The engine of the Saturn surged as he put it into park, as if the last thing it wanted to do was stop in the dim lot of the amusement park. He’d never had sex before but he could tell he was going to. The girl beside him had been rubbing her legs together the whole ride from the pool hall, and her red skirt had worked its way up past her thighs.
They sat for a moment in silence as the engine ticked and fell asleep. He wanted to say something about the moon, but it wasn’t visible. The only light came from the security lamps that hissed beyond the chainlink that hugged the miniature rides that made up the park.The discrete lot was the only thing that interested the teenagers..
“Dad used to take me here-” He said, but the click of her seatbelt unfastening stopped him. Her nails grazed his chest as she took a fist full of his t-shirt. A number of things inside him tightened.
“I remember it being bigger.” He said. He kissed her neck, felt her through the poly-blend of her dress. His eyes could not leave the orange of the E on the gas gauge.
She guided him as a patient teacher would. The windows fogged. The world myopic.
He took his hands off of her ass and wrapped them around her neck.
“Do you want to feel amazing?” He breathed the words more than spoke them.
Her eyes bulged and, with a yelp like a small dog that had been stepped on, she pushed him off and hustled her skirt back down below her knees.
“Take me home.” She said, as he struggled to get into his pants.
“I’m sorry.” He said. “I’m so sorry.”
They saw each other in passing after this, but never spoke until a similar night, a dozen years later.
The car guided him back to the lot. It had a hole in the muffler making the old Saturn sound powerful and the power steering was broken, making him feel weak.
He didn’t remember how she had gotten into the car. Her skirt was denim and the zipper was halfway undone. Her hand was between his legs before he brought the car to a stop. It was hard to park that way.
The amusement park was gone now, the fence protecting nothing but piles of rubble. One of the heaps was crowned by a candy striped pole that seemed to point North.
She had his jeans unbuttoned.
Things went much as they had before. There were cracks in the derelict lot. The overhead lights still screamed down on tufts of sickly grass that had taken root. He wondered who paid for the electricity. Who changed the bulbs.
Just as he felt her reaching climax, he made his move. He didn’t ask permission this time. He could feel the pulse under his thumbs. Arteries writhing like worms. His grip was too tight for her to say anything, but her eyes were screaming. Elated.
She was enjoying it.
At the last possible moment, just as her eyes lost focus, he released her neck and she finished explosively.
It’s still wrong. He thought as he dismounted her.
“Thank you.” She moaned, after she’d caught her breath.
He adjusted the rear-view so that he could watch the plum bruises bloom on her neck as he drove. One of the headlights came loose on the Saturn, and when he flipped them on it illuminated the candy striped pole at the top of the rubble. It seemed to have changed direction.
She tried to make plans for another date, but he said he was busy for the foreseeable future.
He had everything figured out this time, but he still felt like crying. The Saturn sounded a hundred years old.
She was dressed in black and filled the little car with the smell of cloves and sweat. She kissed the passenger window, leaving a crimson smirch.
“The world is getting smaller.” she said.
He thought of the length of cord in the back seat, and the knot he’d tied in it.
The lot had been paved over with fresh tar that was darker than the sky. The rubble, cleared away, replaced with a superstore. He felt like he was lost at sea.
“Thank you.” He said, sliding the seat back.
“Shut up.” She said, and was on top of him.
He tried to hold his breath as long as possible while she raised and lowered herself. She was breathing heavy. The air was thick in the car as the fog was outside, like it was bleeding in.
His body was tightening up with shame.
She closed her eyes, didn’t see him reach behind the seat and pluck up the knotted cord.
“You’ve changed so much.” He said.
“You ruined me.”
His hand rose slowly, thumbing down the knot, enlarging the loop. She opened her eyes, and they grew wider when she saw the cord. He grabbed her tightly and she let out a yelp.
He brought the noose up and let it swing between their faces. Slowly, he pressed his head through the loop.
“Please.” He said.
She understood and took the end of the rope in her fist. She pulled it tighter. He croaked. “Don’t let go until it’s over.”
She obliged and the veins under the constriction grew fat and stood away from his neck.
The world began to fog for him. He was watching her, up and down, up and down, through a deepening tunnel. Her scream was a strange muffled echo now that he was so far down the tunnel. A kaleidoscope of fireworks exploded silently on all sides. The explosion was within him,
when it had for so long been out of reach.
He was happy for a moment.
Then he wasn’t.