I really shouldn't of...I mean, I've never..." She knew her hands were clammy with fear, and
she wished they weren't.
He spoke softly. "Listen. If you want me to go, I'll
just tiptoe down the stairs and slip out. Is that what you want?"
"...No, but...Couldn't we just..."
"You know what I think? I think I'd better go. You're
scared, and I wouldn't want to talk you into anything you don't want to do." He rose from the
"No, don't go!" Her voice was tight with the effort to
He sat down again, but left a distance between their
For a moment she didn't say anything, just sat there
kneading the fingers of her left hand with her right. Then she squeezed them hard. She had come
to a decision. She began speaking in a flat tone. "I was sitting at the table, like I do every
night. Practicing my shorthand by the light of the street lamp because it's too hot to put on
the light. And suddenly I was crying. I just felt so empty and lonely and blue! I wasn't sobbing
or anything. The tears just poured out and poured out. I didn't think I had so many tears in me.
I was so lonely." Her voice squeaked on the word. "I don't know a soul here in the city.
Don't have any friends. Even back home, I never went on a date. My folks wouldn't let me. They
said that one thing leads to another. They said boys only want one thing. And I suppose they're
"Yes, they are," he said sincerely.
"After a while I stopped crying." She smiled wanly. "I
guess I just ran out of tears. I splashed cool water on my face and tried to work at my
shorthand some more, but then I just closed the book and said no! No, I won't just sit here and mope!
I'll dress up in my best and go out and find someone. Someone to talk to. Someone to care
about me and hold me when I'm feeling blue."
"You decided to go out and just...let yourself be picked
"I didn't think about it that way, but... Yes, I guess
"You wanted to make love with a total stranger?"
"No, no. Well...not exactly. You see, I've never..." She
shook her head.
"Shall I tell you something? I knew you were a virgin
when I first saw you. Yes, I did. You had that Good Girl look. Like June Allyson. But somehow--
don't ask me how--I could tell that the good girl was looking for a bad boy to make love to her.
Funny, how I could tell that eh?"
"But you're wrong. I was just looking for someone to
talk to. Someone who might care about me."
"Oh. So you didn't want to make love, is that it?"
"I don't know. Maybe I did. Sort of, anyway. I didn't
think it out or anything, I just took my towel and went down to the bathroom and had a long cool
bath, then I put on my good dress, and out I went. Just like that."
"...Just like that."
"I took the bus downtown, and I walked around. Boys on
street corners looked at me. You know, the way they look at any woman. But none of them...I
guess I'm not...I know I'm not pretty or anything..." She paused, half hoping for a
contradiction. Then she went on. "They looked at me, but nobody said hello or anything, so..."