First Touch

Heather O'Leary


I had never so much as held the hand of a boy before I shared that cool summer night with her – before I let her fingers dance in little circles along my skin. I was a young thing, a year into high school and only just beginning to understand the world. We had gone camping with some friends, all of us in one large, screen tent – providing protection from the insects humming around us, but not from the surprisingly sharp night breeze that snapped at our faces.

A boy I didn’t know had robbed me of my sleeping bag, and I sat alone, shivering, determined to ignore the bite of the night air and the invitation of the thief to join him in my stolen refuge. Always one for comfort, she had set up her own lawn chair in one end of the tent, a deliciously warm sleeping bag covering her up to her nose. Only the glint of her eyes peeking over the top gave any sign that someone lay beneath the covers.

I huddled around my knees and watched my friends sprawled out in their sleeping bags – some of them sleeping, some talking quietly. I ached to climb into my own warm cocoon but dared not face the strange boy who now occupied it. At the sound of my chattering teeth, she sat up and opened her little sanctuary, asking if I’d like to join her. It was cold. I had no where else to sleep.

We lay side by side, my back to her front, unspeaking. I began to thaw and stretched out along the length of the lawn chair, grateful to give my limbs a warm place to unwind. For a long time we lay there motionless, each caught in her own thoughts.

I began to drift, falling into the drowsiness that had been chasing me for hours – only to be drawn out of my daze as her small, soft hand made its way around my waist, the warmth of her arm against my body raising my hair on end.

Wandering fingers found my shaking hand, gently taking hold. Her right thigh drew closer, wrapping itself around my legs, pulling me tighter to her body. My heart began to race, first with a panicked sort of fear, then with the exhilaration of being touched by this girl.

She released my hand, left my fingers in a trembling mass at my side, and began her exploration. First, small steps, little brushings of fingertips along my arm, a light circle against my skin. Then, slow trailing strokes, wisps of electric shock. As her searching hand grew more curious, I gathered my courage and began my own study of her thigh.

My shaking fingers touched lightly, terrified by the illicit act. Her thigh was warm, inviting. I let my palm flatten against her skin, felt her breath quicken against my neck. Her strokes were delicate and cautious – small touches along my waist, a finger tracing the edge of my bra. Inciting, electrifying, I felt things I had only imagined, a tightening in my stomach that wouldn’t go away, a fear that clenched my heart.

My own hand began a slow ascent, climbing higher along her thigh, wondering at what I was doing, how much would be allowed. A whispered permission in my ear, and I let myself go farther. I felt the soft roundness of her body, the warm firmness of forbidden flesh, and filled my palm with the pleasure of her body.

And then a flood. A warmth that filled my body from her soft touch and a wetness that escaped me, confused me, worried me. It wasn’t the right time but I felt the blood releasing from my body, sat up in fear of staining her beauty, and ran from the tent to the small camp bathroom.

There was no blood, just a warm stickiness that seeped through my pants – the result of my lust, something I had never before experienced. With no one to turn to, my questions unanswered, I tried to clean away the mess, take the stain from my clothes – but even as I left the bathroom I could feel the hot dampness of my jeans chaffing between my thighs.

I convinced myself there must be something wrong with me – this wetness, these emotions, these urges. I went back to the tent determined to sleep alone. I avoided her questioning gaze, ashamed to meet her eyes, and warily approached the boy in my sleeping bag. The thief refused to move and I finally lay down next to him and tried vainly to expel him from the warmth that was so rightly mine.

Instead, I felt his cold hand run across my chest, pull me toward him, and begin unclasping my bra. Before this night I had never known the touch of another – his calloused, uninvited hands seemed so rough after her gentle caresses. It should have been her touch that felt wrong, unnatural, but it was his that made my stomach churn, my fists pound his body, and shove him away. He did not bother me again.

I finally had my warmth, my solitude, my sanctuary, but I spent the night staring out at the stars, replaying her touch in my mind over and over again, wishing I had never left the security of her arms.


Euphemism Campus Box 4240 Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4240