Virgin

By: Radhika Sanghani

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


I could not have written Virgin without my girlfriends—you all know who you are. Your honest confessions about masturbating, finding semen in bath tubs and battling with your pubes have given me so much inspiration and endless laughter. Thank you.

To everyone who read Virgin when it was just the slightly weird book I was writing to cheer myself up—thank you so much for your invaluable feedback and for loving Ellie. That’s you, Sarah Walker, Bex Lewis, Ella Schierenberg, Sarah Johnson, Rhiannon Williams, Olivia Goldhill, Andrea Levine, and even Kim Leigh. Thank you, Rory Tyler, for being the only male I know who was brave enough to read Virgin. I know you’re still not over the Moon Cup.

I also really want to thank my parents. You had no idea I was writing Virgin until I told you it was being published. I know a lot of it has been quite a surprise to you, and not what you expected I would write, but thank you for still being so proud of me and supporting me.

Thank you to my editor, Cindy Hwang, and everyone at Penguin Berkley for carefully editing Virgin and loving it so much from the very start.

Lastly—none of this would have happened if it wasn’t for Maddy Milburn, my agent. Thank you so much for believing in Virgin and making this all happen!





  Ellie Kolstakis

21 years old

Nonsmoker

VIRGIN

I stared in horror at the words on Dr. E. Bowers’ computer. The status of my hymen was plastered across her screen in capital letters.


V-I-R-G-I-N

The letters glowed luridly on the green computer screen, the kind used before Steve Jobs figured out Apple. They imprinted themselves into my mind in an eighties blur. A lump of anxiety lodged itself in my throat, and my cheeks started burning. I felt sick.

My humiliating secret was all over my medical records and Dr. E. Bowers was going to see it. I didn’t even know what the E in her name stood for, but she was about to find out that in the two and a half years I had spent at uni, not a single boy had wanted to deflower me. Not one. I was twenty-one years old and I still had my V-card.

“Ms. Kolstakis?” she asked, pushing her rimless glasses up her nose. “You’re a final-year student at University College London, and you’re here to register, is that correct?”

I forced my paralyzed face into a smile and tried to laugh politely. “Yep, I don’t know why I didn’t join earlier. I, uh, I think it’s because I’ve just never been sick, you know?”

She stared blankly at me.

“Um, also, you can call me Miss Kolstakis, or just Ellie, if you want,” I added.

She turned her head back down towards the forms, creasing her brow as she struggled to read my messy attempt at writing in block capitals.

I wiped the sweat from my palms onto my jeans and told myself to be calm. She was a doctor. She wasn’t going to be shocked at meeting a twenty-one-year-old virgin. Besides, she was probably just going to ask me about the Kolstakis family history, and the worst thing I would have to tell her would be about Great-Granddad Stavros smoking a pack of cigarettes every day from the time he was nine. He didn’t even die from lung cancer in the end; he choked on an almond at the age of eighty-nine.

She breathed in sharply. “Mm, oh dear—this isn’t very good at all. You have more than seven alcoholic drinks a week?”

Oh God. If she figured out I had deliberately rounded down by three drinks, I would probably be on the first bus out of here to rehab.

Dr. E. Bowers cleared her raspy throat.

“Oh, sorry.” I giggled nervously in a way I hadn’t since Girl Guides. “I don’t always have seven drinks a week; obviously it’s just during term-time. We normally go out on Thursdays. Oh, and Mondays. Sometimes Wednesdays, but that club night is kind of full of freshmen these days so we don’t go as much.”

Dr. E. Bowers furrowed her forehead and pursed her lips together. She started tapping away at her keyboard and I held on to the edges of the chair with anxiety. I focused my gaze on her computer. The six letters were no longer there. She had scrolled down the page without commenting on them. I breathed out an audible sigh of relief.

A sentence appeared at the bottom of the screen. Over seven drinks a week, heavy drinker, binge drinks.

“Wait, I’m not a binge drinker!” I cried. “In fact, I’m not even a heavy drinker. I’m a normal drinker—I barely drink anything compared to my friends.”

“Ms. Kolstakis, seven drinks a week is still rather a lot. You should think about cutting down, or you’ll be back here asking for a new liver in ten years,” she said severely.

She tucked her Princess Diana–circa-1995 hair behind her ears and continued. “I see you’ve left this section about sexual health blank on your forms. Are you sexually active?”

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