AND WHATEVER CAME NEXT – a story

I don’t write romantic stuff a whole lot. It just isn’t something that fascinates me as much as other ideas do but this came into my mind and stuck there. I tried to capture the innocence of young summer love and the naive trust in a world that you were just playing a full part in. Most of my romances come with razors and claws but it was nice to do something different. I really dig it and I hope you do too. 

AND WHATEVER CAME NEXT

It was late.

Or early.

It was hard to tell.

It was the part of the night where the summer heat has burned off and the dew is forming and fog is rolling slowly over the fields. I looked over at her and watched the goosebumps form along her skin, an army marching over every curve, every dip and along all the places my hands and lips had been just a few minutes earlier. She shivered and looked away from the stars and over to me and smiled shyly, her hands covering her nakedness. I leaned in and kissed her forehead, the salt of her sweat a bitter taste but sweet reminder of the evening. She smelled like donuts. Sweet and sticky. She had met me after work, her uniform in a pile underneath her head, my own uniform of jeans and a t-shirt underneath mine.

I had never been kissed by a girl.

Not really kissed.

Not kissed by someone who meant it.

Not by someone who wanted me.

I had never been kissed by a girl.

Not before her.

We had met weeks ago, friends of friends of friends of whatevers, both of us meeting near the pool and spending the night sitting in lawn chairs and sipping warm beers and talking until everyone else had passed out or disappeared into the darkness of a stranger’s bedroom, or closet, or bathroom, or wherever. The closest we came to touching was when we shared a drag off of a clove cigarette she had. It was awful but smoking after her gave me a weird jolt I hadn’t expected. The night ended like a dozen others had since I had started going out with my friends when we turned eighteen – the girl and I said our awkward goodbyes and we parted ways. Only this girl wasn’t just a girl at a party. Wasn’t just a face with no name. I dunno what it was but she was different. I thought about her the whole next week. I worked my clerk job each night hoping vainly she’d come in and I could get her name, her number, something. But she never came in. My friends were sympathetic but hey had girlfriends and insisted that they knew the perfect girl for me, or that there might be someone at the next party. Only, it wasn’t like that. It wasn’t desperation. It was, I don’t know. Different.

I didn’t see her the next weekend and was crushed. There was no reason she would have been at this kid’s party, a kid that even we barely knew, but I had hoped. I had really hoped. My friends offered me beers and their girlfriends told me they might know someone I might like and they were all awesome but they didn’t really get the strange itch I felt in wanting to see her. Needing to see her. It was stupid. I knew that. But I didn’t know it at the same time. And knowing didn’t make the itch go away.

And that was what got to me.

When I ran into her two weeks later at a concert I couldn’t help the smile that came to my lips and when I saw how she blushed at seeing me, well…it was a great night. A fun night.

Her name is Mary.

That night I got her name and phone number. I called her the next day and the next time we saw each other we didn’t have our mutual friend-anchors.

That was last night.

Last night was when she kissed me.

She.

Kissed.

Me.

I had never had that happen before.

We were sitting in my back seat under a blanket, passing a beer back and forth and listening to the radio in the parking lot of an all-night mega-mart. She knew I had an apartment, and I knew she lived in one with a friend but I didn’t ask and didn’t offer to go back to one of them. It wasn’t time yet. So we sat in my back seat just talking about music. Suddenly a song that she loved came on the radio from a mix CD I had made for the night and she squealed and bent towards me and kissed me. When she pulled away our foreheads were touching and our breath was coming in short bursts. I could smell the beer on her breath and beneath that the tacos we had had as a late snack earlier in the night. She blushed and was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. I ran a hand through her hair, unsure what I was supposed to do. I was far from a rookie but before things had always been hook ups or the one time I fooled around with a friend of mine. This was…different. Her smile grew and she leaned in closer and kissed me and my body caught fire. I lost track of all time, all thoughts, of everything but that moment. I ran my hand from the side of the head to her cheek and she placed a hand on my thigh and I felt it creep upwards. Suddenly there was a loud knock on the rear passenger window.

“HEY! That’s fuckin’ disgustin’ you perverts! Get a fuckin’ room! I got a kid here!”

It was a woman wearing too much makeup and had a t-shirt on that showed a cartoon elephant being screwed from behind by the President. The tagline said ‘Thanks…’ something or other. The rest was obscured by a young boy covered in chocolate she held on her hip. Mary raised a hand of apology and the woman knocked on the glass again then stormed off. We busted out with laughter. I sat up a little and saw that the woman had found the security car for the store and was pointing at my car as she approached them. We laughed all the way back to her apartment where I kissed her goodnight.

It had been a week since I had seen her. Both of our shifts made it hard to find time but we ditched friends, ditched plans, and carved out space in the world for us and it would be worth it. It would be worth going into work bleary eyed and exhausted. Muddle-minded and distracted.

It was Thursday night and I was just off of my shift and she was just off hers when she picked me up in her roommate’s car and took me for a midnight picnic under the stars.

And here we were.

Here we are.

Here I am.

I leaned forward and kissed her and closed my eyes and saw…nothing. I saw nothing. I loved it. I loved nothing. I had spent most of my teen years worrying about grades, and friends, and parties, and college, and jobs, and girls, and everything else that wandered into my head and those ghosts had chased me since then. It had chased me right up to that moment of blissful nothing where it was just her, and it was me, and it was us.

Us.

Damn.

I felt the first cold drops of rain hit me and broke the kiss off. She frowned and wrinkled her nose. We laughed and the rain fell harder. We stood up, naked and laughing. My body still humming from our time together. We bent down and grabbed our clothes and slowly made our way back to the car. She took my hand.

“If…if this was the end of the world would you dance with me in the embers until the end?” She looked at me with no smile in her voice or eyes.

“…until the very end and then whatever came next. Until forever came and whatever comes after that.”

She squeezed my hand and I smiled and she returned it. Deep inside me my world caught fire and I didn’t care because I already had my dancing partner for it and for whatever came next.

…c…

9.1.15

www.meepsheep.com

Author: Chris Ringler

Writer, blogger, reviewer, artist, arts and cultural events coordinator, and semi-professional weirdo. Author of a heap of books from horror to fairy tale to kid's.

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