The barn door creaked open, and I faced it like a scared rabbit, my breath panting, short and rapidly.
The silhouette figure of Jim stood there, his strong, distinctive voice calling out, "Mary?"
I couldn't respond like I wanted to. Maybe I should of just stood there and hid in the darkness and he would leave. I felt so cowardly and so ashamed of myself.
"Mary! Are you in in here?"
"Yes, I'm here", I replied nervously, my voice shaky. I couldn't stop my lip from quivering, even though the darkness of the night hid it from full view. Trying to look brave, I quickly asked Jim, "You got a smoke?"
Where did that come from? I never smoked before, even when Sue and all her friends did it. How they used to make fun of me for refusing a cigarette! Now here I was blutting out things that never would have come out of my mouth before.
Firm and steady, Jim held the match to my cigarette, but my hand shook so badly that he looked at me intensely. Soon, I feared that I would faint if he did not look away. In the warmth of the flame, he eyes flickered, and I felt goose bumps rise upon my skin.
He steadied my hand for me, and I took a weak puff upon my Lucky Strike. "What's the matter?", he asked "You look like you saw a ghost. You're shaking from head to toe!"
"I'm just cold", I lied.
In a flash, Jim wrapped his jacket around me, and in another flash, his reassuring arms were folded around my waist as he pulled me close to himself.
Now my knees were really ready to give way. Thank God that he had me in his grip, for I would have fallen for sure. I looked out into the darkness, it nearly pitch black if not for the tip of my burning cigarette.
Sue stood there, hands on her hips in her cocky way. "Don't be such a baby!", she warned. "Relax, or it'gs going to hurt a lot worse!"
I shuddered. Why did I have to think of her! My sister!
Reluctantly, I asked her for advice this morning. She was the only one who knew where I really was tonight. Oddly enough, she was the only one I could trust to keep her mouth shut. To Sue, snitching was something only weaklings and losers did, and she was neither. We were not close sisters, but I realized if anybody knew anything about anything, it was Sue.
So maybe I was a baby, just a step away from dolls as far as my sister was concerned. Yet here I was, on the edge of a fate that was supposed to make me a woman, that made me desirable to a full-grown man. Who cared about Sue now anyway? I imagined her just slipping away, becoming smaller and smaller.
Jim's comforting arms, his wondrous touch--I felt his warm breath against my cheek, his fingers work magic upon my back.
But someting was terribly wrong.
I was pulled into it too fast. It was not me standing there as his deep kisses engulfed me into my make-believe fantasy. As Jim overpowered me, I should have been on the top of the world. I should have felt beautiful, felt like I meant something.
I tried to stop, to pull away, to refuse to go any further. All along I thought of what I should tell him. I don't want to do this! Stop! I can't stay here with you. I really like you, but I can't! Will you let me just go back home, please?"
Instead, I could not find my voice, or my footing. He was going too far. It was all going too fast, on a runaway freight train which I had no way to jump off from . I felt too weak, too overwhelmed, embarassed just to push him away. Blood rushing into my temples, I felt myself spinning as the room was spinning, spinning out of control like that crazy, old iron rooster skating about in the wind on top of the barn.
Jim lay me down so easily as he placed himself on top of me. For that awkward moment, I did not want to be there, so I removed myself from the situation the best that I could. In the remaining time we were together, fear ruled as I shut my eyes and expected the worst.
Finally, I did find my voice. My scream was so piercing, lough enough to knock that rooster off its bearings from up above. It was as if my soul had been pierced too, torn right down past the flesh and through a writhing pain of guilt and sorrow.
Like a woman in heavy labor, at last I knew what my sister was talking about. The rip and tear of my innocence seemed so gone away from me. Just like that.
All I could do was wimper like a puppy, the illusion of what love was shattered before my eyes. Pulling away from me, I swore that Jim gave me a look of suspicion and anger, one that I would never forget.
From the gaps in the roof came enough exposure to shed a few rays of moonlight. I lay there as Jim harshly grabbed me by the shoulders.
"How old are you!?, he demanded
"Fifteen", I admitted, meekly.
For a moment, he just sat there, stunned. The moment felt like a lifetime to me. What was he going to do? Slowly, he bagan to shake his head in disbelief.
Then abruptly he rose up. "You're bad news!", he concluded. He grabbed his jacket, took off, and left me with words that would hurt and sting far more than our encounter together.
What occurred after that seemed like slow motion. The night seemed to last and last, in punitive judgment, as it took me a while to leave that spot, my knees curled up to my chest in a fetal position.
Eventually, I did rise up, fix myself up and headed for home--only because my stomach was growling.
But I did not feel hungry.
I tried to imagine what Sue would say after she pulled the truth out of me. You know you are still a ****** if you couldn't go through with it! She'd have that superior, smug look on her face. And ****** if I was going to feel small in her presence!
I went through the kitchen door of my house. The dawn barely breaking after the dark hours, so punishing and so long.
To my surprise, there was my father's voice from behind his favorite armchair. "You came home from Janey's house sooner than you said", he commented, startling me back to reality. "Much earlier than I expected", he added, almost as if to say, "It's nice one of you girls listens to your dear, old dad".
That was enough to bring about a true confession, a flood of repentant tears. But turning around, as I made my way upstairs, I forced a weak smile.
Yet, what I really wanted to do was turn around and run right into his lap and pour out my heart. That would be the fantasy of a child, and I fought off the urge .
I did not know what I was anymore. Still a girl? A sucker? At that moment, I felt like I did not even exist, numb and shocked to the core.
Sue met me in the hallway and started to ask me in eager whipsers, "Ok, did you do it? How was he?"
I shoved her down on the floor so quickly that she couldn't believe it. "I couldn't get enough!" , I sneered at her, my fist curled up, ready for another comment from her. Our eyes met, and mine were so steely that her reaction shocked me.
Sue never saw me this way, and lay there before me, speechless.
I got away and made it to my seclusion. Before the bathroom mirror, at last I was safe. The tears fianlly came as I studied myself closely. There was no sound, only silent, long, wet tears.
Who now stood before me was different than who she was before, and I mourned the loss of my innoence.
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