the taking of his virginity was an awkward task, and she recalled it with a certain unease. it all seemed so impossibly forced, so lacking in the tenderness that she, that they both, had intended. it was with great difficulty that she could allow herself to be approached as a chore, a vehicle, a mission, more with determination than with passion. and then too, was made all the rougher by his clumsy movements in an uncomfortable bed. he, knowing that she was not enjoying the encounter, was discouraged; she trying to encourage just to have the thing done with. it was not as it should have been.
remembering this, she wondered how she could have made it easier on them both, regretting that she had been unable. for all of her love, there were situations still in which the old demons would come up, crippling, choking, defeating any urge she had had to take control of the situation, climb on top, guide him. in this, of course, how could she not think of her own loss so many years before? that, too, had been a debacle, but more for the pain than anything. the pain, which wasn't understood, which wasn't taken seriously. these thoughts crept up on her, piling one atop another, forcing her to circle downward.
and as always, when her mind traveled this road, she wondered if she should have stopped it that night, waited longer; if that wouldn't have alleviated the problems that would come later, the problems that would ultimately lead to the dissolution. and then the old debate: was it cause or effect? the root of the problem, or merely indicative of something much larger, a shadow that had loomed over them from the start?
she shook her head, as though to loosen and cast off the web that had caught her. it mattered little, after all. they had ended, and then he was gone. and she would be blamed regardless, as no one was going to find fault in a dead boy. perhaps a pleasant memory of the occasion would only have made it harder. she began to wish, then, that she had less time to muse on such things. and then that poison voice: if only she'd been successful, moved more quickly, timed it better... these ideas she did her best to shun, but they came. of course, they came.
her thoughts were interrupted then as the doctor had come in, the flood from open door replacing the glow of little lights on beeping machinery with a white fluorescence from the pastel hallway. no, the i.v. wasn't irritating her arm so much any more. the bandages were fine; yes, they'd been changed this morning. the dreams? yes, they were stil- the pain? it was more of an itching now interspersed with pain, when she forgot herself and moved a hand just so, or forgot in half-sleep and shoved a hand under her pillow as was her habit. fine, fine, he said, he always said. and perhaps next week, if her strength continued to return, she would be moved to the other ward and start with the groups, he said.
he left her alone again with the soft hum of instrumentation, and she began to long for sleep.