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María's little bar in Manhattan was just clean enough not to be a dive, and the customers there were just wealthy enough not to be homeless. It was popular with the young starving artists because of María herself, who had a soft spot in her heart for unpublished writers and wannabe actors and could be counted on for free drinks when you couldn't afford them. Besides, everyone knew María, with her black hair and black eyes and beautiful face, was always up for a fuck when she wasn't busy. Everyone knew she loved the failing twenty-somethings in black turtlenecks who came in to brag to each other about their conceptual art pieces or avant garde films.

María resented that reputation, actually. She did have a soft spot for the someday geniuses who filled her bar, but her legendary fucks were something imagined by desperate young men. María had never once fucked a customer. In fact, María had never once fucked anyone. She did show up in more than one art student's sculpture or painting; she had never been shy and would always find the time to pose nude but never once had a session gone further than that, even though it was the furtive hope of every one of the students (who were mostly but by no means exclusively male) who asked her.

María had abandoned her original name when she moved out of the Puerto Rican neighborhood she grew up in; perhaps unthinkingly, or perhaps as a joke, her parents had given her the name María de la Soledad, Mary of Solitude. Soledad is a good old-fashioned Catholic name to be sure but one that contained unpleasant connotations given her situation. So she abandoned Soledad and simply referred to herself with the the first half. The name of the Blessed Virgin wasn't much better but still seemed like less of an abject condemnation to the fate contained in her defective body.

Vaginal agenesis affects about one in 5,000 women. María, like one in five thousand other women, looked normal on the outside, but her opening didn't extend inwards far enough to accomodate a man, and there was nothing for it to connect to. María was born without a womb, which meant she could never have a big Catholic family with lots of nietos for her Mamá and Papi to coo over. On the outside she was a woman, but on the inside, she felt sexless, only a smoothness inside her belly like the smoothness between the legs of the second-hand Barbie dolls she'd played with as a child.

She'd been striking even as a teenager, with a hot body and a pretty face, and she could remember men her father's age staring at her when she was thirteen or fourteen years old. She'd ignored the boys during high school even when she ached to go to the prom in a beautiful dress, because she could never have done what comes after high school dates in cars or quietly, quietly, in vacant bedrooms. The boys she spurned eventually started calling her a tortillera but María wept sometimes during moments of soledad because she'd never be able to fuck, never be able to marry, never be able to have children.

She put on a brave face until she met Javier, who was gorgeous and sweet and beat up one of the other boys who shouted things at her. They ended up going to the movies and afterwards she found herself kissing him in the back seat of his car, and he told her, "Te amo, Soledad," and so instead of stopping herself she relaxed and gave in, and he slipped a hand up her shirt and unclasped her bra, and he kissed her breasts, and they started to grope, and suddenly she realized his hands were down her pants, and he wanted to finger her but he realized something was wrong with her, her body was just a parody of the real thing because her womanhood stopped an inch deep.

That night, she tried to fix her body with a kitchen knife - it only needed to be a few inches deeper and the boys would never know the difference. She ended up in the emergency room with a bunch of grave-looking doctors who sewed her up in front of her shame-faced parents. She ended up with angry red scars and she learned that the only way to get a real pussy was surgery. Her parents didn't have money to pay for it, and besides, sex was for having babies in her mother's opinion, and if she couldn't have any babies there was no reason to have sex.

Javier never actually told any of the other boys, so far as María knew, but who knew if he would? She didn't need to hear the boys switch to hisses that she didn't have a pussy as she walked down the hall. She ran away, and met some people, and did odd jobs until she got hired at the bar, which was run by a sweet old Jewish man. He never stared at her ass when she worked, and he didn't ever yell at her to work harder. He was fatherly towards her, and she worked for him until he died six years later.

She learned that he didn't have any family, and he willed the bar to her instead, and soon the old crowd of elderly men was replaced by the friends she'd met who lived near her ratty apartment. They were mostly kids who'd moved to New York to start a new life, and she understood them. The artists and the transsexual prostitutes (she felt a special kinship with them, but she never told why) and the various other freaks that peopled the city became her crowd, and she gradually felt like she had a place for herself.

She went on for ten more years this way, and she was now thirty-four and her bar was the home of the city's bohemians. She saved the money she earned to buy herself a pussy, which would cost her thousands of dollars. She got used to seeing kids pass through - some of them graduated college and started more prosaic careers, abandoning their artistic pretensions to move out of the city and raise kids. Other ones simply moved out, not content to remain in one place, eternally searching out the new and different and shocking. And a few made it, began to make a living and have shows in art galleries, and she would see their success and she started to feel like the young artists were her own children.

Something changed one night.

She closed up the bar, and was walking the couple blocks to her apartment, when a man walking towards her on the sidewalk called out. "Soledad," he called softly, and she tightened up, not wanting to see anyone from the old neighborhood. She even considered turning and running, but he walked up to her and said, softly, "I know who you are, Soledad. And I know what you've been waiting your whole life for." And in spite of herself, she found her terror had transformed into curiosity, and she stood and waited.

"Do you want me to make you whole, Soledad? Do you want to be able to have children? You have to decide. I can do it."

She stood, and stood, and she found herself nodding to him, and she told him yes, softly, and he seemed to mutter to himself for a moment. And she felt her stomach moving around, as if to accomodate something new growing in the middle of it, and a warmth formed between her legs.

"Go home, now, Soledad. It's done."

She hurried off, and didn't look back to see him, and went inside her apartment wondering if she'd gone crazy. She found a mirror and held it up to her pussy and she even slipped her fingers inside it. It was real, and she spent the rest of the night gazing at it.

She thought of the years she'd spent longing to be able to fuck, and she thought about the boys at the bar who longed to fuck her, and for a crazy moment she even thought about trying to find Javier and seeing if he was still as gorgeous as he used to be, and she thought about getting married and having children and making her mother happy.

And she realized she didn't want any of it anymore. Marriage was bourgeois and she didn't want to raise children. The strange thing, she realized with a shock, was that she was suddenly able to fulfill all the dreams of her youth, and she didn't want to anymore. Even the artists at the bar, who were only a few years younger than her, seemed like her children, and fucking them seemed incomprehensible.

She thought about going out and trying to find some stranger - anyone - to fuck, and she didn't want to. She had been a virgin for thirty-four years, and she couldn't give that "precious gift" (as the priests had called it when she was a kid) to some stranger (strange the values that stuck with her even when she hadn't talked to her parents in years, and couldn't remember her last confession.)

María found her life continuing as it had for years, and she was strangely content to continue on with her life of soledad and one-act plays and art galleries and the chastity she once regarded as a curse. María had gotten herself a pussy, and it didn't matter at all.

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