Slice of life fiction
I was the girl who left her panties in Ryan Kirkland’s pickup truck.
Had a nice ring to it.
“Oh, my god. Alicia left her panties in my truck.”
“Seriously, dude? That’s so hot. Are you going to call her?”
“Yeah. I mean. If some girl left panties in my truck, I’d definitely call her. And ask her to the prom. And date her. Definitely.”
“Okay. I’ll call her.”
“Dude. So hot.”
Victoria’s Secret was giving away free panties.
My gal pal Jude and I conspired to cruise up to the mall to collect our due. The free panties deal was “no purchase necessary” and being penniless high school girls with modestly sized breasts (I’m being generous in my case) and no boyfriends to wear sexy lingerie for, we had no intention of making a purchase that day.
Two panty selections and a collective eyeroll from the sales team later, and we were back on the road. I chose black cotton, string bikini underwear, because they were sexy enough without drifting into thong territory, which I was not on board with. Jude however, used up her freebie on a two-inch strip of polka-dot fabric that no one other than the inside of her ass cheeks would ever see.
Jude’s car was low on gas, as always, so we pulled into the Mobil station near my house.
My heart stopped.
Ryan Kirkland’s pickup truck was parked at the pump.
And the space behind it was free.
There was no mistaking Ryan’s pickup. A massive, cherry-red, waxed-to-perfection, symbol of masculine freedom. It had a cap on the back with tinted windows, behind which I imagined a makeshift bed strewn with slept on sheets, throw pillows, and almost clean boxer shorts, all of which would carry Ryan’s signature and ever-present fragrance. Eternity for Men by Calvin Klein.
Damn, that guy smelled good. He was a hugger, too. A good one. He’d hug anyone really, but he did it in a way that made you feel like YOU were the best hug he’d ever had.
We pulled into the pump behind his truck, and I got a crazy idea.
“I’m going to ask Ryan to the prom.”
“Yeah,” I said like I possessed an ounce of self-confidence about it. Truth be told, I was getting desperate in the prom date department. I’d already gotten a handful of noes from my classmates. I’d started with my soulmate and worked my way down to people I basically thought of as school cousins. Noes across the board. They weren’t mean noes. Just “would if I could but I can’t” noes.
Most of the top-shelf junior guys had dates already for the reason they were top-shelf junior guys, and I waited too long. Still, it had been a discouraging process, and turning my sights upward to the senior class, despite being a long shot, seemed far more appealing an option than settling on a group date or worse, going stag.
And Ryan was a sweetheart. A massive flirt, yes. But so was I. So maybe this was destiny.
While Jude pumped $3 worth of gas into her Corolla, I sauntered up to the passenger side of Ryan’s truck and let myself in. I played the part of brazen, thong-wearing, ample-breasted, prom nymph well, even if inside I was twitching with insecurity. And none of those things.
He was smoking in the driver’s seat, and immediately stubbed his cigarette out so he could hug me hello. His cologne was so thick I could almost ignore the gag-worthy haze of cigarette smoke on top of it.
We made small talk for a bunch of seconds before I put my game face on and asked him if he wanted to go to the prom with me.
His smile could have lit up a football field.
But the answer was still no.
“I would if I could, but I’m already going with Michelle.”
Michelle was a sophomore, and the two were best friends, whatever the hell that meant. This information irritated me, because the prom was technically for juniors and here was a senior going with a sophomore to MY junior prom.
“Thanks for asking,” he said with an aggressively flirtatious smile that made me want to kiss a yes right out of him.
But I wasn’t the girl who kissed yesses out of seniors in cherry-red pickup trucks. I was the girl who now needed two hands to count the number of times she’d been turned down to the junior prom.
I flirted shamelessly goodbye and made my way back to Jude’s car.
“He said no,” I told her.
We started toward home, and I picked up my Victoria’s Secret bag from the floor and discovered it was empty. I searched the floor and checked under my butt and the space between the seat and the car door, but the panties were nowhere to be found.
“What are you doing?”
“I can’t find my underwear,” I said.
“When did you have them last?”
My breath caught in my chest. “They were in my lap when we pulled into the gas station.” It’s true, I had taken them out of the bag to read the laundry care tag and check them for lint and loose threads and otherwise mindlessly toy with them on the drive home.
“Oh shit.” I knew what had happened. The panties had clung to my clothes by static electricity as I walked the short distance to Ryan’s truck and let myself in. As we chatted and hugged and made flirtatious pleasantries, the panties disengaged and affixed themselves to the Calvin Klein-infused upholstery of Ryan’s passenger seat.
Jude made a U-turn and floored it back in the direction of the gas station. She was laughing, hysterically, but I was planning ahead.
Because maybe this little panty faux pas would be my ticket in. To where? I’m not sure. But definitely to a place where I wouldn’t be scrounging around for a prom date, because guys would be lining up to ask me. The girl who left her panties in Ryan Kirkland’s pickup truck. And then I’d have to dole out the “I would if I could, but I can’t”s because I’d be a top-shelf girl. A girl brave enough to buy a thong and maybe even wear one. A girl with moderately sized (I’m being generous) breasts who didn’t have to wonder what was on the other side of Ryan’s tinted windows because I’d have been there. Wearing his almost clean boxer shorts and reminiscing about the time I left my black cotton, string bikini underwear in his truck like a wad of sexy breadcrumbs for him to follow back to my heart …
… and whatever else breadcrumbs lead to.
We pulled into the gas station, and I felt a jolt of terrified excitement.
That quickly devolved into a pang of disappointed relief.
Lying in a puddle of spilled gasoline was the soggy pile of breadcrumbs that was my free Victoria’s Secret panties. They never made it to Ryan’s truck.
Jude was pissing herself laughing and eventually I joined her. Because who was I kidding?
I wasn’t the girl who left her panties in Ryan Kirkland’s pickup truck, and I probably never would be.
I would just be the girl that everyone would take to the prom if they could, but they can’t.
The girl with flammable underwear.
Dude. So hot.
Welcome back to Stock Fiction. The (mostly) short fiction newsletter inspired by stock photography.
Today’s piece feels like a withdrawal from the memory bank of one eternally lovelorn teenager with a very bright future ahead of her.
Hopefully one full of amazing hugs.
And lots and lots of yesses.
ACK! to school.
September is nuts. Kids and spouse are back in school, and I’m scrambling to reclaim my time and space and organize my overflowing brain that has far too many ideas for Stock Fiction and beyond to execute any one of them properly. And I’m reminded of how lonely writing can be when you don’t have built in distractions to pull you out of rabbit holes and existential crises every day.
Luckily, my writer colleagues have been keeping me busy.
Last week, I had the exciting opportunity to share one of my non-fiction pieces on the collaborative literary Substack,. Many of you showed up to support me over there, and I am so grateful. The post got a great response and I owe much of that to my Stock Fiction friends who stopped by to comment and share.
I also had TWO podcast interviews last week. One with my dear friend in book marketing,of , and the other with my new friend in Paris, of . Expect evidence that both interviews actually took place (and I’m not making this stuff up) very soon!
On the horizon…
October 8th marks my one-year anniversary on Substack. It’s customary to do something celebratory on such an occasion. Invites forthcoming. Black tie optional.
Without you, there would be no Stock Fiction.
Thank you for being here.
Stock Fiction is a reader-supported publication. Like I said. You make this possible.