Sunday, 30 June 2013

The Millionth Kiss/The Bottle.


Stella spins on the floor, round and round, her victims sat in a circle awaiting her to decide their fate. Her long thin neck is the barrel of a gun, lining up innocent, if tipsy, bystanders and firing affection mercilessly at them. Forced affection; my least favourite thing, even surpassing public displays of affection. Sloppy drunken kisses decided by a bottle on a hardwood floor. Is there anything more ridiculous?
I realise how cliché this moment is. A house party, the party guests all students who have lectures the following morning and thus are downing pints and mixers with foolish enthusiasm. Hiding in the corner, refusing to acknowledge my own presence in this hideous game, one I’ve only ever played at high school parties – are we really not grown out of this yet? Is Spin The Bottle a hardship we must endure for our entire adult lives? It certainly seems that way. Luckily so far I haven’t been ‘spun’. The majority of outcomes are the boys sharing kisses, which of course is oh-so hysterical, because two boys kissing is lunacy and two girls kissing is sexy. I’m sitting and stewing and contemplating the remote possibility of an escape to the kitchen – it’s risky, as to get up and climb over my teammates to the living room door would not only draw attention to myself but also the unwanted questions of why I’m refusing to play. I’d think it would be obvious, though; there are people here that I don’t want to kiss, and there’s one person I don’t want anyone else to kiss.

I can’t escape the fact that he’s kissed most of the people in this room, but I can escape the room.

The girls are kissing now. Two girls whose friendly self-deprecating banter is not fooling anyone, and whose fierce rivalry on the pitch is mirrored perfectly in their personal lives – those screams of stalling are real, as are the smacks of discs and venomous competitive eyes. It’s funny, watching them kiss. They giggle, and then break apart. Eyes are averted. Leers and jokes are thrown around the room, the atmosphere grows more unfriendly. I feel tears in my eyes, and know I need to excuse myself NOW. However, Stella has other plans. Her gaping mouth settles on me, and I freeze. My legs go numb, my lips quiver with fearful anticipation and the sadness in my eyes is threatening to spill out at any moment. Everyone will know. All I can do is wait, petrified and paralyzed, for the poor doomed soul who will be sharing a kiss with me to be chosen. She takes her time, does Stella. I already know, but she’s keeping me waiting.

Of course it’s him. It had to be. Fate is cruel sometimes. As if the rain and nausea of the earlier evening weren’t enough to shatter my spirits, now I must endure the warm familiarity of his kiss and the harsh, knowing jeers of my friends and foes surrounding me as it happens. He’s already on his feet and crossing the small space between us; my mouth is frozen in a frigid line and my hands are twisting in my lap. He walks with purpose; he smiles ever so slightly, no doubt thinking he’s doing me a favour. As I finally manage to cry out “no, I don’t want to...” he has his hands on my face and his lips are on mine for the millionth time.

And I remember.

I’m sitting on my desk chair, the curtains are drawn and my laptop is open on the watchseries page. He’s sprawled out on my bed, my friend, my TV partner of choice. I’m laughing at something or other, we’re catching each other up on what we’ve missed for the past month we’ve been apart. Christmas came and went; he somehow bedded a lesbian, and I a rugby player; we were both lonely on New Year’s Eve. He kissed his male friend when the clock struck midnight. I would never tease, it’s too easy.
“What’s the date?” I squint at my laptop screen. “The fourteenth? Wow. Y’know, I actually didn’t get a kiss on New Year’s Eve. I haven’t been kissed at all this year.”

“I’m on it!” He exclaims, proud and excited, springing off the bed, crossing the floor between us and cupping my face in his hands, all in one swift movement. Before I can even giggle or protest, he’s kissing me for the first time – the first time sober, anyway. It’s a nice kiss. We start laughing while our lips are still pressed together. Two friends, too simple. All too simple, back then.

Now, he takes his hands away, he moves back across the room, and he’s laughing. The shouts of “awkward!” and “what a surprise!” are subsiding into general drunken babble, and the feeling is coming back to my legs. The other feelings, of familiarity and of past longing, are less welcome and always lingering. I wonder how long it will be before they, too, will pass. Subside into something more worthwhile. I finally find my feet and head for the door, and as I do, I allow myself one more look at his smiling face – and I know, then, that these feelings will be here for a while.

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