M. Rosemary

[FICTION] First Smoke

Jenny teaches me how to roll a joint behind the chapel, just before our ceremony. We crouch between rows of stalk, swathed in white silk, skirt hems bunched between our knees to keep out the dirt. Breaking bud with her fingernails, Jenny says it’s better with a grinder but we don’t need one. We level the ground with Finding GOD in the Grief and set the skin on top, sprinkle marijuana down the paper’s spine. She tears off a strip of pamphlet and folds like origami, spinning bends into a cylindrical filter.


“Some people stick the filter in after,” she says, “but I think this is easier.” She licks the paper, hands shaking as she fumbles the filter in quick. The rest: smooth, her thumb glides over easy, she twists the end like licorice. Jenny ignites, inhales, passes the joint my way. I sway back and forth over my ankles.


“How do I hold it?” She pinches the end between her thumb and pointer finger and they meet my lips. I feel knuckles.


“Breathe deep. Keep it down.” I inhale sharp, cough hard and she laughs like windchimes. The roach back in her teeth, Jenny sucks hard and sets my jaw in her palm. Thumbprint on my chin, she parts my lower lip and brings her face to mine, sends fumes into me.


“So, you still a virgin?” Jenny asks, hitting the joint.


“Of course,” I say, “aren’t you?”


“Nah. Oh, Claire,” she looks at me and laughs. “Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you. My dad knows. We’re just here for show.” I smile without teeth and squint a little and hope this is the right way to look nonchalant. “Anyway, now I’m gonna teach you how to smoke out of a hand bong.” Making a hollow fist, Jenny sticks the joint between her ring and middle finger and breathes in the hole above her thumb. Brought to my mouth next, I inhale through the smoky void of her palm. I don’t cough until I exhale and sputter like exhaust. Jenny points to my lips, then hers, then my saliva on the edge of her thumb.


“See? You’ve just kissed me.”


Waves of euphoria spread from my chest outward. I reach madly for another hit, my knees falling into earth as I steady myself with palms on her thighs. “Goddamnit, Claire.” We rise as she takes a feverish drag and steadies my stance, beating her hands against the bits of fabric I’ve dirtied, restoring them to near-purity.


The moment the fathers call out for the women, Jenny is spun away to fish something from her clutch. She pulls sticks of Doublemint from the paper folds of her vows and passes me one. She takes my hand as we walk out to where we will pledge ourselves to God, and I pray we might come out afterward and abominate again.

M. Rosemary is a queer fiction writer/poet. They received their Bachelor’s in English/writing from Northern Michigan University, where they served as an Editorial Intern for Passages North.

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