The Food Groups of My First Relationship | Teen Ink

The Food Groups of My First Relationship

June 9, 2016
By megan_lynne GOLD, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
megan_lynne GOLD, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
11 articles 0 photos 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story."

I turned around at my locker one day and he held a Ziploc bag of my favorite sweets in front of my nose. My hair was barely touching my shoulders, then; he asked me, “want to hang out sometime?” and I melted into the tile underneath my feet. A varsity soccer player, two years my senior, decided to bake some anonymous, mousy freshman cookies and ask her on a date? I stuttered and smiled and blushed, my legs like columns of water on weak knees. The Boy grinned back and touched my thin fingers when handing me a cookie. It didn’t occur to me until much, much later to wonder how he knew what my favorite treat was since we’d never spoken, or seen each other before, as far as I knew. Flirtation is a clever thief; it whisks doubts into demure smiles.

II.    Cherry Slushies

We went for walks to the convenience store in our neighborhood. He was lean and agile, like an alley cat, and I was chubby, clumsy legs two steps behind but he did not seem to mind. He gestured wildly with his arms while he spoke, and ranted, and wished, and cursed; he had a girlfriend, who he called Aphrodite. He had a therapist, too, who he called a quack. When I asked why he had to see The Quack his eyes narrowed and his gait slowed and he would wrinkle his bottom lip up, like he was really trying to get a handle on me. He said, “My parents are a little scared of me. They don’t understand like you do--I mean, after all, you’re scared of yourself, right?”

I bit down on a thick red plastic straw and sucked up my cherry slushie before I answered. It was a complicated question-- I hollowed out my cheeks, and felt red dye bursting into my bloodstream. I thought of how sometimes I had to clench my fists closed when The Boy mentioned Aphrodite.

“Yeah,” I said, “I think everyone is a little scared of themselves some days.”


III.    Banana Pancakes

Aphrodite was a sweet girl, but I didn’t fully understand the appeal. She was generous and kind and vanilla- bean boring. Her calendar filled up with Girl Scouts and Church Meetings and Volunteering. She barely had time for The Boy, and jealousy burned low in my belly. He would make me banana pancakes some mornings and complain about her behavior; I pressed silver tongs into thick maple syrup and nodded at his distress. I did not try to fix their problems; I wanted to watch their little Greek God world burn.

He kissed me one day, while we were watching Arrested Development, and
I said, “I think I can maybe be Athena. She seems more fun.” He broke Aphrodite’s heart while I clenched my hand over my mouth in his bathroom to keep from happily screaming, or rubbing it into her heart-shaped face. I went home tasting like whipped cream.

IV.    Stevia Low Calorie Sweetener

“You were flirting with him,” The Boy shouted, chasing me up his stairs. I was screaming back, accusing him of paranoia. The two week anniversary of us was marked by a pointless argument. When we reached his living room, I put my hand over my eyes, suddenly exhausted by all the fighting. The Boy slammed the door and sounded close to tears, his voice wobbling over my name. I turned around to apologize and--
When I came back to myself, I was still standing up, swaying slightly on my feet. I glanced in the mirror across the room and saw The Boy on his knees, holding my hands, desperately repeating something. The sounds didn’t register. It felt like I was deep underwater, my eyes fighting against the salt to stay open. There was a bright red mark across my cheek.  I had to unstick my tongue from the roof of my mouth to say, shocked, “You hit me. You, uh, actually hit me.”

On our first official date, a week after, I had greenish-brown bruises adorning my wrists and a rib that ached when I turned too quickly. He ate a chicken quesadilla, and I licked Stevia from my palm and sipped black coffee until it burned my tongue.


V.    Kiwi

I eat the fur off of kiwis. I know that sounds weird, but it’s just like an apple, and easier to eat without all the spoon nonsense. I walked to his house in a sundress, my small breakfast in hand, and knocked. He gave me a real smile for the first time since I said Athena, and my heart fluttered in my chest. This is my boyfriend: kind smiles and open doors and gentle hands. When he started kissing me, like I was fruit to be devoured, I laughed happily and felt the summer breeze drift through the windows.

It happened very quickly. I was on my back, screaming, soon, trying to alert anyone walking outside. He was unbuttoning his pants and ripping my underwear down; he hissed, “shut up, shut up, shut up,” but I was not so willing to give in. The Boy’s eyes turned soft for a moment over mine; my voice hesitated, and I stared back.

“I’m doing this because I love you, I love you so much,” he said calmly. He gripped my chin tight, jaw bruising on contact and slammed my skull into the headboard twice. I stopped screaming so much after that. I didn’t say much of anything for a long while after that.


VI.     Sweet Tea

My friends liked to listen to country music and talk about The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Don’t let this fool you, though; they do not want to hear about the actual undoings of teenage girls. They listened to him hit me once, hit me so hard I spit up blood and blood and blood in the sink. They would’ve only had to lift their heads; the country song was low. Everyone heard, but they didn’t look. They didn’t care enough to look.

VII.    Pepperoni Pizza

His room was always messy; he never put away his laundry, so it ended up crumpled on the bed, or stamped into the carpet. There was a box of half-eaten pepperoni pizza on the floor; I stepped in it walking to his bed. The Boy was quiet today. Sometimes, I only had my inner dialogue to listen to; when I referred to him as “The Boy” in my mind, “The Monster” bubbled up instead. I tried to banish the thought, but it was persistent and prominent to my tired brain.

“You need to shut the hell up. Stop telling people what goes on in this relationship, do you understand me? Do you get how much of a burden--”

“You raped me,” I said suddenly, my voice steady, gaze unwavering, hands clutching the soft blue comforter. He picked up a soccer trophy he had won when he was young, and not yet monstrous, and started walking towards me. I closed my eyes so the dark wouldn’t surprise me. For a fleeting moment, I thought, “what if they don’t find my body?”

The impact hurt worse than I expected, but only for a moment. I was sleeping in a moment.

He didn’t kill me, though. When I woke up, a ratty yellow towel to clot the blood flowing freely from my head, he was sitting at the foot of the bed. He said, “Stop making me hurt you. God, stop making me do this.”


VIII.    Mashed Potatoes

I  broke up with him a day after my blood was spilled on his bed. I whispered the words into my phone; I threw away old slushie cups I had saved, sentimental reminders of what could have been. I was not okay, yet. Being alone was scary and hard but being alive felt like a blessing. I was more thankful that year than at any other Thanksgiving. Peanut butter made me want to vomit but I had real, honest-to-God sugar in my tea, and a heaping helping of mashed potatoes.

My family, oblivious but well-meaning, had normal conversation at the dinner table. My parents had all but forgotten about that older boy their eldest daughter dated last month.

My sister caught my eye, her reflection flickering in the dim candlelight. She grabbed my hand and squeezed hard during the prayers.

The author's comments:

trigger warning: rape, abuse 

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