Maybe We’ll Never Wake Up

Olivia Vittitow

Every day after school, Marble and I ride our bikes along the path that runs through woods and pours us into the neighborhood that we both live in. The path is dirty and littered with empty cigarette cartons and noises that make me believe that something is chasing us. Always chasing us, until we get onto the real street, and then the pavement is easy to ride on and we are safe. I feel smooth and cool when I make it to the asphalt, my yellow coat blowing behind me. I can ride fast.

Marble is much slower, but that’s because she doesn’t believe that anything is chasing us in the woods at all. She is one year older than me, which makes her fifteen, and she has her ears pierced with these little diamond studs that are always glittering. I think they look nice on her, but I’m too afraid to do it. Besides, I don’t think they would look right on me.

Marble’s real name is Marlene, but she says that’s outdated, and it doesn’t fit her persona. I agree.

“Bennie, babe, it’s just not me,” she explained one night while we were sitting on a pair of swings a few streets over from the ones are houses live on. Marble was smoking a cigarette and looking into the face of the moon. She has this dark, long hair that looks like snakes and they weave in and out of her blue jacket. And then those earrings, just sparkling.

“Have a puff, please, Bennie,” she pleaded, but I didn’t want to.

“I have to go home after this, Marbs, I can’t. They’ll smell me.”

“They won’t smell shit. It doesn’t stick to you, not even a little.” She draws an x across her chest. She’s wearing a tight black shirt that plunges low over her breasts.

“Okay,” I smile, but I still hate cigarettes. I don’t inhale and Marble watches me.

“You know, you’re never gonna get a boyfriend, Bennie. Never ever,” she says between short drags. I stay quiet. I don’t like talking about boys.

“Don’t ya even want one?” She stands up now, walking across the dark mulch, spinning in circles around a green playground pillar.

“No, I don’t, Marble. I’m not pretty. I don’t want anyone getting that close to my face.”

“You mean close enough to kiss you.” She laughs at this and runs over to me, getting in my face and straining the chains of my swing.

“Mwah mwah mwah, Beatrice, the forty-year-old virgin!” she sing-songs and dances around me, clapping, sparkling.

Eventually we leave our post at the playground because my watch says it’s getting late and I have to go home. I never like walking home in the dark because Marble’s house is three before mine, so I have to walk alone for a while. Our neighborhood doesn’t have streetlights and the house next to mine has a snarling dog that stays tied to a flat-bed truck all night. I run into the street when I see him and he just barks and barks.

My mother is short and wears aprons and listens to classic rock in the kitchen all day. I pray that her baking apple pie will mask my scent of smoke. She kisses me when I get home and tells me to go wash my hair. It smells bad.

I go upstairs to take a shower and I look at myself naked in the mirror for a long time. I know I’m not that pretty, but do like my blonde hair, and the way my hips jut out a little bit, all bony like the tips of tiny mountains covered in snow. I read in a magazine Marble gave me that this exercise boosts self-esteem. I don’t really know what self-esteem is, but it sounds nice, and like something that I need.


I am in my first year of high school and I like to drink Mountain Dew before I go to second period science class. Marble drinks it with me and we stand in the blue hallway theorizing about who will ask who to the January dance. Marble thinks that Jack Donovan will definitely ask her, because he’s been kissing her in the back seat of his car all week.

“’Tis the season, babe,” she says as she inspects a tall dark-haired senior boy who’s wearing a Pink Floyd shirt. I wonder how she could ever look at boy like that and not fear being caught.

“Now is the time that you make your move, because ya know, boys have already been asking girls to the dance. If you’re gonna get a boyfriend, now’s the time.” Marble pauses and smiles as Mr. Pink Floyd passes us. I look at my feet. It’s December and I am tired.

“Who are you hoping to snatch, Bennie? How about Rod Taylor? He’s pretty cute and sweet for you. But a little short. I heard he jumps in the sack fast.” She winks at me. I blush. Not from the unsettling information on Rod, but from the wink instead. I hope she doesn’t notice.

“Or even Mel Carlton, he’s cool. But he’s trouble, don’t go home with him.” She continues listing off boys in her grade that I’ve never even seen before. I want to ride my bike; I want to go home. High school is a forest and so many people are chasing us.


Finally it’s January and I’m sitting on Marble’s bed and letting her pierce my ears, because the dance is tomorrow night. “You’ll look beautiful,” she says. But I don’t want to look beautiful. I’m going with Rod and I don’t want him to think that I look pretty enough to kiss.

Marble has acquired a new bra and insists on showing it to me. “It’s so soft, Bennie, feel.” She presses her breasts into my hands and smiles. My palms feel warmer than they’ve ever felt. I shudder, then I pull away.

“I think Jack might like it, don’t ya think?” The bra is horrible. It’s black and lacy and has these little bows in the center. I don’t want to tell her that it’s overdone, that she looks nice just wearing what she always wears, but my ears are throbbing so bad I can’t tell her this. Plus she’d think I’m prudish.

“It’s nice, yeah,” I say, but she doesn’t even care because tomorrow night she will lose her virginity and become a woman, she says. I didn’t know that’s what warranted womanhood, but Marble seems to think so.

“It’s so perfect, it fits under my dress exactly, look.” She puts on her dress. It’s blue and hits the middle of her thighs. She dances in circles. She has changed out the diamond studs for little tear drop diamonds that glitter even more. I know that Jack will like those.

“I’m so excited, Bennie, so, so excited. Do you think it will hurt?” I imagine her lying on Jack Donovan’s bed, trying not to cry. I imagine her biting her lip. I imagine her earrings sparkling even through the darkness of the moment and Jack Donovan has his eyes closed. Marble is becoming a woman. I can’t even kiss anyone. I don’t even want to kiss anyone.

I walk home alone in the dark again. It’s bitter cold outside, so I start jogging as soon as I hit the sidewalk. I forget about my ears when I get home and I take a long shower and am surprised by the blood that gathers around drain. I don’t want to go to the dance. I don’t want to hold Rod’s sweaty hand, or touch his ugly suit. I don’t want to wear high heels or go talk to Marble about her first time. I don’t want to pretend like I’m having a good time. I don’t want to watch Marble slow dance with Jack Donovan; she’s too pretty for him and he’s too mean. I can see it in his eyes.


Before we go to the dance, Rod and Jack Donovan come over to my house to pick up Marble and me. There are corsages and photographs and my mother spritzes me with her perfume. We walk through the woods until we see the sandy dullness of our high school. Rod smiles at me with his teeth, and Jack Donovan’s already got his arm around Marble’s waist.

When we get to the dance, it is dusky and chaotic. They have these lights strung up along the walls of the gym and everyone is very cold because it is January and the door is always open because of the steady stream of people that just keep pouring in. It’s an uneventful evening and I stand against the wall drinking punch and avoiding Rod. He is dancing with another girl, thank God. I can only think about how I would actually for real smoke a cigarette now.

Marble is off doing her Marble thing, and I can’t watch. I wonder what’s wrong with me that I can’t go dance with boys and be excited about kissing them and showing off my earrings. I am lonely and cold and very afraid about the future of the evening. My mother is letting me sleep at Marble’s but that means that I will just be lost for a whole night because I’m not sure Marble is even sleeping at Marble’s house.

She approaches me mid-electric slide with a sneaky look on her face, her dip-dyed blue daisy corsage is crooked.

“Bennie, babe, I gotta surprise for you, do you have to go to the bathroom?”

“What. No,” I stutter. I just want to go home. Even if it means walking alone.

“Well, come on, boring, yes you do.” She drags me to the bathroom and presents to me a half empty bottle of wine in the handicap stall.

“Wow, where did you get that—.”

“Turns out your date is useful after all.” She laughs, and her tear drops fly around wildly. I don’t know what to say. I’ve never been drunk before.

“You’re getting laid tonight, for sure, he thinks you’re be-you-tee-full,” she coos. “I’ve already had my half, now it’s your turn, drink up!” She gives me the pinkish bottle and it’s heavy in my hands.

I take it around the neck and drink as fast as I can. It tastes sweeter than I imagined, but leaves this dry and bitter taste in my mouth afterwards.

“Good girl!” Marble laughs again and pees and then we retrieve the boys and leave because Marble says that she doesn’t want to get caught drunk. We throw the bottle onto the ground with a smash as we walk through the woods to go back home. I feel like I’m being chased in slow motion by all the monsters that ever existed. I start to cry, but the darkness protects me.


When we get to Marble’s, I feel dizzy and have to sit down. Her parents are out for the night and won’t be back until after midnight.

“Have we got time, or what, baby!” she yells when we get inside.

“Hell yeah. Marlene, you rock,” Jack says when we’re all sitting in the kitchen. He immediately starts rummaging through cabinets until he finds a bottle of whisky and begins taking long swigs. I take one too. So does Rod, then Marble, then me again.

When Jack and Marble go off into her parent’s room, Rod takes me by the sweaty hand and leads me into the first bedroom he can find. I try to breathe but everything is heavy and slow. Way too slow.

“You look nice tonight,” he says. But Marble is right, he is very short. Too short.

“Thanks,” I say and he is touching my arm. I sit down on the bed and cross my legs. I imagine myself as a tall, dark-haired beauty who is smooth and cool. I imagine I’m riding my bike in a long dress and feeling it flow behind me; the wind is making me look beautiful. I close my eyes.

Rod quietly moves his face closer and closer to mine until his lips touch my cheek, then my mouth. They feel leathery and thick, but other than a sense of dread, I don’t feel a thing. I know his face is against mine because I open my eyes and I see it there, but it doesn’t feel like I thought it would. I put my hand on the back of his head. He puts his hand on my left breast and that feels like nothing either. I stop opening my eyes anymore. I wonder if he looks at my earrings at all. I feel protected by the darkness. I let it bury me until I am no longer alive. I let it bury me until I forget my name. I am thinking about Marble. I am wondering if she is becoming a woman.

Eventually the door opens and a crack of light pours all over us. It’s Marble’s mother. I open my eyes for the first time in forever and Rod is naked. I am not. My dress is just up around my neck and my underwear is pulled all sideways in a way I’ve never seen it before. Rod shuffles for his pants and I stay completely still. I believe that if I do not move then nothing else will happen.

Marble’s mother starts yelling, and then Marble appears and she starts yelling too. She is wearing her dress still but is unzipped in the back. I am sent home. I walk home in the darkness and I am not afraid, not even of the snarling dog, because the monsters have already got me. I take a shower, I don’t look in the mirror, blood flows from between my legs. I cry. There is no darkness to hide me.

Marble calls me on the phone the next day. She didn’t get to have sex with Jack; she’s grounded for three weeks, including weekends. She says she’s going to bed even though it’s only seven o’clock.

“Me too, Marble,” I say. But I can’t tell her what’s happened. It’ll break her heart, it’ll drown her. I know it.

“I don’t want to go to school and face Jack. Jesus he’ll never talk to me again!”

“Just go to bed, Marble, it’ll be alright,” I say, “I’m gonna sleep too, maybe we’ll never have to wake up.”