How did we end up here at the top of the stairs in Lewisohn Hall, on the night of the afternoon that we first met on the limestone steps of the campus library? After I told you that I was a public school girl from the north shore of Long Island and you said, when I look across the water from my beach club, I could be looking at you—meaning Connecticut; meaning boarding school and boat shoes; meaning a pedigree and ease that maybe could rub off on me. After you pressed your finger into my black choker necklace, a pressure on my throat on the plastic mesh that I had bought at the mall on a hope that it might somehow signal that I wasn’t the good girl that everyone knew me to be. After the dorm party; the Natty Lights; the cherry hookah; the Red Hot Chili Peppers; that finger again, yours, tugging at the belt loop of my jeans. After I kissed you back; after we stumbled past the security guard and out the doors streaked with freshman handprints releasing us into the warm night air; after you pointed to the street but I steered us inward, where baby pink blooms lightly garnished the cobbled walkways, where the library’s rotunda glowed like a wayward compass; you led me into Lewisohn Hall, through the empty lobby where I could hear someone far away vacuuming, up the staircase toward the chandelier, to this exact spot where I’m sitting topless on your lap. What do you mean by are you nervous? and why am I saying no when I actually mean about what? And what do I do now that you’re kissing me and pressing my back to the cold floor and pulling off my jeans and underwear and making me hurt and making me tough and making me bleed and making me wonder how it would have been if I had just said stop?

Jiadai Lin is a Chinese American writer living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her nonfiction is published in The Rumpus, december, Pigeon Pages, First Person Singular, and elsewhere. She is a graduate of Columbia University.

Artwork by Marvin Liberman