“You didn’t answer my question" Sarah insisted, "…are you in love with him, now?”
“What difference does it make Frank?” She asked tiredly, defeatedly. Her shoulders slumped as she turned her back on him. And then suddenly he was there, his hands on her shoulders, warm and heavy and all she wanted to do was melt backwards into him.
“I just…it shouldn’t have happened like that for your first time” He said sadly.
- Flashback -
They giggled as they wandered through the streets, away from the party where Escher had just told off Brad Delaware. Every few steps she looked down again at their fingers laced together, as though she could barely believe it. Rounding the edge of one of the local parks she stopped suddenly, pulling on his hand so that he stopped with her. They were under a streetlight and he looked down at her quizzically.
She stood up slowly, waveringly on her tip-toes and kissing his lips gently, pulling away quickly.
“I’m sorry,” She giggled, “I really wanted to do that though”
He stared hard at her, as though trying to figure something out. Then slowly, but quickly at the same time, he slid his arms around her hips to bring her closer to him, pressing their lips together once more. But there was nothing innocent about the bruising kiss they shared this time.
They had wandered through the park after the kiss, settling finally at the base of the slide where Frank kissed her again and later…well…
She turned back to face him, sadness mirrored in her own eyes.
“Frank, there’s no other way I would have wanted it to be”
She sat down on the huge king size bed in her room, patting the space next to her.
“Is that why you never spoke to me again?” Frank asked quietly, taking her hands in his and stroking her palm.
It wasn’t of course. It wasn’t as though Escher had proud of her virginity, or considered it a prize in any way. She didn’t want to just throw it away either though. She had been in love with Frank for years the night they had kissed. Sleeping with him had seemed perfect. She had glowed that night, staggering home through dangerous Jersey streets to be confronted by her drunken father. And even after he had called her a whore, told her she was an accident, she went to bed thinking of Frank and smiling.
The afterglow only lasted until the following morning though. She knew she was kidding herself if she thought he and Jamia wouldn’t get back together, he’d told her as much at the party the night before. She was a friend to him, nothing more, even if they had been together now.
So she’d let him off lightly, she wouldn’t call him or beg for a relationship that would never exist. But she knew she couldn’t be around him as a friend either anymore, she couldn’t bear it. So she had gone to school the following Monday and just ignored him.
- Flashback -
Escher stood with her head in her locker, trying desperately to find the homework she had finished the night before. Finally, deciding she must have left it at home, she slammed the door shut. Starting when she saw Frankie slumped against the next locker.
She stared at him, in a manner she hoped appeared cold, even as the heat rose through her body in waves. 'You can't, you can', you can't' She chanted to herself as she turned back to her locker silently.
"Esch? You okay Green? How was the rest of your weekend?" From the tone of his voice, he didn't seem to realise that anything was askew.
She slammed the locker door shut and turned to face him.
"I'm fine Frank, but this isn't"
"This?" He asked, with a quirk of his eyebrow.
"This leaning against my locker, popping up near my classroom, it's not cool Frank, just leave me alone" She replied coldly, turning and stalking off straight into Brad's arms, trying to forget the look of pain that had flashed across his face. She had probably imagined it anyway.
“I thought that you regretted what had happened because you were, you know, and I was just ‘Faggie’ who got shoved in lockers by guys you dated. I thought you blamed me, like you thought I took advantage of you”
“I can’t bear that you thought that,” Escher whispered.
“So why did you do it?”
“I just…” Escher took a deep breath, still too ashamed to admit that she had been in love with him, “You’re right, I just felt strange because I was a virgin. I’m sorry”
He wrapped an arm tightly around her in pseudo hug.
"I'm so sorry" He whispered and Escher felt her heart swelling at th tenderness in his voice, then breaking because she was lying to his face.
She shrugged a little andd smiled at him.
"It was a long time ago Frank"
When Frank had finally left, Escher heard a knock at her door. It opened to reveal a confused looking Sarah, holding out a mug of black coffee. When Escher took it she could smell the soothing scent of Frangellico that Sarah had laced through the drink.
“E can I ask a question?”
“Oh God, not another one, I’ve had too many questions today”
Ignoring her, Sarah pushed on.
“What happened today? Why were you so pissed he was here? I didn’t expect you to be over the moon but you completely fucking flipped.”
“I know,” Escher sighed, “I’m sorry”
“It’s okay, I just want to know what happened? Is Frank still stressing you at work?”
“No it’s just…”
“Are you in love with him?” Sarah interrupted, holding Escher’s gaze unwaveringly.
“You heard me”
Escher sighed heavily and closed her eyes.
“I was…we spoke today, about high school, about something that happened. I…I lost my virginity to him, and he didn’t know that I was a virgin that night and it came up today and then he arrived to ask me why…”
Her voice came rolling out like a string pulled from a ball of yarn as Sarah tried to soak it in.
“You didn’t answer my question…are you in love with him, now?”
“I…” Escher stuttered, “I…don’t know” she finished, fear strangling anything else she might have said.