Dear Diary – Chapter 1
Dear diary seems a trite way to start off my memoirs, but so be it. And maybe calling them my memoirs is pretentious; after all, who wants to read about somebody’s life who has lived less than twenty summers when that person isn’t Jacob Tremblay?
I could bore you with my childhood memories growing up in a duplex in Pflugerville, Texas, but I won’t, well, not all of them; Just the ones that defined me. It may have been October on the calendar, but the weather hadn’t received the memo, and it was still ninety degrees when the bus stopped at the end of our street. I grabbed Bran’s hand and climbed off the bus, along with about half the kids. An apartment complex ran along one side of the street and small duplexes along the other.
Most of the kids broke one way, heading toward the apartment complex. Bran and I went the other way. In a world of helicopter parents, we were classic latchkey kids. Then again, most of us who got off the bus at that stop were raised in one-parent homes, who was almost always the mom. I slid the key into the front door. The house was warm. Even though mom was a manager at a local restaurant, she complained she didn’t have cash enough to cool the house while we were at school and she was at work.
Bran set his backpack on the table, “Feels weird coming home and Aunt Chloe not being here.”
My backpack joined his on the table, “Now that I’m eleven, we can stay home by ourselves after school.”
Bran grabbed a couple of bottles of water from the fridge and handed me one, “Don’t forget the weekends. She’s always working.”
Mom’s promotion gave her more money, but also a lot more hours. She liked it, and I had always had an independent streak. As long as there was food in the fridge or money for delivery, I liked the arrangement.
I took a swig of water and sat at the table while opening my backpack and pulled my homework assignments from the pack. You’d think I’d gotten the habit from Mom. Not hardly. My mom had been a waitress her entire life. Studying wasn’t something to hold her interest, and if it hadn’t been for Bran, I probably would have been more like my mom.
Bran was the smartest person I knew and studying was easy for him; he was like a sponge. So smart, the school district had advanced him two grades since kindergarten. Here I was, starting my sixth-grade year with my eight-year-old cousin attending the fifth grade on the same campus. You could say it was the heat coming from behind that motivated me.
Bran glanced at the papers, folders and books I’d hauled from my bag. He grabbed a sheet, and I went red as a beet and tried to take it back. “Hey, that’s mine.”
His cheeks matched my own as he handed back the glossy chart of the anatomically correct drawing of the reproductive system. “Oh, did they pull the girls out of class for, um, sex ed., too?”
I shoved the chart back into my backpack, “Yeah. They do it with the boys too? I saw some girls from your grade in the girls’ assembly.”
He pulled out a chair and sat next to me, “Yeah. A lot of the boys made fun of it. They sent Jaxon and Lavon to the principal’s office for making dirty jokes.”
Bran and I were as close as two people could be, but I didn’t really know what to say about that. “Serves them right.”
As I opened my math assignment, I don’t know what came over me, but I asked, “You learn anything?”
Bran’s face turned even more crimson as he shrugged, “Um, I mean, we see each other all the time, so I know what girls look like.”
I found where I’d left off at the end of math class, but enjoying my cousin’s obvious embarrassment, I said, “They show you how babies are made?”
“I can read, Brook. I, um, know where babies come from. And no, they didn’t. Jeez, if they had, half the boys in the sixth grade would have joined Jaxon and Lavon in the principal’s office.”
We both laughed, because that was certainly true. As Bran retrieved his tablet from his backpack and read, I tackled my homework. There had been a time when asking my cousin, who’s three years younger than me for help would have been embarrassing. But I’d become used to how smart he was and several times over the next hour, I asked for, and got his help.
After we finished our homework, we had the rest of the evening to ourselves. Mom’s schedule was on a dry-erase board on the fridge. She was scheduled to close the restaurant that night, and that meant she’d be home late. We’d catch hell from her on a school night if we were still up by the time she came home.
After eating leftovers, we headed to the room we shared, where I had the bottom bunk and Bran had the top. When Mom bought the bunk beds a couple of years before, it replaced a full-sized bed Bran and I shared from the time he moved in with us when he was three until he was five or six. I guess she thought a nine-year-old girl and six-year-old boy shouldn’t share the same bed, although we shared the same bathroom and even took our baths or showers together.
We found some high school musical knockoff to stream once we settled onto my bed. Bran slept on the top bunk, but he watched TV with me, our backs against the wall. It’s not like there wasn’t plenty of room; When Mom replaced my old bed, the bottom bunk was also full-sized.
I listened with half my attention to the TV show, but my mind went back to the girls’ assembly. They had shown us pictures of girls going through puberty. And while the pictures might not have been real girls, they were very accurate, let me tell you. Even the first picture of a girl who was supposed to be somewhere between ten and twelve had breasts. They were small, barely more than buds. And pubic hair too. Not much, but I was sitting near the front of the assembly and could see the squiggly artwork meant to represent the beginnings of pubic hair.
Here I was two months after turning eleven, and I didn’t have any of that stuff. My chest was the same chest I’d seen every day of my life. Even that space between my legs still looked like a puffy pair of lips. And hips? What hips? The only thing that separated me from the boys, at least when dressed, was my golden-brown hair. At least until I talked Mom into letting me get cut short and dyed purple. Now it was just my clothes. I liked pretty pinks and purples. Mom just started letting me wear makeup now that I was in the sixth grade, and I enjoyed putting a bit on some mornings when I didn’t oversleep.
The show was close to being over; the jocks and cheerleaders were dancing a number across the screen when Bran turned to me, “What’s up, Brook? You hardly watched any of the show?”
Sometimes having a really smart boy for your roommate could be annoying. He hadn’t lifted his face from his tablet during the entire musical. I loved my cousin. Since moving in with me and my mom after his parents’ deaths, Bran had grown into my best friend, although I probably wouldn’t admit it to anyone but this diary. Even though I felt piqued by his question, the last thing I wanted was to make an issue.
For more than five years, Bran and I had bathed together, we had no secrets, nothing to hide. My scrawny boyish frame was all he knew, and I didn’t want to draw his attention to the fact that sometime between now and a couple of years down the road, my body would bloom into a young woman’s.
In fact, it had only been a month earlier, after Mom saw the two of us come out of the bathroom naked, that she had me come into her bedroom once dressed for bed. She patted her bed, “Come on in, Brookie, and sit here with me.”
I sat beside her as she continued, “You’re getting so big. And you’ve been such a sweetheart, helping take care of your cousin.”
I wanted to scoff at that; When my Aunt Ester and Uncle Calvin died in a car wreck, their estate, such as it was, paid a monthly stipend to my mom for Bran’s care. She also received survivor’s benefit for him from Social Security. Even then, I knew the amounts weren’t huge, but they made up about a third of Mom’s monthly income. But I loved my mom and knew that she had sacrificed the big tip money in the evenings to stay at home with us when we were younger.
With five years to adjust to my cousin, I couldn’t imagine my life without him, “Bran’s cool, Mom. It’s not like he’s always doing dumb stuff like a lot of other boys his age.”
She shook her head and chuckled, “No kidding. Who’d have known we’d have an Einstein in the house. But I know it’s hard for you. You’re a growing girl and you’ve never complained about having to take a bath with your cousin.”
When you bathe with a boy, you see just about everything. I’d seen him pee in the shower when he was younger, and even now that he’s eight, every once in a while, his penis gets stiff. I tried to take it in stride. After all, Bran was in the same boat as me. He saw my girl parts every time and, at least over the past couple of years, he didn’t gawk or ask questions. “It’s okay.”
Mom patted me on the knee, “I have said nothing about the baths because, honestly, having you take care of him and getting him to bed makes my life a lot easier. But maybe I haven’t been fair to you. After all, you deserve your own privacy.”
On some level, I knew she was right; that I deserved privacy. But the fact was, I shared a room with my younger cousin. While we didn’t lie around naked, we also didn’t hide ourselves. We were naked when we changed, in the bathroom and the like, so Mom’s idea of privacy seemed unlikely. And with Bran, it just didn’t seem to be a big deal. More than that, after several years of indifference on her part, I wasn’t sure why getting close to puberty required a change in how Bran and I lived. Still, I said, “Maybe I’ll want privacy when I get older. I can ask Bran if he wants more privacy now.”
That conversation with my mom didn’t go any further. But I told Bran that if he wanted to take his own baths or showers, I’d be okay with it. It became one of those “If you want, I guess,” conversations, where we agreed we preferred our current situation.
And yet, as Bran sat next to me, his tablet in his lap, I felt awkward for the first time. I was only too aware that one day I’d get boobs and my body would change, letting me get pregnant. My face burned as my stomach fluttered. You only got pregnant when a man sticks his penis inside and put his sperm into you. See, I was paying attention to the sex ed. part of the presentation.
I couldn’t bring myself to lie to Bran. But I didn’t have to be specific, “Was thinking about the girls’ assembly.”
His eyes flitted back to the text on his screen, “Sometimes I wish I hadn’t skipped grades. Some of the sixth graders, they’re like twelve already. If I were in the third grade, I wouldn’t have been forced to listen to that stuff about puberty and sex.”
He described a poster similar to the chart I had received, just for the boys. “The youngest boy on the chart is two or three years older than me and the pictures showed all the boys with hair down there, going from barely any to lots of it.”
If he was distressed, he hid it well. His was a dispassionate description well beyond his physical development, but given his mental and emotional growth, he understood most of it.
If this night was like most when mom closed the restaurant, she’d be home close to midnight. It was barely eight and our bedtime was officially nine-thirty, but with Mom not here to monitor it, it was closer to ten or even ten thirty. But I didn’t want to watch another Disney movie. I was ready for something different, “You ready for a bath?
Bran swiped the screen closed on his tablet, “Yeah. I guess. We ran in PE, but nobody wants to shower in the locker room.”
He pulled his shirt off and dropped it in our clothes hamper. I’d seen his skinny chest and narrow shoulders countless times. But thinking about those images of adolescent girls and how my body was developing, albeit very slowly, I felt a moment’s confusion when I realized Bran’s chest was actually kind of cute. He pulled his jeans off and folded them and put them on the end of his bed, to get dressed in the morning. Without so much as even a glance in my direction, his underwear followed.
I felt something warm between my legs; It wasn’t just Bran’s chest that was cute. Sure, his penis was small, and I’d seen it a thousand times before, but that night, there was something sensual about it and I didn’t know why I hadn’t noticed it before. Bran said, “I’ll get the water running.”
Left alone in the bedroom, I shucked my clothes, adding to the pile in the hamper. I touched my chest, rubbing my nipples for some sign, any sign, that they were about to get puffy and give me a reason to wear a training bra.
I ran my hand down my stomach and across my smooth pubic mound. I touched myself down below, which is something I seldom did, given a lack of privacy. Still, I felt a twinge of a tingle when my finger slid between the outer lips. “Cut it out,” I murmured before following Bran into the bathroom.
These days showers were more our thing. Although at eight and eleven we could still comfortably fit in the tub for a bath, there was coming a day when the two of us wouldn’t so comfortably fit sitting down in the tub. Bran had the shower running, and the curtain closed when I stepped into the tub behind him. His butt faced me and the sight of the two pale globes only fueled the butterflies in my tummy. I closed my eyes for a moment, trying to push away the images from earlier today when the women conducting the girls’ assembly had shown us a video of cartoon drawings of boys and their sex organs. The drawings had even shown us what boys looked like erect.
I had seen it all before, having bathed with Bran hundreds of times. Granted, he seldom became hard, but seldom and never are not the same. Then I did something I hadn’t done in a couple of years, I grabbed the loofah, “I’ll wash you if you want.”
Bran was the smartest person I knew and I could see the glint in his eyes at my request. Of course, just like me, he had sat through a similar presentation for the boys. Sure, he was younger than the other boys in the fifth grade. But no less inquisitive. When he looked at me, the tremoring in my tummy was impossible to ignore. For the first time in my life, a boy was really seeing me. Bran’s eyes lingered on my chest and then at that puffy gash between my legs. When his eyes searched mine, I saw awareness in those golden-brown eyes of his. “Uh, yeah. If you want.”
I was almost six inches taller than Bran, so when I started on his shoulder blades, I didn’t have to reach up to wash his back. When I finished with his shoulder blades, he said, “It tickles and scratches when you use the loofah.”
I set it aside, “Is it okay to use my hands?”
He nodded as I continued down his back. His skin was soft, nearly silky beneath my palms. When I reached his butt, I skipped it and knelt, working down his legs. I’ve seen girls from my class who have lots of tiny white hairs around their ankles, but just like my ankles’ Bran’s were smooth. Were I to ask about it, he’d tell me they were vellus hairs and they were there, but too small and fine to see or feel.
I worked my way up his legs, stopping at his knees to lather my hands with more soap before continuing on. As I reached midway up his thighs, I didn’t know how high I should go. I hadn’t touched him on his penis since he was a little boy, and even though I’d seen it more times than I could count, something about his little noodle drew my curiosity like a lodestone.
As my hands worked their soapy way up his inner thighs, Bran spread his legs, making it easier for me to wash them. I pulled my hands away when I felt the back of my palm brush against something soft. I stood, “Um, I can wash your front, if you want.”
When Bran turned around, his little noodle had become a nail. He was hard; a thin tube of skin over nail-like hardness. Probably less than three inches from the tip of his circumcised glans to the base of his shaft. I doubted he was more than half an inch thick. And it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever laid eyes on.
He glanced at the space between us, “Sorry. It does that sometimes and I can’t stop it.”
I resisted the urge to touch it, to feel the steel under the skin. Instead, my hands worked the soap across his collarbone and chest. From there, I rubbed the suds across his stomach and upper abs, stopping just below his belly button. I don’t know what possessed me to say anything, but my brain and my hormones must have been disconnected, “This is fun. Your skin feels nice.”
I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to finish what I’d started, but this wouldn’t be like touching him when he was five and I was eight; that had been the innocent curiosity of two young children. Now, even though my body was way behind most of the girls in my class, something more primal fueled my curiosity.
“Thanks, your hands feel nice. Are you finished?”
Like an idiot, I parroted, “Finished?”
Was there a tremor in his voice? “Y-, yeah. If you want, you can finish.”
Could there be more than one way to interpret Bran’s words? If I misunderstood him, and did something he didn’t like, would he forgive me? Uncertainty wracked my brain as I returned my soapy hand to below his belly button. With a slow, hesitant motion, I did tiny circular motions, working my way down. Bran didn’t say a word as my palm rubbed against his smooth pubic area. And with my eyes glued on his little nail, the only way I knew he was paying attention to me was the sharp inhale when my finger grazed the base of his penis.
His ragged breathing forced me to tear my eyes away from his gorgeous cocklet. He gazed down at me, a look of wonderment etched on his face. My voice shook, “Th-, this okay?”
“Y-, y-, yeah,” Bran stuttered.
His little three inches quivered as I moved my hand along the paradoxical shaft. Until that moment, I had never given a thought to how hard a boy could be, yet how sensuously soft the skin covering the steel-like muscles could be.
Bran sighed as my fingers reached the base of the underside of his erection. His balls were tiny things, nested inside the tight skin of his scrotum. From experience of roughhousing with my cousin, I knew they were like delicate little eggs. Too much pressure and I could hurt him. But I couldn’t stop myself, even if I wanted. My fingers caressed his small ballsack until I couldn’t justify any more time washing them.
I stood, “There you go. All clean.”
A hitch in Bran’s voice was enough to know the experience had been intense. I half expected him to want to get out and be alone for a bit after something like that. Maybe that’s why he caught me off guard when he asked, “C-, can I wash you?”
Before, when we had first starting taking baths together, I had washed him a lot. Of course, that had started when he had been three and I had been six. Even though it lasted a couple of years, it had always been a one-way street; me washing him. But after washing him this evening, turn-about seemed fair. Right?
“Yeah. If you want.”
He motioned for me to turn around. He had to reach higher to wash my shoulders and neck than me, but I liked the warm glow on my skin as he rubbed the soapy suds into my flesh. Like me earlier, he took his time washing my back, applying more soap as he worked his way down.
When he reached the bottom of my back, he paused, “You want me to skip your bottom?”
The fluttering in my stomach was all consuming at this point. I wanted his hands all over me. “N-, no. Keep going.”
His hands washed each butt-cheek separately. And very briefly, his fingers slid down my crack. The way his fingers pulled back, I wondered if he had lost his nerve. I couldn’t have blamed him. I hadn’t been as brave and had skipped his butt.
He knelt behind me and washed my feet and ankles. Some girls in my grade were already shaving their legs, but like Bran, my vellus hairs were so small and fine that you couldn’t feel or see them. His slick fingers moved across my ankles and calves almost effortlessly, the soap reduced the friction between the skin on my legs and Bran’s palms to almost nothing. When he reached above my knees, I followed his choice earlier and spread my legs, granting him access to my inner thighs. His hand retreated a bare inch before he would have found my puffy labia.
He stood and grabbed my shoulders and turned me around. I glanced between us, his little penis was still as hard as ever, pointed nearly straight up. He reached up and massaged soap onto my shoulders and throat, working his way down my chest. As he rubbed across my chest, I couldn’t help but wonder when my nipples would grow and I’d develop buds. Bran was unconcerned with what might happen in the future with my chest. He rubbed the soap into my chest longer than I did him, before soaping his hands more and working them gradually down to my stomach.
When he got to the same place I had paused, he looked up at me until I gave him a nod, and then his hands continued downward, working in small circular motions across my pubic mound. He stopped when his hand found the edge of my slit. The most pleasurable shock in my eleven years shot through my body at the touch. I wanted him to continue, to push his finger through my swollen outer labia. But his hand retreated as he said, “Did I do it okay?”
Not trusting my voice, I nodded as I grabbed the shampoo and pushed him under the showerhead. It was only the work of a couple of minutes until we finished washing our hair, too. The electrical energy from the shower lingered even while we dried off. When we went back into the bedroom, we grabbed our underwear from the chest of drawers and clothed ourselves for bed.
I climbed onto my bed and sat with my back against the headboard. Clothed in my underwear, which was my normal bedtime attire, I watched Bran pull his Iron Man briefs on. He looked at me, his tablet, which was still on my bed, and then at the overhead bunk. The events of the past few minutes must have done a number on him. I scooted over and patted the space beside me, “It’s still early. We can find another show to watch.”
He gave me a slight smile and took the offered spot while I found something else on the streaming service. As the show started, my thoughts weren’t on the TV, but on the bare shoulder touching mine, the knobby knees resting against my leg. Halfway through the show, Bran said, “Um, Brook, is it normal for your stomach to feel like butterflies when you’re touching someone else?”
My stomach was still a riot of butterflies. “I guess. Did you have butterflies in the shower?”
He nodded, “Yeah. Um, they haven’t gone away either. What do you think it means?”
The girls at school had talked about the fluttering they got in their stomachs when they kissed boys. That couldn’t possibly be the reason why our stomachs felt this way. Could it? I mean, Bran’s my cousin and we not supposed to feel like this toward each other, were we?
The tingle in my arm where we touched didn’t feel bad. I knew plenty of girls my age who wouldn’t have had anything to do with a younger brother, cousin, or whatever, because the boy was too immature. But that wasn’t my relationship with Bran. He was my best friend, even if he was my eight-year-old cousin. I wasn’t sure the reason for these feelings, “Maybe the butterflies are because we were having fun.”
He leaned his head against my arm, “It was, wasn’t it? And kind of naughty, too. Do you think Aunt Chloe would be upset with us?”
Could it possibly be something like what Bran and I had just shared that caused Mom to go on about me needing privacy? Until that moment, I wouldn’t have thought so. Since Brandon’s arrival five years before, she had always been chill about me and him taking baths together, so I wasn’t sure she would object. Even so, when I thought about how she would react if we told her about the feelings Bran and I had in the shower, I didn’t think she’d approve. “I don’t know. But I don’t want to tell her and find out.”
He grinned, “Yeah, no kidding. She might make us stop bathing together, and that’d suck.”
I had had always taken for granted the baths with me were just part of Bran’s routine; something my mom had put in place to make her life easier. I hadn’t realized they were something he enjoyed. Warmth spread through my chest and I slid my arm around his shoulders and gave him a half-hug, “Yeah. It would.”
He inched over and rested his head against my side as we watched the rest of the show. When it was over, he yawned and climbed into the bunk bed while I turned out the light.
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