Black Cherry Pop

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I was sixteen when I lost my virginity to this fat girl. I don’t remember her name or exactly what she looked like, only how fat she was. She must’ve been seventeen or eighteen and weighed well over 200 pounds. Mind you I weighed only a buck forty in my heavy-ass winter coat, so we must’ve looked like two different creatures bumping uglies on that lumpy couch. But I gave it my all.

We were down in my buddy’s basement and I was taking one for the team. The other boys were in different parts of the house with different girls. I was drunk on swigs of cheap vodka and have lost most of the memory of that whole half-hour, but I do remember her telling me afterward I was good, better than her boyfriend, this black guy from the neighborhood a bit older than me who had dropped out of school and just hung around hustling, stealing, doing who knows what else. This fat girl was some kind of white, possibly Italian—it’s been so long, and so many things have happened to me in the meantime, my mind is probably adding color to the picture where there wasn’t any.

But a few months before there was what happened with Shamika. I’d been friends with Shamika all through middle school. She lived on my block, in the apartment complex where most of the black people lived, a couple complexes over from mine. Shamika and I were famous in middle school for juking at dances and the parties they held at the rec center. If you don’t know what juking is, it’s basically the black version of dirty dancing, where you pretend to have sex with someone only fully clothed and standing, though sometimes on the floor too—those were the raunchier moves, the Cry Baby, the Dog, all that. The juking got so nasty, so sexual, the school tried to ban it, the chaperones rushing out onto the dark dance floor and prying kids apart. But some of the teachers knew we were just horny and having a good time. I even juked with the old-lady music teacher at a dance we had in the cafeteria, bending her over and everything, in her wool cardigan and long floral old-lady skirt. She loved it.

Shamika was one of my best friends for a while. We hung out nearly every day one summer, and a rumor even spread we were an item. But Shamika and I never kissed or anything. For all our chemistry on the dance floor, all that thrusting of our hips, doing the nastiest moves we could think of, we never actually hooked up.

Except this one time.

I’d moved away after eighth grade, gone to a different high school for freshman year. We moved in with my mom’s Ukrainian taxi-driver boyfriend two suburbs over, and in that time Shamika and I had lost touch. When I moved back before sophomore year—my brother and I’d successfully sabotaged my mom’s relationship with Ukraine, forcing her to make another move—I started hanging out with Shamika again here and there.

Shamika had changed though. Her body had filled out nicely in the time I was gone. She was a woman now, at least physically, at least to me at the time. And we didn’t hang out nearly as much as before, maybe because things didn’t feel so innocent between us anymore.

One night Shamika called me up and told me to come over, said her mom was home though and to tap on her bedroom window when I got there. Shamika lived with her mom and little brother in a first-floor apartment at one end of her building. No one was out on the street, and when I got to Shamika’s her bedroom window was glowing, her black light on. I tapped on her window like she said, the blinds parted, and there was Shamika’s black face with her index finger against her thick lips.

She slowly slid open the window and held the blinds apart as I awkwardly climbed through, making too much noise and Shamika shushing me. She had been chilling in her room listening to late-nineties R&B.

That day was Shamika’s birthday, and she had just come back from the city with her mom and brother, where Shamika’s extended family had had a little gathering to mark the occasion. I asked her how it went and Shamika just rolled her eyes and shook her head a bit. She was lying across the bed with her feet on the floor, her shoulders against the wall. On the wall above her was a poster of a shirtless Tupac with head turned and side-eyeing the camera. Shamika was wearing skin-tight jeans and a sleeveless blouse that showed off some cleavage, her breasts peeking out like two swollen plums, her long braids cascading over them. She looked beautiful, and I would’ve told her so but we didn’t tell each other stuff like that; we were just friends.

Shamika was concentrating on something small and dark and marker-shaped in her hands, rolling it back and forth gently between her fingers, then wetting it a little with her tongue. A blunt. I’d never seen weed before, much less Shamika with any, but I acted like it was nothing. I just stood there watching her and looking at all the things in her room, CDs, notebooks, old stuffed animals and toys, a bulky stereo/CD-player/tape-player, all the miscellaneous stuff common among teenage girls in the year 2000.

Shamika got up to light a stick of incense. Then she lied back down on the bed like before and started lighting the blunt. She took a hit and watched the blunt in her hand as she held her breath. After a few seconds she let the smoke roll up out of her mouth. I had never smoked weed and was really too scared to try it or any drug besides beer and liquor; my dad’s crack addiction had shattered my family, the life I would’ve had, and I know I carry the same destiny in my DNA; my brother and I were told so by these addiction specialists in middle school, that we had to be extra careful or else. I must’ve revealed as much in all my talks with Shamika, because never once did she offer me a puff, not then or later. She was a real good friend to me, and not only me: Shamika was good to everybody.

“So what you bring me for my birthday?” she asked after a few cool hits of the blunt. I blushed in the dark. I was literally penniless and couldn’t afford to buy gifts for anyone, not even Shamika.

“Well,” I said, “what you want?”

I could see Shamika’s teeth shining under the black light; she must’ve been blushing right then too. Shamika really was beautiful. Black and beautiful and slim-thick with a flat stomach. She looked so good laid out like that, the idea just jumped out of me: “Want me to give you a lap dance or something?”

I saw her teeth flash again. “I mean, if that’s what you wanna give me.”

She already had R&B playing—I think it was Jagged Edge—so I started swaying in the dark in front of her, doing what I assumed strippers did at strip clubs. I’d seen enough movies and knew how to move my body. But I still felt awkward as hell, especially since my body hadn’t matured the way Shamika’s had. I felt like a boy trying to arouse a woman; that’s pretty much what I was. I pulled my shirt up off over my head so her eyes could feast on my dark lean sixteen-year-old torso—not quite Pac, but I did alright.

Shamika was smiling at me in the dark, her eyes on my waist gyrating. I couldn’t tell if she was enjoying it or laughing inside, so I just kept swinging my hips, spinning slowly, rubbing myself all over like I wanted my own body, gripping my junk, getting closer and closer to her. I got down on my knees and slowly slid my hands up and down her thighs; they felt so firm in her jeans. Then I got into a planking position over her on the bed and started grinding against her, basically dry-humping her but in a seductive way. At first I moved my mouth an inch over her neck and upper chest, my lips almost touching her skin. But then I started kissing her and licking her a little here and there. Nothing gratuitous, just enough to excite us both. I saw her body respond, rolling up to meet mine. She couldn’t stop smiling and blushing. She wanted me and I wanted her, purely, two wild things in the dark. We kissed with our tongues, our first kiss. It felt exactly right, like we should’ve been kissing the whole time since we met.

Her lips were thicker than mine and we both knew how to use our mouths. I kissed her neck, under her ear and braids, our bodies still grinding together. Her skin dark chocolate, velvety, smelling of cocoa butter and sweet oils. I kissed along her neckline. Then the top of her chest. Then on the tops of her breasts. Then I pulled down her shirt and bra and started playing with her nipples with my mouth and tongue and a bit of teeth, gently—my first time at second base with anyone. Shamika’s body was rolling all over in beautiful black waves.

I felt my thing get unbearably hard inside my JNCOs. Being sixteen I was already far into whacking off, so I knew what was bound to happen if we kept on like this, what my thing would do, that coming was the best feeling there was. I started moving down, lifting up her shirt to kiss all over her muscly stomach, softly but with passion, like we were in love, and I guess we kind of were. I started gently tugging at the button on her jeans.

She didn’t stop me.

In fact she unzipped her jeans herself and slid them off her legs, along with her panties. I hadn’t expected it. I hadn’t expected any of this when I came over, but definitely not that. In the dark I saw a mini bush of hair, her black legs glowing a beautiful deep purple under the black light. My first time seeing a vagina in real life, besides my sister’s when she was a baby. I was excited and nervous but acted cool; I must’ve been in shock, like I was only dreaming, or having an out-of-body experience, or inside my head looking out the eyeballs. Maybe I’d seen too many movies and music videos, but everything came naturally. Maybe we really were in love.

I moved my face toward her bush, not really knowing what I was going to do but ready to put my mouth on her, wondering what she would taste like down there—what It would taste like—when there came heavy knocks on the bedroom door.

“Shamika!” her mom’s voice came through the door. “How many times I told you not to be locking this door!”

Shamika and I sprang to our feet, our eyes wide like startled prey in the woods. I leaped against the wall where the door would hide me as Shamika pulled up her panties and jeans, struggling to slide them past those slim-thick thighs.

“What’re you doing in here, young lady?” Her mom stood in the doorway—thank the Lord.

“Nuthin’, just listening to music,” Shamika said.

“Girl, are you smoking that shit in my house? What I tell you? I don’t want no letter from the landlord complainin’ ’bout no smell.”

“I know, I lit a candle.”

“Candle nuthin’! Don’t be smoking that shit in my house Shamika, you hear me? Go outside and do that shit.”

“Kay, night Momma, love you.”

“Goodnight, baby, I love you too. Hope you had a nice birthday.”

I was sweating behind the door, heart racing, my wet palms gripping the wall, trying to go thin as possible, trying to go invisible, trying to keep my breathing down; I nearly suffocated. Shamika closed the door and flashed me a wild smile. I gave her one back to disguise how scared shitless I’d been. “I should bounce,” I said.

“No, stay,” she said. “She was just checking on me before bed. She finna pass out.”

So I stayed. I was scared her mom might barge into the room any minute, but Shamika told me to stay, so I stayed. We didn’t do anything else though, didn’t even go back to the kissing. I just lied down on the bed next to her with my shirt still off and spooned her from behind. We played with each other’s hands in silence. My hands were more slender and softer than hers; I wondered if that put her off trying to pick things up where we’d gotten interrupted, if she was wishing I was someone else in bed with her, more manly.

I got up early and climbed out her window. A damp grey-blue morning. I walked home replaying everything in my mind, then yanked one out in the bathroom to the memory of what might’ve been.

A week or so later Shamika had a cousin visiting from Calumet City, a black suburb on Chicago’s deep south side, near the Indiana border. I don’t remember her name, or even what she looked like really, but for the sake of the story I’ll call her Lynette. Bone-thin and light-skinned and looking a little younger than Shamika and me: that’s all I remember.

Lynette and Shamika had just come from the pool and had already showered and gotten dressed when I tapped on Shamika’s window.

“Aye, do me a favor and act like we go together,” Lynette said after a minute or two of us chatting. I raised an eyebrow at her and she goes, “Just for a bit.”

“There’s this creepy Mexican dude stalkin’ her,” Shamika explained as she added some last-minute touches in the mirror. “He was trying to holler at her at the pool, and we left but dude followed us here.”

“Where’s he at?” I said, peeking through the blinds. I didn’t see anybody, just some little black kid swinging a long stick at these other little kids screaming and laughing and running around trying to dodge him.

“Nigga round somewhere,” Lynette said. She looked genuinely afraid, though she covered it with a weak smile. She had big beautiful eyes, I think; I remember something about her eyes, the way she’d look at me. She seemed young, how skinny she was, almost like a girl still. But something in her eyes seemed older.

So I agreed to act like Lynette’s boyfriend for the time being. We headed over to Eve’s crib on the other side of the complex. On the way Lynette was telling Shamika about things in Cal City, but she spoke so ghetto I hardly understood any of it.

Shamika tapped on Eve’s bedroom window and Eve appeared between the blinds. Eve was a short beautiful black girl, prettier than Shamika and a grade younger, with an almond-shaped head, round cheeks, big tits, and eyes like an Egyptian’s. She was always laughing and joking, roasting people in a way that made them laugh at themselves. She was real cool. After high school she fell in love with this white guy who died in a car crash just before Christmas—someone was drunk—right by where I was staying at the time, closer to the city, and Eve got so depressed she killed herself. I never learned exactly how; I didn’t want to know.

Her Facebook account is still active, maintained by her older sister, and every year Eve still gets people wishing her a happy birthday. That’s how cool she was. A real bad-ass, down-ass, cool-ass black girl.

The four of us were walking back through the complex toward Shamika’s when I felt Lynette grab my hand tightly. “There he go right there.”

“Eww!” Eve said when she spotted him. The Mexican guy had to be in his forties, way shorter than me and fat, with a big beer belly and a patchy-ass mustache like he was sick or something. He was weary sloppy generic clothes and worn-out gym shoes of unknown brand.

“Grab me,” Lynette said, stepping in front of me and pressing her back against my chest and stomach, her ass against my you-know-where; it began to swell then stiffen immediately. Lynette was skinny but her ass wasn’t, and she knew how to work it. She was like a cat in heat, arching her back and pressing her ass against me more and more, so much I had to brace myself or fall backward. That thing was a savage.

She was holding my hands, and as the Mexican guy approached us, as we approached each other, Lynette brought my hands up so that I was hugging her around the neck from behind. I got the urge to kiss her on the neck or cheek, feeling and smelling so good against me, my cheek so close to hers. She acted like we’d known each other for years, like we were in love.

The Mexican guy smiled at us standing there practically spooning on our feet. “Say hi to my man,” Lynette told him proudly.

He smiled at me, tossed his head back a bit. “Es tu novia?”

“Yeah,” I told him in a shaky voice. I gave Lynette a soft peck on the cheek. Her cheek got a bit orange as she squeezed my hands and pulled my arms tighter around her. I saw tiny beads of sweat on her forehead. Her sweat smell made me even hornier for her.

“Shees ver pretty, amigo,” he said, and walked off.

That was the last we saw of the Mexican guy. But for the next hour Lynette would not let go of me, or let me let go of her. She held my hands and kept my arms around her as we walked around the complex with Shamika and Eve, the whole time pressing her ass against me, making it hard for me to even walk. I felt ridiculous walking around like that in broad daylight, but it felt good too.

Shamika and Eve kept sneaking me these grins Lynette never seemed to notice. I avoided making eye contact with them; actually it’s just that I couldn’t focus on anything else but Lynette’s ass. Shamika had never put anything on me out on the dance floor like what Lynette was putting on me right then and there. I was harder than ever, so hard I thought I’d lose my mind or my thing would burst like an M-80 in my pants. It couldn’t get any harder but it was trying, more and more blood pumping into it. I knew Lynette felt it too; she kept pressing and swirling her ass against me to keep it stiff. She was giving me a walking lap dance. 

We went back to Shamika’s. Her mom was home and Shamika and Eve stopped in the kitchen to chat with her while Lynette led me to Shamika’s room. Lynette closed the bedroom door behind us and lied down on the bed the way Shamika had, with her shoulders against the wall but basically lying flat. I kept my back to her, pretending to study Shamika’s things while my own thing relaxed.

“So you got a girl?” I heard Lynette say.

I blushed. “Naw.”

“You lyin’-ass.” She was almost laughing.

“How old are you anyway?”

She grinned, fire in her eyes. “Fourteen.” She said it like an inside joke, like there was a hidden meaning I should get, or not.

Fourteen was younger than I expected, and now I suspected even younger than that. I narrowed my eyes at her, us grinning at each other.

“I swear!” she said. “Ax Shamika.”

We stood there for a sec, her smiling at me and me smiling at the carpet and the walls. Lynette arched an eyebrow so expertly, and nodded her head slowly as if she were agreeing to a plan. A man, even a boy just becoming one, knows that look. I blushed again and looked away. It wasn’t that she was Shamika’s cousin or that we were in Shamika’s room while Shamika and her mom were in the kitchen, or anything like that; I was pretty shameless. But Lynette was just so aggressive with it, so willing to rub up on some kid she just met, so willing to do whatever I wanted to do with her. And so young too, too young probably. I felt kind of bad for her. I figured Cal City must be a rough place for a black girl who looked the way she did. I wouldn’t have been surprised if she wasn’t a virgin, just by how she acted, but still.

I glanced back at her. Her eyes were still on me, still smiling, leaning back on her elbows and against the wall. She was serving herself up to me, this girl barely out of middle school, to a boy she just met. So sexualized already at such a young age, fourteen at most. Probably way younger than that too. Young girls always give an older age, so “fourteen” meant she could’ve been twelve, or even younger. How’d she learn to be so sexual so young? Who taught her?

I went back to looking at Shamika’s things on her little dresser and the stuff hanging on her walls, my back to Lynette.

“What, is you gay or somethin’?” she said.

I turned to her, surprised. “Naw I’m not gay.”

I mean, I know you not.” She was giving me a smile to match the look in her eyes. She would be a fun time when she got a bit older, but not now. For now she was too young probably, at least for me, for the Northwest Suburbs. I didn’t know about Cal City, but I got the feeling things were different there.

“I’m not gay,” I said again.

“Then?”

She would’ve done whatever I wanted to do with her, let me have her however I wanted, be rough with her, do whatever I’d seen in pornos, she was that in heat. But I felt bad. Too young. Just a bit too young. And no innocence left in her. Still, I started to imagine what it would be like, if she were my age…

Just then Shamika came through the door and smiled at the both of us, Eve behind her smirking and narrowing her slanted eyes at me. Lynette sat up on the bed. “What cha’ll up to in here?” Shamika said.

Lynette let out a blast of air from her pink lips, rolling her eyes. “Girl, nuthin’. I think this boy like you.”

Shamika and I shot each other huge grins, our eyes locking for a second, before we looked away.

Over the next few years I would squeeze one out to the memory of Lynette and her ass, judging myself the whole time. Then the memory faded and I got more memories of other girls and other situations to fill my spank bank.

I think of Lynette still. Not only about that day, but about how her life might’ve turned out. I wonder if things got worse for her, if she got worse, became another statistic. I like to think she didn’t. I like to think she graduated high school, without getting pregnant, went to college or something, started a career and a family. I like to think she didn’t become another bustdown, a ho, having trains run on her every Thursday and Sunday, having babies every other year, getting diseases, getting beat up, getting raped. I like to think she’s still alive and happy and healthy, and that maybe she thinks back on the day she and I pretended to be in love, this Puerto Rican kid she met at her cousin’s out in the white-people suburbs, how I held back out of respect or something. She probably still swears I was gay though.

Shamika and I are friends on Facebook, but we haven’t been real friends since that summer. I hung with my boys, then my mom moved us again and that was it. Last I saw Shamika has kids now, a boy and a girl. We never talked about that night, the night of the lap dance, or about her cousin Lynette. I wonder if she remembers any of it. If she reads this she’ll know Shamika is her; she’s got to. Maybe she’ll hit me up and we’ll talk about it. Probably not though. Some things are buried too long to be dug up for any good. We’re different people now.

The point is I still think about Shamika too. Of course I still think about her—I wrote this story about her, right? I’ve always thought about her, about us, about that night. I thought about her when I was popping my cherry with that white whale what’s-her-face.

Hector is the editor and publisher of Enclave. A Chicago writer now floating on the edge of Las Vegas, he is also the former deputy editor for Latino Rebels, as well as the former managing editor for Gozamos, a Latino art-activism site based in his home town. He has contributed to RedEye, a Chicago daily geared toward millennials, and La Respuesta, a New York-based site for the Puerto Rican Diaspora, plus a number of publications, including The Huffington Post. He studied history (for some reason) at the University of Illinois-Chicago, where his focus was on ethnic relations in the United States.

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