We’d known each other since preschool. One of my first memories of him is holding his hand while pictures were taken of our winning Halloween costumes. He was Dracula, I was Pebbles from the Flintstones. We were both four years old.
We were always in the same class, he was a clown, not a jock. In Middle School, he took up skateboarding, growing a mullet and listening to Nirvana while wearing one black leather fingerless glove. I was brainy and shy and filled my notebooks with fashion designs and inspirational quotes. I had mastered winged hair but thought nirvana was weird. We were both 13 years old.
In high school, we become friends. We both liked musicals and old movies. We were both on the student council and yearbook staff.
In the winter of our junior year he and I and two other friends drove to the next town over, where the closest theater was, to see the latest Disney movie. Aladdin, I think.
On the way home, in the back seat of his friend’s dad’s huge Chevy suburban, he wrapped one flap of his big army surplus coat around me and held my hand. I just remembered that now, the hand holding. It was sweet and electric.
I was the first to be dropped off at the end of the night. As I started up the walk toward the house, I heard him say behind me, “Hey, you don’t think you’re going to get away that easily, do you?” It wasn’t really a question.
I turned back and there he was, all gangly 6’4″ of him, his red hair framed by the big collar of his long coat, the tails billowing around him, looking at me so intently. I felt like the heroine of one of those old movies we liked so much. (He was probably a bundle of nerves, but he seemed calm and confident). I walked back to him and he enveloped me in that big coat, his arms around me. I had to tilt my head up to see his face. He bowed his head and our lips touched. He had perfect, cupid-bow lips, they were softer and warmer than I expected. They fit perfectly over mine.
After that initial, sweet pressure, he pulled back for a second and I leaned up and kissed him again. Just a peck. Because I didn’t want it to end, because I thought that’s how it was done.
The whole thing lasted only a second or two but I felt like Scarlett O’Hara. I didn’t stop smiling for days. I kept touching my lips with my fingers.
We had both just turned 17.
We’re still friends, though we don’t live in the same city. Occasionally, when something calls the memory up, I think about that pure, sweet kiss, and more importantly, that command. That voice that told me to turn around and come back. The way he said it, it either woke something or planted something in me that I’m only now starting to explore.