:: Article

Mother’s Milk

Fifteen minutes after a pit stop near Richmond, the dashboard of her car was littered with candy wrappers and chip bags.

“Boys end up screwing me because I’m just one of the boys,” she said, swigging her Fizzy Sour Cherry Lemonade, “but with a pussy.”

Sitting over in the passenger seat, he busted out a laugh, nearly choking on a mouthful of Doritos.

“Seriously,” she said. “One even said I was like his buddy or something who needed a helping hand, getting laid.”

He looked over, amazed.

“I know,” she said. “Like, duh?”

It was her turn to shake her head at herself.

“Anyway, I thought that was pretty funny. In a way, I was helping him out, too. I hope.”

Passing her the Doritos bag, he gave her a pointed look she didn’t like.

“What? I’m sorry, I don’t have any inhibitions about sex,” she said.

“I’ve already seen that.”

“And you enjoyed it if I recall.”

He said nothing, and she sat giving him an annoyed look.

“I mean, what’s the big deal. The penis is just another part of the body, like the earlobe or big toe.”

He didn’t look very convinced.

“Okay,” she said, “why’s it okay to kiss a man on the lips, but a big deal to put his penis in your mouth?”

He looked over at her and snatched the Doritos bag back.

“What the hell kind of question is that?” he said.

She shot an agitated glance out her window.

“Please, get over it. If I could, I’d fuck all my friends just to be nice to them.”

“Oh, wow,” he said, swatting the Doritos bag.

“Oh, come on, Thad. This wouldn’t even be an issue if it weren’t for this face.” She made her famous ditzy, cross-eyed look at her funny blunt nose. “What right do I have to fuck anybody—is that it? I must be desperate, or grossing people out.”

When he didn’t answer, she sat glaring at him.

“What, only beautiful people like you make love, and ugly ones like me just do the exercise?”

He put up his hands.

“I’m not saying a word.”

“Okay, smartass,” she said, “here’s my thing. I fuck guys I have no chance with—I have no chance with any guy.”

She crossed her eyes and again made a ditzy look with her face.

“I like to mess with people. Like you. I fucked you because I wanted your cock in me knowing it’s been inside that beautiful blonde pussy your girlfriend has.”

He sat shaking his head.

 “What? Too lesbian-esque for your little head to contemplate?” she said.

She shot looks out his window, then hers, as if somewhere in the dark night was someone to verify her claim.

“At least I tell the truth about myself,” she went on. “I know I’m a dirty little whore, because I also know nothing in my life will be on my looks.” She looked over at him. “Cum on my face. Go ahead. I don’t care. I swallow. I do the worst. That’s why guys love me.” She smirked across the seat at him. “I bet your little size-2 blonde bitch won’t do that. What’s she say, ‘Ooh, germs!’ ”

He busted out laughing, Doritos dust flying out of his mouth.

“Ooh, germs?” he said, looking over.

“Yes, ooh germs, you dick!”

She raised her arm as if to hit him, but he didn’t flinch. He just sat looking straight ahead, a smile on his face. It left her infuriated, glancing between him and the roadway a half dozen times.

“Semen’s no different from—” She glanced around her dash for an answer. “—I don’t know, mother’s milk.”

“Oh, wow,” he said, rolling his head.

“It’s just another bodily secretion.”

“Rosie, you’re so full of bullshit.”

She gaped across the seat at him.

“Excuse me? You think I’m lying! I’ve done cum-slams, buddy. You ask anybody.”

He turned and looked at her, his whiskered face spilling a broad grin.  


“Yeah, jerking off ten guys at once.”

“You?” he said, turning and looking at her. “You’ve jerked off ten guys at once?”

“The FU crew team.” She sneered across the seat at him. “And you should have seen the mess they made on my face.” She ran her tongue along her upper lip. “Hot cum pie, hmmm.”

He ignored her little taunting and went on looking straight ahead.

“Tell me, how did you manage ten at once?” he asked.

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” she said, looking away.

“Yes, I would.”

“Well, it’s a lot like playing the oboe,” she said, glancing around the car, pretending to have something better to do. “It’s tricky.”

With a final angry glance at him, she punched the gas, swung out into the HOV lane, and zoomed down the lone stretch at 75 mph, then 85, wipers going like crazy, rain hissing — orange pylons, white barrels, and piles of highway crap blurring past, the sides of the road so littered it looked like half of Richmond had run road-rally down I-95. At one point, the concrete barriers squeezed in close, leaving inches to spare. Soon enough, her private fast lane ended, and she was forced to stop her little stunt and merge back in with the rest of the southbound traffic.
“I think I’m angry,” she finally said, letting the car slow.

She glanced over at him, once, then twice.

“Okay, I’m sorry, Thad,” she said. “I didn’t want all those guys. I just wanted to be liked by one of them.”

He sat staring ahead, his face stone-like.

“Say something, Thad.” She reached across the seat and touched him on the shoulder. “Please.”

“Bull,” he said. “You wanted all of them. You wanted them and you got them.” He glanced over. “And you enjoyed them.”

The disgust on his face was edged so deep it was both great and awful to look at. Great that he might like her. Great that he might be jealous. Awful that he might be disgusted, too.

“Rosie, you could never know when just one guy likes you,” he said. “It’s just not in your nature.”

Out on the highway, dashes blurred under her eyes. Hundreds and hundreds of dashes, amounting to the broken line that was her life.

“Yeah, well, fuck you, too,” she said.

She shifted in her seat as far away from him as she could and sat looking ahead for a long time. Tears soon blurred her eyesight, making sparkles out of the highway. So many sparkling dashes. Funny how crying made the world watery and beautiful.

She glanced over at him. Her nature. What did he know about her nature? Aries: flirtatious, impulsive, dangerously outgoing. He knew enough. Bastard was right.

“Well, at least it’s the classic mistake a girl makes,” she said, turning and giving him a cheesy smile. “Can’t you at least give me that?”

But he didn’t give her that. He didn’t even look at her, didn’t see her tears. Instead, he heard her mouth, her brazen mouth. All anyone heard.

A moment later, she leaned forward and looked at herself in the mirror.

“American Idol or nothing,” she said, making another cheesy smile in the sliver of glass.

In her dim reflection, she saw pock marks on her cheeks as hideous as moon craters.

“You’re a piece of work, Rosie, you know that?” he said, from his side of the car.

“You have no idea,” she said, sitting back and sniffling.



John Michael Cummings’s short stories have appeared in more than 75 literary journals, including North American Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, South Dakota Review, Sou’wester, Louisiana Literature, Rosebud, North Dakota Quarterly, and The Iowa Review. Twice he has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. His novella, The House of My Father, was a finalist in the 2006 Miami University Novella Contest. 

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Saturday, March 10th, 2007.