Note: This is a piece I like to call part of my ‘portrait’ series, in which I focus on setting, character and emotion. Here I focus on 19 year old Zoe and I wrote her world in one sitting just now, completely absorbed by its beauty. By far, this is one of my favourite pieces because I think it’s personal in many respects. I really hope you enjoy it.
For a moment, she stood there, gobsmacked at the sudden turn of events.
Downstairs she could hear her parents arguing, her mum defending Zoe’s honor while her dad arguing against her mum for not defending his.
Suddenly Zoe felt like a stupid little girl. She looked down at her faded yellow batman t shirt and grunted in frustration.
None of it made sense anymore, not her batman shirt or her her yellow shorties she had on or her silly pixie hair cut, with sandy colour and messiness.
She felt stupid, like a little girl lost in a supermarket and wondering what to do.
Zoe slid down to her floor and let out a sigh, just as she heard the screeching of a chair down below. Daddy had stormed off.
Her mum had called out to him but he was already out the door.
This was all her fault. She started this.
She knew better than to question her daddy on religion but something came over her when he raised the issue of sexuality.
A celebrity came out, it made the news He said.
It shouldn’t have, he said. There’s no place for that sort of thing in the news, it’s not right. It’s not natural.
Zoe, who was stirring her peas in her gravy, suddenly thought of Sharon Bridges’ 17th just a few months ago.
It was an image she thought of often when she was alone, not just because it was fun and she had laughed harder than she ever had, but because of one incident in particular.
As the party wound down and most, if not all people, were passing out or leaving for greener pastures at other parties, Zoe was looking for the bathroom. She’d ask Sharon herself, but she had disappeared, as had her other friends, into the void that was drunkenness. Not Zoe, she was pacing herself. Although by this point in time, she was well on her way to becoming tipsy.
Zoe had found Sharon eventually, she opened one door, which turned out to be the wrong door evidently.
Sharon was on top of a faceless girl, her head buried in this girl’s cunt while the girl below her ate her out vigorously.
In the corner was another girl, Unknown to Zoe and watching intently, her hand down her panties.
The three of them were drunk and lost in a primal daze of lust, the only instinct being the basic animal desire to fuck and to come.
When they heard the door click and open, they didn’t freeze or become startle, rather they gazed at who it was with a vague curiosity.
When they saw it was Zoe, they giggled innocently, their faces wet with spit and arousal.
But Zoe was startled. She closed the door before any of them could speak a word, and on wobbly legs she wandered to her tent she had set up for the evening out the back and went to crash there for the night.
In the morning, Sharon and her friends hadn’t raised it and Zoe didn’t want to go there, so she had her breakfast, complimentary orange juice and burnt toast from Sharon, and left for home.
The image of the girls, however, never left her.
It lingered with her that whole afternoon, had woken her up that night with her sweet shaven lips pulsating as it dripped.
She had masturbated to it more than once in the following months, but still couldn’t make any sense of why. Was she bi? A lesbian? She didn’t know, couldn’t tell. Maybe the image was just appealing on a purely objective level? But did that still make her bi?
So when her dad raised the female celebrity coming out, she openly questioned him.
When he said, looking her square in the eyes and saying that this was the divine creator’s word, she raised the issue of love, how it was universal. Somewhere along her impassioned speech, she had raised her voice.
Her dad kept saying the usual – it wasn’t right, it’s not natural, we weren’t designed for that. And when her dad told her she was being silly, she took personal offence.
It was all downhill from there on, as Zoe’s dad kept shutting her down. Kept reiterating that one point: it’s not natural.
Zoe left for her room in a huff and in her room in a huff is where she now sat, thinking how silly she had been, silly to be arguing with her dad, silly to start something. Sharon Bridges was in her mind again, her mouth devouring that faceless girl’s cunt.
With a groan, she tore off her singlet top and threw it to the ground.
Outside, thunder rumbled and Oscar, their French bulldog, complained at the thunder.
Something possessed Zoe then, she took the singlet in her hands and tried to tear it.
It didn’t make any sense to her, she felt silly wearing it, she felt silly tearing it.
There she was, a girl still at home, still wearing kids things, trying to tear her singlet while her small breasts smacked against her chest and each other. She hated her breasts and her nipples. The sudden stream of rage entering her mind drove her to tear harder.
The singlet tore down the middle and she left it at that, tossing her aside.
More thunder echoed around her as she kicked off her shorties, tossing them across the room.
They went skidding underneath her wardrobe in the corner.
Zoe was completely nude now, her chest heaving along, her eyes darting around the room. She wasn’t right, she wasn’t natural, she was a silly little girl. A silly little girl going no where. A silly little girl working at an office answering the phones trying to play grown up. What an idiot.
She heard her daddy start the family car, saw the lights glide across her windows as he left up the track, disappearing into the thunder.
No one knew where he went when he got into a rage, but mum had told her one time that he told her in a rare moment that he visits a small pub out the back roads somewhere.
Zoe was still, kneeling in her room, listening to the car disappear, the thunder booming, Oscar barking.
Her skin felt the summer heat, it was warming up her arm as she knelt.
She rose in one swift movement and moved across her room, opening the door opposite her that led out onto the verandah outside.
Zoe stood in the doorway and listened for the rain. It came in small pitter-patter’s first, then more heavily.
On the tin roof above her the rain played a gentle concerto, swift and at ease.
Zoe moved to the railing of the verandah and ran her hand song the rough wood. She stood there a moment watching her hand slide along the panel, wondering what everything meant – her tastes, the past few months, where she was going in life, is she a lesbian?
It was true that she hadn’t been able to get Sharon Bridges out of her mind. But the reasons why this was so was unknown to her, much as she tried to make sense of it all.
For if she were interested in women, what would that mean? She’d have to reset her whole perception on her life, on what family meant to her, marriage too. She didn’t even know if she wanted to get married but the option, as a straight person, was there.
As the rain belted down and somewhere amongst the noise the cicadas sang, nineteen year old Zoe stood naked on her Verandah with her arms outstretched to touch the rain.
Pretty soon she would hop the ledge and go run in the rain behind the house. Pretty soon, her mum would knock on her door and get no answer. Pretty soon, Zoe would enjoy the rain stinging every part of her body and see that as cleansing herself in some way – for what she didn’t know.
But for now, Zoe stood naked watching the droplets of rain smack on her open palm.