Bloodstained Cigarette

Nick leered at me from across the treehouse as we contemplated Drew Barrymore’s Playboy spread. It was Friday night and her butterfly tattoos had already been discussed nearly a half dozen times. Four pubescent boys stared at me, already bored with the porn collection stolen from Mr. Dalton’s bathroom magazine rack.

“Wanna play spin the bottle?” Nick asked.

“I’m the only girl,” I said.

One sloppy kiss melded into another as they passed me around like holy communion. Finally, Nick’s turn. A sudden freefall in my chest, like I forgot my homework. I pushed back my bangs and put on Dr. Pepper lip gloss.

He came at me with such urgency that we bonked front teeth. Then he bit my lip hard, and the flavor turned metallic. I pulled away, sucking the blood from my bottom lip.

“It’s boring, just kissing over and over,” he complained, lighting up a cigarette. He passed it to me. I took a long drag, coughed violently.

“Yeah, this sucks,” I agreed. I passed it back to him, the tip marked with my blood.

I now wielded the power of the bottle.

“Land on me and you get to kiss me somewhere else,” Nick said.

I did not contemplate the implications of this. The excitement took over and I spun. He kicked the bottle, stopping it on himself.

“What do you mean somewhere else?”

The boys laughed and mimicked me.

“I dare you to give Nick a BJ,” his friend said. “With chocolate syrup.”

“Hell no!” I crossed my arms over my chest, my training bra showing through my white T-Shirt.

Nick’s brother said, “But it’s a dare.”

Nick took another long drag and stubbed out the cigarette. He opened another bottle and I smelled Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill.


Monday morning I saw Nick in the hall as I walked to my locker. He pressed his lips between his teeth. His friend nudged him and busted up laughing. I walked into class and the kids fell silent.

I looked down at my desk.

Blow Job Betty, scrawled in purple Sharpie. The class laughed. My ears rushed with blood.

By sixth period, someone carved an explanation of Friday’s blackout into the bathroom stall. I narrowed my eyes and wrote on the wall below it: 2 inches is 2 small 4 me 2 suck. I emerged onto the quad with nothing to confess.

That afternoon, Nick’s mom drove the carpool. As I walked toward her car, he turned to me, shaking his head.

“Unstable,” his mom said, looking straight at me. I flipped my hair and walked away, my hips swaying slightly as the word seeped into me.

It was going to be a long walk home.



Carrie Lynn Hawthorne

Carrie Lynn Hawthorne is a writer from Los Angeles, California. Her work has been featured in Cultural Daily, Hennepin Review, Sunlight Press, and more. For links to her recent publications, go to

Carrie recommends NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Monday, November 21, 2022 - 22:06