If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you. (Psalm 139:11-12 ESV)
It was a dark and rough night, and all she could remember was the taste of cigarettes in her mouth. She always thought her first kiss would taste like spearmint gum, but these kisses left a bitter aftertaste. She knew she would kiss him that night, she had wanted to for weeks, but she didn’t know how to start.
He seemed so much more experienced. She had spied him necking with the girl next door, who was three years older than her. Even though he was three years older than her, too, he would still chase her around the yard and play tag. They grew up together climbing trees, building forts in the back woods and playing any kind of ball game. She especially liked it when he tackled her during football.
One night he asked her to play flashlight tag. And one thing led to another and he chased her into the woods. She could run or walk to the fort in her sleep, so she headed there without a thought. She ducked in and hid in the far corner behind a discarded bench seat from her parents’ old station wagon.
The beam of the flashlight penetrated the darkness. She stifled a giggle. Before she knew what was happening, he had grabbed her arm. She shrieked out of surprise. He put his hand over her mouth, and pulled her to the bench seat where they collapsed together. She liked being handled by him.
She impetuously kissed him on the cheek. He brushed it off, but then grabbed her face and the smoky, bitter kisses came faster than she could handle.
The next morning at the bus stop, she stood alone. Her first love had disappeared, and she never saw him again after that night. Oh, she thought she glimpsed him leaning against the back of the tavern smoking a cigarette, one time when her mother drove her to town. But it wasn’t him, his hair was darker. Weeks went by and no one ever mentioned the neighbor’s son.
Weeks went by and she felt her first ever wave of nausea. She thought it was something she ate, or maybe the stomach flu. But the nausea came religiously every morning for weeks. She secretly ate saltines in the bathroom before school. She noticed that her period had disappeared, too. She knew something was happening to her body, it felt like she had butterflies in her belly.