A TALE OF TWO KISSES (Part 1 of 2)
It was summertime. The sky flashed its happy-go-lucky smile, yet my mood was sullen.
He was due to arrive at any moment. After all, it was a momentous occasion – our fourth anniversary as a couple. We’d been together since I was 18. We didn’t exactly fit Webster’s definition of compatibility, but our differences had a way of making us click somehow. Our vibe was intense, sometimes volatile, but we sure managed to create a lot of happy memories together. He was a good man. And I cared for him deeply.
Ever the poster child for punctuality, he pulled up to my apartment complex at precisely 6 PM, just as he had promised. I peered through the slats in the window blinds down at the street below, narrowing my eyes at the white Mustang that had come to represent our marathon kisses and sneaky hand blisses. But the giddy tingles that normally surfaced to jump-start the butterflies in my tummy seemed to be slacking on the job.
After securing myself in the passenger seat of his pride and joy on wheels, we set off toward our favorite eatery. Well, actually, it was his favorite eatery. Mine was too far of a drive he had said. Who was I to argue? Would it have made a difference in the scheme of things?
We arrived at an Italian bistro that had seen more than its share of marinara stains and overcooked manicotti. We slid into our usual booth, the holes in the upholstery tempting my fingers to fish inside them for loose change. Then I glanced across the table to where he sat, staring. Only he wasn’t staring at me, per se…more like through me. He wore a perplexing expression and that mirrored one of my own. And then what followed was an awkward silence of biblical proportions, rearing its ugly head and swallowing us whole. I tore off a piece of Ciabatta from the semi-stale loaf set between us and gnawed on it like it was my job. The sound of my chewing reached unreasonable decibels inside my head, and I tried desperately to come up with a conversation piece in order to make it go away. But the concept of engaging in easy chatter with my boyfriend suddenly felt quite foreign.
After two hours of trading fragmented pleasantries and plastered-on smiles, we settled our check and stepped outside. He made no attempt to hold my hand as we walked across the parking lot. Hardly a word exchanged between us, yet there was the one question he had tossed into the air, which landed with a thunderous crash against the pavement.
“Do you mind if we make it an early night?”
An early night??? Is that what four years has come to?
We settled back into the ‘Stang,’ meandering leisurely along the scenic route we’ve traveled so many times before, usually with the intention of scoffing at all the trophy homes dotting the coastline, snorting our disapproval and rolling our eyes at their extravagance while secretly wishing we had the means to live in such luxury. But tonight was different. This time we rode in complete silence.
Without further conversation or fanfare, he took me home. As the Stang sat idling in front of my apartment complex, I wondered if I could still salvage the night somehow. It was barely 9:30 PM…a most inadequate time to conclude a date such as this. I needed to try.
I leaned over the center console and draped my arms around his neck. He angled his head toward mine, and I descended upon his mouth with gratuitous gusto. It was a kiss with a purpose – a kiss to elicit the man I missed, the man who used to call me babe and make me pretty. The man who went out of his way to spend time with me. The man who made me laugh and feel adored.
But his lips were clammy and lifeless. They pressed me with the cold, hard truth…that the man I missed didn’t exist anymore. He was different now.
Or maybe I was.
There was no denying that my pulse remained even, despite our mingling tongues. My mouth felt numb – my body even more so. And his lips spoke volumes, backing up a heart that was no longer in the game. His lack of fervor rang as clear as a bell, chiming its last hello…and our final goodbye.
My lips ceased all movement. I pulled back and allowed my hands to fall to my lap with an exaggerated slap. My fingers fidgeted awkwardly, and I could sense his focus on them as he waited for me to say something. But I remained silent, still stunned by the realization that our connection was gone. And he heard every unspoken word.
Four years. Gone. He had been my “first.” I thought he would have been my last. I was young. I was naïve. I didn’t know any better.
But now I knew.
It was in the kiss.
S A Healey, a happily married mother of two, is and will forever remain, a sucker for romance. You can currently read her first novel, Empty Me Out, for free on Wattpad. http://www.wattpad.com/story/3361337-empty-me-out