It all started on my younger brother Joseph’s 18th Birthday. At the time, there was no way of knowing it was the start of anything, but in retrospect, it is clear that is when it started. But I guess I need to go back a little bit farther for that to make any sense.

My name is Anna Thrush and I grew up under very strange circumstances. Since before I was born (and I was 20 at the time this story unfolds), my parents had been members of a strange religious cult. Now, at the time I had no idea that we were the members of a strange religious cult. When you are born into something, it just seems normal. It was only later in life that I realized how different it was for the rest of the world.

I guess I can’t just skip ahead; you need to understand some of the ways in which my community was so strange. We called ourselves “The Light and The Way,” and we were ostensibly Christian. We read the Bible and celebrated Christmas and all that (although our Christmas was much more subdued than the strange carnival that you ‘regular’ Christians call Christmas).

Anyway, what really sets us apart from other Christians isn’t so much about the Bible or anything like that. I mean, the church leaders SAID that all of the rules were in the Bible, but I’ve never seen any evidence that that is true. No, what really set us apart was the strict way in which we live our lives, especially women.

For a woman, from the time you are born until you are married you are supposed to stay in your parents’ home or on their property at all times. In fact, every person in our community has big privacy hedges around the outside of their property to prevent people from outside of the Light and the Way from seeing women. Now that seems so strange, but growing up that was just the way life was. My parents owned about 25 acres of land in a secluded area in Idaho. And I stayed on that property.

Despite our seclusion, both women and men were encouraged to dress modestly. Every day I wore a big, billowy dress that went down to the floor and a bonnet. Both had very dull colors. I wore no makeup and had only one pair of shoes.I later learned later that I would be considered an attractive girl. At that age I was around 5’2 and 115lbs, but I had no idea what that meant in relation to other people. I had medium-sized breasts (although I didn’t know that either) and flared hips. My hair was very long and chestnut in color and my eyes were green. For what it is worth, men wore long black pants and long-sleeved white shirts every day. My brother was taller than me, around 5’9 and stocky in build. He had a square chin, short cropped brown hair, and blue eyes.

In addition to our simplicity of dress and modesty about appearance, we were fanatical about personal hygiene. We brushed our teeth three times a day, we shampooed our hair every other day, and showered every day. For religious fanatics, that is pretty good. From the time I was a little girl I was encouraged to wear deodorant and my mother told me from the time I first got my period that I was required to wax off all of the hair below my head once a week. Apparently, one of the prophets of our religion had taken the homely saying “cleanliness is godliness” to be a literal truth and our church had continued that tradition thereafter. I would later learn that rule only applied to women.

Of course, I was homeschooled. My mother provided the lessons and they were almost exclusively on the Bible. I learned to write well (or so I have been told), but my math never progressed much beyond arithmetic. Science was rarely discussed. For what it is worth, my brother got largely the same education that I did. So, despite the various weird things the church did to keep women down, education wasn’t one of them.

But there were very unpleasant aspects about being a woman. The only time women leave their homes was on Sunday, for Church. For church, my father would put my mother and I in a car with the windows blacked out and we would go into the Women’s Entrance to the church. There we would worship with the other women, the only man in the room being the Women’s Preacher, John Davis. All my life he was an old man with a prodigious gut. There would be about 100 women in the church and the four or five hours we spent there would be the extent of my socializing for the week. After church, one by one mothers and daughters would leave the Church and get back into their black-windowed cars. It was set up in such a way that when we got outside, my father was already there.

The long and the short of all of this was that women never saw a man that was not their father or their brother (Except the preacher). According to the teachings of the church it was sinful for non-family members to see an unmarried woman. Even married women had very little contact with men other than their fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons. By the time I left the community I had only ever met three men in my life. My father, my brother, and the Women’s Preacher.

Obviously, in a repressed society like this, sex was not discussed. I must’ve been curious about it at one point in my life, I mean where did I come from? But my parents only had two children so I didn’t see babies much. Even in Church, there were only occasionally pregnant women. It just did not come up. I knew that according to tradition, at some point after my 20th Birthday but before my 21st, my father would take me by myself to church. A man would be there, probably ten to fifteen years older than me, and he would be my husband. I would know his mother and his sisters, but it would be the first time I’d ever see him. And then we’d make a family. I really didn’t know how, but that was what would happen (The only animals we kept on our farm were birds, mostly chickens, and so I’d never even seen animals have sex). It was always a nagging fear that I would marry someone who was awful, although I could not really make strong opinions about what that would mean. But it was a distant fear.

Life for my younger brother was largely the same. He only left the farm for church, he only saw men, and the only women he knew were my mother and me. He was my only companion growing up and while in other circumstances we might fight, it was not an option for us. We had to be friends because otherwise we’d be totally alone. I still have fond memories of playing the barn growing up and making silly faces at one another. Despite all of these oddities of my childhood, I was pretty happy.

But things in our community changed for boys when they reached 18. The men would drive into the city every week to sell our farm produce at markets. This was how we made extra money, by selling hand-made butter and things to others. The bulk of our money (and the money of everyone in our community), I would later learn, came from leasing mineral deposits. We just sort of played farmer while we collected the royalties that actually paid the bills. Not that it seemed that way; life was an unceasing list of chores and farm routine.

That is what made my brother’s 18th Birthday so exciting, and how it began the most important change in my life. Joseph and my father woke up very early and met up with the other men to drive to the city. I was still sleeping by the time they left. But that entire day was a blur. I got up, ate breakfast with my mother, tended the chickens, weeded the vegetable garden, and did some sewing. These were all normal activities. But I wasn’t really thinking about them, I was just thinking about Joseph’s trip from the farm. My Father never told me what the rest of the world was like. Joseph had already sworn to our Father that he wouldn’t tell me anything either. But he’d also sworn to me in secrecy that he would share everything that he learned.

It was already dark when they arrived home that evening, which was normal on market days. Mother had the supper ready and we all sat at the table and bowed our heads in prayer. I looked at Joseph and he had sort of a glazed look on his face. I tried to get his attention, but he didn’t seem to notice anything. At dinner, my father did most of the talking. As usual, his conversation was little more than an inventory of the items sold and money collected. My Mother nodded and made all of the appropriate noises of appreciation.

Finally, dinner was done. Mother and Father went to the sitting room to talk. Joseph and I always cleaned out my father’s truck after marketday, taking all of the unsold items back to the barn to await the next trip. This was the opportunity I’d been waiting for. I washed up quickly and rushed outside. Joseph came more slowly, he still had that look.

“Well how was it?” I asked excitedly as soon as he was within talking distance. I couldn’t let Mother and Father hear me, even outside I spoke softly. At first he just shook his head. But I kept asking him a million questions and finally he spoke.

“Anna, it was just… so much. There is just so much,” he said. That didn’t really explain anything to me, it just made me more anxious to learn.

“Did you see other people?” I asked and he just gave me the most serene smile I’d ever seen, “What?”

“I saw hundreds of people… thousands,” he said. He went on to describe all of the strange sights he’d seen. People wearing garish clothing, tall buildings, and cars in many colors, long buses filled with people, and a thousand other things. I couldn’t even picture these oddities in my mind.

“I don’t believe it,” I said.

“I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it,” he said. And I was so jealous at that moment. My little brother got to see all of the excitement of a city and I was still here, just waiting to pick up the leftovers. “I wish you could’ve been there,” he said, and my jealously faded into a gentle longing.

“And Anna, women,” he said conspiratorially, “I’ve never seen so many women in my life. Some of them looked like women here but there were young women dressed… provocatively. It was positively sinful. And they’d walk right up to me and ask for butter.” He said. Suddenly, the tang of jealousy was back, stronger now, but different. But I couldn’t imagine what it meant.

“What did Father say,” I asked.

“He told me that we are not supposed to comment about it, but to just provide the items they asked for and leave them alone,” he explained, “But it was so strange. Men were walking holding hands with women. Outside, just in the middle of the street. I’d heard rumors about these things at Church, but to see it was… I thought doing that in public would cause you to burst into flames or something,” Joseph explained and I laughed. We both thought about sin for a moment, wondered what it meant that he’d seen so much in the city.

“Joseph, I am so jealous,” I said finally, after thinking about all he had experienced, and he smiled sheepishly, “I can’t wait until next week!”

“Neither can I,” explained Joseph, “There was just so much that about halfway through the day I just sort of felt fuzzy and numb. I couldn’t take in anymore. I am sure I missed things.”

“Well try to remember everything, I want to hear about it,” I pleaded.

“That is a good idea!” he said suddenly, moving items out of the truck more quickly than before.


“If I am trying to remember and document everything for you, it will keep me focused. When I go to town I will come back and we will go through everything together from beginning to end. Then we can work together and make sense of things,” he explained, “You are always better at understanding complicated things. So I will be the eyes and you will be the brain.” I felt sort of touched that he thought of me that way.

“I think that is a good idea, glad I thought of it” I said happily. The truck was completely empty now, like it had never left. I looked over at my younger brother and smiled.

“Thank you for letting me know everything, I know you could get in a lot of trouble if anyone finds out,” I said, suddenly realizing the risk Joseph was taking for me. He could be shunned for telling me these things. I, of course, was liable for punishment too, but likely only a beating.

“Anna,” he said as though completely surprised by my concern, “You are my sister and my best friend, really my only friend, what is an experience if I can’t share it with you?” He said and I felt my heart swell. I reached over and grabbed Joseph’s hand, squeezing it once. Then we went back into the house and did the dishes.

* * * * *

In the next few weeks, Joseph and I settled into a routine. All week we would be excited and anxious as market day approached. Then Joseph would go off to the city to sell goods with my father. All that day would be nervous agony for me. I couldn’t wait for him to get home and tell me everything. In the evening he would return and we would share an interminable dinner with Mother and Father. Then, we’d go out to the barn to clean out the truck and Joseph would describe the world to me.

Joseph would describe, in minute detail, his trip to town and everything that he saw that day. We would skip over nothing, so much so that our conversations were long and detailed. Through Joseph I first heard about cell-phones and pet dogs, iPods and tattoos, television and earrings. It was all so strange and wonderful. We would talk about all of the things that Joseph saw and try to fit them into our world, to make them make sense. We were like children again, discovering the world and having fun.

It was one day, about a month after Joseph’s birthday, that our exploration of the world began to change us as well. We have already finished cleaning the truck and we were sitting in the front seat. Joseph was by the steering wheel and I was in the passenger’s seat. Joseph was finishing up his explanation of the day, going over many of the details. But he seemed more reticent than usual. Finally, I had to ask.

“Joseph, what is bothering you?” I asked and he looked surprised.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“You just seem very distant today, did something bad happen?” I asked, leaning onto the dashboard of the car. At first, my brother looked like he was about to deny that anything was amiss, and then he looked around conspiratorially.

“Okay, I saw something different today,” he explained, his eyes wide.

‘What?” I asked excitedly, I was always interested in new things.

“Well…” he said, it was clear that it was something big.

“Come on, just tell me!” I said, actually bouncing up and down in the seat. Joseph laughed at me and put up his hands.

“Okay, okay,” he said, “Well we were selling items like usual and this man and this woman came up. I say they were a man and a woman, but they were actually pretty young, like your age. Anyway, after they paid the woman whispered something into the man’s ear and he laughed. Then he turned towards her and…”

“What?” I asked in suspense, leaning forward.

“He put his lips against her lips…” he said. I don’t know what I was expecting but it certainly wasn’t that. I furrowed my eyebrow and tried to figure out what it could mean. My brother seemed lost in thought as well.

“Just pressed their lips together?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he explained, “And they didn’t do or say anything else after that. They just walked away.” It was becoming stranger. We’d read the Bible before, we even knew the word “kiss” but we had no idea what it meant. If we were ever to ask we were told not to ask questions.

“Did you ask father about it?” I asked.

“Yes,” Joseph said and winced, “he just told me it was a sin and that I should pray that God forgives me for witnessing it.” He said. I knew that Joseph took my father’s warning seriously. But even then, I knew my father was a little too strict.

“Oh don’t worry about him,” I said, “God has bigger things to worry about than people touching their lips.” I said and Joseph seemed to relax a bit.

“Yeah, I guess you are right,” he said, “But I still wish I knew what they were doing.”

“Did it seem like they liked it?” I asked, “Or like it was a chore or something.”

“Oh they liked it, they smiled and everything,” Joseph said. There was no doubt. I was very curious about this practice. Why would they do something so unnecessary? What did it do for them? Suddenly, I had an idea.

“Do you want to try it?” I asked.

“What?!” Joseph said, taken aback. I giggled.

“Come on, aren’t you curious?” I asked and he seemed to consider that. He leaned against the steering wheel and rubbed his chin.

“But if seeing it is a sin, then doing it must certainly be a sin,” he countered. It was a good point. I was as afraid of sin as the next person in my community. But, at the same time, I knew the Bible talked often of God’s mercy and his forgiveness. Perhaps a little sin, if you regretted it later, was okay. I wanted to know what it felt to press my lips to another person’s. It sounded exotic and fun.

Thinking about this, for some reason, was having an effect on me. I couldn’t explain it but my heart was beating hard and my palms felt sweaty. Something was happening to my body I couldn’t control. I felt so many strange emotions. They were scary, but they felt good. I looked at Joseph, he was clearly feeling something similar. There was a bead of sweat on his forehead and he looked flushed.

“Just once maybe,” he said cautiously. We didn’t really know what we were doing. I got up on my knees on the seat in the truck. It was a bench seat so I just sort of leaned over. Joseph was sitting in the driver’s seat and he turned his head so he was looking at me. He looked a little nervous.

“It is okay,” I said, “everything will be fine.” He might be worldlier now, but I was still the older sister. He let out a sigh and nodded his head. I kept inching my lips forward, closer to his. I looked at his lips and wondered if he were thinking of mine, pink and thick. I wanted my lips to touch his, to feel his skin against mine…

“Close your eyes,” he said suddenly, and I stopped. My mouth was just inches from Joseph’s now.


“The people I saw, they closed their eyes,” he explained. That didn’t make a lot of sense to me, how would you know where to put your lips? Maybe it was just practice. I shrugged my shoulders and closed my eyes. I tilted my head to the side and pushed my lips forwards, against my brother’s.

I felt the soft press of his lips against mine. It was just slightly damp skin against slightly damp skin. But it was so much more. I felt every nerve on my body light up. I could smell more, taste more, and feel more. My entire body trembled. My heart pounded in my chest and my head felt light. For some reason, my nipples hardened, scratching against the hard fabric of my dress. And, most unnerving of all, my private area felt strange. But I didn’t worry about any of that, I melted into the kiss, just letting my lips move softly and gently against my brother’s. I’d never felt so transcendent. I moaned a little as we kissed, I didn’t even know why.

Then, after a long while, we broke our kiss. I sat back in the truck, against the door, and opened my eyes. Joseph was looking at me. He had a silly smile on his face as well and we both laughed a little nervously. We didn’t know what any of the feelings we had meant, but we knew they were different. And we were sure, because of how lovely the effect of those emotions were, that they must be sinful. But it was hard to feel nervous.

“Wow, that was amazing,” I said and my brother nodded.

“I can see why those people did it,” he said. We were having trouble making eye contact for some reason. For a long minute we seemed to be too awkward to speak. Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer.

“Well, I guess we are done cleaning,” I said and opened up the passenger side door.

“Yeah,” my brother said sheepishly, opening his own. And then an urge struck me. I’d can’t explain it, but I quickly leaned over and kissed my brother once on the cheek. He smiled at me and I blushed deeply and smiled back. Then we both ran to the house, flush with strange new emotions and blind sexual energy.

* * * * * The rest of that week my brother and I would kiss occasionally when we were alone. We knew because we’d never seen my parents kiss that it was not something that was supposed to be done. It was sinful and it was wrong. But it was also fun. It made me feel so lovely. But I should stress that we didn’t really understand what we were doing. Part of me longed for Joseph to take me in his arms and hold me tight while he kissed me. But I didn’t even know those were actions a person could take. Our kisses were chaste, both of us in the barn, sitting next to one another, and lovingly putting our lips together. Except for the fact that each kiss lasted about two minutes, they weren’t even particularly inappropriate for a brother or a sister. Of course, we didn’t know that.

Every time I kissed Joseph I was faced with four distinct kinds of feelings. First was pure elation. It was such a magical thing, the connection I felt when I kissed my brother. I’d never known you could convey love with your body, to pass your emotions to another threw your lips and skin was a revelation. I didn’t know how I knew that part of what I felt was love, but there must’ve been some connection between a kiss and the heart, because I felt it nonetheless. Second, I felt closer to my brother each time. As I said, we were always close to one another, but something felt different now. When I looked at him I ached inside and I found myself blushing around him. I noticed that I liked the way his face looked in a way I hadn’t before. I noticed his strength and his humor in a more appreciative way than before. I didn’t know why it was happening, but those feelings made our kisses more magical. Third was an intense and unaccountable frustration in my body. I knew there was something my body was telling me I needed to do. When I kissed my brother my heart beat so fast, my cheeks flushed, my nipples hardened, and my private area became dripping wet. I knew that my body was begging me to do something, but I didn’t know what it was. Finally, I felt fear. Each time I kissed Joseph we were one step closer to being caught. I didn’t know what punishment would be in store for us, but I knew that it would be bad. Of course, this fear was never enough to stop. In fact, all four of these new feelings, all at once, complemented one another. It made my life more exciting and more fun that it had ever been before, more than I’d ever imagined it could be.

It was only two weeks after our first kiss that Joseph once again brought new and startling information back to our home. I could tell the instant he got home from market that he was more excited than usual. He was nervous and shifty our entire dinner. His impatience was exacerbated by the slow pace of dinner. Father had made more money than usual that day and he was in good spirits. While we slowly ate our stew, Father regaled Mother with the highlights of the day. Mercifully, the story ended eventually and Joseph and I rushed out to the barn and began unloading the merchandise.

“What are you so excited about?” I asked, excited myself. But Joseph would not skip ahead. We had a ritual and, as usual, he started at the beginning of the day and told me everything. By now some of the things that had seemed so strange before were becoming commonplace. At least, hearing about them were. I no longer had hundreds of questions about short pants or about sunglasses. And, in a matter of a few minute, Joseph ran through his entire day. No new revelations, everything seemed quite routine.

“Then what are you so happy about?” I asked.

“What do you mean Anna?” Joseph asked with false innocence. I could tell he was lying and reached over and smacked him three lightly on the arm. He grinned at me, “Okay, okay!” he said, lifting his hands to defend himself.

“What are you smiling about you rat?” I asked, laughing as well. Joseph looked around the barn conspiratorially. Then he reached down the back of his pants and slowly lifted something out.

“This,” he said with reverence, and laid a rectangular packet of papers down on the hood of the truck. I walked forward cautiously. It was made of glossy paper and had a red border around the outside. At the top of the packet was a single word “TIME” and there was a picture of man with gray hair on the front. The fourth man I’d ever seen. I now know that Time is a magazine, and a rather dull one at that, but at that instant it was amazingly precious. Suddenly, I felt tears rising in my eyes.

“Joseph,” I said, my voice cracking a bit, “Thank you so much…”

“Anna,” he replied, “I know that you wish you could come with me, but I thought maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, if you could see a little of what I see.” My brother had taken an incredible risk. Surrounded by the other men in the Light and the Way, including our Father, he had carefully snuck a little piece of the outside world back with him. To share with me. I dropped the magazine onto the hood of the car and wrapped my arms around my brother. He laughed a little. Then, I turned, my eyes still blurry with tears, and kissed him. There was something different about this kiss. Every other time we’d kissed it had been after careful deliberation. This was just a natural reaction, I could not have chosen otherwise. And the kiss was so much more passionate, with my arms draped around Joseph’s strong neck. He kissed me back, our lips fused hard, our saliva mixing as our mouths opened ever so slightly.

Finally, I realized what I was doing and felt a bit odd. I broke the kiss and pushed back. Joseph had a sort of dazed smile on his face, as though he were more than satisfied with the reward he received for the magazine. To hide my embarrassment in my sudden loss of control, I picked the magazine back up.

“Where did you find it?” I asked.

“A customer asked me to throw it away after I checked him out, I just hung onto it instead,” he explained. I held the slick paper up close to my face, enjoying the feel of its foreignness and weight in my hands.

“It is my favorite gift ever,” I said to Joseph and he blushed.

“I’d get you anything to have you look at me like that,” Joseph said slowly, with intense embarrassment. I blushed back but couldn’t speak.

“Well,” Joseph said finally after a long pause, “I guess we should go back in, Father will wonder what is keeping us.” He said. And he left. When he was gone I carefully unzipped the back of my dress a bit, slid the magazine down against my back and then zipped myself back up. Then I rushed to the house, hoping that no one would notice my slight hunchback.

* * * * *

A few hours later I was in my room, a candle burning on my desk. I was sitting in my chair staring down at the magazine. I had already read the first article, something about Chinese labor conditions. There were so many uncertain words with uncertain meanings that I really had absolutely no idea what I was reading about. I didn’t even really understand the purpose of the papers, I mean the only thing I’d read were religious documents. I didn’t think there was such a things as “news.” However, regardless of my lack of understanding, I was enthralled by the magazine. It had such lovely paper and wonderful pictures. There were men and women, people I’d never seen before. It was just a slight taste of what my brother had been experiencing all along and it was amazing. There were little cartoons and info-graphics and it was almost a sensory overload. Every couple of minutes I had to stop and take a breath to keep myself from keeling over.

I was proceeding slowly, trying to understand what the magazine was saying. Then I turned a page that would be very important for my life in the future. It was somewhere near the middle of the magazine and when I flipped to it I was looking at something that felt out of place. Everywhere else there had been lots of words and just a few pictures scattered around. But suddenly I was looking at a full-page picture with just a splash of words across it. The look of the magazine to that point had been very serious, but all of the sudden, it looked playful. I later figured out that it was an advertisement, but I was seriously stumped.

But I was less confused about the exact purpose of the full-paged picture than the content. The picture showed a man with long dark hair and smoldering looks. Most surprisingly, the man wasn’t wearing a shirt! I’d never seen a man’s chest before. I knew from the way my father’ shirt and my brother’s shirt draped over their frames that a man’s chest was different than a woman’s. But I’d still never seen it before. The man had bulging muscles; his stomach was covered in ridges. Even stranger than that, the man was not wear pants. He was just wearing a little pair of tight white short pants. And there, between his legs, was a large bulge. What was that?

I’d never really thought about what a man’s body looked like, but this was completely different than anything my imagination would have conceived. But for some reason, I liked it. It made my heart flutter and my palms sweat. I felt that same bodily compulsion I felt when I kissed Joseph! I didn’t know what to think of that. I wanted to move on from the picture, it made me feel so strange. But I couldn’t.

I picked the magazine up and walked over to my bed slowly. I kept looking at the picture, letting my eyes roam over it. I couldn’t figure out why I found it so alluring, beyond all of the other new sights and ideas I’d encountered in the magazine. I lay down on my back and held the magazine over my head. As I did so, I felt my nightgown ride up a little against my nipples. I suppressed a little squeak. That had felt so nice. Why? I looked down at my body. I was acutely aware of every nerve in my body. Everything felt electric.

I don’t know what possessed me to take my nightgown off, but it was the only thing I could think of that would release some of the tension I was feeling. It was more instinct than anything else. I put the magazine down and slipped my nightgown up over my head. As usual, I wasn’t wearing anything underneath.

I was only supposed to be naked when I was bathing or in the short time between getting out of my night clothes and into my day clothes. So I had little experience with my naked body. I looked down over it like it belonged to someone else. It felt alien. I looked at my small, pink nipples and they were sticking out hard from my body. I saw the way my chest tapered down to my waist and then flared out again to my hips. I looked at my flat tummy and thin legs. I looked at my private area and saw it glistening from moisture. I noticed, for the first time ever, a little pink nub at the top of my private area, sticking up. It was a tiny thing, I didn’t know what it was.

I picked my magazine up again and looked at it. I tried to understand what was happening to me, to figure out what about the picture was affecting me and what it had to do with my brother. But the more I looked, the more I felt tense. I felt like my entire body was vibrating and I couldn’t keep still. I tried to get comfortable, I moved the magazine a bit. As I did, I felt the corner of the magazine brush against my nipple.

“Oh god!” I said quietly, without realizing why. It was like a hot chill ran through my body. I know that is contradictory, but there is no other way to describe it. I looked down at my hard little nipple and wondered what had happened. I set the magazine down next to me on the bed. I moved my hand up towards my breast. I’d never much bothered with my breasts before, I didn’t have any idea why they were there (I was too young when my brother was born to remember nursing). But now they seemed to have a purpose. I took my forefinger and gently flicked my nipple. That same hot chill ran through me again and I bit my lower lip to keep from making noise. If my parents heard they would come in and find out I was doing… something.

I took my thumb and forefinger and pinched my nipple. My head swam. All the things I had been feeling seemed to be getting more intense. I pinched again and I was certain. Whatever was happening to me was in some way connected to my nipples. And I liked it. I brought my other hand up and started to pinch my other nipple as well. I found that if I squeezed both of my breasts, not just the nipples, the feeling was even more intense. I writhed on the bed. I felt something building, but I didn’t know what. It was maddening. It kept making me feel more and more anxious but at the same time I didn’t want to stop. For a long while, I just played with my breasts, feeling every aspect of my touch. But the more I did, the less my body responded to the controls of my brain. My legs moved as though I had no control over them, moving side to side. By chance I happened to squeeze my legs together.

“Hmmph” I moaned around my bit lower lip. My thighs had brushed against the hard pink little nub between my legs. The feeling was a thousand times more intense than my nipples. The first instant I felt that feeling, I needed more of it. I squeezed my legs together again and didn’t feel anything. I tried a third time and got nothing. I wondered if it was something that could only happen once or if I was not touching it correctly.

I moved my fingers from one hand away from my breast and slid it down across my stomach. Every spot that my hand touched felt more alive after it passed. I sucked in breath quickly. My hand moved down to the bottom of my stomach and against the slightly raised area right above my private area. Then, my finger brushed the hard little pink nub. I shuddered all over. My hand involuntarily squeezed on my breast, making the feeling more intense.

“What is going on?” I asked myself quietly. It didn’t feel like I was existing in the real world. Everything felt cloudy and strange. And lovely. I slowly began to move my finger against (what I later learned was) my clit. My breathing was shallow and each pass of my finger pushed me farther and farther into the strange, sensuous cloud. All the while I was thinking. I was thinking about the man’s body in the magazine, the way he was put together. I didn’t know why. And I thought about my brother also, about kissing him, about the way his arms felt around me.

I guess in thinking about all of this, I’d lost tracking of what I was doing. I became aware that my finger had slipped off my clit and was now touching the slit below. My fingers felt hot and wet. I put them away brought them to my face. The liquid was clear and thick, stretching out between my outstretched fingers. I held it to my nose, smelling it. It was a musky aroma that seemed to fill the entire room, and it was lovely. I felt an intense curiosity about it. SO curious, I could not stop myself from what I did next, I plunged my fingers into my mouth, tasting the salty flavor of my vagina’s juices. I felt my cheeks get hot as I savored the flavor, rolling the liquid around in my mouth. What was I doing?

I couldn’t stop to think now; my body wouldn’t let me stop. I moved my hand back down between my legs. My finger brushed my clit again. Now it was wet and slid across my clit more easily. My body shook and I moaned. I clasped my hand over my mouth to keep from moaning aloud, just keeping my one hand between my legs. My awkward fumblings were over. I knew, instinctively, what I needed to do. I move my finger up and down my clit, stroking it. I quickly fell into a slow, steady rhythm.

As my fingers moved over my clit, I felt like everything else in the world slipped away. There was just the building sensation inside of my body and one thought. Over and over in my mind I just kept thinking “Joseph, Joseph, Joseph!” With each stroke of my finger I thought of my brother, the person who was opening this strange new world up to me. The feeling inside of me became more and more intense. I had to bite my hand, hard, to keep from making noise.

Suddenly, all of the tension in my body reached an unbearable crescendo. I wanted so badly to stop, I couldn’t stand the furious agony anymore. And then there was a glorious, almost excruciating release from the tension. My entire body shook all over and I bit down so hard onto my hand that I left marks. And then a wave of pleasure spread out in every-increasing waves from my clitoris. It rolled up my body and down my legs. It was a warm, vibrating feeling that erased anything approaching a thought in my mind and left me a puddle of loose muscles.

Finally, the feeling passed and I lay on my bed panting and confused. It had been the most pure sensation of pleasure I’d ever experienced. There was nothing even remotely close to it in all of my life. I knew that I should be concerned, maybe even scared. Anything that felt that lovely had to be sinful. And what did it have to do with the man in the magazine or with my brother? But I couldn’t seriously think of any of those things. I was too…satisfied. All I could do was slide under my covers and fall asleep completely rested.

* * * * *

I awoke the next morning, still feeling limbered and contented. But I could think now, and I knew that something strange had happened the night before. I got out of bed and felt thankful that I’d woken up early enough to clean up after myself. I picked up the magazine and carefully slid it under the mattress and above the box spring. I also picked up my nightgown and put it away. I then got dressed and headed downstairs. The whole time I felt a strange mixture of emotions. I was ashamed of myself, first off. I didn’t know why, but I was almost overwhelmed by a feeling that I’d let my family down. That I’d let God down. But I also felt curious. What was happening to me and why? And why did something I instinctively knew was wrong feel so right?

As I sat down at breakfast, I expected everyone to know that I’d done something. I was a little nervous at first, eating breakfast with the family and doing all of my normal chores. But everyone treated me normally; no one was the wiser that I’d done anything out of the ordinary. Whatever it was that I did. That made things even stranger. I’d always assumed my parents knew when I sinned (they usually did). More questions raised, I guess. And I didn’t have anyone to ask about it. I didn’t even know if I could talk to Joseph about it. It was too wrong and Joseph was even more sensitive to sin than I was.

But even though I wasn’t going to tell him that I’d touched myself, that didn’t stop me from thinking. When I saw him at the breakfast table I thought about the picture of the man in the magazine. I thought that his face was more…agreeable than the magazine man’s face. Joseph’s eyes were kinder and her chin was stronger. But. I wondered if Joseph’s body looked like the man’s. I wondered if Joseph had a bulge between his legs like the man did. And if he did, what was it? I was just so curious. I found myself trying to picture Joseph with his clothes off. I thought about him kissing me while wearing nothing but those tiny white shorts. And then I felt even more ashamed for some reason. I felt tension rising inside of me. I was almost thankful when breakfast was over.

Despite all of my efforts to forget everything, or at least pretend it hadn’t happened, I couldn’t focus on anything all day. I made mistakes in my sewing, for which Mother chastised me. And I dropped an egg in the barn, for which Father thrashed me some. Finally, as evening approached, I couldn’t take it anymore. I wouldn’t talk to Joseph about what I’d done the night before, but I would talk to him about my curiosity. I had talked through all of his confusion and experiences with him. It was his turn to talk to me. At least that is what I told myself. Part of me knew that, even before I summoned Joseph to meet me in the barn, that I was going to go farther than talking. I knew, even if I couldn’t admit it to myself, that once you open Pandora’s Box with respect to curiosity and sex, that you can’t close it again. I didn’t have words for these concepts, but I knew them anyway. My brother had brought the world into our home and the night before I had allowed that world into my body. I needed to share that experience with someone, to take the world into my soul. And so I summoned my brother.

It was shortly after dinner and my parents were in the sitting room reading scripture. Normally at that time I would sit and listen to my Father read while I wrapped items for sale at the next market-day. Joseph would normally whittle or do some other minor hand craft.

“Joseph,” I said when we were all in the room, “today when I was in the barn, I noticed a few places where the boards have begun to rot.” Maintenance of the barn was my brother’s duty.

“What is that?” my father said severely. He did not need to see anything else. He didn’t even look up from the Bible. Instead my brother spoke.

“Well Anna, show me where you saw it,” Joseph said, getting up from his chair. We walked out to the barn together. When we got inside and lit a few lanterns, Joseph looked around curiously.

“Where are the rotten boards?” he asked earnestly. I smiled a little; I hadn’t realized that my ruse would be so successful not just with my parents but also with my brother.

“Joseph, don’t be daft,” I said, playfully smacking him on the arm. I felt his muscles under my hand wondered why I noticed that, “I just told you something was wrong so we could talk about something.”

“Good God Anna!” Joseph said, allowing himself a small bit of blasphemy, “We take enough risk on Market Day when we are supposed to be in the barn together for a long time.” He looked very angry and I knew that he was right.

“I know, I am sorry,” I said, sighing deeply because I felt bad for making him nervous. But when he saw the look on my face, he read it without me having to say anything more. He understood me so well that his expression softened and he immediately sat down on an old bucket.

“Well we are already here,” he said, “What did you want to talk about?” he asked. And then I realized that I had absolutely no idea how to begin. But I also knew that we didn’t have a lot of time. Father would expect us back before too long. Joseph looked at me expectantly; I decided to just jump into it.

“Joseph, I read some of the papers you gave me,” I started slowly.

“Yes…?” he said, looking anxiously towards the door. I had to go faster.

“First. I love them. It is amazing! I’ve never seen or read anything so beautiful in my life. It was incredible,” I gushed, “Thank you so much.” He smiled sheepishly.

“You already thanked me when you got it,” he said, blushing and not making eye contact. I knew that I had to push on. I had to find about the man’s body. I needed to know why it made me feel so strange. And why my brother was suddenly making me feel so strange.

“Well, at one point there was a depiction of a man and…well he was not wearing a shirt. In fact, he wasn’t wearing anything but very tight short pants,” I explained and Joseph nodded knowingly.

“Yes, the Outsiders often dress… scandalously. It can be hard to maintain purity when you see it. God often tests us,” he explained. I was happy that he understood the temptations I felt, but I had to go farther. I had to explain what I was thinking.

“Yes. But it is more than that. His body was so…different than my own. He was hard in places where I was soft and straight in places where I curve. I had no idea what a man’s body looks like. And between his legs there was a…bulge in his shorts. It did not look like he was keeping something there. It looked like it was… part of him,” I said nervously. Now Joseph looked at me quizzically.

“What do you mean a bulge? You mean other than his privates?” he asked.

“What do you mean ‘other than his privates’? Privates aren’t supposed to bulge! They are just…” I said, then blushing as I was talking about something so dirty and wrong. Joseph felt uncomfortable too. But we were both very curious now. We were clearly talking past one another. I wondered. As I noted before, I knew from our clothes that a man’s body was different than a woman’s body, at least in the chest. My brother had broader shoulders and me and no breasts. But maybe other parts were different as well. I always wore big dresses and the men always wore baggy long pants. Maybe the bulge was just a difference in bodies. A fascinating difference.

“You know, sometimes women will walk by on market day,” Joseph explained slowly, “And they will wear very right short pants. And I noticed that they looked, sort of different, between there legs. But I never really thought much of it” I felt a strange pang of jealousy when I thought about Joseph looking at other girls. At first, I assumed I was just jealous that he got to see other people. But I wondered, if maybe, I was jealous that he was looking at someone other than me. Why should I think that? I shook that feeling off. I knew what I wanted to find out about and I knew that the only way to learn was by asking.

“Joseph, what do you look like with your clothes off?” I asked simply. In all my life that question had never occurred to me before I saw the magazine. Now I needed to know. Joseph sputtered and blushed. I smiled at him, his reaction was cute.

“Anna, even talking about that sort of thing is a sin! God has already heard it!” he said, and I almost thought he would drop on his knees then and pray for me. I shook my head.

“No, I don’t think that it is a sin. Maybe looking at the magazine, or you looking at women at the market is sinful,” I said, really emphasizing that last part, “But you have heard Father explain the limitations on contact between men and women. And what he says is based on what he learns at church. A woman is not supposed to see or be seen by any men, except her father, her husband, her son, or her brother. You are my brother, so it isn’t a sin to wonder what you look like. All of you,” I explained.

“No but any talk of nakedness is a sin,” Joseph said resisting. But I saw the way his eyes were hovering over my body, he was just as curious as I was. He just needed time to soak in what I was suggesting.

“Joseph, I know that it is a sin. But Jesus said that to sin in your heart is as evil as sinning with actions. I have already thought about it. I have already committed a sin. And I feel sorry. But I am also curious. I know that knowledge is evil and perhaps it is because I am a woman that it is natural for me to want more. But Joseph you brought me The Apple, so are you not the Eve in our house? You brought knowledge; I am just trying to make sense of it. Maybe, we can just look at one another, in our nakedness, and then we won’t be curious anymore. Then we can sincerely apologize to God for our sin and, because we have already satisfied our need, we will no longer have the sinful curiosity. I fear that if I do not commit this one great transgression, then every day from now on I will commit a smaller sin in my heart. And I think, in the long run, that is worse,” I meant every word that I said. I knew that Joseph could hear the honesty in my voice and he considered my appeal.

“Anna, I am curious too,” he said finally, “I see these women on market days and I think about their bodies. I can’t help it.” He said and I simmered in jealousy, “But more than that, I compare their bodies to yours. Or, what I wonder about you. I see their legs and wonder what your legs look like. I see their arms and wonder what your arms look like. I see… I see other parts of them and wonder. I wonder about you. But I don’t know that it is safe to do this. Father might see us, or Mother. And God will see us.” He explained.

I was somehow touched by what my brother had said. Both in that he compared other women to me and also in that he was trying to protect me from retribution. Divine or otherwise. I got up and walked over to the door and quietly closed it. I walked back over to my brother.

“I cannot control what you will do,” I said slowly, watching his eyes to see what he’d think, “But I will show you my body first. There is no sin in that for you, I have closed you in. Then, whatever you decide, I will accept.” I explained. Both of us knew that Joseph could easily stand up and walk out, that if he chose to sit and watch me disrobe that he was as guilty as I was of a sin, but I think it was just enough of a cushion to allow Joseph to nod his head slightly.

Joseph was still sitting on the old bucket and I was standing just a few feet in front of him. I didn’t really know where to start. But I wanted desperately to show my body to my brother. I thought of those women he looked at and I wanted him to find my body more agreeable, more attractive, than theirs. I realized the easiest thing to remove was my bonnet. I untied the bow around my chin and place the bonnet gently on the hood of the truck. Then I reached into my hair and removed the pins holding it in place. I shook my head and let my long chestnut hair cascade down my back. I looked over at Joseph, his eyes were wide and he was not moving.

“Do you like my hair?” I asked nervously. No man had seen my hair since I was a very little girl. He looked at it longingly.

“Yours is the loveliest hair I have ever seen, it is so long and it shines beautifully,” Joseph said as though he were in awe. I giggled and hid my face in my hands. I felt so odd, my stomach was full of butterflies and I felt the same tension I’d felt the night before. My loins ached and my breathing was shallow. I wondered what it meant but I pushed on.

“Thank you,” I barely whispered. Then I reached behind my back and carefully reached for my zipper. It took a little contorting but soon I found it and slowly unzipped the back of my dress down. My dress became looser and hung off of my body now. But I was still completely covered. The next step would change that. I thought for a moment about what God would think of this and whether I was committing a greater sin now than I’d ever committed before. But all I felt was love, and an extreme desire to share my body with my brother. I wouldn’t stop now.

I slipped my arms out of the long, loose sleeves of my dress, letting the fabric that covered my breasts and stomach flop forward. I was too nervous to look at my brother; I just looked down at my bare breasts and flat stomach. Next I grabbed the waist band of my dress and pushed it off of my hips. The dress slid down my legs and pooled on the floor of the barn. The barn was dirty so I quickly stepped out of my dress (still wearing my shoes) and then carefully lifted my dress and placed it on the hood of the truck. Only then did I look over at my brother.

I knew, generally, what he was looking at. He saw my long, dark hair draped over my shoulders, slightly obscuring my breasts and my shoulders. Her saw my long, thin arms held gently to my side. He saw the swell of my breasts and the way my body tapered down to my hips. Then he saw the swell of my hips, before my legs tapered down to my little feet. Her saw my round, pink nipples and the hot red gash between my legs. A gash that was glistening from those juices it continued to mysteriously make as I was excited.

I looked at my brother now. He looked frozen onto his little seat, except for his eyes. They flittered around all over my body, drinking me in. I should have felt bad, I should have felt naked, and I should have felt ashamed. But I didn’t feel any of those things. I felt exalted and somehow wanted. It was a lovely and selfish feeling. But it was more than that, I could tell that my brother was enjoying my body; I was sharing it with him. And that made it more than selfish; it made my nakedness a gift.

“Your body,” Joseph said after a long bout of silence, “It is so…different. It is so soft and curvy…” He tried to grasp what made it so different and wonderful in his eyes, but he could not. We lacked the words to describe what we felt, but we felt it all the same. Joseph stood up and took a step closer to me. He sort of froze, just looking at me. The raw emotion on his face made me smile.

“I am glad you like it,” I said. I saw that his eyes were mostly fixed on the area between my legs and also my breasts. Of course, those were the parts of my body that were apparently different from his; it was natural that they’d be the most interesting. I reached forward and took Joseph’s hand. I knew that he was curious, and I also ached for him to share my body by touching it. He almost pulled away at first, nervous to touch me while I was naked, knowing that somehow it was a sin. But he was too interested to pull away completely. I took his hand and gently placed it on my breast.

I felt his hard, calloused fingers on my breast, his palm pressed against my nipples and I whimpered a little. What was this about my breasts all of the sudden? They had never been so sensitive before. But I wasn’t worried, the feeling was wonderful. I looked into my brother’s eyes while he gently squeezed and played with my breast. I felt the inside of my legs grow wetter as he fondled me. I could even smell the delicate aroma of my private area and I could tell Joseph could as well. I saw him glance down more than once between my legs as he played with my breast.

“You could touch that too,” I said, barely above a whisper, I bit my lower lip and felt Joseph squeeze my breast a little tighter.

“I don’t know,” he said, looking around uncertainly.

“Please,” I said. I needed his hands on me. And I wanted to know if the feeling I’d felt alone, the night before, in my bed, would be even more special if I could make it happen with my brother. He didn’t hesitate. He kept him hand on my breast, but his other hand moved between my legs. I spread my legs a bit, to give him access. Then I felt his strong fingers press against my clit and slide through my juices. I moaned quietly and then bit my lip to keep from making noise. Joseph’s fingers swirled around my wet opening, feeling me gently. I felt a building tension inside of me, more familiar now.

Then, surprisingly, I felt the very tip of Joseph’s finger slip inside of my body. I shuddered and gasped. Then I started to pitch forward. The sensation was so unexpected. And so intense. I felt weak. Joseph’s hands moved away from my body, but he caught me as I started to slip. I looked into his eyes and saw concern and love there shining through.

“Are you okay Anna?” he asked, “Did I heart you?”

“I am perfect,” I whispered, “I’ve never felt better.”

Then I quickly leaned forward and planted a kiss on my brother’s lips. I don’t know why I did it. It didn’t really make sense, but it was an uncontrollable urge. We’d been kissing a little bit for weeks now, but this was entirely different. There was too much excitement in the air, too much new territory for a chaste little peck. My lips pressed hard against my brother’s lips. At first he seemed surprised, he hadn’t been expecting that. But soon I felt his body react to mine. In a moment, I felt his arms wrap around me, pressing my naked body against his clothes. The roughness of the material and the surprise I felt sent a delightful chill through my body. Our kiss became more passionate. I opened my mouth to mouth and suddenly Joseph’s tongue was in my mouth. At first I was surprised, but I found that I liked it. Our tongue explored one another’s mouths and he tasted wonderful. I also became aware that something hard between Joseph’s legs was pressing against my hip. I broke the kiss and looked at my brother.

“Can I see you?” I asked tepidly. I knew that he was nervous, but I could also tell he was excited as I was. He thought for a moment and then nodded his head. He quickly unbuttoned his shirt and threw it on the hood of the car. His body was different than the man in the magazine, he was a little thinner and his stomach wasn’t as definitively ridged. But his arms looked stronger, his shoulders. He had the build of a farmer. I wanted to feel his muscles with my hands and to have them wrapped around my shoulders. I wanted to kiss his stomach and show his body how much I loved it. But Joseph wasn’t done yet, he quickly unzipped his trousers and pulled them down. In a few seconds my brother was standing naked in front of me. I was shocked.

Beyond his just his radically different upper body, my brother’s lower body looked like it belonged to a different species, rather than just a different sex. His legs were thicker than mine, less graceful. His body was covered in hair, even more than mine would have been if not for my daily regime. But more bizarre still was the cause of the bulge I’d seen in the magazine. There was a long flesh shaft rising from between Joseph’s legs. The tip was round and pink, the rest was the color of skin, except there were more veins. And down near the base were two large balls secure in a pouch of skin. It was absolutely alien looking. But I wanted to see more.

“You look very handsome,” I said to Joseph and he blushed and grinned, “Can I have a closer look?” I asked cautiously.

“Yes,” Joseph said softly. I walked over to my brother and put my hand on his bare chest. The muscles I’d felt through his shirt were warmer now and I could feel his heart pounding wildly in his chest. I squeezed his muscles, feeling their strength under his skin. He looked down at my hand and smiled. I wanted to kiss him, but I knew we did not have much time. There was something else I wanted to see.

I stood close to my brother, just a few inches from his body, then I squatted down in front of him with my legs spread wide. Now my knees were almost touching my brother’s shins and his shaft was directly at eye level. It looked no less alien close up, but it was not unpleasant. I found it fascinating. What’s more, so close I could smell my brother’s musk, an enticing aroma.

“The one in the man’s pants, in the magazine didn’t stick up as much,” I observed aloud.

“Sometimes it stands up and other times it is soft,” Joseph explained, “It depends on… lots of things I guess.” He said.

“Do you control it?” I asked and he laughed a bit.

“No, not really,” he said. I was a little disappointed. I would have liked to see it go from hard to soft and then back. But then another idea struck me.

“May I touch it?” I asked, looking up at my brother. He looked nervous, but I could tell he wanted me to touch his shaft as much as I wanted to feel it. He hesitated another moment.

“Okay,” he said at last, letting out a long breath. I reached forward. I took my brothers balls in my hand, setting them gently on my palm. I heard my brother gasp a bit. They felt heavy and hot in my hand. I most them around a bit, enjoying the way my fingers sunk into the flesh. I could feel the blood pumping in his veins.

I played with his balls for a few minutes. The whole while I felt my body reacting more and more to the way he felt. I gazed at my brother, drinking in the strength of his body. And that same urge I’d had the night before stole over me, only more intense than ever before. While my hand was still gently massaging my brother’s scrotum, I looked down between my legs. My privates were spread wide open, looking red and swollen. I could feel it ache. My juices were running down my leg. And my little clitoris was sticking out hard. I remembered the way I’d felt the night before.

I gently placed my free hand between my legs, putting my fingers against my hard clit. My body shuddered as the tension grew inside of me. I looked up to see if Joseph noticed, but his eyes were closed and he was just enjoying the feel of my hands on his body. My fingers glided over the hard little nub, getting wet and sticky from my juices. I knew better what to do today than I had the night before; I stroked myself gently but assertively. I panted while I moved. My scent and my brothers mixed in the barn, creating a thick and powerful aroma that hung over the room.

I looked at my brother’s shaft and saw that there was a small hole at the tip and a few small dribs of thick, clear liquid was dripping from it. I slid my hand up from my brother’s balls, letting my fingers ride along the veiny bottom of his rod.

“Oh Anna!” Joseph said, sucking in air quickly. But he kept his eyes closed and did not move. I pushed my fingers against his shaft gently. I was surprised by the heat that it gave off and also how hard it was. The skin felt thin, like it would tear from being stretched, and it felt like knotted rope inside. Except that it seemed to quiver as I touched it. I liked the way his body seemed to react to my touch. My fingers flitted up his shaft and then reached the tip. It felt spongier and bulbous. I felt the thick liquid against my finger.

“Anna, please be careful, you don’t know what will happen,” my brother said, his voice was strained. I didn’t know what he meant, but I knew he was right. I was totally out of my element here. I loved it. I started to move my hand up my brother’s shaft, letting my fingers press into his skin. I even wrapped my hand around the shaft, letting its weight land in my palm. And while I stroked my brother, I stroked myself. My two hands moving in unison; building tension both in my own body and in my brother’s. My brother was moaning lightly and I could hear myself whimpering as well. Our minds, together, had drawn blank and only our bodies and the pleasures they provided were the only things discernible. I could feel my body moving towards that same delectable crescendo I’d experienced the night before. I saw the muscles in my brother’s body tighten.

“Oh Jesus Anna, you have to stop!” my brother said suddenly. I was confused, because I could tell by the noises that he was making that he was feeling the same thing I felt. Anyway, I couldn’t stop now, I was so close. My hands flew on my brother’s shaft and my fingers probed against the tight wet spot between my legs.

“Oh no!” my brother screamed and then he let out a low groan. I felt his shaft suddenly bounce a little in my hand, I squeezed it a little tighter. Then, even more surprisingly, liquid erupted from my brother’s shaft! Big, thick streaks of white liquid poured out of his body, splashing against my face, covering my eyes and my nose, even running against my lips. It was hot and gooey and smelled divinely. Just as the first thick glops splattered on my eyes I felt that same ecstasy I’d felt the night before. My body became weak and if felt like the entire world had turned to a warm, fuzzy embrace. I moaned, opening my mouth. The hot, salty liquid that poured out of my brother’s body landed on my tongue.

In a few moments, the last few drops came out of his body and landed on my bare breasts. Slowly, I came down from my ecstasy. My brother did as well; I felt his shaft softening in my hand. I released it. For a moment I thought he’d urinated on me, but I knew it was too thick and the wrong color. And I liked the way it felt on my skin, I liked the way it tasted. I didn’t think I would like it if it were waste. I had no idea what had happened. My vision was obscured and my mind was only now clearing.

“Oh my God Anna, what have you done?” Joseph asked.

“What have I done?” I asked, wiping open of my eyes clean, “What is this?” I asked, looking at the pearly liquid in my hand.

“I don’t really know,” he said, “It happens sometimes at night. Or when I touch myself. I don’t think you were supposed to make that happen.” He sounded nervous and I felt guilty. But also indignant, I hadn’t been trying to make him feel bad.

“Didn’t it feel nice?” I asked.

“Yes, but…” he said. But then we heard something that made our blood run cold.

“You kids…what are you doing out there?” We heard my father call from the back porch. I knew that we were in the midst of a great and probably mortal sin. My brother looked like he was about to panic.

“Almost finish Father,” I called out, my voice sound guilty and uncertain, “we will be done in a moment.” I said, trying to sound casual. We both knew that my Father would wait for us outside, and that if we did not come in a few seconds he would come to us. He would need to find out what mischief we were engaged in.

Joseph quickly began collecting his clothes and throwing them on. I was still squatting on the floor. My face was still covered in my brother’s ejaculate. I quickly wiped it off of my face and breasts as best I could. My hand was now covered in the sticky liquid. I looked around desperately for something to wipe it on. The floor was just dirt and straw and I didn’t see any rags. I couldn’t very well wipe it on my dress. I didn’t really have much of a choice. I started licking my hand voraciously, sucking on my fingers and pulling every last drop of my brother’s juices into my mouth. It was a little cooler now, but still warm. And thick. The flavor was intense and I felt the aroma in my nose even as I was swallowing it down. I still liked the taste, even in that moment of terror.

Once my hand was clean, I quickly moved to the truck and found my dress. I threw it on quickly, sliding it over my head. I knew my father was probably already approaching the door when I realized that I was too flustered to zip the back. I tried to reach behind me but I couldn’t. I saw the door start to open. Then, I felt my brother’s hand on my hip. I turned and looked, he’d come up behind me, dressed as though nothing had happened. He quickly zipped up my dress and took a few steps away from me.

“What is taking so long?” my Father thundered as he walked into the door.

“Nothing Father,” Joseph said, “We’re done.” My Father looked around the barn briefly for evidence of misdeeds. He scowled and then nodded and walked back towards the house. My brother and I followed.

* * * * *

I had a difficult time sleeping that night and I awoke feeling groggy. I had spent the whole night, even in my dreams, thinking about what had happened. There was no doubt in my mind that I’d committed a grievous sin. I knew that my body was sinful and I knew that pleasure was sinful unless it was in praise of God. And I knew more than either of those things that I’d hurt my brother.

That day I walked down to the breakfast table and saw that he was already there. I looked over at him, but he pretended not to notice me. When I spoke to him, he would not speak fully in response. Instead, he would just sort of grunt. As soon as he ate, he got up from the table and went to do his chores. All day, he ignored me and avoided me. And every time he did, I felt a stab of sadness and guilt in my heart. But when I thought back to the day before, in the barn, our bodies touching, I could not feel ashamed. It had been too lovely. I knew Joseph felt the same, he was just scared. I needed to talk to him.

Finally, around dinner time, I found Joseph standing next to the shed, collecting tools to put away for the evening. His hands were on his hips and he was looking down. I smiled despite myself. I could not help it. Just to see him or to smell him or to feel him was the absolute height of pleasure. My love for my brother was so much more than it had been just a few weeks earlier.

“Joseph, can we talk,” I said quietly and he jumped a bit. I winced and he turned to face me. I expected a sheepish smile and a bit of awkwardness. But his face was cold.

“No,” he said simply and started to walk away. I felt like I had been struck. I ran towards him.

“What do you mean ‘No’?” I asked indignantly, “I am your sister and your friend; you can’t just walk away from me.” He stopped and looked at me, still with fury in his eyes.

“You are still my sister,” he said, “But you are not my friend. We will never be friends again.” He said and I felt sick to my stomach. I didn’t know how to live in the world if Joseph wasn’t by my side. What was he saying? He couldn’t mean it.

“Joseph,” I said, grabbing hold of his arm. He jumped away from me as though my hands were made of ice.

“I will say this once,” he whispered, looking around to see if our parents were around, “You…bedeviled me into…disrobing in front of you and you disrobed yourself. Then you made us touch and you caused us both to sin. And I told you to stop, and you kept going. I don’t know what came over me, I was completely under the power of the Devil, I could not control myself. And you…you took advantage of that. Your selfish actions are going to send us both to Hell, and there is nothing I can do but fervently apologize for my sins and pray for both of our souls. But I cannot speak to you, because you will once again lead me into sin.” And then he stopped. And his body was shaking with fury, but I could see a tear forming in the corner of his eye. Joseph was pushing me away, he thought he was protecting me, saving me from Hell. But I would have risked Hell to have his arms around me again.

“But Joseph…” I said and he raised his hand stopped me in my tracks.

“Good bye sister,” he said solemnly, “I am going inside to wash up for dinner.” And then he walked away, leaving me numb and hopeless in the yard.

* * * * *

The next few months were proof that God was punishing me for the multitude of sins to which I had succumbed since my brother’s 18th birthday. I awoke each day in fog and went about my chores. I did not really taste my food and I did not really enjoy my tasks. Every day was the same as every other day and I wondered how I could live for another 50 or 60 years without joy in my life. My Mother noticed I was upset and tried to cheer me up. But it was no use; I could not begin to talk to her about what I was feeling. Time seemed to crawl, my life stretched on forever. Day after day seemed like it was years of quiet agony.

In part, I knew that I deserved misery. Everything that my parents had taught me had essentially been true. I had allowed sin into my heart and my soul. I had used my body for pleasure, taught myself to sin. And now I reaped what I had sewn. Sin led to soul death.

Sin had caused me to lose my best friend, my companion, my confidant, and my…lover. Every day I thought about my actions, starting from the time that my brother first went out to the Market with my Father. I thought about all of my mistakes. So obvious in retrospect, but so obscure then. Each step I had taken had afforded me with options to stop, to turn back. But I’d allowed my curiosity to get the best of me. I’d allowed my body to overcome my soul. And I knew that everything my brother had said was right. This was all a mess of my own making.

Further, God tortured me by keeping the object of my unholy lust just feet from me every day. And I welcomed that torture, because it would teach me not to sin. So I would see Joseph at the breakfast table and I would work with him in the yard. And I would try desperately to convince myself that I no longer wanted his body, that I was prepared to be righteous. And Joseph ignored me. He rarely spoke to me and when he did, it was always about a task that needed to be done. His heart had grown cold to me, God had granted him that relief. In a very short time, my torture was so routine that it felt like it had always been that way.

When the first market day arrived after our interaction in the barn, I’d actually thought that maybe Joseph would talk to me, explain the world again. But he did not. We cleaned Father’s truck quietly and efficiently, never speaking about a thing. My tiny window to the world had closed again. I would never hear about buildings and dogs and other people ever again. Each market day after that was the same dreary chore. My only connection to the outside world was the magazine my brother had gotten me.

One night, about three months after my encounter with my brother in the barn, I was sitting in my bedroom, quietly reading the magazine. I knew every page by heart now, every word. It was evidence of my sin, so I kept it to remind myself of my evil. But it also reminded me of happier times. I was flipping through the pages when I heard a shuffling at the door. I felt a cold rush of panic and quickly stuffed the magazine under my pillow on the bed. My door opened and my Father entered. I was quite taken aback. My Father rarely entered my room and never at night when I was in my gown.

“Anna,” he said as though it were natural, “I hope that I am not interrupting your prayers.” I felt flustered. I moved over and sat down on my bed and gestured for my father to take my seat at the desk.

“No,” I said, and then realized he probably hoped I had been praying, “I just finished up. I was preparing to go to sleep.”

“I wanted to speak with you briefly before I went to bed,” he said. His voice was stern. But then, it was always stern. I could not figure out what he wanted with me. But I could not have resisted him if I had wanted to.

“Of course Father, what would you like to discuss?” I asked. I shifted nervously on the bed, my Father’s presence was never are harbinger of good news.

“I have noticed lately that you have seemed quite discontent,” my Father said and it felt like an accusation. He was not looking at me, but instead staring into the fire from the candle. It was true, I had been discontent, but I had not hoped to make it my Father’s concern.

“Oh no,” I replied, “I have been…” I started but my Father lifted his hand, silencing me.

“Do no lie,” he said acidly, then, he seemed to relax, “I believe that I have discovered the cause of your anxiety.” He said and my head began to pound. Somehow he’d found out. He knew what Joseph and I had done and now he was going to punish me. Worse, he was going to punish Joseph.

“Oh…” I said, not knowing what else to say. I looked at my Father, and he seemed just as menacing as ever.

“Yes,” he said, “I realized in the last few weeks that you are a woman.”

“I am,” I said in a faint whisper.

“And women, virtuous women, desire beyond all else to be married and have children,” my father explained.

“Of course Father,” I said, not even thinking about what his words meant. He obviously did not know anything. I felt sweet relief wash over my body. Perhaps my relationship with God was on the mend.

“Well, it will pain you no doubt to hear that Sarah Davis has died, just two weeks ago. You might have noticed that she was not at church last week,” my father said. I had not, in fact, noticed. I knew Sarah Davis, the wife of the Women’s Preacher, but I’d never been close with her. She was an old woman who sat in the front of the Church. She seemed nice enough, I was sorry that she was dead.

“How terrible,” I said.

“Yes,” my Father said, but in a way that showed he did not believe it to be that unfortunate, “Well, Pastor Davis is a man of strong, but swift emotions. It seems that he knew his wife was to die for some time and has already grieved deeply for her. He has decided to take a new wife immediately, as he needs a helpmate, someone to assist him. Especially with his two young daughters,” my Father explained. At first I was going to ask what this had to do with me, and the suddenly I realized it. My mind went blank, my body numb.

“Father…” I said, not knowing what I would say next, but my Father kept speaking.

“Tomorrow we will leave together and you will be made John Davis’ wife,” he explained, “Your mother and I are so proud.”

“But…” I said, still not completely absorbing the import of this news. My father rose from the chair, walked over and kissed me on the cheek.

“We are proud of you now,” he said with menace, “you would do well to take any time tonight to…grieve for your girlhood. Tomorrow, I will not stand for you to behave in an unchristian-like manner before you husband.” It seemed he could sense I was on the edge, about to crack. He rose quickly and then walked out of my room, closing the door behind him. When the door closed, the sudden realization of what was happening to me flooded into my mind. I could not hold back the tears now. As my Father had predicted, I grieved for my lost freedom, such as it was. I threw myself face down on the bed, quietly covering my pillow with hot tears.

I don’t know how long I cried, but the candle had burned a substantial amount when I got a hold of myself. I thought of myself as the wife of the fat, strange looking pastor. In the community, it would make me an important woman, an honored woman. I would have a little bit of power and some leeway when it came to interacting with others. But I would belong to that man. His ugly face and his fat, repellent body. I shuddered when I thought about it, but what could I do? My father had decided and so I would leave. I would go away from my home and never come back. If I saw my parents again, it would be at church or at a meeting at my husband’s house. And my brother… I suddenly realized. I would only see my brother maybe a dozen times again and never alone. For the rest of my life.

An existential dread coated me. I had accepted God’s punishment, the sudden coldness of my brother. But, in my heart, I had reserved a tiny bit of hope. Hope that God would forgive me for my sin and allow my brother to come back to me. I’d always known I was going to get married, but it had been such a distant event. Now I was going to be married and I would leave my brother, having our last words hissed at one another in strain and tension.

I sat up in my bed. I couldn’t allow that to happen. I would be gone in the morning, before my brother awoke. My mother would just tell him that I was married. I couldn’t bear for that to happen. I knew my brother was angry at me and that he was ashamed of our actions, but I think thought that it was better to go to him now when he did not want me than to never speak to him privately again.

I got up from my bed and moved to the door. We were discouraged from leaving our rooms in the night. I looked at the clock, it was 2:00 a.m. Everyone would be asleep. I had snuck out on occasion, to go to the bathroom. I knew I could be quiet. I carefully opened the door and then slid out into the hallway. It was quiet and still. I could hear my heart beating in my chest. I did not want to give my Father one last chance to thrash me before I left. And I was nervous about seeing my brother.

I moved towards his door. I had rarely ever been in my brother’s room and certainly never at night. But I moved there as though it were a common destination. Any time not in the hallway was good. I quietly opened the door and slipped inside. It was mostly dark in the room, but I could see my brother’s bed. I could see his chest rising and falling under the blankets. I rushed over to the chair next to his bed.

Now that I was close, I could see him face. I did not see the scowl I normally saw now, he looked peaceful in his sleep. For a moment I considered just leaving him now, not bothering him with more unpleasantness. But then suddenly his eyes flickered open. He must’ve heard the chair creaking underneath of me. He turned and looked at me and jumped, surprised that someone was in the room. I couldn’t help but smile, he was so cute.

“Anna?” he asked.

“Yes, Joseph I…” I said, the facts trying to pour out of my mouth.

“You can’t be here, what are you doing here?” he said, sounding panicked. He looked to the door and saw that it was closed.

“Joseph, listen…”

“I told you, I’ve said everything I am…”

“I am getting married,” I said. And suddenly it was quiet in the room. He looked at me strangely. I felt the tears now in my eyes.

“What?” He said, even though he’d heard me.

“Pastor Davis,” I said, my voice catching in my throat, “He is to be my husband.” I buried my face in my hands and cried. With abandon. I completely lost control of myself again. Joseph sat up in the bed. I felt him lean over and wrap his arms around me, holding me close, pulling me. He wasn’t wearing a shirt while he slept and my face buried in his chest. I cried while he held me. I hadn’t known what I was going to do, but when I saw him, crying was all I could think to do. He rocked me in his arms. After a long while, I was able to get myself under control.

May 2018
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