Serialization Sunday – Hoodoo: Chapter 12
Every Sunday, Fiction365 presents a new chapter in a previously unpublished novel. Our first serialized novel, the taut thriller City of Human Remains, can be found in full here.
Our current novel, Hoodoo, tells a story of visionaries, heretics and lunatics in Utah, centered on the life of Alice Lott, a twelve-year-old girl who believes that God wants her to have an affair with her junior high school counselor.
Find earlier chapters in Hoodoo here.
I didn’t make a plan to meet him. I just found a reason to come to school early, that morning after we kissed. I tapped on his door, holding my breath that he would be there.
He opened the door almost instantly.
I followed him into his office, like I was just heading for the chair, but when he closed the door behind us I put my arms around his middle, leaning my head against his shoulder. I felt his breathing get out of control, him trying to calm it down, finally letting out a couple of big shaky sighs.
Then he put his arms around me.
It was the best thing I ever felt. I rubbed my cheek against his blue shirt, still smelled fresh from the laundry. He cradled the back of my head in his hand, and pulled back just enough to look at me.
“Alice. You’re not like anyone else I’ve ever known. I don’t know if…” His eyes wandered away, then came back to my face, like he had an idea. “Listen. It isn’t too late to stop. If you tell me to stop, I will. If you tell me to go away, I will move away tomorrow. I can find a job somewhere else, in another school district.”
“But,” I don’t ever want you to stop, I thought. “I love you.”
There couldn’t be anything simpler in the world. I loved him. How could it be wrong?
After that, it got easier, like rolling down a hill. Pretty soon I’d say something like, “I’m going to be out back of the tennis courts during 7th period,” and he’d be there shivering in just his blazer, blowing into his hands.
When I wasn’t with him, I thought about two things. One, him: the way he looked when I last saw him. The way he smelled, which was pretty strong, not like sweat or Old Spice or anything, just, like Grown-Up Man. His lips. Bobby was a way better kisser than Randall Warner. Not too slobbery, but my whole mouth got into the act. And, Two: could anybody tell? Were we going to get caught? Would somebody tell on us before, before we were ready?
I could see them looking at me, when I walked down the hall. BrookeStaceyLisaAmyAngieHillary smirking around their braces tidy little shoulders in puffed sleeves turning away from me as I passed. I was a walking force field. Was it always like this? My brand new affair, my Big Secret, made me feel exposed in every way: my skin, my height, my boobs sticking out. If I dug in and peeled away a chunk of skin, would I be pink and white underneath, like them? I could curl my hair into a Farrah flip and chew gum. I could dress just like them, be the first in school to have penny loafers with brand-new pennies in them. I could blend in, walk and talk and smell like them, maybe then they wouldn’t know, couldn’t guess my secret. I could hunch down so I didn’t tower over everybody, but they’d still stare until I caught them and look away just half a second too late.
I wore a bright, blinking sign on my chest everywhere I went, “SINNER,” and sooner or later somebody would see it, somebody would catch us in the act.
I’d gotten out of class with a hall pass and found Bobby in the cafeteria, after the lunch ladies had cleaned up and gone home. There was a spot in the kitchen, out of sight of the serving windows, behind the walk-in freezer, where we could kiss, and whisper, and keep an eye out. There was a bucket next to us full of white rags soaking in water and bleach. I can still smell that watered-down, rank bleach. It stuck in our mouths when we kissed. He put his face next to mine and started to whisper something, he was smiling, almost laughing, and he started to whisper, “Alice–”
The PA crackled, and Bobby jumped away from me so fast, if it were a flip book, on one page he’d be whispering in my ear, one hand on my neck, and on the next page he’d be standing four feet away, hands in his pockets, looking very hard at the health code certificates taped to the wall.
Alice Lott, report to the Principal’s office.
My breath stopped. Bobby looked panicked, but he made a shooing motion with his hands and mouthed, “Go!”
I glanced back at him on my way out of the kitchen. His eyes were all scrunched up and he was rubbing his head with both hands.
No, no, nobody could have found out, I would know. This isn’t about that, this is something else. This had to be something else. Do I look guilty? What does a person do when they’re guilty? Whatever it is, I can’t do that. I have to look innocent. I am innocent. We haven’t done anything wrong. It just isn’t time yet. Heavenly Father wouldn’t let it happen like this. It’s something else. I won’t look guilty if I remember I’m just doing what the Lord told me to do.
It took years to get to the principal’s office.
The school secretary’s hair was shaking with the force of her grin. She clapped her hands in front of her face.
“You have a brand new baby sister!!”
Oh, thank you Thank you Lord, I won’t question again I promise I’ll have faith I’ll do whatever You want me to do forever and ever oh thank you, thank you, amen.
Founder of the Portuguese Artists Colony in San Francisco, Caitlin Myer regularly reads her work at Why There Are Words, Quiet Lightning, and other established reading salons in California. Her one woman show on Simone de Beauvoir was produced in Seattle.
To comment on this story, visit Fiction365’s Facebook page