Strong, But Not Rough
by Amanda Huggins
If I was pretty like Laverne, then I’d go out with Rory Campbell. I’d hold his hand under the table, and it would feel warm and strong, but not rough. If I were tall and lithe like Laverne, I would see over the heads of the boys who think they’re clever and cool, and I’d notice the way Rory’s hair curls into his collar, the way his smile reaches all the way up to his eyes, and the way he stays quiet when the others fight.
When we leave the pub and pile into Robert’s car, Julie and Laverne slide across the boys’ knees, feet wedged into the seat backs, heads pressed against the vinyl roof. Laverne sits on Rory Campbell’s lap, and I squeeze in next to them. Laverne doesn’t talk to Rory, she leans forward between the seats and strokes Carl Broadbent’s neck, blowing her soft girl’s breath in his ear. Carl laughs in that stupid way of his, and Rory catches my eye, smiles as though we’re sharing an intimate joke.
If I was Laverne I’d be jealous that the world’s most beautiful boy was smiling at another girl. Especially when that girl is the dumpy one with mousy hair and a snub nose. And if I was Laverne, I’d notice when he reached along the back of the seat to rest his fingertips on the girl’s shoulder. Then I’d probably feel sick inside.
But I’m not Laverne, I’m Cathy Carnes, and I can feel Rory’s touch like so much fire as we race through the country lanes. My heart is beating louder than the music. When we hit the bank and the car flies through the air, I don’t even notice, because Rory Campbell is gripping my shoulder with fingers that are strong, but not rough.