to light his way, Julie’s picture smiling up at him.
He switched on the engine of his Holden V8, put it in reverse and eased out of the drive.
It was a twenty-minute journey to Copper Cliff, but it felt like only minutes before he arrived.
Andrew stood at the cliff edge, his hair and clothes whipping and tugging about. He couldn’t see much, but he could hear the waves thundering like a storm far below. He could almost smell the salt.
He closed his eyes and took a breath.
© Morgan Tonkin 2018