Vona had never known godliness. Her mother used to tell her that the Lord echoed in moonbeams. She used to stay up past midnight, to watch the night breathe. Her blinds open, she would sit naked on her bed, knobbly knees pulled against her child’s chest.
Her mother said the Lord existed. Her mother never lied.
Vona had never heard Christ speak to her. But she heard the nighttime whisper. Leaves rustling at the witching hour could almost be mistaken for the words of the Lord. Sometimes, she could hear a car backfire (some delinquent drag racing under the cloud cover of three in the morning), and she pretended that it was God’s displeasure at her heathen world.
At thirteen, she had the world figured out. She knew the difference between good and evil, right and wrong. She had written up a table on an A3 sheet to remind herself, in case her mother asked her on the way to school, or her youth pastor suddenly checked up on her faith.
- Knowing how to spell ‘zooxanthellae’ in Geography, so that your teacher knows that you’ve studied
- Lending the strange girl in the backrow of English fifty cents when she needs to buy a hot lunch
- Holding the little boy’s hand when he crosses the street to get to the doctor’s on time
- Offering to pray in prayer group when no one else looks the leader in the eye
- Loving the Lord and your neighbour
- Stealing the magazine from the newsagent even though you really wanted it, and it only cost $5.95
- Making your best friend cry, when you tell her that her hair looks oily today, even if it does
- Yelling at your mother when you wanted pizza for dinner, and she made you roast lamb
- Pinching the weird boy when he wants to eat one of your cookies that your mother baked you for recess
- Swearing & using the Lord’s name in vain
Vona knew that you were only allowed to hold a boy’s hand if you’d known him for over a year. She also knew that kissing was only for adults, and that anything further was only for married people. But she was thirteen, and she knew the way of the world. She did well in classes, and always answered correctly in Personal Health & Development. She was practically a woman, now. Her breasts were an A cup, and her waist was beginning to fill out.
God said no. Her mother said no. Her absent father would have said no, she thought.
But she wanted to say yes.
When her best friend asked her if she liked a boy, Vona nodded and told her about the boy three years older than her at youth group. Hestur was in year ten. Her friends whistled appreciatively when she told them about his pale skin, his dark hair and his intense eyes. She’d never said a word to him. But he seemed the most realistic answer.
The more she made up fallacies about Hestur, the more she fell in love with him. Lies spilled from her lips as easily as breathing, and she began to believe himself.
(Vona would never kiss Hestur, or hold his hand, or speak to him. But she would imagine him at 2am, when she was supposed to be asleep, and explore the most secret parts of herself. She never felt a thing. But this was what she was supposed to be doing. This is what thirteen year olds did. So she did it.)
Vona was thirteen years, two months and eight days when she learnt what ‘virginity’ was.