by Michael K. Smith
[There's a lot of true history in this
one. . . .]
Back in the Kennedy era, it wasn't easy for a 17-year-old male, going to a good school in an upper-middle-class suburb, to lose his virginity. Not without having to pay. Kids these days, . . . God, listen to the old geezer! Kids in the '90s who haven't fucked on the second date probably figure they've screwed up (so to speak). And that may have been the case in L.A. or Greenwich Village when I was a teenager -- but certainly not on the north side of San Antonio.
That decade held world-changing surprises for all of us, but at its beginning, things still moved slowly and cautiously. Call me a fogy, but teenagers in the '60s and '70s gained sexual liberation at the cost of romance.
The Locker Room Liars Club used the classic baseball metaphors in describing their alleged successes on dates. "First base" meant the girl had allowed you to squeeze her tits (through an armored bra) and/or stroke her thighs (through a dress and petticoats); "second base" meant removing the bra and petticoats and getting your hands on the girl herself. "Third base" was getting her panties off (and probably a garter belt, in that pre-pantyhose era) and soaking your fingers in nectar; this was as much a cause for rejoicing as a three-bagger out on the diamond.
A "home run," of course, meant replacing your fingers with your cock -- and while the guys all talked like they were Babe Ruth, I doubted any of them had actually scored.
For myself, I was reasonably good-looking,
reasonably smart, reasonably athletic, and had a reasonable amount of pocket
money to lavish on a date. So I had a lot of bases to my credit, but under
'HR' on the scoreboard I was '0' for at least a dozen powerhouse swings.
And it sure wasn't for lack of playing the game. Part of the problem was
my practical restriction to "nice" girls . . . and nice girls didn't fuck.
No girl worth liking would allow such a thing. The "bad" girls were already
hooked up with the bad guys, the ones who hung around the school auto body
shop in the afternoon. They were lightweights by '90s pistol-packing standards,
but we referred to them as "hoods" and we didn't encroach on their women.
Then, quite magically, everything changed in September 1961, the first week of my senior year. We had "open" summer school, which you don't see much anymore: You could take virtually any of your solids for first-time credit, not just to repeat courses you'd flunked. I'd had most of my math, science, and language courses -- all of which I had trouble with -- during the summers, so I could concentrate on a single tough subject for six weeks, pass it, and get it out of the way.
By my senior year, I had two open periods in my schedule. One of them was spent in the Journalism office, where I worked as Features Editor on the school paper; I often worked there late after school, I loved writing so much. The other period I worked in the library or in the language lab; we actually had the first such lab in San Antonio, reel-to-reel wet carrels and all.
On Thursday of that first week, I was sitting behind the check-out desk in the library, saying 'Hi' to friends who had come to work on the first round of themes and book reports, when a girl whom I hadn't seen before came up to ask for directions. That meant she was almost certainly a new student and I noted that the American Lit book under her arm was for senior English. She was quite attractive and, in between stamping book cards, I watched her moving in and out of the stacks in search of her topic.
Then it got kinda busy and I lost track
of her. When the rush died down, I walked around the large room, discretely
peering down the aisles, but she'd already gone. And she hadn't checked
out anything so I didn't know her name.
The first school dance of the year was that Friday. I went stag since it was essentially a social mixer to kick off the year and I wasn't dating anyone in particular. Tommy Thompson, my chemistry lab partner the previous year and a perfectly nice guy, brought a casual date, a pretty brunette who had recently moved in a few houses down from him.
You guessed it: The girl from the library the day before. Fate works. He introduced her to me as Mary McAllister, and I basically stole her from him that night. It wasn't intentional, I swear.
Mary had moved down from Dallas that summer because her father was the new head of the biology department at Trinity. I knew Tommy lived up in the Heights, off Cambridge Oval, so I could make a good guess at Mary's social and economic status (the area was all big Victorians on large lots, the kind of houses that sell in the mid-six figures these days).
I asked Tommy would he mind if I asked his date for a dance; he laughed and told us to go ahead. He'd only asked Mary as a neighborly gesture so she wouldn't have to come by herself. So Mary and I danced during the slow dances and talked during the fast ones. Each time through the cycle, our dancing became slower and closer and our talk warmer and deeper. And I had the opportunity to catalog her more closely.
Her hair was down in waves and curls around her shoulders and it smelled wonderful. She wore a crew-neck cashmere sweater, pleated wool skirt, and black suede loafers, just like 80% of the other girls in the gym. And her pearls emphasized her long neck. But what captured me was her face. Her eyes were large and luminous brown with slightly arched eyebrows that made her appear always a bit surprised. Her lips were a bit more full than average, soft and very red, even without lipstick.
We ended up out in the gym parking lot, leaning side by side against somebody's fender and holding hands. I was smitten. We eventually realized, from the growing emptiness of the parking lot, that the dance was ending and so was the evening. We went in search of Tommy and found him drinking a coke and gossiping amiably with two other guys. We took him aside and apologized abjectly -- me for absconding with his date, Mary for deserting him.
He took it all in good humor; he had seen us deep in conversation and holding hands, and apparently decided to cast himself as unintentional Cupid. He'd gone off and found plenty of other girls who were delighted to dance with him. As I said: A nice guy. Mary had come with Tommy, however, and it was Tommy who took her home. We had unwritten rules about things like that.
I spent most of Saturday and Sunday mooning over Mary. I had already asked if I could see her again, like that weekend, but she was committed (regretfully, it seemed) to some kind of family get-together. We had agreed to meet at lunch on Monday, though, since we both ate following Third Period.
Lunch was a 45-minute hustle, but I beat my own best time that day getting to the cafeteria. Even so, Mary had gotten there first and had staked out one end of a table off to the side of the big, noisy room -- the side that was, by general agreement, reserved for seniors, especially couples who always ate together. I took her choice of seating as a signal.
The way her eyes lit up when she spotted me in the jockeying lunch crowd . . . well, I never forgot it. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail that bobbed as she smiled and waved to me. God, she even had cute ears.
There was technically a rule about public displays of affection on school grounds, but it was only enforced occasionally, when a couple lost control of themselves. Small infractions like holding hands below the corner of the lunch table were winked at. We didn't do much eating -- just held hands, talked, and exchanged a number of long, searching gazes. Several of the guys I hung around with noticed my preoccupation, naturally, and they grilled me without mercy at my locker that afternoon. I didn't say a word -- just grinned like an idiot.
We met after school, of course. Mary lived too far in the wrong direction for me to walk her home and get home myself before supper, but we were able to spend half an hour sitting under a tree at the edge of the softball field behind the Band Hall. And I worked up the nerve to touch her hair, to wind the end of that bouncy ponytail around my finger. She blushed, but she liked it, and that gave me a tingly thrill.
We met somewhere, for a little while, every
day that week. Twice, I walked her home anyway and the heck with supper
(which got me a look of disbelief
from my mother). And Friday night we went out on our first real date.
As an "only child" since my older sister's marriage a couple years before, I had no trouble borrowing the family car, and I hurried home from school to hose it down in the driveway and vacuum out the inside (which got me a look of disbelief from my *father*).
We were just going to go to a movie at the Olmos, with vague plans for a hamburger after, but I was more nervous than I had been as a freshman going out on my first high school date. Mary could see I was trying to do everything just right, just for her, and she seemed flattered by the careful attention. When I held her hand in the theater, she squeezed it a little and laid her other hand on my arm. After that, I had *no* idea what was happening on the screen.
Afterward, we walked up the block and split a big steak sandwich and onion rings at the Nighthawk. I know it all sounds pretty tame -- but when Mary motioned for me to open my mouth and fed me an onion ring that she herself had personally selected . . . well, it was the best onion ring I'd ever eaten. That's romance for you.
Back in the car, I hesitated before turning the ignition and asked Mary if she'd like to go and see Eisenhauer Road. She kind of smiled and gazed at me thoughtfully, and then said "Okay, let's go take a look." It was obvious someone had already told her about our "legal" parking territory.
Eisenhauer Road was out on the very edge of town, out beyond MacArthur Park, almost in the country. Now it's in the middle of an expensive housing development, but then it consisted of two straight and narrow lanes edged by pasture. Along one side was a wide gravel shoulder overhung by big oak trees. And not a street light for three miles.
The students at my high school had an informal arrangement with the police patrols. We could park on that gravel shoulder without being hassled as long as (1) we didn't park too close together, (2) we stayed in the car with the doors locked, (3) we didn't honk the horn and annoy people, and (4) the patrol car that passed once or twice an hour could see bodies above the lower edges of the windows. In return, there were no assaults or bottle-throwing and the patrol officers -- most of whom were only in their early 20s -- effectively protected us from interlopers.
Parents, of course, weren't supposed to know about Eisenhauer Road, but I'm sure most of them did. They didn't say anything because they knew their kids were going to go parking *somewhere*, and this was the best option around. Girls knew they could go there and be as safe as they wanted to be. It was a good deal all round.
Driving slowly down the dark road, watching for a vacant spot, I wondered if I was doomed to disappointment. Then Mary pointed and said "There!" A big Olds I recognized as belonging to Roger Simak (to his older brother in the Marine Corps, actually) had turned on its lights and was pulling out. Roger stuck his arm out the window and waved a thumbs-up as I pulled in to take his place.
I cut the engine and turned off the lights -- and suddenly it was dark and very quiet. Somehow, stupidly, I had forgotten about that. With my hands still on the wheel, I turned my head to look at Mary, and my brain seized up. She was sitting quietly, gazing through the windshield at the shadow patterns the oaks made on the hood. Neither of us moved a muscle for maybe thirty seconds. Then she glanced in my direction and cranked her window down an inch, so we could hear the cicadas.
"I was looking at your profile in the dark," I said. Which was true, but I was mostly trying to cover my fumble-mindedness. "I think you're beautiful, Mary." That got me a soft smile. As my eyes adjusted to the dimness, I saw that -- true to the game -- she was waiting for me to make the first move. Then she would decide how to respond to it. Nice girls didn't make the first move.
I fooled her, though: I didn't *make* a move, or not much of one. Actually, I was nervous as hell. I was already breathing faster than usual. There were all kinds of things I could imagine experiencing with Mary, but I was afraid to attempt any of them for fear of rejection. This wasn't just some girl I wanted to wrestle with. Mary was different, special, and I didn't want to mess things up. In later years I read Sun Tzu: Never fight a battle unless you know you'll win. Mary breathed a little sigh, perhaps of exasperation. "What's the matter, Mike?"
"You scare me a little," I replied candidly. "Or, I guess *I* scare me. You're so pretty, Mary, . . . I'm afraid to touch you."
She looked at me a little oddly; this probably wasn't the kind of thing she was used to hearing back in Dallas. "Don't you even want to kiss me?"
I moved hastily from behind the wheel and
turned to face her. "Oh, yes, . . . very much." She leaned her head back
against the car seat and tilted her face
toward me. In the body language of the time, that meant 'Do it, you idiot'.
I leaned over carefully and kissed her cheek, then the corner of her mouth, then her lips. She kissed me back, which was what it took to unfreeze my brain. I slipped my arm around her shoulders and she leaned closer and put one hand on my shoulder. I took it slow, trying to be very gentle and romantic. I knew how to kiss, having deliberately honed my technique: Romantic, respectful, and (usually) no tongue-play on the first date. But kissing Mary was very different, somehow. In retrospect, that was the night I fell in love for the first time.
We only stayed out there an hour or so.
Mary had to be home by midnight and I didn't want to push my luck; I knew
already this was the beginning of a unique relationship.
Over the next few months, things really blossomed for us. We spent most of every weekend together, went to every football game together, went for long walks in Brackenridge Park -- anyplace where we could hold hands and neck. We also spent a lot of time on her front porch glider, since her parents wouldn't let her go out on week nights. I stuck notes through the slots in her locker and found replies in mine with tiny hearts drawn neatly around the edges. We spent hours on the phone, in those days before call-waiting, which annoyed the hell out of both sets of parents.
After about a month, I overcame my fear of rejection; I told Mary one evening, very earnestly, that I loved her. I'd never said that to a girl before. She kissed me but didn't reply. Two days later, she left me a note: She'd been thinking about my declaration and examining her own feelings, and had concluded that she loved me, too. I carried the note in my wallet until it was illegible tatters.
For her birthday at the end of October, I gave Mary a modest pearl ring -- not too expensive and not too personal a gift, so neither her parents nor mine could object. She understood that her acceptance of it meant we were going steady; I was already regarding it as one step short of an engagement ring.
We went out driving and parking regularly after that and my hormones were in full gallop. Mary had very sensitive breasts and when I squeezed them and sucked avidly on her nipples, she moaned and shivered. She liked to ride around with her back leaning against my shoulder so I could slip my hand down the front of her blouse and play with her tits as I drove. As I rolled and pinched her nipples between my thumb and forefinger she pushed her feet rhythmically against the passenger door.
It's a mark of my own woeful inexperience that it took so long for me to realize that sweet Mary was nearly as horny as I was . . . and that it embarrassed her. Girls were supposed to submit (within limits) to a boy's passion, not contribute their own.
I began making territorial assumptions. Mary would resist my advances beyond a certain point and get angry; I'd apologize and we'd make up -- until the next time.
That "certain point" kept moving, though.
As an unofficial Christmas present, Mary stuffed her panties in her purse
and allowed my hands full access to her cunt. She also handled my cock
for the first time -- something only a couple of girls had done before.
The feel of her soft hands on me was almost
more than I could bear.
I really did love Mary; I convinced both of us, anyway. But I lusted for her, too, and that began to get in the way. We also started to argue a lot. Our friends, in fact, joked that when we were together, all we did was argue -- and when we were apart, all we did was talk about each other. Things were beginning to unravel, though I hadn't realized it yet.
Our dates now were just a pretense to get out to Eisenhauer Road as quickly as possible. We spent long hours passionately making out and very little time cuddling or talking . . . or listening. But that was what you did with someone you loved, wasn't it?
I began pressuring Mary to "go all the way," which she adamantly refused to consider. You know: "If you loved me . . ." It was a reprehensible tactic and it made her cry more than once. Then I'd be miserable and ashamed and I'd beg her forgiveness, and we'd be okay again, for a week or two. It was like being on drugs, I guess: I was high on Mary and no matter how much she gave me, I wanted more.
Everyone, including us, assumed that she and I would go to the senior prom together. I'm not sure I ever explicitly asked her; I only remember inquiring what kind of flowers I should get for her corsage. Neither of us thought very highly of orchids, so she ended up with bright yellow roses. I found myself holding my breath, watching her come down the stairs in her strapless ball gown.
She was absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful
and I fell in love all over again. I beamed at everyone when I walked into
the hotel ballroom with Mary on my arm. She was gorgeous and I was as solicitous
as I had been that first week in September. We spent the evening dancing
and exchanging melting gazes. Without doubt, one of the most memorable
and romantic evenings of my life. And then I went and messed it up.
Everyone else went to the main dining room at "Earl Abel's" after the prom and then to one of the several semi-chaperoned parties that lasted all night. Mary and I ended up at a house party being hosted by a guy I didn't know very well, a friend of a friend. I wasn't a drinker, nor was Mary, but there was booze available so we entered into the spirit. It didn't take much to demolish my resolves of good behavior and Mary's defenses. And it didn't dawn on me until much later that she might be as frustrated as I was at holding the line on sex.
Whatever the motivations, we found ourselves in a temporarily private upstairs bedroom, behind a locked door. Mary let me unzip the back of her gown and she pushed it down to her waist herself. I had never seen her entirely naked from the waist up and her display was incredibly exciting for both of us. We lay down side by side on the bed and her gown crackled and rustled as I worked my hands under it and up her legs. She raised her hips so I could remove her petticoats and her panties. This was going to be it, I thought.
My tux trousers were unzipped and Mary was slowly masturbating me as we kissed very deeply. I stroked her clit and she responded with little jerking movements and squeezed my cock tighter. And we held the kiss as I began to maneuver my way on top of her. I don't think it was until I took back my rigid cock and settled myself between her wide-spread knees that Mary really comprehended what was about to happen. She got a panicky look and struggled to push me off.
"No, Mike, we can't!" She didn't strike at me, though, or yell, so I put it down to stage fright or denial 'for the record'.
"Sure we can, Sweetheart. No one's going to bother us here. We love each other, don't we?" She continued to push at me as I got my virgin cock into her virgin pussy on the second lunge, and gasped in momentary pain. A few tears showed at the corners of her eyes.
"No, . . . no, . . ." she whimpered and her head swung back and forth. On my third or fourth shaky stroke, though, she stopped struggling and even raised her knees against my ribs. She began breathing harder and just as she seemed to accept what I regarded as inevitable, . . . well, I came. I had been in her less than sixty seconds and it was over.
I pulled out, leaving a sticky trail across her leg, and tried to kiss her again, but Mary turned her face away. I couldn't get her to look at me at all. She got up from the bed, the top of her gown still flapping loosely, and took some tissues from a box on the bedside table. She tossed the box to me without a word and then turned her back while she cleaned herself up. I wiped enough semen off myself so as not to stain the tux and when I looked up again, Mary had her top back in place and her undergarments back on.
I got up, pulled on my jacket, and tried to put my arms around her but she easily evaded me and grabbed up her clutch purse. Then she looked at me for the first time in five minutes, a very unhappy look, and said evenly "Take me home, please."
It was not a pleasant drive. Mary sat miles away, over against the passenger door, and all the way back to her house I kept telling her I loved her and asking what I had done. Hadn't she wanted to make love as much as I had? That only got me a stony stare and deeper silence. When we pulled up to the curb in front of her house, I turned off the engine and set the brake, and turned to face her. "Mary, please -- for God's sake, *talk* to me! You know I love you. You must have known this was going to happen--"
"You keep *saying* you love me, but I don't think you really do," she said. There was bitterness in her voice. "I trusted you to stop before you went that far."
That didn't sound quite fair. "I wasn't there by myself, you know. And you seemed to be enjoying it."
She looked down guiltily. "You think only boys get those feelings? That's why I had to trust you."
I didn't know how to respond to that and I was hurt by her accusations. I got out and went around to her side of the car but she'd already opened the door and was climbing out. It stung even more that she hadn't waited for me to open her door for her (as I always did), especially on such a formal date. I walked up the flagstone path after her and climbed the porch steps.
When the evening began, I had expected
we'd sit a little while on the glider and talk about what a wonderful time
we'd had at our senior prom. What actually happened was that Mary
said, very politely, "Thanks for taking me to the prom, Mike," and gave
me a brief, almost ceremonial kiss. Then I was standing on the porch by
myself. I've never felt so awful in my life, before or since -- except
for two weeks later.
When I saw Mary in the hall Monday morning, she smiled and greeted me, but not very enthusiastically. This rift wasn't going to go away. I spent all that day and most of the next writing a long note to her -- a combination love letter, apology, and plea for understanding and reconciliation. I've always communicated much more easily on paper than in person. I stuffed it in her locker on Wednesday morning and crossed my fingers.
And it worked. Wednesday evening, I called Mary for the first time in four days. The conversation boiled down to her accepting my abject apology and agreeing to give us another chance, and my promise that things would be different. We made a date for Saturday night -- the last weekend before the early senior finals.
It went pretty well, considering my nervousness. I took her out for a bite and then we came back and strolled for blocks around her neighborhood, talking things out, agreeing that we were both to blame for what had happened on prom night, and that we would both be more aware of each other's feelings. By the time we arrived back at her front porch, we were holding hands and exchanging warm smiles. Then we sat on the steps and I got anxious again. I squeezed her hand.
"Mary, may I kiss you. . . ?"
"You'd better!" Then she beat me to it
by leaning over and kissing me first. We went into a clinch and sobbed
quietly on each other's shoulders.
That should have been the end of our crisis. I thought I had learned my lesson and I tried very hard to behave myself around Mary for the two weeks that remained until graduation. We only went out to Eisenhauer Road once more and that was mostly a replay of our first couple of visits: Much hugging and passionate kissing, but only casual contact below the shoulders.
The next Wednesday was the last day of school for graduating seniors. We received our yearbooks and sat on the floor in the halls, leaning against the walls, so we could pass the books hand-to-hand and sign our pictures and write little messages and the traditional verses to our friends. Later, when we had a chance at privacy, I filled half a page in Mary's yearbook with my hopes. Her inscription in my book was much more restrained.
On Thursday afternoon we came back to pick up our caps and gowns for Friday night's Commencement. Mary and I posed in them in front of the school while a friend took our picture; she wouldn't hold my hand.
Looking at that photo now -- oh yes, I still have it -- looking at it from a distance of thirty years, the sleepless worry lines on her pretty face are obvious. Why didn't I see them then?
Commencement was held in the Japanese Tea Garden at Breckenridge Park. A nice setting, but the ceremony itself was as boring as I had feared -- except for the part where they handed me my fake diploma scroll; that was great!
Afterward, in the congratulatory crowd, Mary excused herself from her family and motioned to me from across the expanse of folding chairs. I made my excuses to my folks for a few minutes and went to join her.
"Congratulations!" I said and tried to give her a quick kiss.
She turned her head away and said flatly, "We have to talk." Her expression hoisted all my anxiety flags. There were a dozen all-night graduation parties scheduled and I asked her hesitantly which she wanted to go to first.
"I remember the *last* party we went to," she said grimly. I was stunned. I thought we'd put that behind us. "I'm late," she whispered furiously.
"What?" I had no idea what she was talking about.
"I'm two weeks late on my period," she said.
Oh, shit. She was pregnant. We were only eighteen and I'd knocked up the girl I was in love with. My parents would kill me. Her parents would kill me again. I certainly wasn't so stupid as to think I could support a wife and child on what little I could earn working in a supermarket or whatever. But this was Mary.
"If I'm responsible--" I began.
She turned on me with a hiss. "Of *course* you're responsible! How many guys do you think I've *been* with?!" I thought she was going to burst into tears and slug me, and I put up my hands in a placating gesture.
"No, no-- I was going to say 'If I'm responsible, then I'm responsible'. I love you, Mary. I hope you don't think I was going to ditch you, run off or something. . . ."
"Oh . . . No, I guess I didn't think that." Her anger receded into the background and she went back to being merely tired, unhappy, and afraid. "What are we going to do, then? What am *I* going to do?"
"I don't know yet. Give me a chance to think."
"Okay, but you'd better make it fast. I have to know whether to start looking for a job to cover the next six months, because we're going to need money. And whether or not we're staying in San Antonio, or moving to Austin, or what."
God, another complication. I had already been accepted at UT for the fall while Mary was committed to going to Trinity, her father's school. Seventy miles hadn't seemed far to travel to see each other on weekends. Now that whole future was in doubt.
I suppose my abstracted expression gave Mary the wrong idea because she grabbed my arm suddenly. Her nails hurt. "You *are* going to marry me, aren't you? If I'm pregnant?" She managed to look aggressive and defensive at the same time.
I stared back at her in disbelief. "Mary,
I love you. I *love* you. Haven't I said I want to marry you? I just didn't
expect it to happen like this." No, I sure didn't.
I didn't have much to celebrate that evening. My parents were puzzled that I wasn't planning to go to any of the parties and they kept asking prying questions, so I left the house after all. But I didn't party. I just drove aimlessly around the north side of town, tailed closely by guilt and despair, trying to figure out what to do.
I didn't want to get married. That is, I *wanted* to marry her -- but not yet and not like this. We'd either starve or be forced to go to our parents for financial support, and I wasn't sure which was worse. I finally went home after my folks had turned in and I lay in bed most of the night with my eyes wide open. I got up the next morning tired and drawn and sat on the porch for hours, becoming more and more depressed. I didn't call Mary at all that Saturday because I had nothing to say, yet.
Sunday afternoon, Mary called me. "I've started," she said with unnatural calm.
"You what?" God, I was dense.
"I started my period, just a little while ago. Why don't you ever listen?"
The surge of relief left me weak in the knees and I had to sit down. "Thank God," I said softly. "Mary, I'm so sorry you had to go through this."
"Not as sorry as I am," she replied, still very calmly. "I don't think we should see each other anymore."
"But, Mary--" She cut me off.
"I've made up my mind, Mike. Don't call me, don't try to see me. Not ever again."
"But I love you, Mary. . . ." I could hear the despondency in my own voice.
"No," she said coldly, "you don't."
"Please, don't do this--"
"It's over, Mike. I'm sorry, but it is. Goodbye." And the line went dead. I sat and stared at the receiver, shocked by the finality of it, until the off-hook beeping started.
I was seriously depressed for weeks. I
felt I didn't want to live, not cut off like this. If I'd really had a
suicidal streak, I might actually have killed myself.
But I didn't, of course. I sobered considerably that summer. Losing the girl I loved had the odd effect of maturing me, cold turkey. I had gone to the brink and peered over, and now I became much more cautious. And I did a lot of ruminating about the past year.
A few days before I left for freshman orientation at UT, I sat down and wrote Mary a calm, composed letter, apologizing for my behavior and the emotional strain I had caused her -- not just for the pregnancy scare but for everything. I wished her the best in the future and hoped she'd at least keep some of the good memories of our months together. She'd be in my thoughts and I hoped she wouldn't hate me. I didn't plead or grovel and I didn't throw myself on her mercy. I accepted that our relationship was dead.
I didn't receive a reply and I didn't expect to. But making a gentlemanly final exit made the whole thing easier to accept.
I did manage to keep track of Mary for a few years, though. A close girlfriend of hers who attended UT for a year before dropping out told me she had sobbed for most of a day after receiving that last letter. That made me feel much better -- not out of revenge, but because it meant she *had* loved me, for awhile. She had to have felt something, to feel its loss. There really *had* been two people in that relationship, before I killed it.
Other people we both knew updated me on Mary at intervals. She was married the year she graduated from Trinity, to a guy from Chicago. She had a son a couple years later. And a couple years after that, she got divorced. Thereafter, she worked in a law office in Houston, which I discovered quite by accident.
My last indirect contact with Mary was
on her thirtieth birthday, when I had thirty long-stemmed yellow roses
delivered to her at work. I included no card but I was pretty sure she
would know who had sent them. It was like a last apology.
Copyright 1993 by Michael
K. Smith. Copies may be made and posted elsewhere for personal enjoyment,
but all commercial rights are reserved.