It was a kiss….just a simple kiss. It was a closed mouth, barely gaping, pressed against her cheek, in the back of her dad’s El Camino after the Volleyball Team’s loss to North Hills. To the giver of the kiss (Susie Beechum), it was no big deal, but to the receiver (Julie Carson), it was everything.
For Julie, it would be the beginning of a 3 year unrequited love affair. It would be, at least for a while, the kiss that Julie would use as a standard for which all kisses would be compared. More importantly, Julie would spend the remaining of her middle school and high school years perfecting the art of kissing girls.
She remembered, quite vividly, every kiss she experienced during these years. She could recall the feeling of every pair of soft lips which tasted of strawberry lip gloss, snuck behind the bleachers or behind the closed doors of the bedrooms of innocent young girls. Some of these kisses were given, some were taken but they were all very much forbidden.
It was funny to Julie, in hindsight, how an innocent kiss on the cheek could create such a strong awakening for her. It was funnier, still, how the same kiss was so small and meaningless for her good friend, Susie.
This was Julie’s precise thoughts as she read the wedding announcement for Mr. Billy Sanders and Mrs. Susie Beechum (high school sweethearts). She was setting at her breakfast nook, in the one bedroom condo that she occasionally shared with her sometimes girlfriend, Tawny.
As she sat and listened to the chaos Tawny was creating in the bedroom, she tried to wrap her brain around everything that had happened this afternoon. She had been outside, working on a large canvas piece when the phone had rang, so now the piece of paper in her hand was covered with rainbow colored fingerprints.
The phone call was from Susie Beecham, herself. She had called to ask if Julie had received the wedding announcement. Julie had received it, weeks ago but she had tucked it in the bin with her coupons and past due credit card bills. It was still unopened. She wanted to forget that it existed.
“Well” Susie’s voice promted.
“Huh” Julie replied.
“The invitation. Have you received it, yet?”
Julie lied. “It just came this morning, there must have been a problem with the mail. It’s beautiful.”
There was a silence on the other end of the phone. Julie felt her face flush. She knew that Susie knew she was lying. Susie cleared her throat before speaking, again. “It’s plus one. You could bring a…” Susie paused longer than necessary. “You know, you could bring a friend, or whatever.”
In the next room, Julie could hear Tawny throwing things and cursing. “Um, it’ll probably be just me.”
“Oh…Oh!” Susie was cheery again and she spent the next 15 minutes gushing about seating charts, flower arrangements and her eventual, unnamed children. To all this, Julie just nodded and added the occasional “Uh-huh” and “Oh, really?”.
It all felt very surreal and Julie didn’t realize that she had actually agree to attend the wedding until the conversation began to wind down and Susie said “I can’t wait to see you, you know.”
Julie’s heart thudded against her chest when she heard those words but all she could muster was a weak, “Yeah, me too.”
There was another long pause before Susie spoke again. “Hey, I have to go. Is this a landline phone?”
The room was spinning. “Uh, yeah.”
“Well that’s charming. I’ll see you soon.”
Julie steadied herself on the kitchen counter, retrieved the invitation from the coupon bin and opened it up.
There she sat, running her fingers across the golden embossed letters on the front of the invitation. She held that damned RSVP card in her hand for a while. She considered taking it outside and setting it on fire as the ruckus in the next room grew louder but she gathered the energy to fill it out. She left the check mark in the plus one box empty, placed the card in an envelope, and took it outside to the mailbox. For a while she sat, looking at the rainbow fingerprints on the return envelope.
When she walked back inside, Tawny was in the front room, taking books off the bookshelf and stuffing them in her little pink suitcase.
“Going on a vacation, babe? Julie asked.
There was a moment’s hesitation as Tawny paused, made eye contact with Julie and then took a deep breath. Julie recognized the gesture as the calm before the storm and she raised one eyebrow. This was a challenging gesture and Tawny answered it with a barrage of anger….and so they danced. It was a dance of fury as they recounted every ounce of pain that had occurred throughout their 3 year on again and off again relationship.
Angry, nasty words flew from their mouths like blades of agony as they waltzed from the living room to the kitchen and into the bedroom. Tawny threw things and Julie apologized. Julie begged and Tawny yelled. To anyone on the outside of the dance, it would look like hate but Julie felt nothing but passion toward Tawny. What she found in the language of hate from Tawny was love and the strongest, most earth shadowing lust.
She imagined, as Tawny berated her with the foulest words, was herself wrestling Tawny to the floor and tearing at the slinky silk shirt until nothing but the red lace bra was showing.
She imagined herself crawling on top of Tawny and smothering her in deep throbbing kisses. She imagined her mouth covering Tawny’s until she could speak no more angry words.Then, she would slip her hand into Tawny’s matching panties and Tawny’s filthy words would be replaced with deep, aching moans.
She would caress the angriest parts of Tawny until she came and the two would collapse into one another, without another word. Only then could they continue to live the life they had built together. If this was a dance, Julie knew that was the only way it would end.
But she was exhausted, emotionally and physically. She had grown old and tired of Tawny’s dance and so she vowed to let her go, for good this time. She felt no real anger or sadness at the thought of this. In fact, the only thought she could muster was the sound of Susie’s cheerful voice, and that damned RSVP card. So, she let Tawny yell, grab her bag and then walk out the door.