Chapter no 21

If He Had Been with Me

Jamie said that once he had his driver’s license, we would be free to be together whenever we liked. Nothing would keep us apart except my curfew.

Mostly we just drive around. Sometimes we park behind the library and make out. It’s uncomfortable with my head pressing into the door and my knees bent, but I pretend that it isn’t because I like the idea of making out in his car; like a scene from a movie, the windows fog up in the cold and the radio plays our song.

I don’t know much about driving. Jamie is the only other person my age I’ve ridden with, but I think he must be a good driver. I feel safe with him. I like to watch him drive, to study his profile, to see his eyes focused away from me. He is so remote from me, and it makes me want him more.

My mother has always said that my father will teach me to drive someday, and I’m still waiting for that day. For now, it doesn’t matter; there is never a place I want to be that Jamie isn’t going too.


Finny got his driver’s license on his birthday. Aunt Angelina taught him to drive ages ago. She says he is a good driver, but she is still terrified of him killing himself on the road some night. It’s hard for me to understand how she jumps so quickly from driving to death. Every night, people ride around in cars without dying.

I am a virgin, and I cannot drive.

I am afraid of losing my virginity in Jamie’s car. I stay on guard for a fit of passion that could cause me to make this crucial mistake, but it never comes. I’m in control when I let him slide his finger inside me; I know what’s happening when he takes my hand and cups it around his erection.

I never let Jamie see me when we touch each other and I never look at him. When I open my shirt and let him kiss my breasts, I watch him to make sure his eyes are closed. I want him to see me for the first time when we make love. It’s part of my daydream—slowly undressing each other and seeing for the first time all of the secret parts of us we have hidden.

And it makes me less afraid.


One evening, Jamie asks me to hold the wheel for him as he reaches for a CD. I trust that if he asks me to do it, then it must mean I can do it. I nearly run us off the road. Jamie grabs the wheel and rights us again.

“Geez, Autumn,” he mumbles. He doesn’t say anything else until he pulls into my driveway at curfew. “Maybe you should never learn to drive,” he says after he kisses me. “I can’t stand the idea of you killing yourself.”

I know that someday I will die, and I know that someday I will lose my virginity; these two things seem equally probable, equally impossible.

Finny’s curfew is half an hour later than mine, and on the weekends I listen for his car as I lie in bed waiting for sleep. It’s comforting, hearing his motor and then the car door slam, the creak of his back door. I watch for the sudden glow of his bedroom window when he flicks on the light. He crosses the room with his shirt off. His light goes out again, and I know he is lying in his bed by the window, two panes of glass and twenty feet of air separating us.

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