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Specifics of Hell

Kayla Rae Whitaker

I masturbated for the first time after watching “The Red Shoe Diaries” at Brian Tolson’s house. I was eleven.

We watched it on stolen HBO, channel 99, spelled out in large electric red blocks on the little tan cable box. I don’t remember the storyline, but I probably didn’t remember it directly after I saw it, either. All I remembered was a man and a woman collapsing together, the man sort of pushing the woman into a wall, too, and her falling with him, their mouths moving together deeper and wetter than I saw on regular television. Then his mouth plunging to her neckline, her back arching, slip strap sliding down her arm, the man’s hand reaching to lift out one pale, perfect breast. Then his thumb rolling slowly over the nipple. The woman made a deep, guttural sound, and it was the most authentic thing I had ever heard, and it made me wonder what else I had been kept from seeing and hearing in my life.

And they began grinding at each other in a way that was deep and unhurried and heated, and I could feel the electricity shooting down my spine. It was just me and Brian watching this, and Brian had seen it before. He was attempting to jimmy open a Transformer that had gone into capsule state and stayed that way, so his attitude was pretty much like, “yeah, okay, he’s got her boob out.” But I was transfixed. I also had wood. I excused myself.

I crouched over and did it in Brian’s mom’s bathroom, smelling her vanilla hand cream and Virginia Slims in the air, and when I was done, I was horrified, exhilarated, strangely wrung out. I had no idea I was capable of feeling what I had felt.

I didn’t sleep the entire week after, but I didn’t stop, either. The woman kept flashing through my head, leaning against the wall, breast out, pumping. I started hoarding Kleenex in my room and locking my door. I was positive that the stuff that came out of me was making my room smell different, that my parents would know. I doused everything with my mother’s country apple room spray, making everything sour-flowery. It felt so good while it was happening, but afterward, anything was better than that smell of wrongdoing of which I, alone, was guilty.


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