Taryn and Johnny slipped out the back door of the clinic. They walked as fast as they could without running. After a few blocks Taryn turned to Johnny, threw her arms around his neck and kissed him on the cheek.
“Thank you so much, you don’t know what this means to me.” Johnny took a deep breath, inhaling the smell of cinnamon and vanilla, as she hugged him again. “And remember you promised me an A.”
“Oh don’t worry, I’ll come up with something.”
“Maybe it doesn’t matter anyway,” Taryn shrugged.
“What do you mean?” Johnny was incredulous. “What more do you want?”
“I mean, I don’t know what I want and I won’t really know if I’m pregnant until next week. But for now Ryan’s worried that he’ll have to give up the football scholarship.”
“You mean you want to be pregnant?”
“Not really, besides he might just sit the bench at State. The competition will be rough. All I know is I’m about as ready to be a wife and a mother as he is to being a husband and father. Ryan would rather die than stay here and sell cars at his father’s Ford dealership.”
At a crosswalk Taryn reached into the bottom of her purse and pulled out a pack of cigarettes, Capri Super Slims. “Want one?” Before he could turn her down she had lit up two cigarettes and put one in his hand. Johnny smiled, held it up to his lips and inhaled too deeply coughing it back out. “Too much for you?”
“Oh, no, I’m just not used to these menthols, that’s all.” He carefully took a second puff and was able to stifle the convulsion.
“So is this your first time?” she asked. “I mean smoking a cigarette.”
“Oh, no, no, I’ve smoked before with Stuart, out under the bleachers at lunchtime.”
“So Stuart is your go-to guy for bad behavior? But he’s a jerk and you’re a nice guy. Try to keep it that way.” Taryn then reached into her purse and pulled out a small package. “Mr. Sanderson gave me two of these.” She smiled handing Johnny a box marked Trojan Pleasure Pack. “Every guy should be ready.”
He read the fine print, “Ultra Ribbed. America’s Most Trusted Sexual Health Brand. ” Johnny nervously stuffed them into his back pocket and assured Taryn, “Don’t worry about the paper.”
“I’m not worried Johnny. Can’t wait to tell Ryan what you’ve done for me.” Johnny could hardly imagine the consequences. Taryn stroked Johnny’s cheek. “See you on Monday.” As he watched her walk down the street he could smell her cinnamon and vanilla perfume but this time it was mixed with menthol.
Casey Bush is a long time Portland poet whose collection, Student of the Hippocampus, was published by Last Word Press in 2017. Casey is known to hunt mushrooms, throw the yo-yo, and push pawns. For many years he was a senior editor of The Bear Deluxe Magazine, exploring environmental issues through the graphic and literary arts. He currently writes reviews of avant-garde jazz for Audiophile Auditions. His poetry has most recently been featured in Oddball and Mad Swirl. His essay “Marcel Duchamp Gets Mugged by a Street Hustler” appeared in The Decadent Review (March 2021) and was translated into several languages. Casey recommends Chess for Success and SMART Reading.