Did It Hurt? by Shirley Harshenin

Editor Julia Alora, Photography, October 10th, 2019

“What's virginity anyway?”


Prose by Shirley Harshenin
Photography by Shirley Harshenin & Alexis Harshenin


Girls that slap boys’ hands away, play hard to get, make their boyfriends wait; chicks that tease but don’t deliver, and the easy girls, like you.

Like their guy talk doesn’t matter, doesn’t hurt, like you aren’t even there.

On his lap on a bench in the woods he slides his thumb across your wet lips, asks if you want to fuck. No, you do not want to fuck. You twist the infinity ring too tight on your finger and nod your consent.

Your friend overhears them laughing. Planning. Bonfire heat, flames flit shadows across their huddled heads. Be careful, she warns. You ask, But what’s a gangbang?

Giggles from glossed lips defy the sign Library: Quiet. Like rolling thunder their hushed discussion: Who was your first?

You didn’t know you could slap the hands that unsnapped tight jeans, unzipped, dipped in, slid down, slid in.

Your father taught you not to do it, but also taught you not to say no.

If you’d have had a choice, would you have waited? For whom? For how long?

You marry the first guy who doesn’t try anything but is easily led to your bed.

Back-bending baggage– His and yours. You hurt each other but stay together, address the scars, heal the wounds.

What’s virginity anyway?

Does it even matter?

Did it hurt, she asks you, one leg dangling off the side of your daughter’s bed. Chin to chest, she lifts her lashes to your daughter, whose round eyes reveal anticipation, not surprise. Receptive and open the girls trust you to be truthful. I don’t remember. It was my dad. You look down when she turns away.

Yes. It hurt.



Shirley Harshenin lives in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia. She believes in angels, caffeine, and the human spirit’s extraordinary resilience. Her work has been published and is forthcoming in Room Magazine, Contrary Magazine, Entropy: Woven, Unlost Journal, Crack the Spine, and others.



Julia Alora

Julia Alora is a transplanted Portland sculptoress inspired by biology and the natural world. Her works can be found lurking in the woods, guarding her studio, and in co-op art houses around the city.