A young woman no longer wants her virginity to be a prize to be won
"Can we talk?"
I read his text and sighed. They were just three little words, but I knew that there was more meaning behind them than what I read on the surface. Derrick didn't want to just talk. He wanted me back, and that would mean accepting him and every girl that he would continue to deal with.
Derrick and I had been sweethearts since high school. We didn't attend the same high school, but we both went to the same church where we had met. Both of us had very strict parents; mine were especially over-bearing because I'm a girl, which means my virginity had to be protected at all costs.
Although most churches preach that abstinence is key for both sexes until marriage, there was an unbalanced amount of pressure placed on girls at our church to succeed at this. Girls have to offer their virginity as a prize to their future husbands, and somehow a girl who wasn't a virgin on her wedding night seemed to have less value. As a young virgin, one of my greatest goals was to wear a white wedding gown and tell my husband that I had remained pure for him.
I thought very little about my future husband's purity. It wasn't something that I had been taught or pressured to think about. Ideally, we would both be lacking in experience and learn how to make love together, but considering that "boys are like light switches", according to our youth pastor, and easily aroused, it was likely that a girl with less virtue would have lured my future husband into temptation before he would be led to marry me.
I had made it through high school as a virgin. I feared my mother's wrath too much to have sex as a teenager. I was also too sheltered to have very much opportunity to have sex. My parents didn't allow me to date, and I really wasn't allowed to go anywhere unchaperoned. That's how my relationship with Derrick started. He was the only guy willing to deal with a girl that he couldn't have sex with or even take on a date. I actually saw his interest in me as a virtue, seeing that he had very little to gain by being with me.
When I graduated high school, things changed. Although I still lived at home, my parents gave me some space to grow into my newfound adulthood. Besides, I was taking college courses at the local community college and was no longer at my small private school. My parents were slowly losing their protective grip.
With my new independence, I had the freedom to be around Derrick more, and in doing so, I learned more about him and the people who he spent time with... including girls. It didn't take long before our developing romance was going up in flames. Derrick and I were currently on a break because I was smothering him; by smothering him, I mean that I was on his case about the girls he was cheating on me with.
So now here I was, staring at my phone, wondering what I should do. I couldn't deny that I still wanted him. He has no idea that I'm madly in love with him and sick of him all at the same time. I love the thought of him. I love who he was and who he has been to me. But how long will the memory of him be enough to keep me here when he no longer resembles the boy that I fell for?
Just as I was about to respond out of desperation, "Ebony and Ivory" began to play on my phone. I giggled to myself. Mark was calling me. Mark is a guy I met at work. He was still fairly new at the job, and I took it upon myself to help him out. Mark was a waiter and I was a hostess, and from time to time I would help him bus his tables when he was falling behind. Before long we had formed an unlikely friendship: he was a goofy white boy who didn't take anything seriously and I was a sassy black girl who didn't have time for all his jokes.
Mark had never called before. We typically just texted each other funny one-liners or complained about our boss being a jerk. Even though I had assigned him a ringtone, I was surprised to hear it. My initial excitement fled when the thought of Derrick came back to my head. Derrick obviously wanted me back. He always starts his plea with "Can we talk". I couldn't get myself all flustered about Mark when I was on my way back into a relationship.
As my mind wandered and tried to justify answering the phone, it stopped ringing. I had missed his call. I had missed my opportunity. That would have been awkward anyway, I thought to myself. Then I proceeded to text him back something cliche like "My bad. What's up?" Mark quickly texted me back and asked if I had ever been in a corn maze. From there, Mark told me that his family used to have a farm but later just used the land to host fall festivals. Then he asked me if I would like to go with him to see it. "What? Like a date?" I asked nervously, still feeling like I was cheating on my ex. "I mean, we can go as friends or whatever you want. I just want you with me."
I could feel my body growing warm. It was the same warmth I felt on slow days at work when Mark would loiter at my post, standing behind me with his breath gently blowing on my neck. It was the same warmth that I felt on busy, crowded days at work when he placed his hand on the small of my back to get past me. And it was the same warmth I felt when we walked through the doorway of the kitchen at the same time, our bodies brushing against each other and Mark staring into my eyes.
There was a long, awkward silence before Mark said "Pretty please. See, now you've got me begging." I smiled. I didn't know where this would lead, but I agreed to go. Besides, Mark was my friend at work. Who says I can't go to a little fall festival with him? I needed some fun to clear my head about Derrick, and since we weren't actually together anymore, going out with a guy wasn't even wrong.
Mark and I met at the fall festival. It was our first time seeing each other outside of our work uniform. He stood there in a faded T-shirt, tattered jeans, and cowboy boots, and there I was in a mustard yellow dress and wedge heels. "Daaaaaang, girl!" He shouted and pulled me into a tight embrace. He was obviously impressed with my off-work look. "What have I told you about trying to talk black?" I asked playfully. "To not to" he replied in a deep country accent, imitating Mater from Disney's Cars. We both laughed and headed into the festival.
We had a nice enough time, but I wasn't focused on the games, the hayride, or the corn maze. My mind was on Derrick and what I was going to do about him. Mark noticed that I was distracted and asked if I was okay. "I'm fine," I replied "I mean, I am the only black person here, but I haven't seen any torches and pitchforks yet so I think I'm okay." We both laughed and Mark assured me that there wouldn't be any of that.
As the night progressed, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped. My hands were freezing, and although Mark volunteered to hold them, that did nothing for my cold, bare legs. Mark could tell that I was contemplating leaving soon, so he pointed across the way to an old, abandoned barn on the property. He suggested that we go there to warm up. I knew that the barn would do little to warm us besides shielding us from the wind, but as we looked into each other's eyes, we were silently agreeing that we had another plan in mind to keep each other warm.
The inside of this barn was sketchy to say the least. It showed signs of wear and neglect since it hadn't been used for years. Mark lit a lantern to reveal that despite the barn's appearance, he had prepped it for my arrival. The barn floor had been moderately swept, leaving just a bit of scattered straw. Most of all, there was a checkered blanket waiting for me.
We both sat on the blanket nervously without saying a word. We both knew what we came here to do, but we were afraid to say it out loud. We smiled at each other and looked away a few times, racking our brains for something to say. Just as I was beginning to speak, Mark threw caution to the wind and kissed me, with his right hand sliding up my thigh. I pulled away and shouted "I'm a virgin!" Then I waited. Mark looked surprised and then started chuckling. He must have sensed my embarrassment because he immediately worked to compose himself. "Okay, okay, cool. That's cool. So do you wanna...or you don't wanna?"
I sat there and thought. I thought about my upbringing and what this would mean. I would no longer be a virgin for my future husband. I wouldn't have this prize to offer on my wedding night. I thought about Derrick. What if we got back together after all, and I wouldn't be a virgin anymore? I thought about it all, and it just didn't make any sense anymore. Derrick didn't deserve a chaste, pure version of me, and if I married someone else one day, would he be a virgin? Or would I be offering my virginity to a man who would only be teaching me to do everything that every girl before me had done to him. I looked up into Mark's icy blue eyes. "I wanna."
As I lay on my back I looked up at the stars through the tattered roof of the old barn. They were a pleasant distration from what was happening. Mark was on top of me grunting while I occasionally flinched and grimaced. This wasn't how I thought it would be. All of this was beneath me. Having sex in an old, dirty barn was beneath me, and although Mark was on top of me, I started to feel like he was beneath me too.
When he finally collapsed beside me, panting and trying to catch his breath, he asked if I was okay yet again. "Yeah, I'm fine. It's just different for girls the first time, I guess." Mark got up to dress himself as I tried to clean myself up with a corner of the blanket. "I've never slept with a virgin before. That's the best I've ever had!" Mark was pleased, but I was simply altered. I had done it. I was no longer a virgin, but I didn't feel any different. I was the same girl. All I felt was embarrased and disappointed. This wasn't the stuff that R&B songs were written about.
When I got home, I looked in the mirror. I wasn't quite sure what to think of myself yet. I wasn't sure about anything anymore. All of this was very confusing and happened so quickly, but it was done now. I picked up my phone and deleted Mark's number. Little did I know that I wouldn't be receiving another call from him anyway. We nervously smiled at each other at work, but we barely spoke anymore. After a couple of days of avoiding Mark at work I eventually opened Derrick's message. I stared at those three words intently, released a deep sigh, and I typed "Sure."
About the author
I'm a Christian wife and mother of three who homeschools. Although I often seem very cookie cutter and traditional in many ways, my creativity allows me to express a side of me that doesn't have to be bothered with perfection and judgment.