My Earthquake

by Zett Aguado

I cannot remember much; the table rattled, things toppled over, and I became angry because I could not butter my toast. I did not realize the earth was quaking, not even as my feet moved side-to-side on a wave of floor tiles. My brother was six months old and the stroller he was sitting in rocked five feet in front of him, ten feet back, and he thought it very amusing. He laughed with his pudgy hands outstretched and flexing.  I was in Mexico City, and sixteen.

Our house was in another part of town, one that was solid because the wealthy lived there, in a place where earthquakes were sure not to cause too much harm. Servants and gardeners, drivers, too, they trickled out of the neighborhood houses and huddled in small groups in the middle of the street. I finished my toast. The television was turned on. I vaguely remember feeling afraid, only because nobody knew where, or when, an aftershock would hit.

At school, my teachers had grave looks on their faces and students gossiped about how one teacher had suffered an accident on the metro, the one that had been crushed by falling rubble. It turned out to be a lie.

I smoked cigarettes in the girls’ bathroom because the earthquake was a good excuse. At lunchtime, I was lonely and hungry, and my mouth was dry. So, I walked into the day, which was gray, and found Teodoro near the tennis courts where the druggies, the marijuanos, sat.

We went to our place, the darkest point of the projection room, underneath a table. I stretched on the floor and opened my legs to accommodate him. Teodoro was thin; his body was light on mine. I longed for weight, something heavy to hold me. My hands cradled his buttocks, pulling him onto me, making him heavier, and we kissed. His tongue was thick and covered with a film; it tasted of egg. His hard skinny penis pushed on my belly or along my thigh, it couldn’t decide. And we rocked on each other, our hands in the other’s long hair, our tongues dancing, our breath making the air hot. I moaned, even though I did not like it. My back arched, higher and higher, offering my breasts to his mouth as his hands searched underneath my pants. They were clumsy hands, so I unzipped my jeans, disappointed. It did not matter that it did not feel good, that it was nothing like I had wanted it to be. I moaned anyway.

I was his sexy woman, rocking underneath his bones.

I did not like Teodoro. Instead, I had a crush on a boy who would never notice me. Not after lunch. Not even when I pretended to cry and act very touched by the earthquake deaths. He was one of those people, one of those places.

With bricks all around. On solid ground. Where earthquakes never touched.

Zett Aguado‘s fiction has been published in Small Spiral Notebook, Literary Potpourri, Painted Moon Review, Vallarta Voice, In & Out Magazine and is forthcoming in Snow Monkey. She is the 2001 National Short Story Winner for Mad Dog Publishing. She currently resides with her husband in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.