D. E. Fulford: Creative Non-Fiction: Dec 2021

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Born in Missouri and transplanted to the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina before I turned two, my southern upbringing deeply influenced who I presently am (read: being the only atheist kids in the Bible Belt was quite unpleasant at the time, but helped to sculpt my brothers and me into the delightful weirdos we are today). Though I now reside in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, I can’t shake a lick–save the accent–of my formative, southern years.

1998: lip smacker-ed cherry-bowed

playlist

  1. sweet avenue, jets to brazil
  2. lucky denver mint, jimmy eat world
  3. 4am, our lady peace
  4. beastie boys, body movin’
  5. iris, goo goo dolls
  6. you were meant for me, jewel
  7. fuel, shimmer
  8. placebo, pure morning
  9. the way, fastball
  10. punk rock confidential, the queers

how could i not yet have done it? and why am i so protesting this inevitability? is the little girl within still playing pretend on mounds of my little pony fancy and sassy magazine tales from the darkside of virginities lost to fumbling football fingers in backseats or movie theaters or flowered sheets still damp from the wash? 

do i think my time will be different, that i’m special, i’m worthy of the fantasy ‘cause someone will be so lucky to have me and maybe just knowing they want it gives me power to say no when saying no is still easy and expected to boys who kiss me senseless, place my bitten long fingers on their throb of denim and hope i’ll be what—impressed? excited? so brimming with lust i’ll rip off their jeans with my crooked teeth hoping not to snag my dr. pepper lip smacker-ed cherry-bowed mouth in enthusiastic display of bobbling sentimental foreplay?

that’s not me. 

but this year, finch is the one. he is the prince and the pain and the tall punk rock kid who wears shorts year-round to spit in the face of our narrow rocky mountain town even though he’s a year older than me and gets to escape to college before i do. so, it makes sense. he makes sense. he tells me he’s loved me since the first time he saw me on the first day of my freshman/his sophomore year of high school. his a.p. history class and my honors english class were next door and he would linger just to see me walk in, just to see me, just to be there—right place, right time, on purpose. 

i pick finch because he has loved me from afar and knows how to be close in a way that makes me forget who i am and stop thinking about how much i miss mama who lives with a horrible man now and the calculus homework i’m ignoring and my fear of getting bored again—staring at the wall in an empty unpainted room playing soft jazz on repeat—like i always do with boyfriends. i stop hoping that the first time will be magical because with him, there’s nothing but with the flick of a wand sparkling flesh-colored romance so tender and effortless that even though it’s a dorm bed and we’re red wine tipsy, the next morning when he asks if he was the first it takes me several minutes to reply—and he, cherub, so enduring, waits—because i don’t know which answer will make him love me more.