Star was fading so they decided to stop for a nap. He made her promise to not wander around the streets while he was out.
‘I can handle myself,’ she said. ‘Fuck off to sleep.’
He scowled at her but did as he was told, adjusting his seat to lie all the way back and chucking his hoodie over his eyes.
Taupō was nice. She hadn’t been there before. Everywhere she looked were white people. It started to freak her out after a while. She looked everywhere for another brown person. Nada. She was the only one. She went into some shops to kill the time. Most of them were boring; fishing shops, skiing shops, boring old people clothes shops. She noticed the people were mostly young too. Lots of young white people going fishing and skiing. She saw lots of cafes down the main streets, and all of them had the same group of young, white people in them. They all looked the same! All the girls had straight, straight hair. Some blonde, some brown-haired. And the guys were the same too. Mostly brown hair. Tall. Wearing some lame clothes, like the ones Star wore. Boys in beige pants with a grey shirt. Girls in blue jeans and white, white shoes. She could do that. She could be a girl with straight hair that drank milky coffees in cafes with guys in beige pants. What name would she have? Star called her Jessica. Jessica was a pretty name. She jingled the change in her pocket. Her ‘purse-strings’.
‘She went into a café and looked at the menu. What kind of drink would Jessica get? Mocha sounded good. Moooochaaa. She walked up to the counter and fluttered her eyes at the guy behind the counter.
‘I’ll have a mocha with three marshmallows, please,’ she said in her poshest voice.
She was given a number, and told to take a seat anywhere she liked. She sat down at a table by the window in the sun. Jessica was fancy. A mocha, by herself. At a flash café.
A random guy came to her table with her mocha. It had four marshmallows on the side. ‘Here’s your drink,’ he said, winking at her, ‘I threw in an extra marshmallow.’
Ngaere’s heart skipped. He was hot. ‘Thanks. I’m Jessica.’
Hi Jessica,’ he said, laughing even though she wasn’t being funny. Hearing her new name in someone else’s mouth was a kick though. ‘I’m Jon. Are you from around here or just visiting?’
‘Just visiting,’ she said, adding the marshmallows into her cup, and stirring them around. ‘Going on a trip to see my… father.’
‘Oh yeah? Whereabouts is he?’
‘In Hawke’s Bay,’ she said, stacking up the lies. ‘He’s been begging me to see him, you know what parents are like.’
‘Well, I can’t blame him. With a daughter as gorgeous as you.’
Ngaere smiled shyly, in the way she knew to do when a guy said some bullshit like ‘gorgeous’. ‘I am pretty gorgeous,’ she said slyly.
‘And confident too,’ he said, laughing.
She looked at his beard and wondered how old he was. He looked older than Star. Maybe twenty-five. Twenty-eight. That wasn’t too old. Her last boyfriend was seventeen and he still acted like a baby. And didn’t last very long. She didn’t want to have sex yet so she gave him blow-jobs whenever he came over, to keep him from complaining. He tried fingering her a couple times but she decided she didn’t like it, and told him to stop. He never tried again.
She wondered if he was good at fingering. A noise from the kitchen caught his attention.
‘I better get back to work, but I finish soon. My name is Jon, by the way.’ He grabbed a pen from his pocket and started scribbling on a napkin. ‘Would you be keen to go for a walk with me in the next fifteen?’
He smiled. He had nice teeth. And a nice face.
‘I think I could do that, Jon.’
She tried not to look too happy as he walked away, but when he left, she was grinning so hard her mouth hurt. Jessica had game. And that meant she had game. Maybe when she found her dad, she could change her name to Jessica permanently. She drank her mocha and thought of other middle names she could have.
The walk was good. The wind was strong and kept blowing hair into her face. They got ice cream at some fancy ge-la-to place that he knew. He offered to buy her ice cream but she insisted. It was real cool being Jessica. She got the chocolatey one and he got a fruity feijoa one. She thought it was gross but didn’t say anything because Jessica wouldn’t say stuff like ‘fruit ice cream is dumb’. He talked about study for ages. She asked him heaps of questions; what was it like? Was he the top of his class? Did he get good grades? Did he like his teachers? He had a degree in Biology. What was Biology like? He was Canadian and going to do something with his degree at some point, but he wasn’t sure. Why did you come to New Zealand? He was travelling for now. He laughed at almost everything she said. His face was nice to look at. It was creamy white. His nose went pink out in the cold air. He didn’t ask any questions about her. She liked the way the tip of his nose wiggled when he talked and the little bits of blonde in his beard. The wind whipped her hair into her face again and he reached over to tuck it behind her ear. No one had done that before. It was like the movies. She looked him dead in the eyes then he bent down to kiss her. She met him in the middle on her tiptoes. He was a good enough kisser that she didn’t mind the feijoa. She liked a little more tongue though.
After they finished their ice creams, he asked if she wanted to see his place.
‘It’s close by. It could be a nice place to sit and chat?’
He lived at a hostel. Rotorua had heaps of motels that didn’t look flash. This one had big plants and bright lights in the front windows. Everyone was smiling. Big pictures of a sunny beach. She liked the vibe from the outside. She hadn’t been inside one before. It was dirtier than she expected. A couple people were hanging around the doorway, talking in different languages and looking at her like she was an alien. She could tell a lot of people were staying there, from all the bags and shit that was lying around. And the laptops all sitting in a big table, being charged. They walked past heaps of people, lounging around like house cats, eyes all dopey and half-asleep. He held her hand and led her to the room he was staying in. It had heaps of bunk beds and bags all over the floor. It smelled like toe jams. The room was empty except for one guy lying on a bed, staring at his phone. Jon coughed. The guy looked at the two of them and raised his eyebrows. Then he lazily got up and left. She felt a little nervous, being alone with him in his hostel room that had heaps of little lives lined up on top bunks and bottom bunks. It was like camp for grownups.
‘Which one of the beds is yours?’ she said quietly, wanting to fill the silence.
He pointed at one of the bottom bunks that had a red sleeping bag, unzipped. A sleeping bag. What a cool guy.
‘You want to sit?’
She nodded, and he guided her, still holding her hand. He sat first, leaning against the wall and pulled her gently into his embrace. She curled into the crook of his arm, her head resting on his shoulder. This was different from any time she had hung out with a guy. She wasn’t sure if she was living Jessica’s life or hers anymore.
‘How old are you?’ she asked.
‘I’m thirty,’ he whispered into her hair.
‘How old are you?’
‘Younger,’ she replied, her Jessica voice starting to slip.
His heart was thudding away in his chest. She felt his hand on her chin, and he gently lifted it so that her face was tilted towards him and shoved his tongue down her throat. She liked the taste of him. It was kind of tangy. She didn’t mind it. She felt small and soft in his long arms. This could be her new boyfriend, the one that was going to teach her about the world. He groaned a little into her mouth. That excited her. Then he grabbed her hand and put it on his crotch. He was hard. She didn’t know what to do about that, so she rubbed him softly through his pants, like she would do with a dog that she met on the street. That was obviously what he wanted. Another groan. He pushed her slowly backwards, so she was laying down on her back and pushed his dick into her crotch. She guessed it felt good for him, but for her it just felt like being nudged. He shoved his tongue down her throat again. The kissing was nice, but she was worried about where it was going.
‘I’m a virgin,’ she said, sounding more scared than she thought she was.
He laughed. ‘Just relax.’
He kissed her again, teasingly licking her lips. He groaned again, but louder. Then he was pulling off her pants.
‘No,’ she said, half-laughing. She didn’t want him to think she didn’t like him.
He kissed her hands, the ones holding her pants up. Then kept pulling her pants. Okay, the pants can come off, but that’s it. He pushed her shirt and bra up over her boobs so they were out. Okay, the shirt too, but not the undies. He went right to her nipple and sucked one real hard then rubbed the other with his thumb. She cringed. It was too rough. None of it felt good. Her whole body was tensed. She wished they were back to kissing.
And then he whipped his dick out. She hated it when guys did that. What was she supposed to do with it? It looked at her. Expecting something. He pulled at her underwear.
‘No, wait,’ she said, but quietly.
‘Come on, it’s not a big deal.’
She felt embarrassed. Maybe it was okay to just let it happen. She remembered something. ‘I’m on my period!’
He kept pulling her underwear down. She was half-naked now and feeling stupid.
‘It’s okay, baby,’ he whispered, kissing her mouth and pinning her down to the bed with his body.
Then she felt him feeling around her pussy. She was wet, but she wished she wasn’t. He found the string and pulled on it, a little too hard.
‘Wait, wait,’ she said, but only softly, still not wanting to ruin everything.
It was already done, and the tampon slid out of her, wet and red. She watched with shame as he chucked it down the crack between the bunk and the wall, under the bed for later. What was he gonna do with it later? It was hard to concentrate. This wasn’t how she thought everything would happen. She tried to sit up, but he gently pushed her back into the bed.
‘It’s okay, Jessica, I’ve done this before with lots of young women.’
‘What?’ she said, wanting to sound angry but it came out girly and dumb.
‘Just relax, just relax.’
She pushed against him again, but he was strong, and she was starting to feel dizzy. She wanted to be Ngaere again. Jessica was a dumbass.
He held her down, and positioned his dick against her, preparing to push inside. She couldn’t think of anything worse. Not for her first time. Not right now. The smell of her own blood was making her sick. What about the fucking tampon? He pushed in roughly.
He pushed in again, and her mind raced. It felt dry. Like he was pushing into two folds of cardboard. Too rough. Uncomfortable. She waited for it to stop hurting, get more comfortable but it wasn’t happening. The longer it went on, the harder he pushed in and out, getting faster.
She didn’t have anymore excuses. ‘I’ll… go down on you.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘Yes. Let me give you a blow-job instead.’
He smiled at her, at little bemused, but sat up and let her go. She was in a daze, but she had made her promise, and at least the awkward humping was over. He turned so that his legs were hanging off the side of the bed, and she knelt in front of him. His dick was wet with something clear and a little bit of her blood. She wiped the blood off the tip. It was ugly. An ugly, ugly dick. She put it in her mouth before she could think about it too long. She didn’t have to do much work after that. He thrust himself in and out for her, all she had to do was keep still and take it. The bed squeaked as he thrusted, and the bloody tampon entered her mind again. Her hand rested on the top of his thigh as he thrust into her. She focused on her nails. One was chipping.
He started to yelp and then he came in her mouth. It tasted disgusting. Like bleach. Like poison. She wanted to vomit on him. She jumped up and looked around for somewhere to spit it out, and he watched her, not trying to help. She ran to the window and spat it out there. She hated herself. Why did she do that? She was so dumb. Stupid Jessica. She spat and spat, again and again, but the taste was still there. She turned to Jon, who had his pants on now. Guys were fucked. She was starting to feel more Ngaere than Jessica now. She was so angry. He tried to hug her.
‘I want my tampon,’ she snapped. She had been scared the whole time.
‘What? I can deal with it, no problem.’ He smiled, like it was a joke. She didn’t smile back. His face was so ugly now.
‘I want it.’
Eventually he got to his feet and pulled the bunk bed away from the wall, so she could grab it. ‘Why?’ he asked. A little bit of blood had started running down her leg.
‘Because it’s mine.’