Younger than me.
She was the type of girl mothered by her sister and “fathered” by her own ideas of a father. Mothers disliked her. But all the girls in our village longed to be her friend. I longed to be her friend. But my longing was different. I longed to be her one and only friend whom she showed herself to and to whom I showed myself, and my nakedness, to. I longed to have her to myself so I could ask questions about how she saw things.
She was interesting and I longed to experience that interest deeper.
As with every first experience in one’s younger years, I do not remember how her family came to stay in our village or the first time I even saw her or her being introduced to me or even when they relocated.
What I remember most vividly was that first night in the old water tank. Covered with branches on top while the other girls candidly played a few feet away from us, we tried to not garner attention from the grown-ups who lived the lives mirrored by the games we were taking turns in playing.
I was the first to go into the water tank with her and I did not know what to expect. This game, I suppose, was similar to the “7 minutes in the closet” game I see in the movies. But in those days, boys did not partake in our games. The boy’s games involved them ambushing the girls, to scare them and the girls would be running breathless into the lapa where the grown-ups would be gathered around a lazy fire and immediately be shoo them away like bothersome chickens.
And on that moonlit night, I was the first to go into the old water tank with her. The others quickly placed the tree branches on top of the tank and it immediately became dark with strips of the moon light escaping through the leaves.
I do not remember what I was wearing but I am certain that it was an old dress with holes in it. But I do remember that I was covered in dust, with patches of dry dirt around my ankles. I also remember that my mother’s yard looked luminous and the soil white and somehow her small plants seemed more lively in my mind.
I remember we quickly became quite and I could see the light of the moon with the eye in the back of my mind. I remember that my breath started feeling warm or perhaps it was the lack of oxygen in the tank. I do not know. But we were quiet and from there on, everything seemed to go slower than normal. In our silence, I felt her hand move. We were in a squad position with the front of our panties exposed innocently. Her hand moved closer and moved one side of my panties aside. I did not move. I do not know if I liked it but I do know I wanted to experience what was to happen next.
Her finger touched my labia and I still did not move.
A small voice of reason entered my mind, alerting me to how slow we were and how the other girls could come and disrupt us and our game would be over. But still, I did not move. I stayed silent looking at her face, or at least where I thought her face would be. Her hand moved further into my panties and it touched my clitoris.
We explored ourselves through another. And each and every single time, we would smell our fingers and innocently run into the open giggling.
I did not know what it was called at that time, I only knew that the only time you could touch it, was when you were touching someone else’s. Somehow we were never comfortable with reaching into our own panties ourselves. We explored ourselves through another. And each and every single time, we would smell our fingers and innocently run into the open giggling. The older women knew what we would be doing and one would yell promises of a beating while our backs vanished into whoever’s yard would become our playground for the night.
Her hand touched the top of my clitoris and a strange feeling came over me. The feeling seemed to have a smell of dust, the moon and damp soil mixed with my juices if I do not bath first thing in the morning. I know this smell quite well, because it is the familiar smell I had on my fingers after I had pee. And this is how we peed as young girls; You would move your panties to the side of your vagina, same way she did, open your labia slightly with each hand on each side and pee without leaving a single drop on your panties. And afterwards, you would always smell your fingers, frown and run into the sun giggling at your own foolishness.
The more she touched the head of my clitoris, the more the strange feeling arose and the more the smell of dust, the moon and damp soil mixed with my juices became stronger. It felt like a life time. I did not move nor attempt to touch her back. I was only there for her to do this thing that I did not know was, but wanted it all the same.
And she was silent. I imagine she knew already, what I would be feeling. It is a feeling I still remember when I notice full moons. And it was with her, I discovered the moon has a scent. I was lost in the feeling and to this day, I do not know where I went in those few minutes.
I do not remember when she stopped. I just remember the branches being lifted and the other girls asking what exactly we were doing. I could not answer. I was still floating and amazed. And like it was not a big deal at all, she tugged the elbow of another friend under hers and they pranced and span looking at the moon like it was nothing at all.
But I knew that she was never going to do that with anyone else that night. And I have kept this gorgeous story far in the back reaches of my mind. I have kept her locked away in my secret closet in my mind. And when I wish to remember the sweet innocence of my childhood, I remember her. And I take comfort in the idea that she never played that game with anyone else that night. She was my first and that night I was her only.
Her name was Dimakatso (Miracles) and she was my first.
For another short story about childhood read the children who started the fire and the business of choosing dears. Also read the short story as the moon.
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