My nextdoor neighbor slash best-boy-friend and I were playing in his backyard after school one day in fifth grade. Trees shaded us from the April sun. I sat on the swing and pumped my legs toward the branches of the tree above. He stood in the treehouse, teasing me for saying Fila like filet. Honest mistake for someone who has never owned a pair of name-brand shoes. But kids with money don’t get it.
“Wanna kiss me?” he asked as he climbed down. He hopped onto the ground beside me with a thud.
“Huh?” I asked. He knocked the wind from my lungs with his question.
“We should kiss. Ya know, just to see what it’s like.” He shrugged.
He was kind of cute with his curly brown hair and emerald green eyes. But did I like him, like him? Maybe? Maybe not. I hadn’t really thought about him that way until smack in the middle of that moment.
I kicked a rock beneath my feet and thought about running away from him. Last year, in fourth grade, that’s what I would have done — ran from the boy. Any boy. All boys. But so much changed in fifth grade. Girl friends in my class were curious. We stopped running and started batting our eyelashes. First and second kisses were all the rage at recess. The butterflies. The fireworks. The goosebumps. I wanted to share in those conversations with a story of my own.
I stood, and my knees slipped like spaghetti. “Sure,” I said. Afterall, our parents were rooms away, inside their kitchens making dinner. No one would ever know.
He leaned in to the left. So did I, so he adjusted and leaned to my right. He pressed his lips to mine and, before I could decide whether I liked it or not, his braces scraped my bubble-gum-glossed lips. Eww. And Ouch. But mostly Eww.
I nudged him away. No fireworks. No feeling at all.
“You’re blushing,” he laughed.
“Whatever,” I said as I wiped his drool from my chin. “We should stay friends.”
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