Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World

Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World by Janet E. Cameron

Book: Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World by Janet E. Cameron Read Free Book Online
Authors: Janet E. Cameron
Tags: FIC043000
squareof silver paper. Looked at the shiny fragment held between my fingers like I’d forgotten where it came from.
    That little glimpse. Where he’d looked so vulnerable, so much his secret self.
    How would it feel to touch?
    My own stomach kind of fell away. Just for a second I pictured it. Standing behind Mark, resting my head between his shoulder
     blades, my arms around him. The heat from his body warming my face, the feel of his skin. How his breathing might change if
     he liked what I was doing.
    Oh, God. He was looking at me full on.
    ‘Man, are you okay?’
    I nodded.
    ‘You sure we need the window open? You still got your …’
    There was no way I was taking this coat off. I concentrated on the stupid cigarettes. My fingers felt thick and clumsy. We’d
     just been running around like children out there in the yard.
    Okay. Calm the fuck down
. This was just another body. Like the rest. In the locker rooms at school. On TV. Pictures. All those underwear and swimsuit
     ads from the Sears catalogue, that thick heavy book with the slippery pages that we’d collect from the ordering counter in
     town every four months. Mom would throw away the old ones and I’d rescue them from the garbage and stash them in my room.
     Hidden better than her cigarette cartons and love letters.
    But those were pictures. Real people were different. Harder to control my thoughts, my reactions. It made me feel so helpless.
     Like when I’d be trying to do my homework and I’d go drifting off into stupid daydreams thinking about my English teacher
     – Mr Randall, just out of college. He’d hand out poems on paper warm from thephotocopy machine, try to explain to us why he loved them. Actually said the word ‘love’ out loud, to a wall of blank hostility
     and slouching stares.
    I stuck the cigarette in my mouth, lit it, inhaled deeply.
    It was horrible. Hot and poisonous, the kind of heat you’d get from an infected sore. But I didn’t start coughing. I was proud
     of myself for that. And I made an effort to draw the smoke into my lungs, not to wimp out and keep it in my mouth where it
     couldn’t contaminate me.
    I thought I was doing pretty well there, but when I looked up Mark was laughing.
    ‘You’re holding that thing like a queer, man.’
    I felt like somebody’d banged a book over the top of my head.
    ‘No, I’m not!’ I looked at the cigarette doubtfully. ‘I’m not.’
    He was still laughing, leaning back with his head on the fake wood panelling under the window. ‘You are. Even your mom doesn’t
     hold a smoke like that.’ I don’t know what my face was doing. Mark stopped, seemed sorry for me all of a sudden. ‘Hey. It’s
     not a big deal. Just hold it different.’
    I imitated him carefully: his posture, fingers, hands, how he inhaled and breathed out. It’s what I did whenever I wasn’t
     sure of anything. Copying Mark. I was good at it.
    ‘See, that’s better,’ he said.
    ‘Okay.’ I didn’t want to get to the end of the cigarette because it would mean I’d probably have to smoke another one. I wished
     Mark would leave. He was talking about our History teacher Mrs Blakely and how ugly she was, with her wide mouth and flat,
     baggy body. I interrupted before he could go into detail.
    ‘Mark?’ Wasn’t sure how to say this, or if I should. ‘How do you know if somebody is … one. You know.’
    ‘Is what? Oh, a homo?’ Mark grinned. ‘If his name’s Chris Randall. Then you know.’
    I forced a laugh.
Sorry, Mr Randall
.
    Mark went on to say no, Randall probably wasn’t one. He was just some loser who’d never got laid in his life. You could tell
     a fag pretty easy, he said. You can tell by looking. Didn’t I know this stuff? Didn’t I watch TV? They acted real weird and
     talked weird. Like a girl, but disgusting. And they’d try to touch you.
    ‘Did you ever see one?’
    ‘No. Thank God. Cause if I did …’ He had plans. Mark got carried away, even went into a little

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