The Long Short Moments
The first time a boy kissed me we were in first grade, on the school playground, beneath the trees. His skin was dark, and he was long-fingered and I was only the bright-eyed, pig-tailed girl who wore jean pencil skirts past her knees and worked ahead when they got to long subtraction, but couldn’t figure it out.
We were young, and we didn’t know how a kiss worked. In movies and books they don’t show you how to hold a girl so she doesn’t shatter against you like glass. They don’t tell you how to lean in so all time is suspended in a red-hot-cheeks moment. They don’t show you the warped emotions, the twisted thoughts and how your hair should be longer and down so fingers are tangled where they won’t find something else. They don’t show you what a kiss is, so we thought it was touching lips, and him laughing afterwards while I mulled over his taste.
His skin was dark, and he was long-fingered and his lips tasted like he had been running for a very long time and had just now stopped to feel what it was like to have a girl touch you in just one burning point and for her not to be a relative. He told me to kiss him, and when I stepped back he was laughing, and his shadows were laughing, and the trees were spinning up above, and I didn’t know if I liked his taste.
He told me to kiss him again, and he didn’t move, so it was me who had to lean in and give him what he wanted. And, for the second time, I didn’t know if I liked his taste, or the feeling of his lips chapped against mine, but it was oh-so-short and I didn’t want to upset him.
Again, again, again. All he wanted was another moment suspended, but I was starting to get tired of his laugh and the way he tasted and how short seconds were long and long seconds short. I was the bright-eyed girl who wrote books for her mom because she was still missing her in first grade.
The first time, and the second, and third, and maybe even fourth time I was kissed by a boy, the supervisors of the playground did nothing to stop him, and the teachers didn’t say anything afterwards. Even when I ran away and he chased me, laughing, because she was able to hold the hourglass steady; nobody stopped him or told him no.
It is moments like these that remind me that children are still human, even if they don’t know how to kiss each other so that long moments are longer still and they break against each other because it’s his first time and he doesn’t quite know yet how she fits against him, and she doesn’t quite know yet if she likes his taste or if their bodies can become the puzzle pieces that work.
He said he liked it, and now I wonder if he’s telling some other girl to touch him, telling her it will be alright because he likes the way her skin feels pressed against his even if she doesn’t. I wonder if I still knew him if it would be me fitted against him, still bright-eyed but wearing shorts that barely cover anything and working ahead in pre-calculus because she wants to know what permutations and combinations can solve.
He would tell her it was alright, even as she was holding back the tears because she doesn’t know if she wants a boy to touch her in that way. And then when he left she would sit down to write a poem, and she would hide quotes in her bras so that the crinkling of paper would remind her why she was still alive. And when he came again he would find them and ask her what they were. And she would whisper that they were words, they were only words, but they were words; with power, because sometimes a word in a sentence is more powerful than touch. And he would laugh, and kiss her for a very long time to prove her wrong.
About the Author: Ariana Hocking is a sophomore at Orange County School of the Arts, where she studies Creative Writing. She is in the process of completing a larger writing project, in which time her cat has taken over her pillow. She is interested in fashion, frequently sports flower crowns, and aspires to be both a fashion stylist and a novelist. She loves the Redwood forests of Northern California, where she finds great inspiration and where she wrote this piece.