I tried to scrape together what shreds of virginity I had left, but it wasn’t enough to make anything out of, so I just threw them out in a fit of Spring Cleaning. All I possessed was my state of non-virginity. I was a girl who’d had sex. I was a girl who has sex. I could have sex. I was a sexual girl. I was a girl with whom sex is had. I had to have sex.
This is not longing, this is the fulfillment of a role.
My parents decided we would all go somewhere warm that spring; it had been a hard winter for them, too. We were all tired of watching me.
The music at the disco was loud and dirty. We jumped up and down, squealing with pleasure. If some of us were on academic probation, not speaking to our parents, trying to understand a divorce, a death—here we were a unit: we asked no questions, accepted all answers, all evasions, respected each other and the wounds we could smell, listened fiercely to revelations in changing rooms and on beach towels.
For a week we were all happy and we held on to each other, our hands slipping slightly on sweaty skin, and jumped, up and down, up and down, in time to the thumping pulse of the music, but really we were children on a great bed, happy and laughing, feeling free and joyous, going up and down, up and down.
I stepped off the dance floor, laughing and breathless, to get my drink and there he was, sitting, watching me. I sat down next to him and busied myself with my straw. And there you have me, age sixteen, bold enough to sit next to him, too shy to speak.
Meet me at my room.
I’m sorry, what?
I can’t be seen leaving with you. I’m in the blue building behind the pool. Room eleven on the ground floor. Wait fifteen minutes and then follow me.
Those two syllables have created nearly my entire sexual history and are the brief overture to every sexual razor blade I have ever walked.
Rarely “fuck me.” Always, “Okay.” The acquiescence, the lead followed. I wanted to be shown. I wanted a lover to take me in hand, take away my responsibility, take me to the pleasure dome, take, take, take. And take they did. They rummaged through me like panic-stricken thieves, taking everything that wasn’t nailed down. I have crawled over to mirrors at eleven a.m. like a newly initiated vampire, to see if there would be anything left of me to see. There is power in “fuck me,” but it must be judiciously used. There is even power in “yes,” it is strident and firm; yes is sure of itself. But I am beginning to think “Okay” is the most dangerous word in the world; it is the embodiment of an adolescent girl, it waits to be asked, it goes hesitantly and if you can look it in the eye you will see it is full of fear.
I waited through one song, then the next. I didn’t tell anyone what had just happened or where I was going; with a confidence I now marvel at I didn’t go to the bathroom to check my hair and face…I just finished my drink slowly and wended my way through the cluster of velvet ottomans and out into the warm night air. I had stepped sideways; time was no longer a wind tunnel, flowing over me, but a warm bath, the currents moving back and forth, through and around me. I stumbled across the wet grass towards his room, towards the fulfillment of a role.
I found him standing in his room, hanging up his blazer. He invited me in and we sat on the bed talking of nothing. I was making it up as I went along, it was all new, each moment was a revelation and I was Anastasia, trying to pretend to a knowledge and a history I had no right to. I hoped he wouldn’t call my bluff, send me home.
Finally he stopped speaking in a manner that conveyed that was enough of that and reached over and took a hold of the bottom of my shirt. I lifted my arms over my head compliantly and sat still as he unhooked my bra and threw it on the floor on top of the shirt. He had not kissed me.
He told me to lie on the bed on my stomach. Okay. I felt his fingertips on my back and tensed for a moment. But my mind was moving slowly through tequila - I didn’t even have time to imagine what I could be afraid of.
Then his hands began sliding over my back - I realized he was rubbing me with baby oil. He proceeded to slowly and methodically massage my entire body while I closed my eyes. I was validated; it was as I had foretold. When I was a child I made love like a child, but now I am a woman I put away childish things.
When my first boy had repeatedly tried to enter me I was in such excruciating agony that even after the initial rites of ripping and shredding were past I still never felt any pleasure. I was unspeakably grateful just to be numb. The relief of dullness and deadness, the freedom to watch the ceiling unclenched, the pain gone. I floated out over our bodies, I thought about my homework, what I was going to wear the next day…I let him sweat and work, impassively disinterested. I hated him a little bit, but mostly I just went away.
After him I cultivated a whore’s calluses. Like an alcoholic I loved to be numb. It suited me. A professional cannot be distracted by her own pleasure. When I rolled over on that bed and began to kiss him I was determined I was going to be a consummate professional, confident, inhibitionless. Like a glorious sexual robot I brought him to orgasm.
It was the most power I had known with men. I didn’t wonder that I had not felt a thing, couldn’t even locate him on my body with my eyes closed. I just knew he had no power over me. No one ever again would watch me convulse like an epileptic and feel like God.
This is an excerpt from Giving and Taking, Nicola Kraus's first play, which is being produced this spring at Theater 78. Her first novel, The Nanny Diaries, will be published this summer by St. Martin's Press.