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Joel Carda

Jaden (8 years old)

3

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Almond Joey (Final Draft)

Is that a lump? The left one is definitely bigger. Or is it? Ow! Why does it hurt when I poke it?! There is definitely something in that nipple. It’s solid as hell. It feels like an almond. How embarrassing. How am I going to hide this? Leonard is probably gonna call me bitch tit.

What would cause this? I wonder if it’s cancer. Should I tell my dad? Oh God! Am I being punished because I let the cat bat the clear plastic hamster ball around the house until the poor little rodent shit his own weight in little panic poops? Was it because I accidentally shot Trisha with my BB gun? That’s probably the worst thing I’ve ever done. I guess it would have even been worse if we would have lied about it, like we planned to do, but I ended up crying and admitting everything. That was bad, but I don’t deserve this kind of lopsided punishment, do I?

And then it dawned on me. Who was I kidding? Only one thing had drastically changed in my life. I knew there would be consequences. I knew I should have stopped doing it weeks ago. It’s like I’m some kind of drug addict in those scary “just say no” commercials.

Here’s how it all started. It was home alone on a Sunday. I turned on the TV and Phil Collins was singing,

""Take a look a me now. 'Cause there's just an empty space..."" It seemed so relaxing. That’s probably exactly what he wanted me think—with his beady little eyes. I was still in my underwear completely off-guard. While Phil lulled me deeper into the couch, out of the TV creeped the most formidable troop of assailants 1983 had ever known: the Solid Gold Dancers.

They surrounded me—with their little camo leotards. Had I known my fate, I would have tied my hands to the mast. But it was too late. My hands were already occupied. There wasn't an empty space. Phil Collins lied. The dancers, the music, my hands, my hormones, my hands—they were anything but empty! In fact, it was just the opposite; everything was filling up and the walls were closing in. One of the dancers locked me into her sights and I froze up. I had pulled the pin out of the grenade. I only had enough time to realize that there was no time. There was a flash. A grande finale of violent explosions took over my body. Gradually, my innocence, in a melodramatic effort to prolong the death scene, stumbled, grimaced, slowed into spasms, wheezed, pulsed, collapsed, opened one eye, pulsed again, and vanished. It was unimaginably pleasurable. I said to myself, “I’m a man.”

Take a look at me now. There is just an empty space—and an almond-shaped lump. I finally understand what all the older boys mean when they tease, “you beat off!” What's worse is that now I do beat off. But I’ll never admit it. I’ll never admit that the moment my dad leaves the house, I spring on his hidden magazines, without a conscience, like a bloodthirsty tick. I’ve lost my sense of right and wrong. But you can’t hide a bitch tit forever. There is only one reasonable solution.

I’ll quit. I'll never do it again.

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