Under My Skin
- I -
I am going to hell, that's for sure. I looked at Alex and couldn't help myself. God, how can someone be so attractive? Great, now I used God's name in vain! I could almost smell sulfur right now. I was glad that I was wearing sunglasses and nobody could see me gawking at Alex. I almost moaned when I felt an insane desire to run my fingers through his hair. God Almighty, what is wrong with me?! I have never felt this way before, it was crazy. My mother always said that lust was a deadly sin for a reason. She would always look at me, her eyes squinted in suspicion. "You are thinking something nasty again, aren't you?", - she would demand and I would say no but she would make me pray anyway. "I can't believe this, - she would say. - My only child is corrupted by the Devil! How could this happen?"
I don't know how this could happen. I prayed until my head started to hurt last night but it didn't help me a single bit. The minute I saw Alex again, I wanted him so badly that I almost started crying. My father once said that the temptations start early in life, when the soul is still young and unprepared for the life journey. "You have to fight the temptations all the time, - he said. - Because if you slip once, your soul will be corrupted and nothing will be able to fix it" I sighed. I wasn't even sure that I was consumed by lust. I didn't want to rip his clothes off or anything like that. Well, actually it would be great… No! Stop it!! I just wanted to hold him in my arms, smell his skin, and run my fingers through his hair. God, I would sell my soul to feel his lips on mine.
I blinked. What?! Sell my soul… Oh Lord, forgive me, please… I am so lost right now, please help me find the way… I don't want this to happen to me, I don't want to go to hell. I will do anything to be able to be good again, I swear!
Alex said something to Jeff and they both laughed loudly. I gritted my teeth, the sound of his laughter driving me crazy. I forced myself to look away from him and tried to concentrate on my first class this morning which was Political Science. I started thinking of my assignments when someone poked me in the side. I turned around. It was Christy.
- Hey, - she said.
- Hey, - I muttered.
- Could I take a look at your homework, pretty please? - she smiled pleadingly and I sighed.
- Sure, - I started digging in my backpack.
- Thank you so much! - she said quickly and grabbed my notebook out of my hands. - I promise, this is the last time!
- Uh huh, - I said, thinking that it was probably the last time today. Christy never finished her homework.
- What's up with you? - she asked finally and shot me a curious look. - You look weird.
- Nothing, - I shook my head. - I am just preoccupied with all my assignments… And I am kinda tired.
- I see, - she nodded and handed my notebook back. - Okay, let's go, Jake.
- Let's go, - I sighed and pushed all the thoughts of Alex out of my head.
That entire day I felt like beating my head on the wall. I couldn't concentrate on anything and I was really grateful that we didn't have any quizzes or tests that day. When I was slowly walking home, Christy walked with me and she chattered non stop. At first I was listening to her but after she started saying how much she loved George Clooney, I tuned her out. I started thinking of how on earth this could be happening to me. I never was really into girls but I figured it was because my parents would constantly tell me that the very nature of a woman is sinful to the core. "You are a woman", - I said to my mother once and she pressed her lips tight. "It's my punishment, - she said. - It's something I have to suffer through for my entire life. I pray every day for redemption…"
I snorted quietly to myself. Praying every day… It seemed like she was praying every five minutes. Lately I have been having these strange powerful thoughts that made me cringe. I found that it was harder and harder for me to live my life the way my parents demanded. When I was a kid, it didn't seem like a big deal. It seemed completely normal to me to go to church almost every night with my mother, to pray at least ten times a day, to beg for forgiveness and redemption every time I would do - or think for that matter - something even remotely sinful, as for example, eating an entire box of chocolates. I did that once. I think I was seven or maybe eight years old. I found a box of chocolates in the kitchen and before I could even think, I ate all of them. When my mother found out, she was furious. She grabbed me by the hair and slammed my head into the stove so hard that it almost knocked my teeth out.
- You… Never… Overindulge… On… Anything!… - she almost screamed. - This is gluttony, Jake!! Do you want to end up in hell?!
- No, - I sobbed. - No, please! I swear, I won't ever…
- That's right, - she said and slapped my face hard. - You will not! Now go get on your knees and pray for forgiveness for the next two hours!!
The memory made me hiss. Christy looked at me with surprise.
- You okay? - she asked.
- I have a headache, - I muttered and I didn't even care that I lied. One sin more, one less… Since I am going to hell anyway, it didn't matter.
- Well, we are almost home, - she said cheerfully. - Wanna come over tonight?
Christy and I have been best friends since kindergarten. My parents were angry with me at first that I was friends with a girl but eventually they decided that Christy is okay even though she was a lost sinful cause to the core. They said that maybe I am her chance for redemption and that I should teach her the right way. I agreed to that, thinking that if this will help me keep my best friend, I would quote the entire Bible. We never talked about religion with Christy though. She could care less about praying, her family would never go to church on Sundays since they liked to sleep in, and Christy was honestly thinking that there should be some sort of Cliff notes for the Bible. "I mean, - I remembered her saying once. - I tried to read it but I could never go pass the first two pages… That book is incredibly boring!"
- Sure, - I said, thinking that if I had to spend the entire night with my parents tonight, I would go insane.
- Cool, - she nodded. - See you around seven or so?
- Okay, - I said and she walked away.
We lived next door to each other which was really convenient because I could sneak into her back yard almost every night when my parents were asleep. Christy and I would just sit on her back porch and talk about everything. She would tell me about her countless crushes and how she would totally trade places with some celebrity. Christy had a new crush every week. She fell in and out of love easier and faster than I could write a three pages paper. I liked her a lot, she was the only person I could tell everything and she would never ridicule me. I thought that maybe tonight I'll tell her how I feel about Alex but then I immediately pushed the thought away. Nobody will ever find out how I feel about Alex. Not even Christy.
I walked into my house and my mother immediately pressed her lips tight.
- What is it? - she demanded.
- What? - I asked and took my sneakers off.
- Something is on your mind, - she said. - I can tell.
- Homework, - I said lightly. - Loads of it.
- Okay, - she said finally, her eyes still alerted.
- I'm gonna go upstairs, okay?
- Come down at six, - she said. - Dinner will be ready.
- Okay, - I nodded and started to walk upstairs. - Hey, I am going to go over to Christy's after dinner, is that okay?
- At night? - her entire body went rigid. - Are you out of your mind, Jake? You are going over to her house at night? Are you begging the Devil to accept you or something?
I managed not to roll my eyes. Was she always this annoying or is it just started?
- Her parents will be there, mom, - I said. - And her older brother too. Plus it's Christy! I went to her place after seven a bunch of times before!
- You were a child then, - she said tightly. - And now you are getting older and you seem to forget that your body is made for sin…
I had a very strong desire to scream "Shut up!!!" but I didn't.
- I didn't forget, - I sighed. - I promise that I won't even think anything funny, okay?
That was true. I would never think anything funny about Christy or any other girl for that matter.
- This whole matter is not funny, - my mother said evenly.
- You know what I meant, - I briefly closed my eyes, wondering why all of a sudden I felt a rush of anger.
- Fine, - she said finally. - Go do your homework now.
- All right, - I said relieved that I could finally go into my room and shut the door.
I knew I had to pray but to my own astonishment I decided not to. I figured that since I was a lost cause already and God clearly has given up on me, praying wouldn't do much. I mean, if God hasn't given up on me, then why would I feel this way about a guy, right? So I just pulled my books out of my backpack and started doing my homework. I was done a couple of hours later and glanced at the clock. It was almost five thirty and I sighed, thinking that I will have to go downstairs in half an hour and wait for my father to say another one of his unbelievably long graces before dinner.
I couldn't believe myself. It seemed like something snapped in me today and I was a completely different person from the one that I was even last night. I've heard my father's truck pulling into the driveway and sighed. It was exactly five thirty. My father was always home at five thirty sharp. You could set the clock by that man. I shivered when I remember him breaking the clock on my head one day when I was thirteen. I woke up from extremely vivid dream that night and couldn't figure out what was happening to me. It was really bizarre and my entire body was shaking. I couldn't believe the intense pleasure that shot through me in a blinding flash. I was fast asleep soon after that and almost forgot about the whole thing until my father walked into my bedroom in the morning.
My door never had a lock on it since my parents firmly believed that privacy is the tool of the Devil and they would often walk into my bedroom suddenly, just to make sure that I wasn't corrupting my soul with something nasty. My father pulled the blanket off of me and I opened my eyes.
- What did you do? - he asked me quietly, his eye staring at me with horror.
I blinked with confusion. I had no idea what he was talking about.
- You filthy little bastard, - he hissed and I followed his gaze.
I winced when I saw a dark spot on the crotch of my pajamas and another one on my sheets. Suddenly I remembered last night.
- I don't know, - I said quickly. - Dad, I swear! I woke up last night and…
- Stop saying lies! - he barked. - Get up! Get up right now, you disgusting little worm!
I got off the bed, my knees shaking. My father turned away from me as if merely looking at me was making him sick. He almost walked away when the clock on my wall chimed softly. It was one of those mechanical clocks that would chime gently every hour, I loved that thing. My father froze on the spot and then suddenly he ripped the clock off the wall and turned towards me.
- This, - he hissed. - This is how the souls get tricked into the evil grasp!
- What… - I said weakly.
He shook the clock furiously.
- Material possessions, - he hissed.
- Dad, I….
He swung his arm and brought the clock down on my head. The clock whined and I've heard the sound of breaking glass. A sharp piece of glass pierced the skin on my head and I cried out in pain.
- Filth… - my father muttered, his voice shaking with fury. - If I will catch you doing something this nasty again, I will…
I was almost sure he'll say "I will kill you myself" but he never did. Apparently he remembered that murder was a sin as well. He simply turned away from me and left. I remember how later that day I carefully asked Christy if she knew what was that strange thing that I experienced the night before and she laughed. "Oh, Jake, - she said. - You had a wet dream, that's all" Then she told me about wet dreams and I just blinked at her. "How come you know so much about it?", - I asked and she rolled her eyes. "Jake, - she said patiently. - I read a lot about sex and stuff… Plus, - she added with a sly smile. - Girls have wet dreams too, you know…"
I sighed and walked downstairs, thinking that I would rather do more homework than have dinner with my parents.