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by Kyle Hemmings

The room smelled of old clothes and cheap apple orchard scent, the kind my sister once used that drove everyone out of the house. It was located on the fifth story of some old brownstone near 36th and 10th Avenue. I decided that I’d lose my virginity with a hooker whom I’d never see again. This way it would be much easier to focus on the sex thing and save the rest of the bullshit another time. Like love and flowers that never wilt. Ha.

I was nervous as shit thumping up the stairs, tempted to turn back. Then I thought, What are you waiting for? Your wedding night? So you could fumble and tell Cinderella you kinda know what to do but not sure of which technique? The guys in third period gym always sneered at me and asked, “Get laid yet, Weinsock?”

I always told them, oh, months ago. Yeah, sure.

The girl looked half Asian, as if she wasn’t sure if she wanted to be here as in “here” or “there” as in home. Her English was terrible, but at least she smiled a lot. Her skin was as soft as lilies which was the decoration of the wallpaper. I wondered if her vagina resembled the blooming buds of a flower, just like those Romantic poets on opium always stated in their rhyming poems that made me sick.

The problem occurred when I removed my shirt and she stared at the gigantic mole near my navel. She kept pointing to it and shaking her head. I told her it’s just a freaky mole, but she didn’t understand. So while I tried to explain how harmless it was, nothing contagious or anything, she ran into the bathroom and puked.

I knocked several times on the door and asked if she were all right. When she came out, she was still shaken, her face pale like a sailor’s on his first rough trade at some forsaken seaport. From what I could piece together from her broken English and flamboyant gestures, she kept saying that the “thing” reminded her of a tiny hand.

I had an image of refugees falling overboard from some crowded raft and the last you could make out were their hands, spread out like the thing near my navel, which I always thought resembled a dark flower.

I told her it was okay and I dressed and said maybe some other time. I just wanted to leave.

She offered me back my money but I only took half because I felt sorry for her being a refugee with all those nightmares of tiny hands.

Before I left, I turned, but no words came out. She smiled sheepishly then looked down at the red carpet, worn in places.

So I left with my virginity still intact just as it was a half hour ago. Like the wiseasses in gym class joked, I was still that flower that hadn’t been plucked.

Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Elimae, SmokeLong Quarterly, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Blaze Vox, Matchbook, and elsewhere. His latest collections of poetry/prose are Scream from Scars Publications and Split Brain on Amazon Kindle. He loves ’50s sci-fi movies, manga comics, and pre-punk garage bands of the ’60s.