A crush in my art class asked me if I’d ever been in love. I wanted to say, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes,” one for every time, for every year I’d spent waiting, but I said something noncommittal instead. Something nothing. This was a week before prom.
Day by day, bits of my weekly stipend were going missing; I always had less than I remembered. Gradually, over a few weeks, I came to the conclusion that someone in my host family was methodically stealing nominal amounts of cash from my wallet either when I was sleeping or when I went to take a shower.
Chastity, they explained, the man doing most of the talking, was like a red, felt heart. He held it up for us. When you “have intercourse” with someone—he tore it in two—you give away half of the heart. Do it again, and you’ve lost another piece.