A Little Like This

Tip of the tongue, teeth, and lips, I repeated to myself. Once used to remember enunciation, this phrase held new meaning as his eyelashes dusted my cheek. “Use your whole mouth!” a vocal coach once told me. “Tip of the tongue! Teeth! Lips!”
I know how to use my mouth. I can talk for hours and days and weeks and years without stutter. I can sing with clarity and I can project my voice so the world outside of the theater can hear me. But when it came to talking to boys, my mouth lost shape. I didn’t know anything about boys. Except that he was one and he knew my name.
It started when I was thirteen. A spark of electricity in my chest that burst into an open flame when I saw him. With him, I knew everything yet absolutely nothing, and I wanted to know so much more. His birthday was October 20th and his favorite color was purple.
I talked to him first in my mind. Perfectly scripted conversations that started with compliments and ended with confessions of everlasting love. “I want to marry you,” I said once. We had actually spoken by then; I found out that we were uniquely similar. He liked to play the flute and listen to death metal, and he was good at math.
“You could be my husband.”
He wanted to play the guitar someday.
We grew older and closer together. His hand met mine on the most joyous of Tuesdays and he held it with a hunger reserved only for the darkest dark chocolate. “I like you,” said I. He responded with silence but his eyes said only what I wanted to hear, and that was a deep grey that sounded like love. He only read books for school but that was okay.
“You’re really pretty,” he told me. My braces matched my glasses: purple. We had hugged by that time, and his arm was well acquainted with my waist. His chest was warm and he sometimes stole a spray of his father’s cologne, so on good days it smelled like sandalwood and spice. I knew his friends like I knew the characters in the books I read—not just for school. He didn’t know how to pronounce “ominous.”
He read the books I told him to. He watched the movies I recommended. He said I awakened in him a fierce lion of emotion and that all at once, he knew everything and nothing and he wanted more. He looked at me with so many silent words that I was sure the world’s axis had tilted and I was spinning towards him without direction. But with enough momentum, a crash is guaranteed. He liked his tea with milk and three spoonfuls of sugar and only the right side of his face could grow a wispy beard.
“I’ve never played spin-the-bottle before,” I confessed to him. It was snowing and my jacket doubled my size and hid the bud of a figure I had at fourteen. “But I want you to kiss me.” He looked at me and looked away. Slowly, his gaze met mine again and my stomach evaporated. He hadn’t gotten a haircut in months.
“Okay.” My mouth felt shapeless and my hair felt tangled; his hands shook as he placed them on my shoulders. He didn’t hesitate like I expected him to and it took forever and no time at all to put his lips to mine. His lips were rarely chapped and his ears were small.
I knew how to be on stage. I knew how to project my voice and enunciate words. But I didn’t know how to kiss. I stood still until I remembered; tip of the tongue, teeth, and lips. Finally I put to practice my own advice. His breath wasn’t the pleasant perfume I had hoped for.
He stopped holding my hand after we kissed. When he entered a room, he didn’t look for me. Our long conversations, which had been roaring rivers when they commenced, trickled to a quiet end. He didn’t look at me with words anymore. He asked a girl who was not me the question I had been dying to hear.
He wore sneakers I didn’t like. He never took me seriously. He could be silent for hours, days, weeks, and years but he couldn’t listen for five minutes. He kisses other girls now. He didn’t love me.
My collision back into the world I’d left for him was not as impactful as I’d imagined. Inevitable tears filled me with air and hope, and it didn’t take long for the acidic pain of seeing him to subside to a mellow ache, then to nothing at all. My muscles forgot all his memories as he strayed from my thoughts.
Tip of the tongue, teeth, and lips, I repeat to myself. His hands didn’t quiver as he wrapped them around my shoulders. His eyelashes are about to stroke my cheek, but before he closed them he looked at me with all the silent words in the world. He didn’t hesitate and I didn’t expect him to. When his lips ghost over mine, I will take my own advice and kiss with my whole mouth. Tip of the tongue, teeth, and lips.
And I do.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

sandmoore_sister said...
Apr. 12, 2012 at 11:12 am
lucasloveswriting said...
Apr. 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm
i think it was really great :) and that you should keep writing about love cause this was so good :)
Winters_Willow said...
Apr. 9, 2012 at 10:51 am
I really enjoyed reading this. You write really well. :)
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