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This is a true story. It's a story, and it's true, and it's about fucking.

I'm in college. You're a grad student. You're beautiful. You have curly hair and blue eyes and a solid, muscular body, all of which I like in a boy, and we are fucking, and it's terrible. We can't hit a rhythm. No position feels right. The lights are on and we don't have any lube but we need it and the only condom we have is getting really dry, and at some point, I should probably mention that this is not your room. It's not mine either. I'm not sure whose room it is, but it's not yours and it's not mine, which is why we have only one condom and no lube. At some point I should probably mention that we are at a party, and neither of us lives here, but we are fucking in an upstairs bedroom with all the lights on anyway, and it's terrible.

This is a true story: at the time, I've never had bad sex before. I've had mediocre sex, and I've had emotionally or socially uncomfortable sex, but this is the first time I've had sex that was bad: here, on someone else's bed, with you, with all the lights on. The closest I've ever gotten before to having bad sex was my freshman year of college when I almost had a threesome with a boy who was there and a redheaded girl with a lot of piercings. The girl put her hand under my chin and held me there and kissed me until I couldn't breathe and her mouth was soft, soft, soft and I was shaking all over and I felt this hot-wet knot of desire in my cunt and my tits and her mouth was so, so soft as she held me there and kissed me even though I was awkward and boyish and I didn't know how to blow-dry my hair and I had never in my life successfully put on eye makeup. We were in the boy's apartment. I was gasping. I still had all my clothes on, which were jeans that didn't fit right around my hips and an oversized t-shirt, which is not what she wore. I wanted to lick her leather jacket. I wanted to put my mouth over every piece of metal through her skin, I wanted to squeeze her thigh between my thighs and squirm and squirm until I'd come shaking in her arms with my hands in her beautiful red hair. I was completely sober, which at the time was something of an event. I was painfully turned on. And I was humiliated, too, because all the while while she held my chin and kissed me I wanted to say, I've never done this—I haven't, ever—I don't know what I'm doing, because I've never done anything with a girl. I couldn't say that to her: she had beautiful red hair and a lot of piercings, and somewhere behind her back watching was the boy, who was just there, who was still in the room; but I'd never done that before. Not with a girl.

In retrospect, at thirty-three, I think she probably could tell.

So I'm in college. You're a grad student. And we're having terrible sex in an upstairs bedroom in a house we don't live in. In fact, I don't think any of us live here: as in, I don't think anyone at this party, which is continuing downstairs while we fuck with all the lights on, actually lives here. It's possible someone's parents live here. But you and I certainly don't live here, which is why we have only one condom and no lube, which is why you have taken off my unflattering oversized t-shirt and my mom jeans and I have unbuttoned your cargo shorts and we are trying to find a sexual position that feels right in this room with all the lights on. We aren't at home, which is why we are having terrible sex with nothing but the condom that lives in my wallet and spit and ingenuity.

I've always been the kind of girl who has a condom in her wallet. Just like I've always been the kind of girl who wears unflattering oversized t-shirts and mom jeans.

I'm thirty-three and I'm telling this story, which is about sex. It's a filthy story, actually; because I'm the kind of girl who always has a condom in her wallet. That part's still true. Also true: I haven't worn jeans in over a year, and I wear eye makeup every day, and somewhere around twenty-seven or twenty-eight I realized I'd started to feel good in my body, in my body which I keep in tailored dresses and pin-up curls and kitten heels, where everyone can see me. Where everyone can see me exactly as I want them to, I mean. That's what I should have said: where everyone can't see me. I mostly don't have sex with anyone these days, but that isn't related. I like sex. I like sex in this body, which is the same body I've always had; I just like it better now. I mostly don't have sex with anyone these days because sex is complicated and I'm busy. The last person I made out with was HBBO and I was almost, but not quite, too drunk to remember it the next day—I'm not sure if I've apologized to her for that, but she's going to read this, so she'll know. (Sorry, lady.) That was about a year ago; I don't get out much these days. The last person I had sex with was about a year before that, a guy, but I'm not going to talk about him. I really don't get out much, these days.

So. Here's a thing I remember: I'm in college, and you're in grad school, and we're having sex in an upstairs bedroom at a party.

I tried to tell HBBO this story, earlier in the week. I didn't know where to start. I never told it to her very effectively. If this were a movie, it would feel good, probably. If this were a movie probably I would wear sexy jeans and t-shirts that fit and we would have a hot reckless fuck with the lights out while everyone else is downstairs, and probably we would come at the same time, because people don't make movies about this. It's nothing like a movie. It's awful. It hurts; I tell you; we adjust; it's boring. You can't come. I can't come. We're filthy-sweaty and worn out and the lights are glaringly, painfully bright, shining in your eyes or my eyes or shadowing my head onto someone else's bedspread as bass (only) throbs up from downstairs while you do me from behind. (This is a pretty fucking filthy story.) Have I mentioned: it's terrible. The sex, I mean; the music's fine. This is, officially, the worst sex I have ever had. Later—much later—years later, you will agree that it was terrible. You won't definitively say that it's the worst you've ever had, but you might just be being polite.

When I was telling HBBO this story, this is not the story I was telling her. I was telling her a different story. I was telling her the one about about the terrible sex you and I had at this one party when I was in college, and you were in grad school.

At a certain point, I should probably mention that you and I, we've had sex before. We've had great sex before. The two of us don't get together and have sex with each other very often, but when we do it's usually excellent. The last time you and I had sex you held me down with your solid, muscular, masculine body, which I'm not, generally speaking, super into. Mostly I fuck long-haired boys who are sensitive and play the guitar and who make me feel awkward, fleshy and ungainly; who look appealingly waifish when they pull on my oversized t-shirts. I don't look appealingly waifish in my oversized t-shirts. This is because I have big tits. I probably ought to be a fan of my big tits. Loads of people are fans of my big tits. But I'm not. I'm a fan of waifish long-haired guitar players so—no. I'm not into big, masculine dudes. I'm not into being held down.

But that time.

The last time we had sex, you pinned me down with all your weight and fucked me into my dorm room mattress and moaned into my long hair and it was a m a z i n g. In point of fact, you and I, we're pretty good at having sex. Usually, I mean. Not tonight. Not this one night, at this party. Tonight, we are having terrible sex with all the lights on in an upstairs room at a party, and eventually you say fuck, fuck, fuck, and pull out. My hands are clenching tight on your shoulders over and over until you let me pull you down, and then. Then, we kiss. We kiss a lot.

At a certain point I should mention that I'm not nuts about having sex with you.

At a certain point I should mention that I'm not really nuts about having sex with a lot of boys.

At a certain point I should probably mention that over the past few months in the muddle of my head and my heart and my cunt, which got sopping wet kissing a redhead at some point substantially over a year ago, I've been starting to wonder if I'm a lesbian, like my sister. I've always liked kissing boys, so I never thought I might be a lesbian. Bi, maybe, but not like—not into girls for real. But word on the street is, that shit runs in families. But word on the street is, I might like kissing boys, but I liked kissing her more.

So. Maybe to tell this story correctly I have to back up, and start with you, instead. No—I mean. You.

I'm a college freshman. You're a junior. You're a redhead, and you have a lot of piercings, and you're painfully beautiful. With your legs in jeans sliding alongside my legs in jeans on a sofa that isn't ours, you're fucking incandescent, and I'm not-quite-nineteen and lit up all over, because you're holding my chin still as you kiss me. You're kissing me, and I've never done this before, but I want to. I want to put my hands on you. I want to put my mouth on you. I want to get down between your thighs and swallow you whole. I've put my fingers in my own cunt before and sucked them off and I think I know how you'd taste and I think I'd like it but there's a boy in the room and he's watching us and I think if he takes his cock out I'll probably throw up. At a certain point I should probably mention that he and I are dating, and we, together, the two of us, invited you home. I am entirely sober. That's a little bit of an event, these days. In a year or two I'm going to have sex with the guy who gets me most of my drugs in an upstairs bedroom at a party, and it's going to be awful; but right now I am making out with you sitting in my lap on a sofa because a guy who I'm dating and I brought you home. You're so beautiful. I want you to brush my hair. I want to kiss you for hours. I want you to show me how to do my eye makeup and I want to shove my whole hand inside you. The guy I'm dating comes over and sits on the edge of the sofa and touches my hip and I'm up, standing, gone: halfway across the room and putting on an oversized sweatshirt that is an unflattering shade of blue. Because. Because I'm cold. I'm cold, so I put on my sweatshirt, and then the three of us sit down on the sofa and and I overheat while watching a movie I will never remember, and the boy I'm dating puts his arm around me and whispers in my ear that it was hot, that it was so hot, the way we looked together, and my skin crawls all over. He's sort of an asshole, this boy. We won't date much longer, he and I, which I won't regret. I'll never kiss you again, which I will. He will become a punchline in my jokes about mistakes I made in college, because I'm cruel.

So—is this the story, then? That I am in college, and you are in grad school, and I am having terrible sex with you at a party because you are beautiful but you're still a boy, and I'm still a lesbian? It might be. At times, at thirty-three, I think it might have been. In retrospect, I can consider all the times I thought about this one time when we are having boring and painful but still unmistakably athletic sex in someone else's guest bedroom, and wonder if all the times before that when I rode you, or you pinned me down, or we sixty-nined for ages, and it was great, had very little to do with me being attracted to you and a great deal to do with all the ecstasy I was doing at the time. Because let's be real: fucking when you're on e is a m a z i n g.

Or. Maybe that's not the story. I mean, I think I mentioned: I have a boyfriend. I love him. I'm in love with him. Maybe I'm not a lesbian. Maybe I'm just an awkward, boyish girl in unflattering shirts and mom jeans who wants to put on eye makeup but doesn't know how. My boyfriend knows how. I watch him put on his makeup sometimes and he teases me about teaching me the impossible and I love him, I love him desperately.

So maybe this is the story: maybe we're having terrible sex in the upstairs bedroom at this party because you're not my boyfriend.

Maybe I'm thinking about that.

I don't actually remember, but maybe. Maybe the story is that I'm a cheating awkward boyish lesbian repressing by fucking beautiful boys who aren't my waifish girlish boyfriend in stranger's bedrooms at parties. I have wondered. But I wondered that a lot more when I was twenty-three, twenty-five, twenty-seven; and somewhere in the years between then and now you have undergone a transfiguration, so no. That isn't the story, not this week. That isn't the story that I was trying to tell HBBO.

Maybe I should tell it like this: upstairs, at this party, you and I give up on our terrible fucking, and instead, we kiss. We are good at kissing. We have kissed each other lot. And we like kissing, I like kissing: I like kissing because it makes me feel close to you. I like kissing because it doesn't matter if it doesn't make me wet and it doesn't matter that I don't love you. I might prefer kissing girls but I like you, and I like kissing you, and I even like cuddling up with you naked in a stranger's bedroom with all the lights on while we do it. We are even better at kissing than we are at having sex, and we have done a lot more kissing than having sex, lately. "Lately," meaning: this past six months. "Lately," meaning: since I stopped nuzzling up to you in dark corners and asking you for pills. That "lately."

I haven't done that in a while. I used to do it all the time. You always had some. You always shared them with me. And then we would kiss each other in dark corners, and sometimes—

—but.

But upstairs, at this party, I am not on ecstasy. I'm not on any other pills, either, and that's less of an event than it used to be. We kiss each other over and over on top of someone else's bed, and no one has an orgasm, and I keep my hands on your beautiful face, which I like, and your strong shoulders, which I like, and your curly hair, which I like, and I hold you right there in place with me while we kiss endlessly on someone else's bed with all the lights on as your penis goes soft in the condom.

At some point, it's possible that I should mention that sometimes my boyfriend has sex with you, too.

This still isn't the story.

There are too many stories. I don't know how to tell any of them quite right. At some point I should probably mention that I'm twenty, and you're thirty-one; at some point I should mention that you aren't my T.A. now, but you were, before. Sometimes people think these details are important. Sometimes these details are important. At some point maybe I should mention that you're in love with my boyfriend, and I know it; or that I'm in love with my boyfriend, and you know it; or that he isn't in love with either of us and you and I bonded over that, once upon a time, sometime in between the pills and the kissing in dark corners and the tag-teaming my waifish girlish boyfriend who isn't in love with either of us, because sometimes that stuff is important, too. Maybe, even, I should mention that he's not twenty, or thirty-one, but somewhere in between us, always between us; that unbreakable unshakable bond between us, you and I: how pathetic we both are, about that boy.

You and he've had a fight. Recently. This week? This month? I'm thirty-three and I'm telling this story and I don't remember. But I remember that I sat huddled on the sofa wide-eyed and said nothing. He's a heartbreaker, that boy—

—but that's not what you two were fighting about.

At some point I should probably mention that I'm a little bit drunk. I'm a little bit drunk because I hate parties, and if I can't be high (and I can't be high, not anymore) then fucking hell, at least I'm going to be a little bit drunk. Being drunk is, miraculously, less of an issue for me, than being high. I can't be a little bit high. I can be a little bit drunk, so I'm a little bit drunk. I think you might be a little bit drunk too. I know, for sure, that you're high. You're probably not a little bit high. You are probably a lot high, but you fought about that with my boyfriend, so if you are you wouldn't let me see, because then he'd know, that heartbreaking boy. But you, you're always high. These days you're always high, and neither he nor I knows anything about what to do about it, and he might not be in love with me but he and I, we're best friends, and we love each other and we love you, in a soft and puppyish way, and downstairs people are getting high, higher, higher, because that's what all our friends do at parties. But you aren't downstairs. You're upstairs, with me; and I am holding you in place above me while we kiss, instead of fucking, and you're probably high, but at least you're not downstairs getting higher.

Maybe, at some point, I should mention that the story I was trying to tell HBBO is about how I wasn't a very good friend to you.

This was night was just a waypoint: the night at a party that you and I were upstairs having terrible sex, and neither of us was downstairs getting high. I don't know which side of the scales to put that on: that night you and I had terrible sex with all the lights on at a party. You were high, I wasn't; I was drunk, don't know if you were too; I might have been sort of a lesbian but you were definitely a little bit gay; you were eleven years older than me and my former T.A. but we were both in love with the same beautiful heartbreaking boy; and what you and I did together, in those days, was get high and have great sex except for this one night where we didn't; and for years. For years I worried about it. We talked about it, after; years after; and we both of us apologized for all the things we needed to apologize for and one or two or seventeen things we probably didn't. We mostly talked around things, that afternoon, but that—that, I asked. You were surprised. You hesitated. Then you said that you'd wanted to be there. But I don't know that you wouldn't have lied to me, then, if you hadn't, before; and either way I still feel like I wasn't a very good friend to you. Not then. Not for a long time. Maybe not until that afternoon that we talked about it, years later. Maybe not even then. And yeah, it was in part because of that night, when we had terrible sex upstairs at a party; but it was in part because of the night you fought with my boyfriend about the drugs and I sat huddled up on the sofa and didn't know what to say, so I didn't say a word. All those things like that. Whatever. I just worry, sometimes, that I wasn't a very good friend to you. I worry about how hard it is for me to tell, sometimes. And so this night became a waypoint, last week, when I was telling HBBO a story, about how maybe I wasn't a very good friend to you, or something like that.

I mean. Don't get me wrong. Sometimes I'm not good to people and I know it. Like, you are thirteen and I am thirteen and you have a wide serious face and hair that is perfectly straight and hangs halfway down your back and you're beautiful, but far away. You are far away from me even after you tell me, I want to be close to Lina, in your soft quiet voice and I don't know what to say, because I think somewhere deep-down without understanding that this is what it is like to be the kids who sit at our lunch table in middle school. I want to be close to someone, we all of us want to be close to someone, and it is someone else sitting at our lunch table in middle school. We don't just sit there for fun, you know. That's where all the dykes and fags and losers sit. But you say to me, I want to be close to Lina, and you don't look me in the eye, and I don't know what to say because my face is hot, because I want to be close to someone, too. I don't know what to say because I am thirteen and awkward and all-of-a-sudden I have big boobs and boys who look at me in P.E. and all those twelve thousand things that we have always had one way are changing like everyone told us they would but we never totally believed; but they aren't all changing, not for me; and maybe not for you, either. I don't know what to say, so I don't say anything, and four months later you don't sit at our table anymore because your parents have taken you out of school and two months after that you're dead. I wasn't very good to you. I know that. At some point in there somewhere I probably should've said something, but I didn't. I haven't ever quite forgiven myself for that, but I'll be honest: I can live with it a little bit better, somehow, after twenty years that I had and you didn't.

I was awkward, then.

At thirteen, I mean.

But—well. The truth of the matter is that I'm still awkward. I've been awkward a long time. I was an awkward, serious kid and then I was an awkward, boring middle schooler and then I was a boring and serious high schooler with a beautiful face and big tits, which occasionally but not often distracted people from the fact that I was still, utterly and painfully, awkward. No surprise to anyone: I was a virgin all through high school. So what did I know about sex, at seventeen, at fifteen, at thirteen, when you told me I want to be close to Lina and I heard you echoing the part of myself inside saying that I wanted to be close to someone else? Maybe you didn't mean what I heard. I don't know. I can't ask you. And back then I was awkward.

But that's an excuse. That's a lie.

It's an excuse, a lie, because in the spaces where you and I lived I wasn't awkward. Not with you. At ten and eleven and twelve all of the girls who sat at our lunch table had slumber parties where we weren't awkward, not particularly, not on our own. We had slumber parties where we giggled and whispered and dared each other to run out into the street without any top on, not even our bras, so our boobs showed to everyone and anyone who was out on a small-town California street at two in the morning, who was no one. We watched music videos at Ashley's house because she had MTV and we traded stickers in our sticker books and about everyone tried to show me how about four thousand separate times to put on eye makeup and laughed but not in a very mean way when I never figured it out. Everyone told us that everything would be changing, soon, but in the meantime we talked about movie stars, and we talked about boys, and we practiced kissing, and then sometimes lying face to face on our sides in our open sleeping bags we would put our hands up under each other's shirts or into each other's pajama bottoms, or rub our thighs close-tight-close together, or pull down each other's clothes in the dark with our thighs spread wide and our feet on the floor and then kiss each other down there. Lick each other's lips. Suck, sometimes, on each other's smallest tongues.

Innocent.

Girl stuff.

All perfectly normal. It wasn't like we were having sex. It wasn't sex, ask anyone. Everyone knows that.

So.

So maybe this is the story: about how all through high school, I didn't tell anyone I wasn't a virgin.

All through high school I didn't talk much about sex, and if someone did ask, I lied. I said I was a virgin until the day I graduated, even though I would ultimately have sex with three different guys before I went to college, and I didn't feel bad about lying. I just didn't want to get into it. I didn't want to be a girl who has sex, I didn't want to answer questions about it. I didn't want to be judged for it, or high-fived. So I had sex with guys who didn't know my friends and mostly I regretted it. Or—no. I didn't regret it, but it was private. Or—no. I didn't regret it, but it interfered with my painfully serious and boring persona. I was a middle-aged librarian at fourteen; I had better shit to do than having sex, even though I was having sex. Whatever. I don't remember. It was a long time ago.

(I lied. I did tell, once. I told one boy I wasn't a virgin. I told him because he didn't want to have sex with me, because he was very religious, and I was deeply, painfully relieved.

[I lied. The boys I had sex with knew I wasn't a virgin, because I was responsible for telling them, just like they were responsible for telling me. This was the kind of person I was in high school: I was a painfully serious and boring librarian girl who had sex with three painfully serious and boring librarian boys, none of whom went to my school. We were all of us experts on prophylactic failure rates. I was on the Pill, and we all of us got tested, and we always used a condom.

{It's funny, what you remember. I'm a suspenders-and-a-belt kind of person, so I remember that. But I don't remember two of their names. It was all a very long time ago.}])

So.

I am thirty-three, and I'm telling you this story.

I'm thirty-three and the last person I kissed was HBBO. About a year ago, I made out with HBBO and then threw up on the floor, which was in no way a commentary on the kissing. About a year before that was the last time I had sex, and it was with a guy, but I'm not going to talk about him. I'm not going to talk about him because there's no way for me to fictionalize what happened with him in a way that will protect his privacy. And I am protecting his privacy. I'm protecting all of your privacy. By which I mean—

—at this point I should mention that a lot of details in this are made up.

I'm not apologizing. They have to be, because I don't want there to be any chance that if my fandom name ever gets outed, people start wondering who you are. You're not real, not like this, not like I'm saying. So at this point, I feel that I should say, just to be perfectly clear: don't bother to wonder. You'll never match, because you're not real. All of the names, even, they're none of them important to the story but they're still all made up—except for HBBO's, and this is a revised draft over which I gave her full editorial permission so she's read it and she knows what I say. Last week I wanted to tell HBBO a story about how I wasn't a very good friend to you, and then I wanted to tell the Internet about telling HBBO that story, and so I made you up. So we're upstairs at a party, having sex with all the lights on, and it's terrible; but I made you up.

I just felt like at some point I should mention that. At some point. At some point, either this is nonfiction and I'm lying; or this is fiction, in which case I'm not.

I'm telling the truth.

This is a true story. It's a story, and it's true, and it's about making love.

I'm fifteen.

You're seventeen.

I'm a virgin.

I know because we have sex in my bedroom with the lights on and the TV playing The Highlander. It feels good, but I bleed. I bleed because I'm a virgin; everyone knows that; you're a virgin too, but you don't have to bleed. It makes you upset; and you ask over and over and over if you hurt me, which you didn't, really; and in apology anyway you go down on me for hours until I drench your long eyelashes and the ends of your hair. You're lovely. I didn't mind being a virgin, but I'm glad I'm not anymore. I'm glad I lost my virginity to you. You're beautiful. You're the sweetest boy I've ever met. You're the only person I have ever kissed, except for girls I practiced with when I was a kid, who don't count. Besides, I'm too embarrassed to tell you about that. But I do tell you that I'm a virgin. We're serious, boring, librarian teenagers. We're careful. We wait to have sex until you have bought a box of condoms, and I am fifty-four days on the Pill.

This is a true story. All of it is true, every last bit.

I'm thirteen.

You're thirteen.

I have my head between your thighs, and you have your fingers inside my cunt, but I hate that word, I hate it, it's a dirty word, everyone knows that, and just hearing it makes me feel dirty; like "tits" makes me feel dirty and "pussy" makes me feel dirty and "clitoris" makes me feel ridiculous and "vagina" is something that you go to the doctor about, a dirty thing, that bleeds not-quite-expectedly and embarrasses you in P.E. I have my mouth on your cunt and I'm sucking like I'm dying of thirst and you are beautiful, the sort of shocking, overwhelming gorgeousness that chases out of me everything else, like how you have your fingers inside me where I am dirty and hot and wet. You have three fingers inside me and I am lit up all over, my face burning up, because quiet in the dark you are gasping, gasping, gasping; and I can't entirely remember if it has ever felt like this before.

But—

This is a true story.

(It's about sex.)

And we are eight.

We know what sex is; we have for ages, both of us. And we are eight—almost grown up, almost as grown up as your sister, who is ten, if not quite as grown up as my sister, who is in high school and has a boyfriend. My sister and her boyfriend sit on her bed and kiss for hours and hours. I see them: she puts her hands on his shoulders and he puts his hands on her waist and they kiss, for hours and hours, while their friends are there, doing high school things in my sister's room with the door open. Sometimes they all go out and do high school things like go to the carnival or to the Denny's and sometimes they take me and I am ecstatic. This is part of how I know that I am almost grown up: I like to do high school things, with my sister and all her friends, who do not hold my hand and let me stand in the middle of all of them when we wait in line for the Ferris wheel. I think my sister and her boyfriend kiss on the Ferris wheel too but I am not sure because I don't ride with them. They let me pick, so I ride with her friend with the long, long shiny brown hair and the flower hairpins and the cropped back tank tops under her fake leather jacket, who doesn't gel her bangs into a wave like everyone else who is friends with my sister. She is very beautiful. I want to look like her when I am the rest of the way grown up. She's not very tall, so it seems plausible.

But you and I: we are eight, and we know about sex. When I was three, my sister and her best friend explained to me with a boy doll and a girl doll and some anatomical enhancements made out of paper and tape. They put the dolls' legs together like scissors and made them sit up to kiss, because that was what it meant to be having sex. At some much much later point, as I had at some point in between ascertained that babies came from having sex, my father had to explain that the woman had the seed for the baby already inside her but the man had the right part to to water it, and the woman's seed needed to be watered to grow into a baby. (I am three and a half. As my dad explains this, my mom looks extremely serious. She bites on her bottom lip when my dad likens this process to how I water the plants in my parents' garden. I assume that this is because the plants I water in my parents' garden usually die, but my dad is just too nice to point this out. It is probably because I'm not a boy. My watering can must be insufficient.) So I have known about sex forever, because my sister and her best friend showed me with their dolls and then my parents gave me a clearer biological explanation. I don't know how you know about sex but I know that you have known about it forever, "forever" being defined as "as long as I have known you," "forever" being defined as "since we were five," which was much less grown up. We have discussed sex with our friend who is a boy, and clearly therefore the logical choice for us to have sex with when we want to have a baby. All three of us are somewhat ambivalent about these proceedings, which is presumably because we are not all the way grown up.

I'm thirty-three and I'm telling you this story. I didn't know what 'ambivalent' meant, when I was eight. (Probably. [I'm not sure. {I read a lot.}]) But you and I—

Sometimes grown-ups call "having sex" "making love" because they don't want us to know that they are talking about sex. They think that we don't know about sex. They don't know that we have known about sex forever, because we are very quiet when they talk about sex and we listen, even when they lie about it and call it "making love." Sometimes they spell it out instead of saying it, S-E-X, even though it is not a hard word, even though we are eight years old and have read every book in our elementary school library and now we have to get books from the city library if we want to read new books instead. Grown-ups are, by and large, very stupid about sex.

—but you and I, we are eight; and we know about sex.

When you stay overnight for a slumber party we sit on the floor of my bedroom with our clothes off and you sit in my lap. I sit Indian-style and you sit with your legs around my sides because we could not figure out how to make our legs go together like scissors and also kiss, because we are not as flexible as my sister's boy doll and girl doll with paper anatomical enhancements. We figure that this is okay because it is very comfortable for me to sit Indian-style and for you to sit in my lap with your legs around my sides and besides, we are not a boy and a girl, so we are not having sex. We put our arms around each other and we kiss. We kiss and we kiss and we kiss. On days after you stay over I can still feel you: hot invisible marks on my lips and my sides, shivering all over under my skin where you touched me when you sat in my lap because we couldn't figure out how to make our legs like scissors and still kiss.

I don't tell anyone about this. I couldn't. I would never. It is a secret.

We have never talked about it being secret. It just is. We both know that it is a secret that you and I are sometimes in the dark with all our clothes off and you sit in my lap and we kiss. Sex isn't a secret. You and me and our friend who is a boy and all the other people we go to school with who don't try to hit us extra hard in dodgeball or call us names talk about sex all the time. We have ascertained that sex does not always result in babies, because in the fifth grade classes they talk about birth control and condoms and we both have older sisters. Our friends who don't have older sisters have learned it from us, because we are eight and we talk about sex a lot of the time when we are not playing Narnia or Little House in the Big Woods in the big bushes along the wall behind the school. Your sister is not having sex, even though she is ten and mostly grown up. We wonder if my sister is having sex, since she is in high school; if the way my sister's boyfriend puts his hands on her waist and she puts her hands on his shoulders is a prelude to having sex. We wonder if my sister's friend with the long, long shiny brown hair and the flower hairpins and the cropped back tank tops under her fake leather jacket is having sex. You and I, we talk about her a lot. We all talk about sex a lot. But you and I and our friends, we never talk about how when you stay over we take off all our clothes and you sit in my lap and we kiss. I never talk about how after my skin feels like you left bruises-that-don't-hurt with your hands and your arms and your thighs around me. I never say how all day the day after my mouth feels like it is full of bees. I never say anything to any of our friends. We never say anything at all, because it is a secret. It is a secret just for us.

The first time you sat in my lap while I sat Indian-style on the floor, we had just seen a music video in which people sat like that and kissed. We were not supposed to watch the music video. That was probably because in it people were having sex, because even though your parents and my parents are all big hippies and sex is a beautiful and wonderful thing that grown-ups want to do sometimes and therefore grown-ups do sometimes and nothing for grown-ups who want to do it to be ashamed of, sex is one of two reasons why we are not supposed to watch things and no one got shot in the music video but we were not supposed to watch this music video, so. It was probably because people were having sex. In this music video the boy sat Indian-style and the girl sat in his lap with her legs around him and they had all their clothes on, because they didn't know that it felt better if you took them off. The first time we did it like this—when we still couldn't figure out how put our legs together like scissors and kiss, no matter how many times we had tried, but then we watched the music video, that time—the first time, I said that I would be the boy because people often thought I was a boy, and sometimes that got me out of trouble. So I was the boy, and it felt nice, and so after that I was always the boy, even though I was not really a boy, and did not have his watering part. It seemed logical, even though we were not having sex. If I were a boy we could scissor our legs together and then we would be having sex, but I'm not a boy.

When we are eight, and we are not having sex, I don't mind being like the boy. You have always been so much more beautiful than I am.

You are the most beautiful girl in the world.

And—well.

Now.

...Now.

Now I am thirty-three, and I am telling you a story about fucking.

And it's true.

So here is the story: I'm twenty, and you're thirty-one, and you're beautiful; and we are having terrible sex with all the lights on in an upstairs bedroom at a party upon which someone is going to call the police. I don't want you to go downstairs. I don't want you to be unhappy. I hate him too, that heartbreaking boy, but that's not why you're going to go downstairs and get high and stay awake all night outside by the pool even after I have to go home because I'm not twenty-one yet and we think someone may have called the police. You're going to go downstairs and get high and stay awake outside all night because you're a drug addict, and actually, no one did call the police. But right now we're upstairs fucking, so you're not downstairs, getting high.

There. That's it. That was the story I wanted to tell HBBO, only nicer. Cleaned up for the Internet. I think maybe I am sort of almost a good friend, in that story, so maybe I am allowed to post it to Ao3.

That was the story on Monday. Almost. But that was Monday. And maybe—

Maybe today, when I'm telling this story on the Internet, that's not what this story is about anymore.

So.

This is a true story.

It's a story, and it's true, and it's about fucking.

I am twenty, and you are thirty-one, and we are having sex with all the lights on with a party going on downstairs. I'm twenty, I've been having sex since I was eighteen—fifteen—thirteen—eight. Or... seven, maybe. Or... maybe even five, perhaps, that very first time. I'm thirty-three, now, and I don't remember; I split the difference; I'm confused; I lie—I say thirteen. I'm twenty, and I've been having sex since I was thirteen, but I've never had bad sex before. Isn't that weird?

Never, I say. Isn't that weird? I say to you, when I am twenty-five and you are thirty-six.

You are clear-eyed and beautiful and wary, as you should be, because I wasn't a very good friend to you, once upon a time; but you laugh.

All these stories, about you and me. About you and me fucking. Whatever. Having sex. No—fucking. We were fucking, I think. All these stories about you and me fucking. They're all of them true. To me, at least, at thirty-three.

Which of them am I permitted to tell?