He’s this way, I’m that, like flying fish but underwater, graceful and around. It’s the middle of the hot summer, like, bake. I move my Speedo strap, and the elastic of it hurts on the new red skin already.
Judith is in the kitchen, a lady with a straw in her Tab. There is so much light sunny tension in the summer afternoon air that I am able to even hear the bendy in her straw. Todd dives underwater, comes at me, grabs both ankles, lets go, swims away. I look around to find out, where’s Judith now?
Ooops, I mean she’s standing above us.
Todd is holding onto the diving board with two long-muscled arms. Slight youthful hair under his arms is all I can see in the moment.
“I’m going down for a little nap. Jodi, hunny? You see your towel?”
Judith goes back in to the house, closes the screen, then closes the slider. Todd’s hands are on my ankles again. He pops up, flips his hair so it goes just right when it’s wet, not funny. His hair has a little roll on it, up by his hairline, like George Washington from the olden days.
Staring at the way his hair rolls.
Down to his eyes, brown.
His lashes take a quick flick look at me for the first time ever, and for a mini-millisecond in its entirety, all four of our eyes are in contact.
Now he comes up close to me. CLOSE. His nose is big. He kisses me on the lips fast and dives away again.
I haven’t kissed a lot of people. This kiss was about half-way between a French and a Not. It was real, it was fast, but it certainly had the openness of his mouth involved. The openness of his mouth that scared me but felt sweet all at one time.
Now I go under, swim off, loving the pool. I love the light blue blueness and the rough on the bottom. My palms go flat, hello pool floor, did you know me and Todd are two separate fish? Where did he go?
THERE! His face right in front of mine, water streaming from each nostril. His hands on exactly where my waist goes in, sqeezing, then he lets go. We both pop up. If he could say “Hi,” right then he would.
And now, I find myself at the edge. The edge right under what we both know is Judith’s bedroom window so if she were to look out right now, she would see nothing but nothing. Just pool, I tell you, because we are directly under her. Which means we are secret, and the secretness of it causes a tiny tensing thing like a whoop-de-doo down there. Something that says, what’s going to happen, with a tightness in my thing. And I am against the wall.
Just me and my butt, hard against the wall, and all I can think is please don’t let the rough part make the butt of my bathing suit even worse, make the rough part pill up. This is my favorite bathing suit.
He is against me; I’m a little trapped. His bathing suit happens
to be trunks and the fabric is big and filled with air, how silly, I
think. He reaches down and holds open the elastic part of his trunks,
but knowing me, I’d rather not look down there. He takes my hand and
reaches into down his pants. There.
Where is he looking? Doesn’t he have eyes anymore? He looks at my hand, only my hand, and positions it, as if there’s an exact manner he’s needing and it’s up to me to do it.
Now my hand is “in there” and he
presses himself against the whole sandwich of us— him, his penis, my
hand, me, swimming pool wall. We smash there for a moment, then a few
moments more, smashing sandwich of all of us.
The smash keeps going; we all press.
Smashing; then he moves away. This back-float kick thing that propels him.
I am just left there, leaning against the wall. A small snake of white, which I know to be his sperm, floats right in front of me. I get out and use the towel Judith left for me, and ride home, fast as fast can be, in my wet bathing suit, carrying my shorts, carrying my t-shirt, carrying my shoes. Stopping in front of the mailbox to put both shoes on my wet feet...
This is an excerpt from "Jodi K.," Jill Solways first novella, in Three Kinds of Asking For It.
SB: How is Jodi K different from Young Adult fiction?
JS: It's really not. I've always wanted to write YA and even have a secret plan to run away to a cabin and work under a pseudonym- something like Shoshana River. Or maybe Shira Wolf.
There are two main differences, however. The first is the irony. Jodi's voice is ironic to me. The innocence with which she views the Holocaust, and her intentional misuse of language are all funny to me.The other difference is the tradition of Girl-Hearts-Man literature of punishment.
There are many novels where a man takes advantage of a young girl's innocence and they fool around after protracted yearning. It was important to me in my story that the man not get found out or punished.
That's because this isn't his book, it's Jodi's book. In all of the other books the man's punishment is seen as retribution for him falling into the lusty trap set by the unknowing girl. But no one ever gets found out in this book. That's something I did on purpose, because even if Jodi is never punished but the man is, Jodi would still experience it as punishment for herself. This is just a story, not a tale with a moral.
SB: How is writing from a 14-yr old perspective different from an adult perspective?
JS: The "teen girl voice" comes naturally to me and I could do it forever. I can write vigorously and with confidence, not worried about whether it sounds good or not, because that's what the fourteen-year-old in me was like.
SB: What do you and Jodi have in common?
JS: At fourteen, I was so confident and bold and talky and happy. As I started to see myself through men's eyes, I shrunk and twisted myself into someone trying to be beautiful, lovely, soft, unthreatening. By seventeen I had lost my voice. I have only been recovering it over the past five years. When I recognized the amount of instant power I had from male attention, I ditched everything just to get it. My desire to write, to create, to be heard, to be loud, all disappeared. All I wanted to be was cute.
"Jodi K" is written from that place when I still had my own desire, my own gaze, before I turned it back onto myself and saw myself through the prism of men's eyes.
SB: Who do you want to read your novella?
JS: Women, girls. College chicks, high school chicks- if it's not too dirty. It's probably not dirty at all to them, actually, it's probably very innocent. I don't write full-on moist, flowering, hot horny erotica very easily. Even "Courtney Cox's Asshole," my short story Susie published in Best American Erotica, was, to me, “Neurotica." It's easier for me to write about the fear and frisson and textures of wanting. The actual doing I leave to other people.
SB: As a screenwriter, do you hope to adapt Jodi K? What would be the challenges?
JS: I would love to. Again, I promise you, the "no-punishment" aspect would be a big problem for anyone paying money to see this as a movie or TV show. A happy ending to most producers would involve the man being found out and tried in some way, legal or social. I don't want to add to the canon of work about how women's sexuality gets everyone in trouble.
Jodi K is a very simple coming-of-age piece for me, something that answers the basic questions: "What does female desire look like for a young girl, the first rumblings? What did it feel like and look like for me?"