‘Spindle Talk’, Sean R. Robinson

Illustration © 2017 Toeken



 [ Illustration © 2017 Toeken ] It starts as Molly Smith’s party Friday night.

My parents wouldn’t let me go, so I have to hear about the party on Monday during lunch from Hannah and Jill. Molly’s parents were out of town on a business trip—they’re entrepreneurs.

Hannah picks at her salad with her fork, too busy talking to eat. “All of a sudden, Victoria is on the floor.”

I gasp. Victoria isn’t one of our friends. She’s the girl who hung around on the edges of our clique. Her parents weren’t cyber-distributers, she wasn’t on the soccer team and she didn’t have a boyfriend. But she got invited to things, because people felt bad for her.

“What happened next?” I ask.

Jill’s done with her lunch, got the nod from Hannah and starts recapping what I’d missed.

“Everyone’s standing around, watching her. She was just… limp. Like she was a corpse or something. And no one can wake her up. We try to splash water on her face. Someone starts calling for someone to call the ambulance, and someone else starts asking if anyone has Narcan.”

I am so pissed I missed the party.

“But then,” Hannah says between bites of salad with too much dressing, “Molly’s calming everyone down, saying that this is how it’s supposed to be. She’s got a needle in her hand.”

“A needle?” I ask. Why would voted-most-popular-at-life have a needle?

“Yeah,” Jill says. “The thing had to be six inches long. Molly told everyone that this was how it was done. A little jab and you’re out like a light.”

“Was there something on it?” I ask. “Or in it, or whatever?”

“No,” Jill replies. “That was the weird part. Victoria volunteered, thinking it would be a party game. But Molly told everyone that this was how it was done and then said that the guys at the party had to kiss Victoria.”

“Kiss her?”

“Yeah.” Hannah has finished her lunch. “There were a bunch who were freaked out. Half the soccer team was there and after a little pushing and a little smiling—that stupid smile Molly does when she wants to get her way and every guy one earth falls for—they’re standing around Victoria like I don’t even know…”

“An all-you-can-eat buffet,” Jill says.

“Wow.”

“Right,” Hannah says. “The rest of us just watch and all of a sudden, they’re kissing her one at a time. Garrett Mesner, Tom Ellis, Demitrius, Eddie. And just as I’m about to yell at them all—she sure as heck can’t consent when she’s passed out-—Zack Miller gets down on one knee, kisses her like it’s the last thing he wants to do…”

“And then wham!” Jill says.

“Wham?”

“Wham!” they both say. “Happily Ever After.”

“I don’t get it,” I say. But instead, my two best friends just roll their eyes, before pointing with their chins. In the corner of the cafeteria, away from the band geeks and the pretty girls and the soccer jocks, Zack Miller and Victoria at one of the tables. They sit knee-to-knee, holding each other’s hands. So close that another half-inch they’d be kissing. Only, they aren’t kissing, they’re just staring into each other’s eyes.

It is, officially, the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen.

I take a drink of my chocolate milk while Jill and Hannah keep talking.

“How awesome. True love. Just like that,” Hannah says.

“One kiss,” Jill adds. She’s laughing and then looking around the room. “I wonder which one it would be for me?”

I glance back to Victoria and Zack.

“Don’t you want a true love’s kiss to wake you up?” Hannah asks me.

“Of course,” I say. But my stomach knows I’m lying. I don’t want kisses or the way Zack was looking at Victoria. There’s no fairy tale that ends without a prince kissing the princess. And I didn’t want a prince to kiss me. Or a princess. Or anyone.

Molly Smith has two more parties that I can’t go to. Because of dance practice, because of my parents’ anniversary. Jill gets “Spindled” at the first. Spindled, as though it were a fairy tale. She gets woken up when Larry Donohue kisses her. Hannah goes next, and joins Tim Hollis at a lunch table, staring into his eyes. Tim Hollis, who Hannah used to say was more interested in his muscles than anything.

With my friends gone, I lie to my parents about a study group and wind up at Molly Smith’s “Spindling” party.

Her house is nicer than nice, and her parents are somewhere exotic, leaving the forty or fifty teenagers present to see what their hostess-with-the-mostest would do with her needle.

I don’t, but I show up anyway, because my friends are gone. Because I don’t want to kiss boys or girls or anyone and I don’t think it makes me broken. Molly Smith finds me before I’ve been at the party more than a half-hour. She’s wearing pink sweat pants and a pink sweatshirt and she smiles at me with too many teeth before leading me to the den.

They’ve set up a mattress, and the guys cluster around it. Like its some sort of altar. They’re rocking foot to foot, as if they’re nervous. I wonder what would happen if they volunteered instead of me.

She’s got the needle in her hand and she’s smiling.

I want to tell her that this is a bad idea. I want to ask what happens if it doesn’t work, if I don’t want it to work. If I just want to forget it was happening, and just be happy that I had friends. But that isn’t what gets to happen. I want to tell them all that I didn’t think I have—or want—a true love.

But Molly takes my hand in hers.

“Just a little bit of pain,” she says as she sticks the needle into my finger. “Then a sweet kiss.”

I am asleep before I hit the mattress.


© 2017, Sean R. Robinson

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