Genre: Chick Lit, New Adult, Literary Fiction
Type of Short Story: Short Story
Summary: A kooky and hopeless young woman recounts the spectacularly awful rise and fall of her first real relationship. Spanning five years of earnest loyalty to this young man, she discovers the truth about sex, religion, life, and herself, interspersed with memories of all the other boys who stole her heart for a short time. For fans of contemporary stories of first love, first disappointment, and growing up, “All the Other Boys” is darkly comical and ultimately triumphant.
“Oh nothing,” I would say. “It's nothing.”
I thought it was sweet that he kissed his girlfriend on the forehead, and that he was so tall he had to bend over to do it. I liked the way he bopped the tip of her tiny nose with his finger.
I'm sure she was a very nice girl, but I didn’t like her. Or the fact that he had a girlfriend at all, which didn’t even make sense since I had a boyfriend of my own.
As we stood in formation, I could pretend to read the sheet music clipped to my clarinet, but instead look over the top of it and watch Cody, the way he swiped his hair. One swipe and for a second, there was that beautiful hidden face, stormy gray eyes, the color of rain clouds. I think he caught me staring a few times, which might have been okay, because it meant he actually looked at me and knew I was alive.
I wasn't sure why it mattered that he knew I was alive, but it did.
Once we got back to school that fall, he broke up with the girl he’d been dating since forever. They would not be getting married after all, like everyone had prophesied. And even though I had a boyfriend, one I had finally decided to have real, actual sex with, which filled my head with curiosity and excitement and adventure, a small part of me said, “Damn the timing!”
My sister told me, “Fuck the timing! You’ve only been with this guy three months! It’s not like you’ve got a ring on your finger!”
But my boyfriend was a nice guy, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. My boyfriend was my first, and sex was fun, and if having premarital sex was bad enough, then having it with two different guys must have been worse! I pictured myself in front of the pearly gates with my name etched in the Book of Death, a tally of my indiscretions next to it, boy after boy after boy, their names written in red ink.
I don’t think Cody and I ever spoke one actual word to each other, but once, after our last away game, we were standing in a circle on the damp dewy football field, with our instruments put away, waiting for a bus to come take us home. My friends had made nice with his friends, and there we were, standing across from each other while everyone else made jokes and conversation, while everyone else flirted with each other, winks and touches, promises of more to come later, and for once Cody wasn't making jokes. He reached across the circle to pick a piece of popcorn off my uniform jacket, and I tried to say ‘thank you,’ but my mouth couldn’t move as he retreated, a swipe of his hair, and those hidden stormy eyes twinkling in the football flood lights.
Timing. Rules. Indiscretions. I sighed a little, and I put my hands in my pockets and turned back to laugh with the rest of them, pretending not to notice that Cody laughed too, or that I had memorized the sound of it.