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Breaking all the rules

Jennifer Compton was a nineteen years old American Citizen. Skinny, well dressed, and often made-up, 100 percent woman with fine feelings.

Jennifer Compton sat one night sucking cold coffee through a straw while reading her own poorly rhyming but heartfelt poetry. Skimming the melodious words with fatigued eyes, she smiled, recalling better times and tender touches.

Jennifer Compton hated her father, loved her mother, did not understand her brother, and overwhelmingly pampered her dog Zachary. She had no idea what her life meant, what the troubles she endured daily could possibly produce. She saw herself as a log on a wild river: strong, tough, unbreakable; but the destination was not hers to choose. She only followed the Stream of Life

Slurp. Slurp. Her coffee cup was empty. The poem came and she picked up her pretty purple pen and wrote frantically the phrases her soul gave her.

Jennifer Compton looked out the window of the crouwded coffee house, studied the people standing outside in the cool air smoking cigarettes. They wore blue, gray, teal and brown, khaki, beige, plaid gray and orange. The music beat a familiar groove. The caffeine affected her positively. She wrote. She wrote the tricks her mind played. She wrote of people she would never see again.

Jennifer Compton was a nineteen year old American Citizen. She loved ice cream and her dog. She despised war and psychology. She read her weekly horoscope and the movie listing. In her room, framed pictures showed the beauty of her serenity, the violence of her convictions, the innocence of her notions. She did not vote. She did not believe in the System. She did not watch the news, had no clue were Kenya was, and mixed China and Taiwan up. She loved her Honda, her purse, her clothes.

Jennifer Compton loved a young man who did not love her. She fancied herself pretty, wore clothes that clashed mightily. The boy--that's what he was--used her for sex, for fun. She did not mind. She did not know. She did not know how a man was supposed to behave.

Jennifer Compton was a nineteen year old American Citizen. Her friends were many, and wherever she went she met someone she knew. She played poker, rummy, Uno, and checkers. Chess was too slow for her restlessness. Fruits, she could eat all day, apples especially.

Crack. Crack. She crushed ice between her teeth, reminded briefly by an admonishing mother: "Don't do that!" She had said, bony figer waived in mid-air. "It's bad for your teeth!" Her mother had been younger then.

A young man sat next to her, his breath and eyes and muscles and clothes and scent calling out her senses. She kept her gaze locked onto him

“I'm Pat,” he advanced.

“Jennifer. Nice to meet you.”

Pat smiled, revealing a smoker's teeth. “You come here often?” He asked, his eyes level with her own.

“Yes,” she nodded. Her soul said one thing, her heart another, her body a third. She listened to her lust. “And I'm glad I came tonight.”

Pat smiled again. He wore faded jeans, expensive black boots, a green shirt with long sleeves rolled up to below the elbow. Short hair revealed the whiteness of his scalp.

Jennifer Compton slept in a strange bed that night, played forbidden games, smelled sweat and incense, listened to Nine Inch Nails and the raspy breathing of Pat's distorted face. There had been pleasure and pain, followed by elation and shame.

She woke up the next morning, showered, cleaned the dried semen from her short black hair and drove to her place, only to sit alone on her bed and look into Zachary's eyes, hoping to find solace.

She sat alone for a long time. She drank Stolishnaya from the bottle and smoked another cigarette. She wrote another poem.

Jennifer Compton is still a nineteen years old American Citizen.

© 1995 Christopher Mahan