Joe is joined by Autumn Christian. They talk about politics in lit, video games, Goodreads goals, and more!
Autumn Christian is a fiction writer from Texas who currently lives in California. She is the author of the books "The Crooked God Machine," "We are Wormwood", and "Ecstatic Inferno," and has written for several video-games, including Battle Nations and State of Decay 2. When not writing, she is usually practicing her side kicks and running with dogs, or posting strange and existential Instagram selfies.
You can contact the show at firstname.lastname@example.org - Just put WTR in the subject line.
Art photo by Arielle Tipa
We took his truck out to his secret place, near the creek littered with beer cans. He parked in the trees and together we climbed out onto the rocks. Their shadows hunched over
the fire of his lighter as he lit another stolen menthol. He chuckled while he told me a story about pawning his sister’s antique dolls and his mother’s Tiffany lamp for weed money.
He wouldn’t let me drink his Four Loko. Not at first.
“You’re just a baby,” he said, refusing to look over at me as he smoked. “You’ll blackout and I don’t feel like carrying you home.”
He didn’t look at me even when he said I reminded him of Daenerys, from Game of Thrones – the Mother of Dragons. I thought at first he meant because of my pale hair, long and unkempt, but then he said:
“You have a face that’s so soft, but it’s a softness like fire.” He finally let me take a sip of his Four Loko. I grimaced and had to struggle to swallow.
“Told you,” he said. “And don’t roll your eyes at me like that.”
“Tastes like fermented gasoline,” I said, handing it back to him. “My favorite.”
I needed to lose my virginity. I was already fifteen, and I wanted someone bad. I knew Spider was bad because he had a spit cup in the cab of his truck and thin white scars on his forearms he refused to talk about. We locked eyes for the first time in fourth period, his teeth hard-set, his stare like the sensation of chewing ice. He was older than me but still stuck in sophomore classes. I asked to borrow a pencil. He reached into his duster jacket and handed me one while time slowed and focused to a point in space between me and him.
“You might look pretty if you wore your hair down,” he said when I took the pencil, and his tongue touched his front row of teeth.
I couldn’t stop thinking about him since.
There were perfectly nice boys at Montamount High I could’ve lost my virginity to – boys who would tell me I look perfect with their chests about to cave in, who would straighten my hair on the pillow afterward, smiling at the way my shoulder clenched. But they didn’t have the bruised knuckles burnt with stories or a duster jacket with the arms held together with pins.
I didn’t look at those other boys and felt like at any step, I’d sink underwater, backward, bound in chains.
I read once that humans can’t help but seek out excitement - it’s why we first made fire and invented the printing press and slept with foreigners on the other side of
large bodies of water.
I liked that idea because it made me think that even a terrible mistake like Spider was cosmic destiny. Something imprinted into my DNA.
Something calling to me across the waves - through the window, after my parents had gone to sleep. Outside, wearing night time like leather, his neck lit up in oily porch floodlights. He looked good in starshine, in 2 A.M time, even with his stick and poke tattoo of an eye on his neck, his combat boots held together with duct tape. The way he tried not to smile made me smile, and after I pulled on my hoodie and my sneakers and climbed out the window, his hand
twitched, as if he wanted to reach out to me.
But he didn’t, and this made me smile even more.
Breathe in. Air feels cool. Breathe out. Air is cooler. That night my chest felt like a cavern and I could fit the whole world inside.
“How’d you find this place?” I asked.
“It’s my secret place,” he said.
“Do you bring girls here a lot?”
“You’re the only girl here,” he said.
I stretched and scooted a little closer to him. I yawned as an excuse to try to show him the cute outfit I wore, but he continued to stare straight ahead as he lit another cigarette.
I crawled across the rocks and slipped my hands in between the chain of his crossed legs. He opened his knees when I leaned into him as if inviting me in.
I kissed him in a halo of nicotine smoke.
He gave me another sip of his Four Loko as he cradled my waist between his knees. I felt high off our proximity, like the smell and sensation of him would make me float away if
the wind blew in the wrong direction. “I know why you don’t have a boyfriend,” he said.
“Because I wear my hair up?” I asked.
“No,” he said.
It became silent, and I knew he wasn’t going to tell me why.
“I brought condoms,” I said.
He gave a terse nod.
I didn’t realize it’d be so awkward with both of us fumbling for our clothes in the dark without speaking, without touching, breathing out cool air like shiny oil slicks. Nobody ever talked about that moment before the act, when zippers got stuck and your lipgloss rubbed off on the inside of your sweater, when you laughed nervously because you had to do a weird shimmy to get out of your tights. And finally, when all the clothes were off, and all that was left was the interminable space between two bodies, there was the holding of breath like the next noise should be something tremendous, and not just the crinkling of a condom wrapper.
“You’re a virgin, aren’t you?” he asked.
I spread my jacket on the rocks and lay down. I shivered and the creek noise grew to a roar. I hadn’t noticed before how cold it was.
“No,” I said.
“Yeah you are,” he said. “I can tell. You think you’re being cool, but I can see it.”
I fumbled with the condom. He plucked it out of my hands.
“I’ll take care of that. Just touch me,” he said.
“You know where. At least, I hope you do.”
He didn’t take his eyes off my chest, although he had such an intense stare it was like he looked through me instead of at me. My nipples hardened and I felt the rocks underneath me.
I reached out, unable to control my trembling, and began touching his cock.
A swallow stuck in my throat. I thought at first that he’d remain limp, that I couldn’t get him up and I’d remain a virgin forever, but then after a good half minute I felt his cock harden.
His hands traced my ass and my hips. Then he touched me between my legs, and I flinched at his cold fingers.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“Trying to get you to relax,” he said. “Virgins. Have to teach them everything.”
He pushed his cock inside of me in one fluid motion. One second I’m a virgin, and then suddenly I’m not. It didn’t hurt like I thought it would. It was more like a pressure, a fullness, stretching inside of me. He went slowly at first, in and out, and I found myself holding breath. I couldn’t see his face in the dark, but I could see the place between my hips and his that I thought resembled an abandoned alien landscape.
“Here,” he said. “Get on top.”
He rolled me over. I felt awkward and unsure of how to move. All the videos I’d seen couldn’t really prepare me for the moment I was looking down at another human being, his cock inside of me, feeling split in two but also sewn together, conjoined.
“Like this, “ he said, and guided my hips. “Like dancing.”
But it was really nothing like dancing.
Something began to build in me.
I thought it must’ve been an orgasm but this wasn’t like any orgasm I’d ever had. It started in my stomach and swirled downwards, heated, a little warm bundle of nerves inside the bracing cold. There was an intense pressure, and even when I clenched my hips together or shifted it didn’t relent. And strangely, Spider felt it too.
When I tried to stop he grabbed me again by the hips. The whites of his eyes grew like cracks of light through a darkened gate. Tears welled in my own eyes, although I wasn’t sure why. I saw the moon in double, shimmering through water, reflected off his pale chest.
I’d fingered myself before. I had my first orgasm riding a washing machine and I even bought a few sex toys off the Internet. Although sex-ed in middle school was all bananas
in latex and warnings about STDs, I watched enough porn to fill in the gaps. I’d even read part of a PDF of the Kama Sutra, although I didn’t really get it.
I wanted to be ready for this moment.
But there was no way I could’ve prepared for this. This definitely wasn’t a normal orgasm. This was an unbearable friction, a dry plain about to catch fire, a swelling, growing, heaving, pulsating, liquid swell inside of me that was louder and bigger than everything I’d ever experienced before. Nothing could’ve prepared me for the feeling of my body rumbling like an earthquake, turning my bones into tectonic plates.
I held my breath.
And I exploded.
A depth charge of intense pleasure ran through me. It spiraled out in all directions, not just into my vagina, but up through my heart, my throat, and down into my toes, moving in pulsing, frenetic, golden waves. It buzzed on the top of my skin, but also deep in my organs, my pressurized blood. It froze in my throat like black ice and seared my eyeballs. It licked the edges of my hair, curling through my scalp like fire.
Could someone die from having sex? Had I pushed a button that was the bomb inside of me, currently making its way to my vulva and my heart? I’d never heard of anything like that happening. I thought I was breathing but I couldn’t be sure. Maybe this was a rare form of sex-induced brain damage. If at that moment someone had asked me my name, my address, my birth-date, I wouldn’t have been able to answer. I’d become a frisson ball of nuclear-level sex energy that couldn’t contain a single coherent thought for longer than a fraction of a second.
God, surely I should have heard about something like this.
Yet for a few moments, I couldn’t hear anything except the rush of my own blood. I looked down, expecting to see my organs leaking out of my vagina, or a hole blown straight through my stomach. Maybe I’d even see Spider’s corpse below me, his cock still erect inside of me, his eyes dissolved into glowing goo and his tongue swelling in his mouth like a slug.
But I was intact, and Spider was intact. There was nothing missing, no injury, just smooth skin and moonglow.
Spider grabbed one of my wrists, and I realized he was speaking to me, trying to reach me through the hissing scream of my body.
After a few seconds, the noise subsided, and the flush of lightning went down to a low tremble.
“What was that?” I asked when I could finally hear again.
He spoke, his voice thin,