There were once a girl and a boy who lay on a hill of gravel kissing until their lips were raw. Kissing was the best thing that had ever happened to the boy and the girl, and so they rode their bicycles to the gravel pit every Sunday in pursuit of that sweet, singular pastime.
One Sunday, the boy pulled his t‑shirt over his head. He kissed the girl and the girl kissed him back and then the girl pulled her t‑shirt over her head. The girl didn’t have much need for a bra, but her grandmother had taken her bra shopping in the spring and now the girl wore a bra every day, whether she needed it or not. Without her shirt on, the girl wanted to crush herself against the boy. The boy could not believe the girl’s radiant smoothness. Her bra was a miracle. It was like a bikini top, but it was not a bikini top. It was the girl’s bra.
The girl ran her hands over the boy’s back. The boy ran his hands over the girl’s back, over her harness and its hook, which he finally opened. The girl’s breasts were warm and soft and the boy thought touching them was the best thing that had ever happened to him. Later, when the girl pressed herself against the boy and he pressed himself against her, there was nothing between them to interrupt their skin and they kissed each other until their lips were raw.
In July the girl went to the seaside with her grandmother. The boy couldn’t see the girl then and the girl couldn’t see the boy and they both thought they would die from not seeing each other. Awake and asleep, they dreamed about the gravel pit, about kissing and taking off their shirts and crushing themselves against each other. July was awful.
But in August, the boy and the girl were reunited. They lay on their bed of gravel kissing and taking off their shirts until they could hardly breathe. The girl felt a feeling in her chest and the boy felt a feeling in his stomach. They kissed each other and ran their hands over each other. The girl liked the way the boy’s hands felt on her body, creating a kind of leverage for their crushing. The feeling was like butter about to run, butter still holding its shape but about to melt completely. The girl loved the smell of the boy and the boy loved the smell of the girl. He loved her touch and she loved his touch. They breathed each other and touched each other and kissed each other until their lips were raw.
Neither the girl nor the boy saw or heard the little goat descend the gravel hill they lay upon kissing. Neither smelled the goat as it stood alongside them, watching them kiss and touch. The girl and the boy were lost in each other. The little goat cleared its throat, lowered its face to their faces, and bleated, causing the girl and the boy to jerk upright, away from each other.
The boy struck the little goat’s snout.
The little goat bleated again.
“What do you want?” the girl said, covering her breasts with her hands. “Why are you here?”
“You’re not doing it right,” the little goat said.
“Doing what right?” the girl said.
“What you’re doing,” the little goat said.
“Get out of here,” the boy said.
The little goat had slitted devil eyes.
“We don’t want you watching us,” the girl said.
“Are you ashamed?” the little goat said.
“It’s private,” the girl said, “what we’re doing.”
“This is a public place,” the little goat said.
“Nobody knows this place except us,” the boy said.
“It’s a free country,” the little goat said.
“No it isn’t,” the boy said.
“Wait,” the girl said. “I think I know this goat from a fairy tale. I think we’re going to become rich and famous.” She turned to the goat. “Bleat my little goat, bleat,” she said. “Give me something good to eat.”
“I’m not that goat,” the little goat said.
“Which goat are you?” the boy said.
“A different goat,” the little goat said.
“I’m going to kill you,” the boy said, picking up a handful of gravel.
“Don’t kill him,” the girl said.
“He’s ruining everything,” the boy said.
“He’s harmless,” the girl said. “And kind.”
“He’s not kind,” the boy said.
“I’m really not that kind,” the little goat said.
“Still,” the girl said, and turning to the boy: “You know how I feel about animals.”
The boy did know how the girl felt about animals.
“All right,” the boy said. “Can we go back to kissing then?”
“Not with the goat here,” the girl said.
“You’re not doing it right anyway,” the goat said.
“That’s none of your business,” the boy said, and the goat said, “What do you think my business is?”
“How would I know?” the boy said.
“Are you a spirit goat?” the girl said. “Are you supposed to represent something?”
“No,” the little goat said.
“Don’t you know when you’re not wanted?” the boy said.
“I have every right to be here,” the little goat said.
“No you don’t,” the boy said.
“You’re both using too much tongue,” the little goat said, “if you want to know the truth. Back off a little. Get a little more air into your kissing. A little more breath.”
“I’ll make a stew of you,” the boy said.
“I think he might be right,” the girl said. “About the air.”
“He’s not right,” the boy said. “About anything.”
“Let’s try what he said,” the girl said.
“With him here?”
“It’s okay,” the girl said.
She lowered her hands from her breasts and pulled the boy into an embrace.
“This just feels so—”
The girl kissed the boy.
“Breathe her breath,” the little goat said.
“Shut up,” the boy said.
“Also,” the goat said, “you’re going to have to take off your pants.”
Still kissing the girl, the boy grabbed the goat by a horn and twisted its head.
“You’re hurting me,” the little goat said.
“Ignore him,” the girl said. “But I think he might be right about the pants.”
The boy let go of the goat’s horn.
He kissed the girl and breathed her breath, and the girl breathed the boy’s breath too, kissing him.
“All animals do this,” the little goat said. “There’s nothing special about it.”
“Kill him,” the girl said, still kissing the boy and breathing his breath.
The boy kept kissing the girl as he twisted the little goat’s head by a horn.
“Ouch,” the little goat said. “Listen to me. There are other things to do.”
“We know that,” the girl said. “We don’t need your help.”
“You don’t know anything,” the little goat said. “You need plenty of help.”
“We hate your guts,” the boy said, twisting the little goat’s head.
The girl kissed the boy and pushed herself against him.
The boy kissed the girl and pushed himself against her.
The little goat bleated, a mournful sound, like a child crying.
The boy and the girl could hardly breathe.
“Let him go,” the girl said.
“Let’s go somewhere else,” the boy said.
The little goat bleated.
The boy twisted the little goat’s head by a horn, causing him to crumple in the gravel.
“We should take off our pants now,” the girl said.
“Yes,” the little goat said. “You can kiss with your pants off.”
The boy twisted the little goat’s head until the little goat bleated again.
“You’re hurting me!” the little goat cried.
The girl unbuttoned the buttons on her shorts and slid them off.
“Let him go,” the girl said. She touched the waistband of the boy’s shorts. “Take these off,” the girl said.
The boy let the little goat go. The girl’s panties were a miracle. They were like a bikini bottom, but they were not a bikini bottom. They were the girl’s panties.
“This is one of my favorite parts,” the little goat said.
“Shut up,” the boy said.
“You can watch,” the girl said, “but you can’t talk anymore.”
“All right,” the little goat said.
The girl watched the boy slide out of his shorts.
Everything was about to happen.
The girl slid her panties down, watching the boy watch her, hungry and murderous.
The boy helped the girl climb on top of him. He could smell the girl’s sweet smell and he could smell the little goat and he could smell something he’d never smelled before that made him feel desperate. The girl rubbed herself against the boy.
“Now we’re talking,” the little goat said.
“Pay no attention to him,” the girl said. She was heavy and light, full of air and breathless.
The boy had his hands on her hips. Everything was going black around them, with her sparkling at the center, her face a face he’d never seen before as she lowered her mouth to his, darker and more beautiful than any human face he’d ever encountered. He breathed her breath and she rubbed herself against him and then it was another thing entirely as she enveloped him, his hips moving with her, knowing now what to do and how to move, the two of them fluid and rolling, inside and outside, sweat and their mouths and their bodies hot and liquid and fully contained, salt, blood, meat and butter, and yes, the girl thought, and yes, the boy thought, and they could hear each other breathing and growling and falling out of time completely.
Then they lay together, breathing their own breath, stuck and sticky against each other.
“So now you know,” the little goat said.
“Don’t think I won’t kill you,” the boy said.
“Do we become famous now?” the girl said.
“No,” the little goat said.
“Why do you want to be famous?” the boy said.
“I don’t know,” the girl said. “I just do.”
The boy felt a feeling in his stomach.
The girl pulled on her underpants.
“Leave those off,” the boy said.
“All right,” the girl said.
“Let’s do it again,” the boy said, and the girl said, “Let’s always be doing it.”
Neither of them could imagine anything better than what they were about to do again. Neither of them saw the little goat climb the hill of gravel and disappear.
Samuel Ligon is the author of two novels—Among the Dead and Dreaming and Safe in Heaven Dead—and two collections of stories, Wonderland, illustrated by Stephen Knezovich, and Drift and Swerve. He edits the journal Willow Springs, teaches at Eastern Washington University in Spokane, and is the artistic director of the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference.