CIRCLES – Prologue and Chapter 1

The Beginning

How far back do I want to go? That’s the thing about the past. It’s hard to determine when my downfall really began. At what point did I start to go wrong? I can think of different points, different events. But to be honest, I know exactly when and where it all began—1995, sweet sixteen.

Truth or Dare

“Okay, so what’s it going to be, Rabbie, a truth or a dare?”

I looked up at Lynn and gave her a lopsided smile. This was amusing. Truth or dare really has one goal: to get two people who wouldn’t normally get together to do something naughty. Or at least to get the thought in someone’s mind. Which was why I was wondering why Lynn had brought up this game with this crowd. There were four of us. Lynn and Selassie had been dating for almost two weeks now. They didn’t need a game to do what they wanted to do. Selorm and I… We were like the sidekicks. Selorm was Selassie’s best friend and I was Lynn’s best friend. Selorm and I knew each other from school but we weren’t close. I really couldn’t understand why Lynn wanted to play truth or dare so badly. Lynn was a sexy girl, even at sixteen. She had a certain air of confidence and appeal. Her looks weren’t striking, but she had a good body, lithe and athletic, which added to her sexuality. And though Selassie wasn’t built or lean, he was fairly good looking with a welcoming face. The two of them definitely didn’t need any games to get attention. But they wanted to play truth or dare so I decided to go along with it.

“Dare,” I said lamely.

 I really couldn’t be bothered. She could throw any dare at me at this point. I turned to look at Selorm. He looked distracted as well. Selorm and I were lying stretched out on Lynn’s bedroom floor. She had the softest carpeting ever. It was cream colored, thick and lush, and felt like butter against your skin. She had lots of pillows strewn over the floor, giving the carpet an even more luxurious look. Her bedding, light brown and silky, also had a grown-up look and feel. I think she stole it from her parents or something. It looked too good all the time. That room was the ultimate den of iniquity. At least that’s what I thought at the time. I liked visiting Lynn primarily because I liked being in that room. Things just happened there—for her mainly, but I had a good fun view from the sidelines. I heard giggles from the bed and Selorm and I both shook our heads. It was the second time that week Selorm and I had met at Lynn’s, and I think we were both beginning to feel like we were at a peep show. Why did we bother tagging along? Selorm sighed, which made me laugh, and then he looked at me and laughed. Selassie leaned over the bed and looked down at us.

“You two look cozy down there,” he said and winked.

I shook my head. Gosh, how obvious could he and Lynn be?

“So do you know your dare? You should kiss Selorm for, like, five minutes,” Selassie said.

I laughed. It was a nervous laugh. Kissing Selorm wasn’t a bad thought, but I didn’t want to act all excited and interested. And in all honesty, I wasn’t exactly interested or excited. It just wasn’t a

bad thought. Lynn leaned over the bed as well. So now I had the two kissy trigger-happy love-struck teenagers staring at me. If I was white I’d be turning red as a beetroot. From the corner of my eye I could see Selorm turn onto his side and look down at me. I felt him staring at me. I had to turn.

The kiss was a little awkward, on my part more than his. When his lips touched mine, I really wasn’t sure what to do. This wasn’t my first kiss. It was just my first in about a year, and with someone I had never really thought of kissing, and we had two observers, who at any minute, I felt were going to clap or something. Of course it would be awkward. He pried my lips apart and I felt his tongue. I sucked in my breath and then I kissed him back.

“That’s what I am talking about!”

Selassie’s exclamation completely threw me off. I pulled away a little and Selorm lay on his back. The situation seriously couldn’t get any more embarrassing than it already was. Selassie and Lynn lay back on the bed, talking and laughing, while Selorm and I lay on the lush carpeting silently. I couldn’t even turn to look at him, but I am a seconds type of person. If I do something once, I have to do it again, to cement the memory. I turned slightly, and realized he was staring at me. He smiled, and I grinned, and then we started kissing again.

Selorm was a pretty good kisser, although I didn’t have that much experience to know any better. But I knew he was way better than my last kiss. Essien had been downright awful. He had been the first tongue kiss, and it had been the sloppiest kiss ever. There had been one more kiss with Essien after that initial fiasco, just for me to be sure it was that bad. And it was definitely that bad. Selorm didn’t rush it at all. It felt like he was just as uncertain as I was.