It was an 18th birthday at a hall we’d always gather at, particularly for such birthdays. Mums would hire it out as it a foolproof, clean alternative to their family home.
A 30 minute drive out. I was with my boyfriend of two years. I was an ‘innocent’ girl, grappling with the raging hormones in my body, feeling an unmistakable desire to incite sex wherever I found myself- something that was somewhat alien to the religious folds I’d bound myself to for the previous few years of my life. He and I were in love, willing to try new things together, and he was kind of addicted to my newfound sex drive.
Once we arrived at the party, we found ourselves some Little Fat Lamb (ginger and lime), that was only made bearable by skulling the shit out of it. 8 standard drinks later, and I was a sluggish, slurry, happy mess. Off my chops, if you will. Happy to be with the people that I knew and loved, like a blurry warm haze. I was supposed to be photographing the partygoers, but all I could think about was my boyfriend in the corner of the room, waiting for a moment to escape. He was always close enough to wink at me or wrap his arm around my waist, which made it really hard to concentrate.
Whilst everyone was dancing we stole a moment outside together. This intense feeling came over me, I wanted to kiss him, touch him, furiously. His energy met mine, so I dragged him further into the darkness into what I thought was a nearby outdoor chapel, and we sat on what seemed to be a bench. We started to make out ravenously. By the end of it, we were on the ground, surrounded by cement. We started caressing each other and slowly he moved his lips down on my body. We started kissing, and then suddenly we were having sex in the dark in the gilded light of the hall, the stillness broken by trees, and the fluttering movement of the people in the distance. We laid there for a while after we finished, relishing in the romanticism of being under the stars.
Shortly after, I noticed a sensation of wetness on my face. I thought it must’ve been sweat in the summer heat, and I didn’t quite mind the dripping quality of it. After we kissed each other goodbye, I went to the girl’s room to clean myself up and he went to the men’s. I missed the mirror in my race to pee, the risk of a UTI flashing in my mind. As I came out of the toilet I walked towards the sink to wash my hands. Looking up, I quite literally screamed and then silenced myself in embarrassment. A thick layer of dark blood was smeared all over my face. Afraid that someone else could hear me, I used the hand soap to scrub my skin, panicking at how difficult it was to remove the remnants of our concrete entanglement. I felt like Carrie. And I couldn’t escape from the question of: “If I look like this, what does he look like?”
I bolted out of the women’s bathroom, praying he hadn’t left yet, and I heard his voice calling for me. Running into him in front of the men’s bathroom, his face was clear except for a tissue up his nose. He looked at me worried and I spluttered, “Did I? Did I just bleed on you?”. He replied laughing, “No I had a bleeding nose, but it sure did look like it”. “Thank God we went into the bathroom first”, I said before we both burst into laughter. Imagine partygoers catching us in this state. We clutched each other’s hands and walked back into the party, glad for our little mishap to remain our secret.
I realised soon after that my phone was missing. I grabbed a nearby friend’s phone and hand to go check the place I’d been last. She asked why I’d been there, and I told her it’d been a spot I’d sought out to get some fresh air, “It’s just a chapel, why is that so bad?”. I remember her taunting that it was an awfully strange place to get fresh air, but we walked on.
She turned to me as we approached the spot. “Chapel? This is literally a cemetery.” I remember grabbing her phone in shock, flashing the place we’d just been, to find unmistakable rows of tombstones, positioned neatly around the bench. I remember screaming out loud, for her to ask me what was wrong. “I thought it was a chapel!” I replied. We located my phone, linked arms and ran back to the hall. Suddenly, the Little Fat Lamb had evaporated from my liver and I was sober again as I reached my boyfriend, interrupting his conversation by tugging his shirt. For some reason, he wasn’t listening to me, so I leant forward into his ear and whispered: “We just made love in a cemetery, not a chapel.” His conversation quickly ended, he called his mum, voice shaking and we were picked up. Before we got in the car, his last words were: “Let’s not experiment anymore.”