Our Lady of Perpetual Help

by RS Fernandez

The most legendary place for a Malayalee teen to lose their virginity was Our Lady of Perpetual Help Syro Malabar Catholic Mission of Greater Washington. The second was Taco Bell. Both the Indian and Catholic faith in shame, repression, and disdain of any American pleasure transferred to the post-Mass brunch—loaded nachos and baja blasts the only addition.

            Teena’s older sister told her when she lost it in eleventh grade.

            “No, not the confessional, oh my God,” said Evelyn. “It wasn’t fucking Wattpad. In the bathroom. The single stall by the children’s church.”

            “How did it feel?” asked Teena. She updated her Larry fanfiction Sunday nights.

            Evelyn pondered. “It didn’t feel bad, but…It felt like it was for him. For his pleasure. Like I wasn’t really a part of it.”

            Binoy ghosted Evelyn after five weeks. They hadn’t dated, but Evelyn sobbed over him. She crawled into Teena’s twin bed, drying her face on Teena’s youth group t-shirt.

            “Did you know,” Evelyn whispered. “It was a lie. We never…never even had sex at church. We tried but he couldn’t get it up. And he was so embarrassed but I told him it was ok! And I told him I wouldn’t tell anyone.”

            Teena hugged Evelyn tighter. “So he…he started telling people you had sex?”

            “Yeah.” Evelyn nodded. “He did.”

            It’d been two years and still Evelyn and Binoy were the only supposedly successful ones to fuck in the house of God.

 Binoy went to Yale and became valedictorian. Evelyn went to a surprise eighteenth birthday party her white friends threw her and drank her first four lokos. She roamed home ignoring crosswalks. A Shady Grove bus hit her. She died.

 The Sunday after the funeral, Father Matthew sermonized a passage from 1 Kings. Binoy was absent. He’d started his first semester in New Haven.

  Teena watched him now from her Taco Bell table. He was back in Maryland for the final summer before his graduation. She chewed her plastic straw. Binoy wiped runny beef off his hands, dripping grease and standing for the unisex bathroom.

 Teena followed. Her foot stopped the bathroom door from shutting. Evelyn’s Birkenstock twisted off Teena’s toes.

 “Um.” Binoy waited. His hands hesitated beneath the faucet.

 Teena slid her shoe on and locked the door behind her. She snatched Binoy’s shocked face and kissed him.

 She dropped her fingers. Her wrists thumped her thighs.

 “Oh my God,” she said. “Nevermind. Oh my God.”

 Teena turned and her chudithar’s bells twinkled at times speed. She twisted the stuck door knob.

 “Here, I can—” Binoy patted Teena’s shoulder and reached for the lock. Teena yelped, turned, and slapped him. She remembered the lock, twisted, and yanked the door open, revealing Binoy behind her to her parents, aunties, and indifferent strangers. She rushed and vomited her bean burrito in the parking lot.

 Teena lost her virginity in freshman year of college in a UMD dorm without air conditioning. When she lost it she told no one.