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Fiction #305
(published November 23, 2006)
First Love
by Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz
stains — the morning after. the sweat of passion woven into the threads. blood. you had gone and I tried to restore the cotton white sheets last night beneath us. scraping knuckle against knuckle, I knew — knew I'd wear your embrace like an amulet, that I'd worship you, searching for talismans in your touch. . .

Clouds filled the sky. Dark clouds. As she peeked through the slats of the blinds in her dorm room, Jana thought it was appropriate. It should rain. It should storm on this day when her life was falling completely apart.

She let the blinds drop back into place, as she turned and sighed. She glanced at the oversized Mickey Mouse alarm clock her father had bought her at the amusement park, the last family vacation before the "baby" went off to college. It was 9:15.

We need to leave by 9:30, Rian had reminded her when he called the first time.

How many times had he called last night?

Jana went to the closet and pushed the hangers along the rod. She had no idea what to wear. If Rian were here, he'd hurry her. Tell her it should be no more difficult than getting ready for class.

The sudden thought of American Literature, Biology 101 and Algebra II reminded Jana that she'd not informed her teachers of her impending absence and any that would follow. She was going to need an excuse.

Maybe a doctor at the clinic would give her some ambiguous note that said she had to have light surgery — something removed.


Not a baby.

Not Rian's baby.

Jana fell back against the folded metal closet door, and pressed her tears down. It wasn't supposed to turn out this way.

Gawd, but she loved Rian. They could make it work. How many times had she tried to assure him of that?

He was a sophomore, just a little more than two years left in his engineering program. She was willing to quit school and work until the baby was born. She could go back to school then. They could schedule their classes accordingly so that one or the other was with the baby, and they wouldn't have to worry about a babysitter and the cost.

Rian hadn't looked at her once while she made her case for the other choice. Jana couldn't see what was in those gorgeous green eyes she was hoping the baby would inherit.

Still, last night, when he called — the fifth time — he'd said, time and again, that he wasn't sure he could go through with this.

Jana ran her hand over her skin where her tee shirt and sweat pants did not meet. She tried to imagine herself pregnant. Would Rian still go crazy over her body? Would he find her even more beautiful than he'd once whispered that he did? Her breasts would get bigger, would that turn him on?

Jana made a dive for her bed and reached for the phone by the clock. She dialed Rian's number, but no one answered. He was probably on his way.

Hanging up, Jana thought of how she might present it to Rian — her solution: a life together.

Maybe she wouldn't even return to school, she thought as she rolled over onto her back and stared up at the ceiling. She was an okay student, but going to classes and reporting her academic progress to her parents didn't fulfill her.

Didn't move her the way Rian did when he'd call minutes after dropping her off to say he missed her. Or how he'd accept half of the gum she'd been chewing, like he wasn't afraid she'd give him cooties.

Jana's hand inched to the inside of her thigh and she thought of how he'd kissed his way along her skin until he'd reached that spot.

She couldn't imagine any other guy kissing her there.

The knock at the door surprised her out of her thoughts. Climbing off the mattress, Jana readied her apology for not being ready and prepared an argument in her head that would make her high school debate coach proud.

She opened the door to find not Rian, but David, his roommate.

"Did something happen to Rian?" she breathed anxiously.

David shook his head. "He's not taking you."

Jana was disappointed that Rian had told David about their situation, but her heart lifted to think he'd changed his mind.

"We'd better get going," David said. "Your appointment's at eleven. We don't want to get caught in traffic."

Jana's head jerked. Feeling like she was crumbling, she wrapped her arms around her middle. "You're . . . taking . . .me. . ." she whimpered between sobs.

David nodded. "Rian said to tell you he's sorry but he's got a calculus exam this morning."

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