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The First Kiss
Blood had disappointed me. In truth, I was expecting much better. The vibrancy of its rivers, the brilliance of that dripping red, was all much grander in my day dreams, much grander than this blob of dullness. It did not run like a river, slowly, mindfully peaceful as to not wake those surrounding it; it oozed like toothpaste from a nearly empty dispenser, with vicious spats of disgust at whomever had forced it out of its hiding place. It did not paint the sky red, instead leaving everything untouched, unaffected. It did not hold my satisfied reflection in its eyes as it trickled down the speckled rug. That stubborn blood did not hold the sweet smell of metal and salt. It did not emit it in the slightest; instead, it remained nearly acidic and quite truly disenchanting and blandly unappetizing. It refused to look at me, refused to mirror my gaze on its surface as I had always wished for. It had defied me, and yet, it had left me breathless and ready for more.
This unimaginably obstinate blood belonged to a Kate. It swam beneath her fair skin at approximately ninety-seven-point-eight degrees in the chair in front of mine in Civics and Economics class. This skin had tiny blond hairs that stood on its end when the air condition would kick on in class and smooth back under the calming hand of a sheer glaze of sweat so petite and refined even she may have not noticed. When Teacher would call on her in class, I would watch as the blood trafficked through her veins, making them fat with anxiety. Sometimes, I could see the rhythmic pulse tap against her skin, and I would resist the urge to put two fingers against her neck, just for a moment, to feel it run against my hands. A shudder would travel through my body just at the thought of it, my own blood standing at attention.
This is a love story. There is no other way to see it. No matter how they try to spin it to me while I sit against the immovable metal chair, my arms yanked backwards, and a woman in a suit studying my every move, I know this to be true. And perhaps, I write to you, dear friends, to know that you see it too, the beauty of true first love.
My love was of the truest. There would be no other explanation for how I doted on the ebb and flow of her beating body, the way the color would rush to her cheeks, painted in splotches along the porcelain. Artists lived inside her, molding and shaping every finesse of her being. I would wait with breathless anticipation that registered near painful when she would gnaw on her lip as she thought. Pull and stretch against the skin she would, teasing me, the little wench, but she would reach the near breaking point, when her skin would open up and reveal what’s inside, and then return to clamp down on my fascination.
I knew nothing of her if I couldn’t see the inside.
I was seven when I saw my dad’s insides. The red was holding him in a cocoon inside the bathtub. He looked as if he was sleeping in a hammock. There was nothing more peaceful that I had seen before. Silver floated near his left hand. His skin was covered with clouds, a great fog over his whole body.
There was to be no screams to exit my lips. I watched him for a moment; complete silence enveloped me. Death was written on the walls, fogging up the mirror, and drenching the folded towels hanging neatly from the racks, but it smelled sweet. The light hit the pool my dad swam in and was reflected back up. I sat in there for a while; I let death rock me away past grieving for the loss of a dad. It soothed me. It rubbed my back in slow, methodical circles.
I told my mother. There was screaming and wailing, and ever since then, nothing but silence.
When I am lonely I think back to that moment, my dad laid out against the tub, his whole being there for me to watch and take in, and I think that my father must have really loved me if he was willing to share that with me. His image is a floating lullaby, and all my dreams are in red.
I dreamed of him very little when Kate was breaths away from me. Instead, I would fantasize on the smell— of rain in the heat of July and melted lollipops sticking to the vastly overheated pavement—and the way her loose curls would caress the skin with each gentle sway. I knew I loved her.
My moment came when Teacher announced there would be a project due at the end of the week, to be completed in pairs, and one of them was Kate and I. She turned and smiled at me gently, almost like she was petting a wounded animal it was so delicate. Innocence had painted her lips the color of pink cotton candy, and fragility dripped down her smooth green eyes running down her silk skin.
I forced a smile. I thought of her blood.
The choice was made a day later to meet that afternoon at her house to work on the project. There were promises of homemade cookies and loud music since there would be no parents at home, but I heard little of it, just straining to hear the smooth rush running through her body just under her collarbone where she had a faint bruise. It was purples with kisses of red running along its rims. I tried not to stare.
But I couldn’t stop. There under the hazy filmed covering of penetrable skin laid herself, pure and unhindered. I bit on my lips.
Her house was on the corner of the street adjacent to mine. I biked.
Her door was painted bright yellow, an unsightly addition to the already sunny day. I squinted against its glare. The rest was brick and towered monstrously over my head. The driveway was long, yet unimaginatively straight. I thought it took away from the attempted grandeur.
The windows looked like they had eyes and the garage, teeth. I knew it was just my imagination, but they followed me, nonetheless, as I walked to her door.
There were three short raps on the knocker. I could hear her feet pitter-pattering down the hallway. Her skin slapped the hardwood and skipped a beat every second step. The door knob turned to the left, and she was there, hair up messily in a bun to the right side of her head, makeup diminished to just traces, and something near excitement painting her skin the color of my mother’s pale lipstick.
Kate welcomed me in with a hug. My lips quivered fervently over her shoulders. I pressed my ear to her neck and waited until I heard. It was a drum, lost deep in the jungle. It beat and beat its steady rhythm just begging for the right person to listen to it, study it, admire it, dream of it, hold it. I was lost in her. I was being pushed from her heart through her veins, seeing her form and mold and create. The world turned cold around me, and then she released me, the breath lost from my lungs.
We continued to the living room.
The project was worked on until seven, at which point I noticed that her heart rate must have slowed significantly if her breaths had turned that shallow. Her face was forced to a slant against the pillow, her eyes veiled and traveling to new worlds in her sleep.
My books were set on the counter, and I memorized the way her lips parted just so and her eyes skimmed under the lids as they scanned her dreams. I imagined what she dreamed of. I imagined I was in them.
My heart played jump rope in my chest as I traveled to the kitchen and grabbed my shimmering tool. I washed it under the water and brought it back to where she was sitting, her body limp and flowing down the couch.
I formed my hands underneath her body, felt the heat press against my palms and my heart race with exhilaration. She was perfect. Her body was lain and her face so serene, there was a never a shadow of doubt. This is what she would have wanted. I could see it in her wandering eyes, that hope crying out through her slumber. My lips, trembling and dry, placed themselves tenderly on her cheek, kissed the surface of a river. A single tear fell and landed against the remnants of her blush. It poised itself and did not move, soaking through her pores and landing somewhere in her blood. I was a part of her now.
As I reached for her slender wrists, love oozed from my pores, running down my face in salt water runlets. I pressed my forehead to her tree of veins, felt her life race against mine.
And I opened her, like a present on Christmas day, carefully, speculatively. I let the clues unfold with each rip and tear. I gawked as her blood, her life, dripped like a leaking faucet, down on to the carpet, then wept like my grieving mother, then splashed, drew confetti of red against the furniture.
She opened her eyes. A cry was reaching through the back of her throat, but she never let it escape. She watched me as I studied her. Her eyes slowly glazed over until they were just glass, clear and empty.
The blood continued to run, and I grew less and less amazed. My attention soon turned to Kate’s body, transforming itself it to marble stone. No more color rising to her cheeks, begging to be released, she was just a set of bones, a cage for her life. Now she ran free, down the shag carpet, touching, staining everything she wished.
I leaned down to the exit site. My lips were only inches from kissing her, knowing her, feeling her more deeply than anyone else ever would. Nervousness coursed through my own veins, the anticipation of a first kiss with the girl you love. I watched the flow, and chose the right moment.
Kate was warm and flooded perfectly between my lips. Warm seeped through and forced me to swallow. It filled me. I gasped with the pleasure. Blood tasted of metal and memories. Kate ran through my body, mixed with mine, and swam with me.
One was all I would allow. I could not be greedy.
And I realized that the blood had disappointed me, but Kate hadn’t.
I rested the knife on her chest, closed her eyes, and rode my bike home. The round trip, I discovered, was only 1.3 miles approximately.
The men with badges and papers came a week later.
Kate was still resting between the lines on my hands.