genre: contemporary young adult
word count: 511
Your first official kiss happens like this:
You’re thirteen and you’re in the Robert Redford Ballroom of the airport Sheraton at Jesse Rosen’s bar mitzvah and you’re wearing a sequined purple mini-dress that your mother had said was too short but your father had said “wasn’t a battle worth fighting” and you’re slow dancing with Gabe Perez even though everyone knows he likes Tommy Blake and Gabe’s hands are warm and kind of damp where they’re resting on your shoulder blades and the N*SYNC ballad that’s been playing is drawing to a crooning bass-heavy close and the hot college DJ is making a joke about “sealing the deal with a kiss” and the microphone is crackle-shrieking with white noise and Gabe’s pretty brown eyes are widening with panic and your cheeks are sore from smiling so much and the straps of your patent leather Mary-Janes are digging into your ankles and you’re disheveled in a happy way and exhausted in a better way and you can see Tommy Blake glaring at you from the empty boys’ table on the far side of the shirley temple cart and the idea hits you so suddenly and so magnificently that you absolutely have to share it with Gabe:
“Let’s make him jealous,” you whisper, voice trembling and pulse wild, and Gabe hesitates and thinks and then nods with somewhat shaky determination as he sets his jaw and bends down and you meet him two-thirds of the way there because you aren’t mean, god, and then his lips are pressed against yours and his breath is still sweet from the two-liter of Seven Up he’d shared with Tommy and it’s—
Well, it’s fast.
Your first unofficial kiss is at summer camp, two months earlier, with Emily.
You sneak out of your cabin to play Truth or Dare with the boys from the baseball camp and get lost in the woods. You stumble into a clearing with a path that leads to the lake and your pink plastic earthquake flashlight flickers and dies when you reach the rickety, moss-covered boat dock. Emily audibly swallows and you stare at the shadows shimmering on the water and you look at each other in your matching cut-offs and your Cosmo Girl-approved date night makeup and you start to giggle.
Uncertainly, at first.
But your giggling eventually tapers off into louder, faster, harder laughter, hard enough that you have to hold each other up by the elbows, and it feels so natural to just lean forward, let your noses brush, your lips, and your spine tingles and your nerves bristle and Emily’s skin is so, so soft as you hold your breath and skate your fingers down her arms and move your mouth against hers and everything is tentative and slow and exhilarating and it isn’t until the moon creeps across the sky, drifts above the tree-line, winking and bright, that Emily untangles your fingers and stumbles away from you and says:
“That was . . . practice, right? For when we kiss boys?”
It was unofficial.