Pic @ Michael Donovan
The first and only time we fucked, right before we did it he said, “This isn’t the first time I’ve done this, just so you know,” which made me think it probably was. He had jagged, overlapping teeth that grew in places where no teeth were meant to grow, and a dick that curved really far to the right. Eyes murky mud puddles, body like a line drawing. His name was and still is Connor Heilprin.
I was sixteen when I met Connor, him one year younger. He just showed up at school one day, came all the way to upstate New York from a place called Zionsville, Indiana. It sounded exotic at the time. He had long black hair that hung over his ears in thick, greasy curtains, and wore faded blue jeans with junky argyle sweaters that had been washed and worn so many times they were basically see-through. He was very serious in a way that the other kids at school were not. He seemed level-headed, sincere, practical, and I liked that. I stared at him from across the cafeteria for a month before we ever spoke, slowly sipping slushies, occasionally squinting my eyes for dramatic affect. Classic teen movie stuff. Before Connor I used to wear this glittery, roll-on eye shadow almost every day, but after his arrival I stopped, afraid if I wore it he would think I was somehow not serious enough for him. The first words Connor Heilprin ever said to me were, “You look like a girl from a movie that I can’t place.” Sometimes at night I’d fantasize about him being with other boys.
Connor’s house was an old, Victorian style home with Gothic windows, surrounded by Maple trees. We used to joke that it looked straight out of every horror movie you’d ever seen. We’d go there after school to smoke pot, although I never inhaled because it made me feel sick. Connor’s dad was an out of work actor and his mom was a painter who didn’t paint, so they were always around, reading books on broken lawn chairs, giving us warm but vacant nods of acknowledgment whenever we appeared.
The front porch of the house was covered in cardboard boxes. Each had a label written in black permanent marker, saying stuff like ‘National Geographic, 85-95’ and ‘sketches: blue era’. Most were filled with books, old magazines and newspapers, clothes, and various knickknacks. The interior was the same. To get from room to room you’d have to crawl over and under boxes, maneuver around car tires, squeeze past broken tables and chairs. Their front lawn looked as if it had never been mowed—grass and weeds nearly waist high. My mother said the way they lived was “unhygienic,” but I didn’t mind. The chaos of the house seemed to compliment their otherwise placid personalities.
“Over the past five years we’ve lived in seven different houses,” said Connor one uneventful afternoon. “We used to unpack every time we got somewhere new, but my parents can’t be bothered anymore. That’s why the house looks like, well… this. And my parents never throw anything away either. We’ve got newspapers from before I was born in here. It’s stupid–lugging all this stuff around with us–but they can’t seem to let anything go.”
Six months after Connor’s family moved to town their house burnt down. His mother had fallen asleep smoking a cigarette, which fell from her hand and set alight her polyester nightgown. This was the information given to Connor’s father after the accident, anyway. Because of all the stuff in the house, the fire spread fast. There was practically nothing left of the place when the flames were finally put out—just a blackened framework and towers of ash.
Connor moved away one month later. We fucked the night before he left. It was his idea, although he just laid there for most of it, eyes even more mud-puddley than normal, his black hair laid out on the pillow like a dark cloud around his head. He looked more like a picture of a boy than a boy. There but not there. Just… blank. After it was over he looked up at me, green eyes so serious, voice shaky like an earthquake and said, “I feel like I’m floating in some fever dream, like this life is borrowed, that my thoughts aren’t really my own. When I speak I hear someone else’s voice. Do you ever feel like that?”