Between

Once when I was twelve, an early morning of touching myself rescued me from my erotic dream. My pillow smothered my orgasmic cries. One’s pillow could be a girl’s best friend.

Nearer to being my behaved self when I left the house, mother and I spent the bright and hot Sunday morning at Uncle Brian’s spacious and opulent Full Gospel Church of the Disciples of Christ. The place was quietly air-conditioned at a comfortable sixty-five degrees. Sunlight shown through rows of stained-glass windows and reflected off highly polished blonde hardwood walls. We and fifty others sat in a rich, spiritual flavor, on rows of pews covered with cushioned white leather. This was no place for children.

I sat quietly through song and prayer and Uncle Brian’s sermon about sin, how it corrupted the corruptible and damned their souls to eternal hellfire. I listened to an intense preaching about Jesus rising from the dead and becoming savior to anyone seeking salvation from that awaiting hellfire. I shut my eyes and saw myself standing alongside a busy Jesus rescuing lost souls from a fiery damnation that looked a lot like spewing volcanoes. This was not a place where they sacrificed virgins. I felt safe. Almost.

Recalling the sex dream caused me to flinch, but I kept my eyes closed. I had done nothing wrong. It had been a dream, after all, likely caused by my hormones taking orders from my DNA. It was my biological clock’s alarm reminding me that I was part of the sexes and old enough to take seed.

Still, two weeks ago I had sat in the far stall inside the ladies room at the mall’s movie theater and thought about my venture into mother’s least favorite dirty word. I had been watching a PG-13 teen romance movie when the handsome boy on screen kissed the beautiful girl. Their kiss was longer than other kisses I’d seen, which held true for my best friend Anna Freemont.

“A kiss like that means they were swapping spit,” Annie had whispered to me. “I wonder if it gave him a woody?”

My face burned then, as though mother had slapped me for letting my friend allude to the F word. But the mental image of a growing penis replaced my embarrassment and the movie. The desire to discover the physical construct of a working penis had returned, reminding me of my desire to find out everything I could about the male organ, which had pressed me into reading graphic romance novels, as well as sneaking looks inside adult magazines and visiting Internet porn sites on Annie’s computer.

That day on the toilet I was yearning to be loved sexually. But I had no one to go to. So I closed my eyes and let the lover of my imagination come to me. But I knew the public toilet was not the place to act out my fantasies. I finished at home, in my bed, experiencing an explosive release, filled with sensual imagery, and the basis of last night’s dream that left a stirring between my legs.

As I sat in church I grappled with the desire to secretly place my hands there. The oversized Bible I had would make fair cover, but would the man with the bronze skin that glowed like gold throw me into the spewing lava for committing such an act? I took away my hands and left the Bible lay. There’s a time and place for everything.

The sermon was long. The way home and to my room was longer. The joy of finding a true lover was longest of all. Somehow I survived.

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