The Egyptian cotton bandage snaking from the entrance of Tut’s apartment made KD’s heart race. She closed the door he’d left unlocked and thought, He’s waiting for me. And I’m ready this time. At 17 (11 months, 27 days, 16 hours, 45 minutes, and counting), KD’s virginity felt like a yoke that must be shed so she could join her peers in adulthood, or at least conversation. Melissa, Heather, and even cross-eyed Christine had lost theirs over the summer. It was true that they had “become women” somewhat embarrassingly in back seats and bushes at summer camp, and there was nothing romantic about their experiences, yet when they gossiped about their painful, hardly ecstatic fumblings KD was acutely aware of her envy, that anything she had to say came from YA novels and MTV’s slate of sexed-up teen reality shows. She wanted her first time to mean something, but she also didn’t want to be 35 when the planets finally aligned.
For weeks, she and Tut had talked about doing more than making out and petting. She had talked, rather. He mostly groaned, moaned, and snarled, as was his way, but KD thought she understood some profound wisdom in his throaty sounds. He seemed to say: It’s OK to take your time so it’s special. Life is longer than you know. I’ll wait until it feels right for you. I love you. What did you do with your hair today? It looks great. Tut was only 18 when he’d died, but he’d matured significantly since 1323 B.C. He was way more sensitive and attentive than the boys trying to grind and grope at high school parties. It was clear that, whatever organs had been removed from his once young body, Tut’s heart remained intact.
KD took off her running shoes by the welcome mat (Tut, who lived by himself above the oil and incense shop where he worked, liked to keep his floors clean so his bandaged feet wouldn’t pick up dirt like Swiffers) and began to follow the cloth trail he’d left for her. It bounced off of one wall to the other, then into the kitchen, to the table, and back out and down the darkened hall towards his bedroom, slipping under the door. KD had never seen Tut without his wraps, was not sure what to expect of his mummified body, but found that she was eager, if equally nervous about being naked in front of him for the first time. KD stopped at the bedroom door to gather herself and appreciate the moment before her life would change. She listened to her thumping heart, the blood pumping to her ears and everywhere, making her feel feverish, and clucked her tongue in rhythm so she would remember this wild beating drum forever.
She snapped out of it when she caught Tut’s moan beyond the door. It was unlike any she’d heard before, more base, animalistic, instinctual, almost lewd. There were no words KD could put to it. It was simply uuunnnggghhh. Confused, KD took the knob, turned, and pushed the door in.
She gasped. “Oh my God, Tut! Seriously?! Are you fucking serious?!”
Cross-eyed Christine quickly backed away and covered herself with the sheet. She shot a pleading look at Tut as if he could somehow whisk her out of this uncomfortable situation. Then she turned to KD. “I’m soooo sorry!” Christine said, her crossed eyes showing mortification more than remorse. “I was looking for you and it just kinda happened and—“
“You shut up, skank.” The rage KD felt looking at Christine was overcome by a sick hurt pressure in her chest that forced tears to well up in her eyes when she looked Tut in his boney, leathery brown face. “Why, Tut? Why? I was ready to give myself to you.”
“Mmmmmm-nnnnnnn-ungh-aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrr,” replied Tut. For the first time, looking into his blank milky eyes, KD registered that whatever wisdom Tut may have once had had been pulled out of his nostrils with a hook. She left while he was still trying to explain that, yes, his brain was in a jar somewhere, and that his heart remained but had shriveled with age and only filled and beat again like the living when he was with her.