As the air began to warm up in preparation for summer, I was keeping my bedroom window open more and more. It got too hot in my room sometimes but I also just loved the way it smelled when the jasmines were blooming again. They were in full bloom now. So when I was sitting at my desk, talking to my friend from Detroit, my room was permeated with the scent of them.
I could hear my dad in the backyard getting the grill going. He'd been wanting to barbeque all month but every time he wasn't busy, it was raining. It was a perfect afternoon and he was going to take advantage of the weather. It seemed like Claire was too because I heard him say hello to her.
"I'm great, Rick. Just gardening. How are you?" she replied. I wasn't really paying attention, just listening to Amanda, my best friend before I met Billie, tell me a wild story about some jerks I used to know before I moved away. We didn't get to talk often, but whenever we did, the stories got wilder.
"Hey, now that I've got you alone, there's something I wanted to talk to you about," I heard my dad continue. "I'm just a little concerned about how much time Ruby and Felix are spending together. They seem to be getting pretty serious." I immediately swiveled in my chair and turned toward the window.
"I'll call you back," I whispered.
"What? Why?" she replied. But I hung up. My dad knew I was in my room, but I didn't think he noticed my window was open.
"Yeah, it's starting to worry me too," Claire replied.
"Do you think we should do something about it?" I inched my chair close to the window just to hear them better.
"I think that would do more harm than good. You were a teenager once too. You know what would happen if we tried to tell them to slow down. We'd just push them closer together."
"I know. I'm just concerned. They're so young. They haven't even graduated yet. I want Ruby to focus more on college and her future. I don't want them to make mistakes."
"I feel the same way. But I think they'll be okay. It's normal for us to be concerned about our babies. But they're good kids. I think they've learned from our mistakes."
"You think we should have a talk with them?"
"The talk?" I heard her laugh drift up in through the window. "They're eighteen. I'm sure they know how it works by now."
"Still. I feel like we should say something."
"Felix and I have talked about it. I don't want to make them uncomfortable. They're old enough to know what they're doing."
"Right." My dad didn't sound convinced. And I was guessing Claire knew that.
"Listen," she said. "My son loves your daughter very much. I know that doesn't make it any easier and that's the whole reason you're worried, to begin with. But I think they have something special."
"They're in high school. They have to know it won't last."
"Maybe so. But they'll both learn and grow from it. Just—try not to worry so much. I know he's my son and I'm biased but I raised him right. The last thing he'd ever want to do is hurt Ruby."
"I'm not as worried about her getting hurt as I am about them going in too hot and heavy and making mistakes they'll regret."
"They're smarter than us."
"Yeah, well, not by much." Hey!
"They'll be fine. I promise."
"Fine. If they don't crash and burn, you owe me ten bucks."
Thankfully, the conversation died. My dad invited them over for burgers and Claire apparently left. So I rolled my chair back to my desk and called Amanda back.
"What the hell, Ruby?" she asked when she answered. "I haven't talked to you in like six months and you hung up on me." I stretched the phone cord so I could close my window.
"Sorry, I overheard my dad talking to my boyfriend's mom." Then she laughed.
"Were they talking about you guys doing the nasty?"
"No, you sicko. My dad's just worried we're moving too fast, I guess."
"How fast are we talking here?"
"He wasn't specific on the details but it sounded like he's either worried I'll get knocked up or marry him right after graduation." She gasped.
"Did he pop your cherry?"
"He did, didn't he?"
"Your lingo is disturbing. Nothing was popped."
"Sounds like something was popped."
"What the hell, Ruby? You used to tell me everything before you ditched me for that Billie girl."
"Oh, don't even try to play that card with me. You loved Billie when you guys talked. Besides, you've always hung out with Becca more than me. So don't even lie."
"That's because Becca's brother deals weed."
"I'm very much aware, you mooch."
"You're evading," she stated.
"I'm not evading anything." I sat back down and then scooted toward my door to make sure that was shut too even though it was going to make my room heat up.
"I'm going to take it as a yes then. Ruby got her cherry popped. Ruby got her cherry popped."
"You're disgusting and I'm going to hang up on you again."
"So did you do it? Huh, huh, huh?"
"I won't answer until you drop the freaky lingo."
"Fine—has this boy—this Felix gentleman—deflowered you yet?"
"That was somehow almost worse than the cherry."
"Has he—or has he not—relieved you of your virginity?" I dropped my head on my desk, making the picture frames and things rattle with the force of it. This was never going to end.
"He has," I finally confirmed. Then she screamed.
"When? Where? How? I want details."
"Why does everyone always want details? You guys are sick."
"He's hot, okay? I saw the pictures you sent. And the guy who took my virginity was a scrawny little twerp. So I'm living vicariously through you."
"It was winter formal. At his house. The same way everyone else does it."
"Wait didn't you have a different boyfriend then?"
"I sort of left him there for Felix." She gasped again dramatically.
"Shut up, you slut!"
"Ugh. God. You're as bad as Billie."
"So are you in love with him?" I lifted my head and caught sight of one of the pictures pinned to my bulletin board. It was the two of us at prom the year before. Naively innocent and barely on the cusp of love. He'd grown some since then. I barely noticed it. But it was obvious now that I looked at us almost a year ago.
"I really am," I admitted.
"You sound like you got it bad."
"It's really bad."
"Then maybe your dad is onto something. You'll either get knocked up or married or both."
"Definitely not either of those things. One, I'm on birth control. And two, I have no plans to get married anytime soon."
"Well, when you do, I want to be a bridesmaid. I know I already lost my position as maid-of-honor. But at least let me be a bridesmaid."
"Sure, whatever. Not happening anytime soon though."
"We'll see. I'm gonna go anyway though. It's getting late and I told Becca I'd call her."
"Alright. Talk to you later."
"Peace, bitch." She hung up and I went back to work on my homework.