I told him I didn’t want to face the camera.
“Come on, it won’t be that bad,” Jeff said.
“My body is much better,” I said.
“We’ll see about that. Don’t worry. I’ll make sure no one knows it’s you.”
I looked over at Ashleigh and she kept chewing her gum like a cow and it was really annoying. She’s got no clue why she’s really here – she just loves being naked. I watched as she took her top off and threw it over the chair arm. She undid her bra and let it fall at her feet, kicked it away like a dirty leaf. She tried to blow a bubble with her smacking lips. I couldn’t take it anymore. “Ashleigh, quit chewing that fucking gum.”
I shook my head. Jeff finished setting the camera up. Sean came back into the room, holding four sodas. He’s the one that spent all his money on this – the soundproof installation, the camera, everything. I shivered. I knew they wouldn’t do anything to hurt me, but I just didn’t want to take my shirt off anymore. “I just want to watch,” I said.
“You can’t watch. I need you, Morgan. You’re beautiful,” Sean said.
“My body may be but not my heart.”
“Don’t bitch out, Morgan,” Ashleigh said.
“No one’s being a bitch. I just don’t see why we’re doing this.”
Jeff looked up from the camera. “Revenge. And slightly boredom.”
I guess revenge can be noble, but it’s not enough for me at times.
“We’re all friends,” Sean said. He handed out the sodas and then went over to his computer and started typing something. “No one else is here. We’ll have you home soon so you can do your homework.”
Ashleigh laughed at that one. She had her jeans and panties off now and tried blowing a bubble again. She always was the giggly bimbo. Well, she fucking cornered that market real good. I walked up to her. “Ashleigh, swallow the gum.”
“Morgan,” she said.
“Just do it.”
“Well, ok, Mom,” she said and swallowed it. Then she shot me a cocky smile and if it wasn’t for the fact that we were best friends, I would have slapped her. I turned around and saw Sean grinning at me.
“Come on, Morgan. At least the top,” Sean said.
“Sean, please,” I said.
“You’ve known me for a long time. Since elementary. It’s not weird. I’ll make sure it won’t get your face. I know you’re going to college. I don’t want to fuck that up. Just the top. Please.”
Ashleigh was sitting on the chair now. She had shaved for the occasion. “I don’t feel good about this, Sean. Someone will find this. This is not ok.”
“We’ll be ok, Morgan.”
I looked over at Jeff and he gave no indication that we would be ok. “We’re all just kids, Sean. Please let me watch.”
“Morgan, come here,” Sean said and I did, and he hugged me and I began to cry.
“How long have you known me?”
“Since you were young enough to talk.”
“Do you trust me?”
“So let’s do this.”
“But…we’re better people than this.”
“No, we’re not. Morgan, wash up and come back in five. We’re shooting.”
So I did. I left the room and Ashleigh started talking shit and I resisted the urge to turn around and shout, fuck you bitch. I went into the basement powder room and I threw water in my face. I smudged my mascara but I left it like that. I walked back into the set and Ashleigh was stretching like she was some athlete. “Like that’s gonna help your fat,” I said.
“Shut up, Morgan. You’re going to fuck this all up.”
“Alright, girls.” Sean. “That’s enough. Listen. We don’t have time to rehearse. So you need to focus. You know all the basics, I’m sure.” His phone dinged from his pocket. He took it out and read the text. Jeff stood against the wall, crossing his arms, sighing, knowing that he had to beat off after this was done rather than during. “They’re here.”
“I’m ready,” Ashleigh said.
I wasn’t. I still had my shirt on. I wanted to puke.
“Morgan,” Sean said.
“Are you ready?”
“Then take your shirt off. I’m not asking again.”
I didn’t want to argue anymore. So I ripped my shirt off and I threw it as hard as I could and I took one of the sodas. I chugged it until it went down my chest and onto my tits and all over the floor. I wished it was beer. Then I spread my arms wide and I said, “I’m a fucking monster. Let’s do this.”
Sean laughed and Ashleigh groaned.
“Well, damn. Let’s commit some sins,” Jeff said and went back to the camera. Sean went up the steps. I didn’t bother to clean up – the mascara and soda was a great look. Ashleigh was sizing me up.
“I guess, Morgan, we’re going to find out who can do better.”
“Come on. We’re friends.”
“Of course we are, deary.” She walked up to me and then her voice briefly broke. “But this is really…important. You’re going to college.”
“What does that have anything to do with it?”
“Because I’m not,” she said and turned away. I didn’t know she wasn’t going. I thought she applied. My idea of a future – one that included her – now hung delicately.
“Just remember the good times, I guess,” I said, after a long pause.
“I will,” she said and took the hair tie off her wrist, putting her hair up for easier access to activities later.
“Because none of this matters.”
“We’re gonna start filming when he opens the door back up,” Jeff said.
The door opened up and Sean ran down the steps. His energy scared me. He told Jeff to wait. He looked at me and I started to sob a bit but he put a finger to my lips. He stared at my tits and tan skin and I knew I wasn’t perfect because of my appendix surgery scars and I was not the beauty he wanted and that I should be skinnier and that I wanted to go vomit for him but he stopped me and held me. I felt the other people at the top of the steps – disgusting fucking shapes, confused young assholes.
“We’re way too fucking young to know what we’re doing, Sean,” I said. I lost it. I wanted to fall to the ground but Sean helped me up.
“Just give me fifteen good minutes.”
“Half a sitcom. For me.”
“Yeah, Sean. Sure.”
Sean smiled. “Sounds good, babe.” He kissed me and turned and I reached out but he was already gone. But Jeff yelled action and I heard the boys come down the stairs, boyfriends of other girls we knew, and I got to the less attractive one, and I gave it to him and I took him down with my beautiful stored vengeance and smudged mascara and soda-drenched skin, and I made sure not to talk so loud because Jeff was holding the boom and I took my tongue into the boy’s ear and whispered “revenge” and he said he didn’t care and he smelled like beer and I unzipped his pants and in the haze I looked over and saw my collegeless best friend with a full mouth and I took him in me and as I did I saw Sean grinning and I thought, fucker, this should be you, this should be so much of you.
Kevin Richard White is the author of the novels The Face Of A Monster and Patch Of Sunlight through No Frills Buffalo. His work has been previously published by Akashic Books, Sundog Lit, Crack The Spine, Digging Through The Fat, Hypertext, Foliate Oak, Dime Show Review, Lunch Ticket, Aji Magazine and Ghost Parachute among others. He lives in Pennsylvania.