The Kiss That Changed Her

1 Jul

I submitted this story to a writing contest and got “Runner Up.” I wanted to post it on here, so my regular readers could enjoy!

The Kiss That Changed Her

Her seventeenth summer, as she pinpointed later, signified the transition from girl to woman. So desperate to give away the last piece of her childhood, she fully and defiantly embraced what the world had been telling her about boys and decided to kiss one she didn’t know. She chose her catalytic moment and her companion carefully. He was a nice Jewish boy from New Jersey while she was a WASP from the suburbs of a Midwestern city. He was taking AP Spanish and a slew of other smart sounding classes in the fall and they bonded over milkshakes at a local soda fountain on the Fourth of July. She met him at a summer program where kids from all walks of life became students in various artistic disciplines. He was smart and had a radiant smile that completely cemented in her a strict requirement of straight teeth for the rest of her dating career, long after he was a distant memory. He was sweet and smooth. She was awkward and unsure but loved the attention.

It started with a movie screening. The entire group of students in their program went to the local mall, off of the university campus where they were living to see the latest summer blockbuster. Something about little green men. She didn’t pay much attention because she was too busy plotting how her life would change forever with one Kiss. To be sure, she was idealistic. To a fault. He had shown interest. She related well to him and yearned to see his smile up close. After careful maneuvering and plotting with a new friend eager to see some relational fireworks before the real show that evening, somehow she was sitting next to him. Would their hands brush? Would he notice her playing with her hair and smiling out of the corner of her mouth? Would their eyes lock? Would he have enough gumption for a seventeen year old to make his move? She wondered this throughout the movie, not really watching it, instead sneaking short glances at him. His eyes crinkled when he smiled, making him look like an old happy man. His dimples came out, a surprise moon cresting on the horizon. His eyes laughed. He smelled like Old Spice deodorant and whatever cologne seventeen year old boys employ to gain the attention of young girls. It was working. He had her attention.

It wasn’t until later, when they finally found some time alone to escape to the local Burger King where it was rumored that people got robbed where she really got to know him and decided that by the fireworks she would have her Kiss and her Change. He made small talk. She didn’t know much about him but his JCC shirt intrigued her. She wondered why the East Coast had JCC’s and wondered why she didn’t see them in the suburbs where protestant churches were on every street corner. By the time they made it to the soda fountain next door, he had flirted but didn’t make an attempt to hold her hand. Conversation flowed. He smiled easily. Any minute now.

When they arrived back at the soccer field where the requisite Fourth of July BBQ was taking place there was only one option for both of them: Soccer. She hadn’t played since she was ten. She hoped it wouldn’t show. He was a natural, moving in and out of the opposing players as a knife slides through hot butter. His technique, impressive. Her interest, piqued. They played for hours until it was time for a photo. A picture together made these few moments a memory. Time for charbroiled hot dogs, potato salad, and Coke. Too many people, not intimate enough. Night was falling soon.

It wasn’t until they made their way to the lake fill for the fireworks when she knew the Kiss might actually be a realistic possibility. She procured a blanket and lingered back, keeping him well within her sites. What a plotter she was for seventeen! He took the bait and caught up. They were both sweaty but the cool air off the lake was washing away any signs of finished soccer games. They were a world away. Suddenly it was just the two of them. The rest of the gang had gone ahead. He didn’t want to be with them and surely she did not, although in her cocky seventeen year old mind played out a fantasy. Suddenly having all the girls see her with him would have allowed her to finally put to rest her fears of inadequacy with all the boys back at her suburban high school. But who needed high school when she was playing the role of “student” living out life at a university near a lakeshore on the Fourth of July when fireworks were about to begin?

He sat down gingerly, a momentary blip in his confidence. She saw it and breathed for the first time all day. Was he as nervous as she was? As cute as he portrayed himself to be, he must have kissed a lot of girls, right? No matter, she was on a mission. She sat down next to him. Too close? Too close. She moved away immediately, nervous. His hand was next to hers. There were murmurs in the crowd as one firecracker popped, echoing above the lake sending streams of light streaking across their faces. The anticipation was killing the crowd. A wave of cheers. His pointer finger brushed the top of her hand. Electricity. She stopped breathing. Was this really happening? Just as she had planned? No. Way. She wasn’t that girl. Things like this didn’t happen to her. How? Music. Someone turned on a radio. John Phillips Sousa. As the piccolo played, her heart raced along, in synch. He looked at her. She stole a look, expecting to see the side of his face. Her palms were sweaty. He kept his eyes fixed on her. It was getting darker by the moment. She couldn’t quite determine the emotion behind his warm brown eyes. Excited? To kiss her? Really? He leaned in closer, revealing that boyish grin. She couldn’t help but smile back. Intoxicating. Little girl no more. The moment she had been waiting for.

The fireworks began.

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