Showcasing creative writing by university students around the world.

Illustration by Claudia Claros

Published Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Words by

Virginity, or Today’s Doe

Today is a long June Tuesday. The birds swoop low over the meadow, the grasses are fat; pregnant with pollen, they sway tantalisingly in the lazy breeze. A languid willow trails blossom tendrils through clouds of contented dust.

Today is a long June Tuesday. The birds swoop low over the meadow, the grasses are fat; pregnant with pollen, they sway tantalisingly in the lazy breeze. A languid willow trails blossom tendrils through clouds of contented dust.


Yet there are no lovers making salty, rustling love underneath the branches or in the forests or amongst the corn. Under the trees lie soft hollows that beg for an arched back, or at least the scratch of a vaguely ecstatic toenail.


Instead, in the far corner of a fallow field, three figures stand, their left hips thrown out. The first has red hair. Sixteen, he lisps. He is holding a very black gun by the barrel as though it were something quite different. What will become of him? He will do nothing else in life but triumphantly lose his virginity to a distant cousin, marry a hardened country whore, who will bear red-haired children whom he will hold at arm’s length with the same anxious wretchedness with which he now contemplates his companions. These are a fair few years older than him. The tallest is tanned; today he looks well in his green checked shirt. His neck is particularly beautiful- it has sinewy furrows like the bark of a very ancient tree. His curly brown hair dips into or out of these as and when the wind deigns to rouse it. The last of the trio is a girl with somewhat golden hair. She has a boy’s physique: only the faintest of curves ventures out from her breast. In her right hand she clutches a green bottle which mixes with her sweat, growing sticky around the rim.


The taller boy is teaching the redhead how to shoot. Time after time they wait, motionless in the summer heat, until a cautious pheasant or sometimes a rabbit – maybe even a field-mouse – tip-toes into sight. They wait for a split-second, checking the gun, clearing throats, summoning will, smoothing shirts… then the gun is cocked, a bullet flies out, sometimes wide, sometimes true.


This steady massacre eventually leaves all three worn out, so in one fluid, young motion they drop to the ground, half hidden by the willow-flowers. The girl silently passes round her bottle.

“This isn’t…alcoholic…is it?” asks the redhead.

Neither of the other two answer his question for several minutes, before the girl finally sighs that it is “only elderflower”. Appeased, he slurps at it greedily, then tosses it carelessly into the heart of the tree. Meanwhile, the other boy has placed his warm palm over the small of the girl’s back. At the knotted part he can slowly feel her muscles unwind, so that she gives him a slight, secret smile.


The youngest has the spark of elderflower on his tongue when he notices how the other two are lying. Perhaps he already senses the futility of his future, or perhaps he, just like you, is partly in love with that golden-haired girl. So he clenches his teeth as he draws his weight onto his chest, dragging the shining gun through the dust so that, were he to pull the trigger, a bullet would snake across the fallow away from the three of them. His instructor doesn’t see this, for he is now weaving little locks of his girl’s hair through lattices of dried blossom. She has her eyes closed, neither in modesty nor exaltation, but to hide them from the sun’s banal stare. Her stomach begins to prickle with sweat, soaked up like an infant by the dry earth. In a minute or two she feels sure the outline of damp will seep out from underneath her as though it were a bloodstain. For the moment, though, the heat merely coaxes up her young blood, causing her limbs to twitch in a way that makes her companion quiver slightly.


Far out across the fallow, a doe sways through the dirt. She seems unperturbed by the lowest arcs of the birds; even the blast of the high sun does nothing more than render her soft, soft brown suede violet where her muscles ripple. Her thick velvet lashes bat lazily as she gently probes the earth for an offering.


The redhead wants to snatch the others from their reverie. His burning, shameful virginity claws around his jaw until the mere sight of the other two, fluently sexual, brings his fist into a ball so that his index figure wrenches the trigger of the very black gun. He breathes in little, furious gasps. His bullet cuts through the air with a subtle hiss.


The bang pierces the striped green skin of a gooseberry, held in the golden-haired girl’s hand; she awakens to the slow pulse of juice seeping between her fingers. Her tawny eyes peel open to see the two boys making their way towards the middle of the field. The older one moves with long, looping steps which are gentle, although it seems as though he is pulling against a great weight. Beside him, the redhead scuttles to keep up. He has flushed scarlet. Wondering where they are going, the girl rises, then tumbles into a jerky run, so that all three reach their target simultaneously.


The doe is dead. She lies on her side as though asleep, little flecks of scarlet speckling the white droplets on her flank. When the redhead remarks jauntily what a good shot he has made, the older boy picks up the very black gun and slams it with all his might into the dust. He and the girl silently drag the dead doe’s corpse way back over beneath the willow. By the time they are done some of her golden locks are tinged with strawberry.



For a while, nobody says anything. Then all three leave the field, the redhead having tried in vain to pick the gun up, and finding he couldn’t bring himself to touch it. As the last traces of dust tug themselves free from the girl’s golden hair and her boy’s green checked shirt, all three feel as though they have woken up after a long midsummer sleep.

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