2017This is not a romance. This is a snapshot of the modern female experience. Hover to see spoiler content warning
"Maybe we should go back."
"Come on. It's only a little further."
"That's what you've been saying. I can't even see the others anymore." Jill shivered. "I don't want to be out here alone. It's spooky. And cold."
"You're not alone." Aaron hooked an arm around her neck. "I'm here."
Jill ducked to escape the circle of his arm. "Just show me the headstone and let's go back. You said it was right here."
"It is. It's right here." He played his flashlight over a crumbling white stone. "Isaac Washburn-my great-great-grandfather. Just like I told you."
"Cathy said your last name was Grisham."
"Isaac's from my mom's side. She did one of those charts."
They stood side by side in front of the stone, Aaron's light illuminating the engraving.
"Died in eighteen-sixty-nine," Jill read. "That's cool, I guess. That was the Civil War. Maybe he was a soldier. Hey, let's go back, OK?"
"Aw, there's no hurry. Look what I brought." Aaron took the pack off his back and pulled out a pint bottle and a blanket. "See? We can have a little party here. Just the two of us."
"I guess I'd rather go back."
"Just for minute. The stars are out and shit. It's nice. Hey, come down here."
He sat down on the blanket he'd spread out in front of the tombstone, tugging on Jill to bring her down with him. He put his arm around her and leaned back against the stone. Jill sat upright, separating her body from his.
"Have a drink at least. Peach Schnapps. It's sweet. You'll like it."
Jill took a sip.
"It's OK." She tried to hand the bottle back to him.
"Warms you up, doesn't it? Drink up. That's a whole, full bottle just for you and me."
Jill took another taste, then pressed the bottle into his hand. "I've had enough."
"Don't you think it's pretty out here?"
"You're pretty, too. Want some more?" He pushed the bottle towards her mouth.
"Listen, I'm sorry. I only came with you because you said you were going to show me something and it was right there. I didn't realize you were interested, like a date. I'm not really-"
"Fuck. I'm that big a loser, huh?"
"How did I say you're a loser?"
"Try to sit out under the stars with a pretty girl for a minute and it's fucking rejection. I didn't even kiss you and already you're shutting me down." His voice went up a register. "Oh, Aaron, I'm not interested. Let's just be friends. Story of my fucking life."
"I don't even know you, that's all. Maybe I'd like you if I got to know you, but-"
"So get to know me, Jill. We're here with a bottle having a nice conversation. I said you were pretty, is all I said. Don't you know how to take a fucking compliment?"
"Sure, I guess."
"So go ahead, say thank you."
"See, not so hard, right? Now we can get to know each other. Have a drink. You're so tense."
As Jill raised the bottle to her mouth, Aaron lifted it so the swallow was deeper than she'd intended. Sticky liquid ran down her throat and over her chin. He laughed.
"There you go. Now we're having a party. You want to know the sad thing about old Isaac here?"
"He died a virgin. That's the worst way a guy could go, you know that? I think I've got his curse. Girls just don't go for me, Jill. Tell me why that is. Why wouldn't you go for a guy like me?"
"He can't have died a virgin if he's your great-great-grandfather."
"Because how would he be your great-great-grandfather if he didn't have any children?"
"How would I know? Maybe he was adopted. Jesus, somebody's a little too smart. Guys don't like girls showing them up, Jill. Did you know that, smart-ass? Here I'm wondering why girls don't go for me and there's you, about five times worse. Shit."
"I just thought it was funny. I didn't mean anything by it."
"Well, I'll forgive you because you're so pretty, but that was a shitty thing to say, just so you know. But I'm going to forget it ever happened. Here, let's toast to forgive-and-forget. Drink up."
She drank dutifully. "Hey, let's go on back now. It's nothing to do with you. I think you're nice and everything. It's creepy out here, that's all. I don't feel safe."
"Afraid zombies are going to rise up out of their graves?"
"Yeah, sure. Who wouldn't be, right? Out in a graveyard in the dark." She started to stand, but he pulled her back down.
"Aw, I'll keep you safe. Come here, babe. I've got you."
"You know what would suck though?" he asked, as he closed his arms tighter around her. "If we both died virgins like old Isaac. Wouldn't that suck?"
"The zombies always go for the sluts first though," she said with a strained laugh. "That's in, like, every horror movie ever." She pushed against his shoulders.
"I can't believe you'd fall for that. You know what that is? That's the patriarchy trying to keep women down. They're sending out these messages all the time subliminally, like if you're a slut, you're going to die. But you know what? This is two thousand and seventeen. Girls can do whatever the fuck they want. You know that, right, Jill? You can have sex if you want to."
"Yeah, sure, but-"
"I really like you. You can tell how much I like you, right?" He rubbed his fingers against her breast.
"Aaron, please. We hardly even know each other. Let's go back to the party, OK? I just want to get to know you first, that's all."
"We're getting to know each other pretty good." He closed the remaining distance between them, pressing his mouth into hers.
"Stop." She pushed against him. "Stop, I'm serious."
"Aw, come on. A little kiss isn't going to hurt you."
"I said stop!" Her hands stabbed at his shoulders.
He jumped to his feet. "Don't act like I'm raping you, for Christ's sake. Fuck. Try to kiss a pretty girl under the moonlight and the next thing you know, you're in jail getting butt-fucked by some dude because he thinks you're a rapist."
"I didn't say you were raping me. I just asked you to stop."
"So I stopped. I'm not touching you now, right?"
"Thanks. Let's go back to the party." As she stood, she picked up the bottle she'd let drop in her struggle. "Some of it spilled, sorry."
"Sure, call me a rapist, then waste my alcohol. Insult to injury."
"I'm sorry. It was an accident about the bottle, and I didn't call you a rapist. I'm just not in the mood to make out right now. Maybe we'll meet up another time or something."
"Fine, break my fucking heart. I really liked you, you know? I thought you might be someone cool." He turned the bottle over and started pouring its contents slowly out on the ground. "Might as well have spilled all of it. Better to waste it than give it to someone so ungrateful."
"I did appreciate it. Thanks."
"You did? You want some more then?" He held the bottle out to her. "We might as well finish it. No point in carrying it back."
"No, that's OK."
"Oh. I thought you said you liked it."
"I did. I've had enough, that's all."
"There's hardly any left anyway. I'd feel stupid carrying around a bottle that's almost empty."
"Well, OK, I could have a little more, I guess." She tilted the bottle up into her mouth, draining it, then handed it back to him. "Mmm, that was really good. All gone now though. I can carry the blanket. Let's go ahead and start back."
"Can't wait to get away from me, huh?"
"I don't feel good. I don't usually drink that much. Cathy's probably looking for me, I bet. She might be worried."
"She knows we're having fun. She's not going to interrupt. Anyway, I got another bottle in my bag, you want some more."
"I'm scared, Aaron. Can we please go back? You're not a bad guy, right? So let's please just go back."
"Jesus. Jesus, that's what you think of me? You honest-to-fuck think I'm some kind of rapist. Jesus." He turned and threw the empty bottle against the gravestone. It shattered, spraying the back of her legs with glass.
"You know what? If that's what you think anyway, I might as well do it, right? I'm already convicted, might as well go ahead with the crime." He advanced towards her.
"That's not what I think. Not at all. I like you. I really do." She raised her hands.
"Then show me that you like me. Because all I've felt so far is the negative. Give me a kiss. One kiss and we'll go back, OK?"
"One kiss, Jill. A guy isn't asking too much when all he's asking for is one kiss." He wrapped his hands around her wrists and yanked her forward. "You're so hot, babe. That's it. Wiggle that ass for me." He ground himself against her struggles.
"No," she said into his mouth as one of his hands lifted the back of her shirt.
"Don't stop now. You've got me all worked up." He pushed her down onto the ground, his body pinning hers, his hands working at her clothes.
"Aaron, there's broken glass here. It's cutting me."
"Sure, babe. We can move. I brought you a blanket and everything. I was thinking about you." He shifted her onto the wad of blanket she'd dropped. "Is that better?"
"You'd rather be on the broken glass? Because we can move right back to the broken glass."
"I don't want-"
"Sure you do, babe. This is going to be good, so good. You're going to love it, I promise." He pulled up her skirt. "Don't worry. I won't tell anyone. And even if I did, no one's going to care. This is two thousand and seventeen, Jill. Girls can do whatever the fuck they want."
No, not a happy story, but something I needed to write. Thanks for reading and for being a reader. The world needs more of us!
© Tanya Chris, 2015