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  • Writer's pictureWolfpen

The Idea of Love

By Katelyn Helton

My newly applied mascara was running down my cheeks. My vision blurred from the piddling tears in my sockets as I held my cell phone in front of my face to read “I agree. It’s over.” I wasn’t ready for sex or commitment. So here I was, locked up in my bedroom crying under the covers over a boy.

It was 2011, the summer between my Middle School and High School years. To my knowledge I was a great student, until I met a boy that marked my reputation dirty. I was fourteen and fresh meat. Now, I’ve had middle school boyfriends. By then, I was already tainted by my first kiss and a boy had held my hand, one had even made the notorious in-scene-arm-around-the-shoulder move. But one boy changed my idea of love. I was in love with the idea of love and left craving a void that should have never existed.

We had a date for The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I remember the way I dressed up. Giddy from the time I wore a tight teal zip-up dress my friend told me that I needed to wear, a face caked with makeup, and feet throbbing from too tight of heels, I watched a man scale the entrance line. My group of friends hailed him over, excitedly screeching that this was my first show. My heart pounded at the thought of being too young to enter. But the man curled back his lips, gave me a sly smile, and firmly grasped my face to etch a V on my right cheek from an overused container of bright red lipstick, lightly lingering the tips of his fingers until I broke eye contact. My friends were right; age didn’t matter here as long as you looked the part. I was a target. I was a Virgin.

It was in this moment that I felt powerful, wanted. I couldn’t recall a time before this where I received this type of attention. The attention from a stranger, a stranger merely allowing people entrance into the show, was pure, knurling lust-throbbing need and I was oblivious. I remember the way the most popular boy in eighth grade brushed his fingers over mine, slowing inching their way along my forearm during our date. I didn’t need to look over to my right to see who it was because I knew. As soon as his fingertips grazed my arm the hairs on the back of my neck arched. This new feeling felt like danger and I was utterly and undeniably attracted to it.

The jock from eighth grade English class, the boy with the relationship experience, had asked me out on a date. Captivated by his crooked smile, dirty blond drawn back hair, easy green eyes, and reputation, I couldn’t deny him. He was a gentleman. What oddly made him more desirable was his living situation. He lived with his grandparents in a trailer park neighborhood. His grandfather was deeply obsessed with pleasing his grandson. My newfangled boyfriend would give me little gifts here and there- mementos of us such as pictures, declarations of love over social media, stuffed animals, you name it. There was just one off-putting thing about the relationship- his grandfather was controlling it. Unable to be an influential figure in his own children’s lives, my boyfriend’s grandfather was with him every step of the way. Everyone called him Papa.

On occasion, I would be left alone in the car or in the trailer and his grandfather would take the opportunity to tell me how much his grandson loved me. Once, he recited a story on how his grandson thought so much about me, he threw all of his energy into his wrestling and won a match. What I kept to myself was the knowledge that I was dating this boy during the summer and wrestling season began in the fall. I was beginning to see the falsities with the grandfather-grandson duo and the record of girls the pair has gone through. I became skeptical, but nevertheless continued with the dreamy relationship that I’ve only read about in romance novels.

A couple weeks passed and before I knew it, he was making his move into the zone of physical intimacy. There was one moment I can vividly recall; one I wish that I couldn’t.

Papa was driving the gigantic white family SUV. In the backseat of that SUV was where all the magic happened. One instance, I was looking out the window and fingering through my brain on the possibilities of what to say, when I felt a small tug on the end of my t-shirt. The movement caught my attention and I peered down to see my boyfriend’s fingers slowly testing the durability of my clothing. Caught off guard, I looked into the face of the owner of the wondering hands. The thick humidity hung between us. The descent of daylight made it difficult to watch his expression. His fingers now found the skin of my stomach. I thought about how my stomach made little rolls whenever I sat down and worried about my physical appearance. How ridiculous, I later thought to myself, that I was worried about his dissatisfaction with my body instead of his intimate advancement. The thick air seeped into my airways, making me feel imprisoned. He didn’t wait for my approval. I faced the window and thought about the different shapes of trees that passed me as he groped about my torso. I could feel his hand raking in every nook and cranny of my body, hungrily reaching for the size B cups that held my breasts. I had turned off my sense of touch, just like I occasionally would to block out a cold breeze during winter.

I later told myself that this was what relationships were. Relationships were getting physical, getting closer, falling in love. There was just one problem, it never felt right. I was a virgin and deep down, I knew I didn’t want to become the victim of losing my virginity to a boy that has taken so many. As more weeks passed, the romantic gestures of the grandfather-grandson duo fell flat. I began asking questions as to why his other relationships never worked out. How many people did he really claim?

I became disrespectful to my parents. Every waking minute of every day I needed to be with my boyfriend. The duo desired and called for every second I had to give, and I gave it to them. As more weeks passed, I lost touch with my close friends. No one mattered more than my boyfriend. My subconscious relentlessly told me that I was just another girl to be filtered through, but I pushed it aside and condoned my behavior. My parents were getting fed up with my wicked behavior. Between the obsessiveness, back-talking, and elevated need of privacy, I was rewarded with a freshly printed list of rules gracefully slipped underneath my bedroom door. Enclosed, the list contained curfew times, X amount of hours I could spend with my boyfriend, and a printout declaring the tracking of my cell phone. I can recall my grandmother’s haunting voice repeating, the more time you spend together the closer you are to sex. I lashed out.

My destructive behavior led me to sneak out for the first time. My bay window led straight onto the deck where I made my escape with my backpack full of extra clothes and toiletries. I snuck my way through my backyard, descended down three brick houses to the end of Chesapeake Avenue, and met the gigantic white family SUV. That night, I slept within the arms of a boy I loved. Then, I thought I knew what love was and that love made people do crazy things because that’s what Papa had told me. That night, my boyfriend thought he was going to get lucky. Finally, I uttered the simple and powerful word, No. With the lure of romantic gestures, he was looking for a toss around in bed. I, along with the string of girls before me, was lured in by the idea of love. I couldn’t give him what he wanted and he wanted nothing more, so with one call to my sleeping parents, I returned to where I belonged.

I wept under the covers once I was back home. Not bothering to remove the welling pile of tears in my eyes, I held my cell phone in front of my face to read “I agree. It’s over.” No matter the rumors floating around the hallways about another girl he had rolled around in bed with, I knew the truth and nothing could take that away from me. From then on, I had been made weary of all hovering grandfathers and overly romanced experienced men.

And this boy’s list of girls that needed to be enthralled had another line drawn through it. Katelyn Helton was the only name left from a list of HOTTIES with a partial line etched across it, because he never truly got what he desired. I looked into my bedroom mirror and harshly drew the letter V from a container of my mother’s lipstick onto my right cheek. And then I smiled.

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