By Manny Marquez*
It was two days before Christmas, and I was visiting my cousin’s home the night SHE came over. The lights on the Christmas tree were twinkling like stars in a country sky and cookie crumbs and empty milk glasses line the coffee table. Everyone was jolly, really into the spirit of things. Not me, no, I had retreated to my cousin’s room where I climbed into a bed, blared the sound on the TV, and hid. Outside in that living room was the girl that I had a major, major crush on.
I was sixteen, weighed about two hundred and ninety pounds and had never kissed a girl. She was seventeen, had short brown hair, and braces that glimmered when she smiled. Love since the first time I saw her. Her brother was in my scout troop, and was also on my cousin’s football team. That’s how we met. What would bring her to this house, on this holiday? Why did she have to make me sweat, and shiver, and feel like doing what the catechism teacher referred to as impure? Her parents had gone out of town, to a bed and breakfast, so naturally, she wound up somewhere near me. No matter, I kept in the bedroom while the night passed on.
After the movies were over, and the cocoa ran dry, the house grew quiet. My cousin had settled into his bed, and I was still in mine. All the girls, because I had about four female cousins there too, were in the other room where she was. It looked as if I had survived the night.
Then, the door creaked, and the pitch black of the hall melded with the dark of the room. Her squeaky, beautiful voice called out. “Can I sleep in here, it’s too crowded in the next room?” Right away, I leaped from my bed, and offered her my place. She worried. Where would I sleep? The floor was fine for me.
Over the course of the next, I don’t know, two minutes, I sweated off about fifty pounds in nervousness. She started talking to me across the couple of feet that separated us, playing word games, giving me letters and asking me to guess what it was she was trying to say. K,S,S,I – I couldn’t sort out the letters. S,S,K,I – I still didn’t get it. KISS, I got it! My God, she wanted me to kiss her.
Over on his bed, my cousin was wide awake, pretending to be asleep, but I could feel his eyes cutting through the dark. Who cares, this was the moment, this was… well… at sixteen, one can boast and pretend many things while in drafting class, or while eating Frito pie in the cafeteria, but when you are one on one with a girl, that’s where experience counts.
Rising up to her bed, which was my bed, the hard breathing began. I thought it would be a moment to last forever. Instead, she forced her tongue down my throat! Her braces pounced against my teeth, and I felt the cold metal on my tongue. How would I ever know that my first kiss would be a French kiss? Not one of those little romantic pecks that twelve-year-olds give over cotton candy at a church carnival, no. This was serious.
I slipped, my belly jiggling, and I fell to the floor. She followed, and landed right on top of me. We rolled around for what seemed to be hours, until my cousin stepped off the bed to get a snack. He was exhausted from all the excitement, and needed a break. In that little time we were alone, I was ready. This was it. Who needs virginity? Then, she rose over me, and whispered. “I have to,” took a deep breath, “I have to stop, I know when I need to stop.” My cousin came in with a bag of chips crinkling between his fingers. She went back up onto the bed and rolled over without a word. I couldn’t sleep. The three of us had a secret.
When she woke up, it was officially Christmas Eve. My gift had already arrived and … God damn, I was head over heels in love. All my shyness, and weird hiding from her was over now. There was snow outside, and the sun shimmered through melted icy windows onto her white gown when she got out of bed and stepped over me without a word.
For two weeks, I did not get a chance to see her, but my emotions kept reeling inside. It wasn’t until school started back up that I got a glance of her. Clearly I can see the square, dark halls as she ducked away in a crowd and disappeared. Not just once, but every time I would approach her. We never connected, and every time I got near, I would find her hanging on some guy’s arm.
Finally, I had a chance to take her aside. I told her how much loved her. Many times since I’ve seen it, but she was the first girl to sit and shake her head “no,” staring into space while I talked. The beautiful dream admitted to the dreamer that she didn’t love me. She just wanted my tongue.
*This story originally appeared in “Journeys,” (Quesdilla Press 2004) a collection of nonfiction stories by the Telling Tales Theatre, organized by Norma Fain Pratt.
More terrific TYTT stories:
Me and Stan Getz by Jonathan Bellman
The Great American Award by Vicente Lagunas
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