The first time I kissed down Emma’s body I felt her hand on the back of my neck. I didn’t think much of it, sucking on her nipples and then nibbling on them. Her fingers were playing with my short hair and it all seemed pretty normal. When I got to her stomach, I felt pressure where her hand was, tugging my head back up to her breasts. But I wasn’t deterred until I got down below her bellybutton. Her hands grabbed my hair hard, and she curled her legs as she twisted her hips away from me. “It’s OK. I don’t have to!” I said. “It is perfectly fine!”

Over the months that followed I brought it up on occasion. Asking her why she didn’t want me to go down on her. Sometimes she said, “It’s just not something I’m comfortable with.” Other times she got really defensive. I came to realize it wasn’t just going down on her that bothered her. One night we were out at a boring dinner with her family, and I was feeling a little frisky. She had on a skirt so I slipped my hand down underneath the table and began to massage her knee. At first she had her hand on my hand, with our fingers intertwined. But the further up her leg I went, the more pressure she applied in the other direction. When my hand was just about to slip underneath her skirt, she pinched the fuck out of me. Alright I said with my eyes. I get it. No touching your leg. Understood.

So, I acclimated to her boundaries. Sure, I was a little bummed but she wasn’t the first girl I had ever met with insecurities. No touching her thigh. No going down on her. And oh yeah, no seeing her naked with the lights on.

It was maybe seven months after we first started dating when we were out celebrating her birthday. She had been really stressed with school and work, so I volunteered as the designated driver for her and her friends. After dropping off the last of her friends Emma was half asleep in the passenger seat, when I realized her fingers were intertwined with the hand I had on her knee. This was nothing new. Like I said, I had grown accustomed to her boundaries. But the closer we got to home the more pressure she applied. Except this time, she was tugging on me, pulling me up under her skirt. She whispered half drunkenly, “It’s OK. I really want you to.” It shocked me so much, it took all my focus to stay on the road.

When we made it home, Emma fell on her back into the bed and lifted her legs into the air to pull off her panties. With her eyes closed, and her head off to the side, I watched her from the doorway touching her pussy. I couldn’t look away. For our whole relationship up to that point I had never seen the lower half of her body with the lights on. Taking my time, I walked over to the bed and lifted up one of her feet. I took off her shoe, and dropped it to the floor before kissing along her foot up to her ankle. Then I picked up her other foot and did the same thing, but instead of putting her foot back down, I let her leg fall over my shoulder as I kissed up her calf.

“It’s OK. I want you to. I want you to,” Emma said over and over again. And I believed her, kissing up to her knee. “It’s OK. I want you to. I want you to. I want you to,” her voice grew more and more emphatic. Kissing further up her leg, “I want you to. I do. I really do. I want you to,” but now her voice turned to an almost whine or a cry. I pulled away, but Emma yelled out. “NO! I want you to. I want you to.” “Are you sure?” I asked. “Yes I’m sure. I want you to. I need you to.” So, I went back to kissing her calf, and working my way back up. Both her hands were in my hair, but it felt like one was pushing me down, while the other pulled up. “And still she pleaded. I want you to. Please I want you to.” I was a quarter the way up her thigh when Emma began to cry. I stopped moving but she yanked hard, as my lips moved over the first scar.

She began to weep, as I kissed further up her thigh, over one scar after another, all the same length, all parallel to one another. “I want you to see. I do. I’m sorry. I want you to know.” Her entire body was shaking the point it felt like she was shivering.

I rested my head on her thigh like it was a pillow and hugged her other leg. She began to apologize over and over again, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’m crying.” I didn’t know how to handle her emotions. Part of me wanted to lay next to Emma and tell her “It’s OK. I understand.” But she had let me close to what she was most ashamed of. She was brave enough to show me the part of her she thought would scare me away. So I felt like I needed to stay there, resting the side of my face on her scars, while running the backs of my fingers up and down her other leg, over her other scars. “See,” I would say as she cried. “I’m still here. I’m not scared away.” But all she could say in response was, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

I really did understand. I really wasn’t scared away. But after that night our relationship fell off a cliff. Emma stopped wanting to talk to me. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I can’t be with you. I know this is my fault. Everything is always my fault. But, now that you know my secret I can’t even bare to look at you. I thought I wanted you to know. I thought that if I showed you everything would be OK. I realize now that was stupid of me. Please just leave me be. I never want to see you again.”

That was how our relationship came to an end. I wish I could have made her understand that I didn’t care. Her scars were a part of her. I loved her for all her joy and all her pain. I would have helped share the burden if she had let me. Instead, she turned me into just another piece of useless flesh she needed to cut off and discard.