“Mom, I’m going over to Emily’s. See you!”

Fourteen-year-old Michael banged through the dining room on his way out the door. “Michael, take it easy, honey! You’re not a baby elephant, you know.” The Smith College teacups rattled in their saucers. Mom sighed. One of her friends smiled at Michael. “Come here, honey,” she said. “Slow down. Who’s Emily?”

“Emily’s my friend from school,” said Michael. “I told you about her the other day. She’s my study buddy.”

“Ah,” said Friend1, winking at Mom. “And what do you and Emily study?”

“Oh, the usual,” said Michael. “Math. Geography. Science. She’s really good at science.”

“That’s true,” said Mom. “Michael’s science grades have gone sky-high since he and Emily started to hang out together.”

“My math grade isn’t bad, either, now that she’s helping me with it,” said Michael. “I actually understand this stuff when she explains it.”

“That’s wonderful, Michael,” said Friend2.

The sun shone into Michael’s squinting eyes as it settled into the evening horizon. He rode his bike on the newly tarred road, its pungent smell and the brightness in his eyes distracting him from steering the bike. The road was surprisingly flat and straight for a back road in upstate New York. Its only curve hid his view of Emily’s house, which was across the Mourning Kill from his own. The handgrips on his bike were slightly slippery from his sweating palms, sweating not only from the warm sun on his skin but also from his nervous anticipation of what she said she would let him do.

Michael lost himself in his fantasy as he thought about feeling for the first time the curves of her young breasts. He dreamily reminisced about his trysts and his initial ineptitude with a woman. His groin reacted to the images of her in his mind. He pedaled faster.

Emily trembled a little as she spread the pink and white rose petals on the sheets covering her full-sized bed. The radio played softly, romantically. She was in love for the first time. She had met him in her ninth-grade English class this year. He was so cute; he had blond hair and hazel eyes, long, nimble fingers that played the piano with such a yearning that it brought tears to her eyes. She smiled a gentle smile as she thought of his touch on her hair, his fingers trembling on her cheek at their first kiss. She knew he was the love of her life; they would be together forever.

She was a little scared, wondering what would happen when he rode his bike into her driveway. Her parents were gone for the weekend and she had the house to herself. This would be the perfect time for her to learn to be a woman for the first time. She loved the way he treated her, the way he held her and whispered how he loved her in her ear. She melted in his arms when he told her how beautiful her eyes were, how lustrous her hair was, how translucent and clear her skin was. She wanted nothing more than to be sure that Michael was happy in their romance. That he was already wise in the ways of womanhood and she didn’t know whether she would meet his expectations sent chills up and down her spine. At their first kiss, from the way he held her, gently massaging her bare back, she knew that he understood a woman’s body; he might know her body better than she did herself. She had touched herself before, and it felt good, and now she ached for him to touch her there. Would he give her that pleasure? Would his touch be better than her own? Some of her girlfriends had lost their virginity; one of them had told her that it had hurt. Would Michael hurt her? She couldn’t believe that he would; he said he would be very gentle with her because she wanted so badly for this to be wonderful for both of them. She looked longingly toward the curve in the road for him to appear on his bicycle.

Michael’s anticipation of bedding Emily intensified as he pedaled toward her house. He knew that, after he rounded the curve, he would see her house with her in the window waiting for him. He entered the curve.

Emily heard a hard thump and a clatter as a gray car sped around the curve. She went outside to look for Michael … her Michael. Her first tryst. She went toward the bent bicycle lying on the side of the road. When she got near, she started to run, then stopped and sat down next to the broken boy. She held his head and his hand and cried for him as his life’s blood flowed away.