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PREFACE

I was twelve and knew. He'd slapped me twice, but I wasn't crying from
that. I wasn't even crying from the pain. I was crying because I was
going to die.

My parents, the nurse at the hospital and the policewoman were the only
ones with whom I ever talked about it. The officer was nice, but they
never caught the man. I was glad, as I'd have had to talk some more.

It's a long time not to talk.

WESLEYAN

Some of my classmates went to places like Ohio State or Purdue, but
Wesleyan was right for me. Smaller classes; Dad researched the statistics.
Safer, my Mom's prod. Both true, but from the perspective of a
20-year-old, also more fun. Hayes Hall was definitely the place to live,
not in some snotty sorority. We did stuff as dormies, made popcorn, bought
a six-pack one time. A half-can was enough to give me a hangover, sort of
a headache, anyway. People who think Wesleyan's pretty straight can think
that, if they wish.

Junior year was when I'd have to decide between English and History. Or
even a double major if I chose enough classes that counted both ways.
Maybe I'd go to graduate school in American Literature, but if I did that,
wouldn't it be smart to have the background in American History? Keep
thinking ahead.

The problem with Liberal Arts, of course, is that it's liberal.
Science, for example: a full year of something. In my opinion, a semester
of Intro to Astronomy, followed by, say, Intro to Environmental Awareness
is "Liberal". But something both 101 and 102? Punishment.

The survivable sequence was Chemistry. I'd aced it in high school and
everybody said that Chem 101 was the same material, balancing chemical
equations and learning to use graduated cylinders. 101 would bring back
what I'd learned in high school and I'd be more-or-less set for 102. I'd
memorize my notes, of course, and probably hardly jeopardize my
grade-point. But who really cares about valences?

I probably should have knocked off science my Freshman year, but what
Freshman thinks ahead? It's, where's the bookstore?

Plan of Study: Chem 101, Fall Semester. Chem 102, Spring. Science
requirement, goodbye.

But the first 101 lecture made me realize how old I was. I'd just come
from "Writing in Postmodern World". Really interesting and there were
Seniors taking it too! I'd hardly known an author in the reading list, and
I read a lot! Postmodern would be so much fun!

Then this! Almost everybody in the Chemistry lecture was an
underclassperson. (Not "underclassman". Wesleyan women are not "men". Am
I already a postmodern writer? Maybe not, as I see I said "Freshman" a
couple of paragraphs earlier. )

The smirks of fellow note-takers when the professor defined "chemistry"
dispelled my hope of academic advantage. Half these kids were probably
just out of AP class last year. I wrote down the definition, "the branch
of natural science dealing with the composition of substances, their
properties and reactions." She'd probably ask it in a test.

At least the text appeared to emphasize current issues. Global warming,
reproductive health in Africa and aquaculture merited mention in the first
chapter. No electrons, though they'd be coming. When I thumbed up to the
diagram of Nitrogen doing different things with Oxygen, it looked sort of
familiar.

*****

Lab was once per week. The first order of business was safety: Safety
glasses; Reagent labels; Never suck a pipette; How to light a Bunsen
burner; Excess chemicals don't go down the drain. Maybe I should have
tried Astronomy, I wondered? Telescopes are pretty safe and a lot less
boring.

Only at the end of the session were we told to pair up for locker
assignment.

I looked around for a girl, realizing too late that the candidates were
vaporizing. By the time I'd figured out that much, it was down to me and a
guy in a red and white Wesleyan sweatshirt. Why would anybody wear one to
class? He was still looking around the room.

Well, it's just once a week, I figured. "Need a partner?"

When he looked at me, I saw it. It's not something most people catch,
because they don't know. It's your flash of relief when you realize that
you're not totally alone. You got chosen, at least this time. If you're
not alone a lot of the time, you wouldn't know it. It's not about being
where nobody else is. It's about even if they're there.

"Sure. I mean if you need one."

"Why not?" It wasn't as if we had much choice. "I'm JoAnne." Being a
Junior made me a little more socially adept.

"I'm Arthur," sticking out his hand as probably his parents instructed
him. "At least I had this stuff last year," he added, "You?"

"Three years ago and never thought of it since," I admitted as we headed
toward an open bench.

"No sweat. So how come you're in here," acknowledging my seniority.

"English major," seeing no reason to note that it might be History too.

"Pre-med," he confessed. "My Dad's a doctor."

"Cool." My dad sells Ford tractors, but I didn't say it.

"I guess," his halfhearted response, then changing the subject. "Know
Barbara Kingsolver?"

He read her? "Absolutely. You wouldn't want to study American
Literature if you just had to study Washington Irving."

"I sorta feel like she's writing about me, in my head, I mean." He
paused, probably remembering that I was in English. "But maybe I missed
some stuff."

"Prof. Gillespie uses her in Creative Writing. You see how her
characters make each other real."

"But my dad's a doctor," explained my Lab partner as we practiced
titration for the instructor check-off. He looked around. "You got a
calculator? We can figure out how much of this stuff we'll use and just
write that many milliliters in our books. Not exactly, just close."

Arthur seemed sort of like whom you'd want for a Lab partner.

"I bought one for this class. It says it does exponents," I was pleased
to reveal. I wasn't that sure Chemistry used exponents, but it didn't cost
any more.

My acquaintance indicated his sweatshirt. "Need my lab coat so I don't
mess it up. Graduation present, free from this place for doing early
admission."

Maybe once a week in Lab would be enough, I realized. A Junior wouldn't
in a million years admit she'd done early admissions.

*****

The semester chugged along, Chemistry Lab being a manageable part:
"Formula of a Metal Oxide", "An Equilibrium Constant", "LeChatelier's
Principle". Not that I understood LeChatelier, but I'm pretty good at
reading. Chemistry was just a requirement, nothing related to my life.

But maybe I liked Lab just a little bit. Lab was where we'd do
something more than take notes and balance electrons and protons. Lab was
where we'd see things happen.

"Partners" was how the instructor named us, not our doing. All it meant
was that we did a job together. But Arthur's being there was a thing I
came to appreciate. Doing something together is more than doing nothing
alone, if that makes sense. Arthur and I were good partners, taking our
turns measuring and note-taking, adjusting the flame, washing our
glassware. Despite his insight into fabrication of believable results, we
always did the whole experiment to make sure we had the technique. We'd
always wear our safety glasses.

And maybe he didn't mind my presence. Sometimes it's just nice to have
someplace to go, knowing that somebody's counting on you to do your half.

Once Arthur brought two brownies. We might get hungry "waiting for the
precipitate." Why was that so funny? His mom had sent the brownies by
mail, a mom-type thing. I ate mine, even if it was a bit dry, and told him
we could maybe brew herbal tea in a beaker. But we didn't want to
jeopardize our grade, the instructor being serious about glassware.

One time we were recording temperatures to see if energy was being
released ("Exothermic", the answer to a certain quiz question) and I ended
up with Arthur's pen, one of those ballpoints that make you want to doodle.

"How 'bout you keep it and write a story about Chemistry someday."

Anyway, I kept the pen. Nobody had every just given me their pen
before. Birthday presents, sure, but not their good pen. ("Nobody" and
"their" are grammatically incongruent, according to Prof. Stewart, but an
acceptable alternative to "his or her". Want a fun assignment? Inclusive
Hemingway! I got a 94.)

I put the pen in the inner pocket of my backpack where I'd not lose it.
How'd anybody write a story about Chemistry? Na plus Cl makes salt.

"Thanks," I replied, rather pleased. "So here, you keep my yellow
highlighter, then." I couldn't think of why he'd need it, but suddenly I
wanted him to have something of mine.

He didn't ask why, just seemed pleased as well.

*****

We were converting a carbonate to a chloride, according to the handout,
when Arthur and I bumped, an accident on both our parts, me leaning to get
the flask, him reaching for the stirring rod. It couldn't have been more
than a second.

But it didn't take the second for me to jerk away, so quickly, in fact,
that I nearly spilled the solution.

It took Arthur more than the second to register my reflex. By the time
he linked having accidentally bumped my breast and its consequence, I was
appallingly embarrassed. JoAnne once more the fool!

"I'm sorry, I didn't realize..." he volunteered.

"My fault. I wasn't..." interrupting to erase the moment. "I don't
think I spilled any," I assured, maybe just assuring myself that it was
already behind me.

Arthur started to say something more, then tried to get me to smile.
"They wouldn't want a klutz like me mixing up the formula for a Plutonium
bomb."

He must think I'm a real jerk!

Leaving Lab, though, I guess I felt I owed Arthur something. It wasn't
his fault. "Sorry about that, me being weird."

"It's not weird to want your space. Everybody does."

I thought about it. My space?

He must have guessed what I was thinking. He could have just done the
easy thing and not helped me put on my backpack, me being apparently big
into some kind of personal space fixation.

But I guess he saw the strap was twisted.

*****

Wesleyan's not that big a campus, but it's big enough to fade to where
people who see you didn't really see you. But when someone sees you every
week, you get seen more often.

I'd be climbing the steps to Appleton Hall and down would race Arthur.
"Hi, JoAnne," rushing onward to wherever Freshmen rush to. They don't know
to work out efficient schedules.

Or in the Library. There would be Arthur laden with atlases. "Hey,
JoAnne. I'm parked up by the fire exit. Plenty of space if you want to
spread out." I'd follow and we might share little more than, "Gotta go.
See you," when the time came.

Or in Chemistry lecture. Arthur liked sitting up towards the left.
We'd even sit side-by-side so I could check his notes for the +'s and -'s
on the ions. I'd had lectures in that hall before, but sat wherever, not
by a partner.

Sometimes I'd get to Appleton a little too early and be on the steps.
"Hey, Arthur. Fire's that-a way!"

The thing about Wesleyan is that it can sort of work out to see somebody
a few times per week.

*****

It was heading into the corridor after lecture that Arthur noted the
looming midterm. We might want to drill each other on at least the
inevitable vocabulary.

I guess it was all the hype about "inclusiveness" that sparked my
suggestion that we study in the Women's Center. It's probably the most
comfortable lounge on campus. I'd go there a lot and almost decided one
time that maybe I could talk to someone about when I was twelve. But all
the posters were about more important issues.

Arthur balked, but I told him it was "Women's Center" in its name, but
it's about removing boundaries. None of the women in the inner sanctum had
nerve enough to expel us. Maybe they thought he was a journalism student.
Actually, I kind of liked knowing they were pissed off, that maybe we'd
interrupted a discussion of menopause, or whatever. I didn't tell Arthur,
though.

They invented this place to empower girls like me, so they love to say.
And here I am getting empowered by waltzing a guy right into their Goddess
study area! I hoped Arthur didn't mind pictures of women giving birth. He
says he's going to be a doctor.

We ran through the vocabulary until we knew the definitions cold. Me,
literally; Arthur, conceptually. Having assured one another that we were
first-class chemists by midterm criteria, at least, we pulled ourselves up
to go.

But Arthur wanted to add something. "I'm really glad we're Lab
partners, JoAnne. It's kinda fun sometimes, even." Did the Georgia O'Keefe
posters empower him too? I wouldn't think so.

Well, shoot, Arthur, I thought, it's kind of fun for me, too. But so
what? I countered. We're just Lab partners. It's good to know with whom
you'll be working, that he knows what the experiment's about and does his
share at cleanup. It just made good sense.

But my voice outpaced my analysis. "Arthur, that's so sweet!" Why did I
say that? Sure, he's a nice person, but why'd he be sweet? To me, anyway?

But, damn it! (And I never swear like that, but I know that's exactly
how it flashed through my brain.) It was sweet what he said and he is sweet
and it's OK to know it.

But where do you go after you admit to someone that he's sweet.

When he helped with my backpack, I know I protracted that extra instant
when his hand was between the strap and my shoulder. My space.

*****

I suppose most real dating starts out seeing enough of someone to decide
to make it more deliberate. In my case, though, Dating 101 (what we called
it in the dorm) was more of a theoretical issue. I hadn't done much
lab-work, so to speak, unless you count Methodist Youth Fellowship outings.
In high school, I'd always been super busy with things like Yearbook to
even notice that the Prom was coming.

At Wesleyan, there was always lots to do around the dorm on weekends.
Maybe some of us would go out to a movie. Maybe we'd order a pizza. Once
we even had a sleepover in the hallway, which makes no sense, which was why
it was so fun.

Besides, I was two years older than Arthur. Besides, I was really busy
with my reading lists. Besides, I probably knew so much about Barbara
Kingsolver that I'd bore him to death. Juniors don't date Freshmen.

So when Arthur asked me if I wanted to watch the women's volleyball
game, I said, "Yes" before he got to "game". I should have at least asked
whom we were playing, but I'd already accepted.

Maybe he'd figured I'd be busy or something, or at least have some
convoluted response, because the brevity of my acceptance left him with no
more follow-up than a sheepish grin.

Probably that's how I looked, too, except it probably wasn't sheepish.

Wesleyan's the "Battling Bishops". Tall girls diving for saves are
Bishops? It's possible one or two of them will become Bishops in the
United Methodist Church (almost obligatory, to make up for historical
imbalance, they argue), but basically it's a bad name.

We won, even!

And every girl on my floor knew that I got asked out and did things like
giving me high-fives in the hallway and nobody cared if he was a Freshman.

*****

The walk to the football stadium (Homecoming against league-leading
Wabash, pure animals) was how Wesleyan recruits. Fall skies, yellow and
orange and red foliage, fans toting picnic baskets, the marching band's
drums. Come be one of us at Wesleyan!

It was just two idle hands, Arthur's left and my right, that found each
other. Come be one of us at Wesleyan!

It was the long pass, half the length of the field, that got the
Battling Bishops on our feet. Thousands of eyes watched the ball loft into
the hands of the receiver already behind Wabash's defense.

I grabbed Arthur's arm in the frenzy of promised victory.

The band was blasting when I realized how tightly I was holding. Ten
times, no twenty, more than when we'd bumped doing the experiment. I guess
he knew. He didn't mind, anyway, still cheering about the Hail Mary. (You
can't say Methodists aren't ecumenical. We'll use whatever theology gets
us across the goal line.)

I stayed like that all the way through the extra point.

Wesleyan's about excellence in education, not necks bigger than hat
size. We scored decisively, just not as many times.

Walking back, we again held hands, but I didn't take his arm, not having
a touchdown for context. You can't just take the arm of a guy, though with
the briskness of autumn, maybe you could.

We promised to meet at the Library tomorrow, but not for Chemistry. We
agreed that we had that under control. It's easier to study if somebody
else is studying hard too. That's what I said, anyway, but wasn't sure
what I needed to study.

That night I put my arm against me the way Arthur's had been. I can't
really claim I fooled my body, that I didn't know it was my own arm against
the side of my breast, but something happened that wasn't only me.

The Women's Center bookshelf says that some victims have difficulty with
orgasm in their adulthood. Something got stolen. Me, though, I could
masturbate maybe even too easily. It hardly took more than just two
fingers. I suppose it wasn't too healthy, but I didn't really care. It
wasn't the penis that the man made me watch. What I envisioned making love
to me wasn't like his at all. His was forgotten for a few minutes.

Thinking about Arthur, his arm against my breast, was different yet.
Nobody was making me naked, making me watch. Arthur and I were jumping
together, cheering.

When I came, Arthur and I weren't even nude together. I was just
holding his arm while autumn leaves whirl-winded around us with every
convulsion.

*****

Every girl in Hayes was happy that I had a boyfriend. Maybe I said
earlier that sorority girls are sort of snots sometimes? Not all of them,
just some. Well, dorm girls are really nice! Arthur said that it was so
embarrassing how he'd be walking across campus and some girl he hardly
recognized would call out, "Hey, Arthur." But I knew he liked it.

I've no idea at all what the guys in Arthur's dorm thought, but I
suppose they figured that an older girl would probably really put out.
Guys think more that way.

But I didn't do anything I shouldn't. I let Arthur kiss me when he'd
drop me back at Hayes and I'd let him kiss me behind the Library. There
was a bench there and I could kiss him back better.

I didn't mind if we touched when we walked. You just take their arm.
Some girls say to go without your bra so he'll know you like it, but I
never did that. He knew anyway.

When we hugged, wherever he touched was fine. Even if I were sitting on
his lap in the dark and he'd have his arms around my chest, it was OK. We
were hugging.

But I just didn't want Arthur reaching for me. The man had reached and
I'd just stood there.

After a few deflections (which left me uncomfortable, too), Arthur
realized where my space started. He accepted it, but he wasn't dumb.
"Dumb" means "stupid", right? He wasn't stupid. But he also wasn't dumb
the way I was, where "dumb" means "silent". Partners sometimes just ask.

"You got hurt, right?" He didn't seem sure of how to ask, but at least
he tried.

"I guess." Sometimes a partner knows what's being queried.

"Well it doesn't change anything, but it makes me sad, too."

"Who says I'm sad? You don't even know." We were just Lab partners, I
made myself remember. And it wasn't like I went around looking glum all
the time.

"No, but I guess I care."

Nobody had ever really cared except for my folks and the policewoman.

"It was a long time ago, anyway," I concluded, looking for my pack.

But I started to cry. Right there in front of somebody.

It wasn't what the man had done that I most remembered, though
everything he'd done I could list. Those memories were film from the
eyeholes of an empty statue.

No, it was knowing I'd let the man make me touch him. That after I'd
done that, I'd just lain there, too scared to even say no. That I'd moved
the way he'd made me, knowing that I was going to die naked.

Mine weren't large, purging tears, but stingy ones congealing the
sadness.

"Jeeze, JoAnne. I didn't know. It's so sad."

I stared at my Lab partner, not remembering how my hand got to his.
What did he know about it? None of the facts. Not that I saw the man's
face every day, wherever I was. For guys, it's about ten minutes, not a
lifetime. Why would I ever share that with someone I measure pH with?
Someone maybe I'd made out with a little. But even that, anybody could
see, was just what a lonely Junior would do to the first boy that paid her
any attention.

But I didn't pull my hand away. Maybe he really was sad.

Maybe he cared. I put his hand on my breast, just the outside of my
blouse where he could feel my heart. He didn't do anything to make it
sexual, though of course it was. It couldn't have been more sexual.

Once a boy holds your breast, it's real. Most girls, though, get felt
up by lots of guys before they get there. I just happened to find one that
cared the first time.

*****

We'd just submitted our last experiment, electrochemistry, which
couldn't have been under-exceeded in terms of generating enthusiasm for
Chem 102. We'd wandered behind the Library, feeling good to have it behind
us.

"JoAnne?" Arthur had something to say, something that must have been
confused in his own mind. He started again. "JoAnne, you're as sexy as
hell. You really are!"

Sexy? Sure, he'd felt inside my bra by now, played with my nipples. It
was nice of him to not complain about the under-wire and all the hooks and
everything else about me that probably frustrated his intention. The guy
was a guy, after all.

Sexy? Not by my self-assessment.

But at least I felt a little bit sexy around him. The girls in the dorm
told me about loosening my hooks beforehand.

"Thanks, Arthur." The guy was so sweet; that much I knew. "As hell,"
was probably the top of his superlatives.

He paused another moment, then plunged ahead. "But maybe I'm not too
ready yet... I mean I'm not that experienced or anything. I don't want to
mess things up."

What's he trying to say? That he's a virgin? Like I thought he wasn't?

"I like us just the way we are," a truthful answer. "And what you do
makes me feel very sexy."

"I think about it, though," he pressed. "Us, I mean."

The irony didn't escape me, though I'd not have called it ironic. We're
talking about sexual intercourse, but don't have a word with which we're
comfortable. We're at the point in a relationship where it would commonly
begin. And he wants me to know he's not there yet. Like he's weird, or
something.

"Sure, me too," I admitted to help him out. "Just not specifically,
maybe," to dodge admitting too much.

I guess most girls just haul off and do it, but the more I listened in
the dorm, the more I realized that girls serious about themselves want to
talk first. That's not to say it doesn't just happen, but shouldn't that
be the exception? But wanting to talk isn't the same as able to talk.

Arthur maybe recognized my own reluctance. Making love isn't that easy
a subject. But clearly he wanted to bare his own persona, to make me see
his own imperfection. "I can't help it sometimes, I want to so bad."

"It's natural," trying to deflect his admission, too much like my own.

He looked at the floor. "Sometimes I come," just three words, not in
boast; but rather in confusion in something beyond his will.

He didn't expect me to understand, but of course I did. He had a space,
just like I had mine, but he didn't want to hide in it. But what was I
suppose to do with that information?

"I'm not very experienced," he repeated, as if in explanation.

Then I knew what I wanted to say. "Arthur... Nobody's ever said I was
sexy before. I've never had anybody come, I mean."

He looked back up. "Nobody's ever come before?" recognizing the virgin
in me, too.

We didn't need to talk. Maybe we didn't even know each other that well
in some ways. But we knew we were the same. Unsure. Our spaces almost
touching.

"Arthur, thanks." It sounds so pompous, written. But I meant it. Not
that he'd come; that was his business. That he'd tell me.

But me being the older, I knew. "Meet me in the Library at 8:30."

We didn't even bring books. We just went to our bench. I'd sat in his
lap enough times to wonder. I probably felt his erection, but it was
accidental.

A bench isn't that great a place to learn, but we managed to twist
ourselves to where our legs touched. It's not "probably" when he's around
your thigh. It was the first erection I'd ever felt. (It should be
obvious, having admitted my inexperience, but I want to write it on paper.
But no, of course, it wasn't the first. But that was so long ago. Not
like Arthur's.)

I was probably pushing more than rubbing, but maybe the anticipation was
all it took. I know he came because he held so still at the end, not like
some girls say the guy shoves you around.

I was so happy afterwards! I'd done something for Arthur, something
real against my leg. He'd let me. It wasn't his secret now; it was ours.

******

But I still had my secrets. The impossible one was about when I was
little. But maybe having that one, plus now knowing his, helped my other
secret to come out.

Arthur never made me rub against him, but I knew how much he liked it.
If nobody was wandering around our bench and it was a little bit dark, we'd
mesh ourselves together. I'd always be happy, learning to feel the start
of his shiver.

The women at the Woman's Center would have chided about symmetry,
though. Another male orgasm. I was winning too, in my view, but maybe not
the way they'd define. Of course I orgasmed, just not there. Mine was
later, the way I knew how.

The odd thing (to me anyway) was for being in the Woman's Center only
that one time, maybe Arthur wanted symmetry, too.

"JoAnne, it's not fair, I don't think, anyway." He didn't know what to
call it, but knew I knew. "I get to, you know, and you don't. I don't
have to. It doesn't matter," he offered.

"Criminy, Arthur!" (A high-order expletive for me) "I love it when you
do. It's for both of us."

I must not have sounded too convincing, to myself anyway, because I
surrendered one of my two secrets. "Besides, I have afterwards."

Did I mean to say that? Not consciously.

"Afterwards?"

Like guys don't? "By myself," for the closer leaves to hear. Why
pretend?

"You masturbate?" with such lack of guile that I knew it had never
entered his mind. He wouldn't have said "masturbate" if he thought one
word ahead. Maybe he didn't know that we can?

There's even an instruction book at the Women's Center with all the
pages dog-eared. And I don't mean, "Our Bodies, Our Selves". I mean a
photographic how-to. Two hands with different nail polish so we know it's
another woman helping. But Arthur wouldn't know.

"I guess," I admitted which gave me the extra power to be bold, "Yes."

"By yourself?"

Maybe they have that book in his dorm or something?

"Oh Arthur, of course, by myself." I should have been appalled, but even
at the time thought it almost funny.

"OK." I'd not have told him more anyway.

That night it even seemed funnier, so funny that I even told my
floor-mates. Nobody was laughing at poor Arthur. We were just laughing at
the idea of a boy realizing that we at least can.

The next time Arthur and I got together, he held back. "JoAnne. If we
sit different, I don't mean really different, just a little bit, maybe?"

The fullness of the somewhat said! "Sit." Interlock and rub, I
translated. "I don't mean really different." Still dressed, nothing
direct. "Maybe?" Me climax.

"Maybe." I wanted him to feel me come. I wanted him in my space.

From what other girls said, you might want to just be in your panties
and he'd have to be aimed just right and not come first. Usually it
doesn't even work. And then, pretty much they all agreed, even if you
promise each other you won't, your panties get out of the way and you do it
for real.

"It's better for me, just my by myself," I lied.

"I can be with you." The "with you" made it so different.

Our spaces, Arthur's and mine, were as close as they'd ever been.

He immediately sought retreat, sensing rejection. "I mean, not for
real... Not 'with you' like..."

But I wanted to. I didn't even know it, but I wanted him next to me,
feeling it grow, crest, diminish. I wanted Arthur to know me.

"Feel my heart," pulling his far hand into my sweater. I let the beats
draw him like the band's drums beckoned us to that game where we made the
long pass and touched.

Had he wanted me to strip, I would have, right there on the bench. But
had he wanted that, it would have been about just the physical.

My jeans were loose enough to slip my hand into. He watched my knuckles
play against the denim. He'd know I was already wet. They say that boys
get wet too.

He felt my heartbeat as I brought myself through my preparatory motions:
parting the fold, unhooding my erection, provoking, pressing, needing,
reaching, the tingling upward from the feet, the totality, the
rediscovering. The superficial would have been apparent. Certainly the
movement. Certainly the wetness, though not by touch. The thrashing.

But he couldn't have known that even with my eyes closed, I still saw
him. Under my sweater, I felt his warmth, warmth that flowed.

He kissed me when I'd returned, his hand still on me; mine, still
between my legs.

"It's good, right?"

"With you," I agreed, holding my other breast to feel my nipple.

*****

It was inevitable that I'd want him to touch me. Our bench would have
worked, but a campus has so many places for lovemaking.

At first he only put his hand on my pants to sense my manipulations. If
I were in a skirt, I'd pull it up so there would be just panties between
our fingers.

I knew he was ready when he didn't let go of my hand, but rather rode on
its back when I reached down. His fingertips on one side and his thumb on
the other brushed my pubic hair.

When he interlocked his fingers between my knuckles, he touched first my
labia and then my clitoris. From watching, he knew the center of my
excitement. The extrication of my own hand left him in command.

He kissed me all the while.

Later, I faced away, letting him reach around, his free arm stilling me,
his other hand stroking while I struggled to hold still. Sometimes his
finger would enter my vagina, my orgasm more visceral.

It was no mystery why Arthur himself climaxed. I could feel his
hardness against my hip, driving ever so slowly at first, then firmer and
faster. I could hear his breathing. I could feel his wetness, though it
must have been my projection.

*****

When I first helped him with my hand, I'd never held an erection before.
(What I'd held when I was twelve, I didn't feel.) Probably my inexpertise
confused his libido, but he drew in his stomach to make way for my wrist.
As soon as I freed him, he ejaculated gobs onto my abdomen, sticky rivulets
trailing some to the left, some to the right, and some between my legs.

I'd not yet even touched his testicles.

Was it lovemaking? It's not a stupid question. Arthur and I made
ourselves complete, not just by friction, but by knowing each other.

Everybody says that having intercourse is what it's all about. Wrong.

Being partners is what it's all about. Not everything is paced by
semesters. We could have had wonderful intercourse right away, I'm sure.
But maybe it's better to know the other's body, really being naked, by
being more deliberate.

Why rush to where contraception's an issue? Where (not with us, but too
often), someone's exposed to other consequences?

If you're interested in liberal education, at Wesleyan we have Chapel.
It is one of our places. (For a few others from Hayes, too, since we're
pretty close, but Arthur and I have never slipped in when it was occupied.)
They leave the building unlocked, since we're really well behaved at
Wesleyan.

PROLOGUE

When I was twelve, a man did a very bad thing to me. He raped me.

Now I'm 20, almost 21. I'm a second-semester Junior at Wesleyan, a top
ranked university. I have a double major.

I'm taking Chem 102. It's good to take a whole year of a subject that
complex. 102's Lab syllabus lists "An Enzyme from Pineapple".
Hardly-measurable chemicals help big reactions occur.

I have a Lab partner whom I doubt will become a physician. He's going
to take Creative Writing next year from Gillespie.

I have a pen he gave me that is very good for learning to write stories.

Here's a song -- "Turn, Turn, Turn" by Pete Seeger, recorded by the
Byrds. The words are adapted from the Book of Ecclesiastes.

"To everything (Turn, Turn, Turn),

"There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn),

"And a time for every purpose, under Heaven.



"A time to be born, a time to die,



"A time to plant, a time to reap.



"A time to kill, a time to heal,



"A time to laugh, a time to weep."

We've sung it in Chapel.


Holly
3 comments

READERReport

2005-09-28 19:48:41
go to it wordsmith. you are good . I am just sad that I have read all you have posted here. I liked them all. keep upthe good work. I will check for more as time goes by. Jack c.

READERReport

2005-09-20 21:14:54
It isn't often that a story on these pages moves me to tears of gratitude. Wonderful writing skill, Holly. Thankyou

READERReport

2004-07-15 00:50:12
Very well developed, I liked the gradual and realistic bonding. I agree that people learn more about each other sexually through careful experimentation and talking, before jumping into bed and disappointing each other. Very Nicely Done.

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