PROMPT: Too Long and Over the Limit

I often pretended Maura Dominiak’s nooks and crannies house were mine. Big, rustic, rife with wood, and usually empty of parental supervision. Full of antique stoves and stained glass and porcelain knobs. After fall’s football games, we’d drive up to the detached garage with the warped edges that never shut properly, park behind the Peugeot, and scatter snow on the walk to the side door that opened to an impossibly chubby sectional. To the right of the couch, three rough-hewn driftwood stairs led to a paneled bathroom that was as homey and warm as a bathroom could hope to be, no plastic seat cozy there, not like at my house. Up more stairs behind the couch was a small pocket room with a bar in the corner, bedecked with green-lidded lamps and unmonitored — at least we hoped — bottles of tart alcohol.


I’d fallen asleep on that rotund, bouncy couch, more times than I’ll ever recall at this age, usually head to head or toe to toe with any number of other friends who stayed the night. Laura’s brother, a few years older, watched over us girls like a father hawk, her sister was the homecoming queen. When her parents stayed home, they treated us like the silly friend who babbles about nothing, bemusedly and with good-natured maintenance. On warm nights, and on snow nights too, a group of us walked through a thin line of cabin homes and trees to a small lake where we’d drink fizzy cans of beer and skip rocks, or huddle, waiting for one of the guys to offer up his white pleather and brown felt letter jacket.


Angst and jealousy, sheepishness, quiet moroseness, arrogance; they all found their way into those nights, hanging on nearby branches, dripping with the ice, blazing in the sun. Often, I’d think we left those things by the lake, but each of us carried them with us, back into the house, and into the nooks and crannies where we’d sit as couples, or trios, or some of us, by ourselves, too fizzy to care.


It was on the sleeper’s couch that I found myself, listening to Let’s Hear it for the Boy, remembering how I botched the pom pom tryouts, knowing I’d never be that girl, when Tommy sidled over, brushing my leg with his blue cords. Up to then, I’d only kissed my golden retriever, Nugget, but I knew Sweet Valley High when I saw it. I kept my eyes trained on his tan suede shoes, the ankle-top ones with the big tongue, and I didn’t move, those shoes were my spot in the dance. Talk buzzed the air between us and I tried to swat it. What’s going on? Where’s Laura? What are you doing? Did you have fun at the football game? Are you going to Homecoming? On and on.


My eyes stayed to the ground until he cupped me under the chin and told me to look him in the face. I found an eyelash and concentrated on it, avoiding his pupils at all costs. So I guess I didn’t see it coming. In seconds, I tasted wet muscle in my mouth. Flexing, contracting, active. An OCD germophobe in the making, I considered the saliva pooling in the corners of the mouth, but maybe it was supposed to be like this: messy, disturbingly robust, moist. An awful lot like Nugget.


Tommy tasted like Dum Dums and sure enough, FD&C Red #40 stained his lips, which made my dried spit tainted mouth twitch. Soon the muscle retracted, and I swiped the back of my palm over my mouth. I saw him kissing Lauretta a half hour later, so I went to my favorite bucolic bathroom and scrubbed the pink off my hand.


10 Responses to “PROMPT: Too Long and Over the Limit”

  1. Steph says:

    And this would be why I don’t do PROMPTuesdays – who can top this? Who can even come CLOSE?

  2. foolery says:

    Holy cow, Miss Deb, for a few minutes I believed I grew up where it snowed and knew what a letter jacket felt like. You write so well. And I swear I’ve been in that house — are there 6-7 sets of antlers mounted near the ceiling of the family room? Awesome.

  3. g says:

    Wow! So nostalgic and so funny. Euw! I’m shuddering with that delicate distaste of the young and grossed-out!!


    I imagine you got to like kisses better, later on?

  4. Da Goddess says:

    I’m working on my PROMPT, but in the meantime, I came to tell you you’ve been tagged/awarded/meme’d on my blog. Yeah, yeah, you have to go look for it. I’m mean that way.

  5. Wow your amazing writing takes me there. excuse me while I go gargle and wash my hands….

  6. tinsenpup says:

    Beautifully told. Loved “An awful lot like Nugget.” Sweet. But are you sure “Tommy” wasn’t an Italian exchange student traveling the world to accost unsuspecting Catholic school girls. That kiss (in all its descriptive glory) sounded awfully familiar.

  7. So vivid! Made me blush and feel uncomfortable as I remembered my own awkward moments and thoughts.

    Those nights though… I miss them. Bravo!

  8. i was right there with you the whole time. (‘cept i was a few years younger. ;) beautifully written.

    i love you and i love this story. and i want more. more, more, more!

  9. Green Girl says:

    I love the details. Awesome.

  10. MommyTime says:

    This is an awesome story. Just the right amount of tension and awkwardness and eagerness.

    My tale of 15 is all about longing and unrequited desire, lemon juice in my hair to give it highlights, and feeling alternately overly self-conscious and incredibly powerful in a bathing suit on the beach. It would take more than 200 words to tell, but it might be worth thinking about and working on… thanks for the great idea!

Leave a Reply