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"Some Kiss You Gave Me"

She had changed. That was to be expected, but her muteness on the journey home from hospital still worried him. She’d been like that too long. He tried his best: said he’d missed her and it would be good to have her back. Said too that his parents would drop in that evening. Would that be ok?

He glanced over to see her nod, but her expression tore at him in a way he couldn’t explain.

She spoke once, when she pointed to a rabbit in the middle of the road. Its fur was cratered around a bloody core.

“Don’t drive over it,” she said.

He was almost reassured: she was still superstitious about things like that.

                                          - & -

Not long after they got home she went to bed. She did not see his parents arrive later. His mother fussed; left soup for her that grew a skin. His father, remote control in hand, said, “It’s difficult, has to be.”

She spent days in bed, watching television in her dressing gown and eating only fruit. As the soreness waned the itching took over and whatever came after that would not matter because the fear would never leave. Her dark hair lay lank against her pillow.

He’d taken time off work and tidied the house. By Friday, with nothing left to clean apart from her, he suggested a walk. She surprised him by agreeing, though she still wore that same lost expression. She dressed in the bathroom.

On that fragile walk, the sight of spent leaves falling from a tree made her cry; later she welled up as they passed a mother lifting her baby from a pram. He held her hand. She didn’t pull away, but she was a dead thing in his grasp, so he switched to put his arm around her. “It will be ok.”

This made her cry too. “I’m just emotional.”

“I know. Let me know when you want to talk.”

They had warned him, but it was still hard to see this change overwhelm her and make her twist away from him in bed, telling him it was more comfortable that way.

But she walked. It was the only activity they shared for the next few days, and it helped. She didn’t cry as much and she talked. Not about anything that mattered, but it was a start.

On the seventh day of walking, an inch of snow lay on the ground and a flat, granite sky threatened more. Perhaps because the snow reshaped things, they did not follow their usual path through the park and along the bleak river bank. Instead they drifted towards the other side of town where he hadn’t been in years.

Here they stumbled across their old school, where they’d met and beyond its railings was the prefab building that had housed them. He could see the cloakroom behind its doors where they’d hung coats and lunchboxes. The hooks looked knee-height.

She stopped, pulled a tissue from her coat pocket and blew her nose. “We were so tiny,” she smiled. And then, “Poor Simon.”

She was talking about a boy he had punched on the second day of school.

“I was possessive, wasn’t I?”

She put away her tissue. “Terribly.”

They moved on, turning past the high school then down another white street. As a child he’d felt this forlorn town was too small for him, but things seemed even smaller now.

“Didn’t we walk home this way?” he asked.

“Every day.”

Set back from the road was a bench, and he stepped back when he saw it. Curling flakes of its paint poked through the snow in places like tiny drowning hands. “We kissed here. Remember?”

Her eyebrows rose. “Of course I remember.”

“Some kiss you gave me.”

“Some kiss you gave me.” She released a smile. “I didn’t know that’s what tongues were for.”

It was a kiss that had changed things. Until then she’d been boyish company; the pal who’d once helped him catch ants in a matchbox so they could train them into an army, the accomplice who’d dammed a gutter until the road had flooded and ruined their shoes, who’d kicked a ball back to him with no lack of skill. Who’d arm-wrestled and raced and fought him twice, once blackening his eye. In their secret place – a small copse near her house – she’d told him her secrets, apart from the biggest.

He’d been blind to the moments she’d forgotten her role; tucked her hair behind her ear and asked whether he liked girls with dark hair or blonde hair more, or when she’d pressed a daisy into the buttonhole of his blazer, or taken his hand in her hot hand for one hot second.

He’d never questioned why she’d begun to take longer to come down to answer the door to him or the way she’d studied him with askance glances. If he’d paid attention, they’d have kissed sooner. But he had not, so it had come to an enormous gamble: she’d sat him on that bench, told him she had something to tell him, lifted his chin with a forefinger, put her lips to his. And hoped.

It had changed things from the moment he’d felt the tremorous cushion of her lips on his mouth, the coldness of the bridge of her nose on his cheek, and heard her embarrassed giggle after she’d pulled away, flattened by his unresponsiveness. He’d stared at her as if she were a stranger. Then he’d leaned in for more. Her hand had cupped his neck. Her tongue had drawn across his lips, his had pushed its way into her mouth. They had been locked together for one startling minute.

Her kiss was one of unpracticed, native skill. It ran a sensuous line between diffidence and confidence. No-one he’d met since could kiss like that.

He’d acknowledged as much in his wedding speech seven years later. He’d lied: said the kiss had marked, as sharply as diamond cuts glass, the moment he knew he’d marry her.

Later, in the bridal suite, as he’d eased her gown to her ankles, she’d said in a voice, warm with champagne and happiness, that she’d known she’d marry him long before that kiss.

His hand had followed the shadows of her back to the cleft of her bottom.

“Since when?”

Already smiling, she’d turned. “The ants … that matchbox.”

Even on their wedding night he’d felt he didn’t deserve her.

                                          - & -

As they walked on, snow began falling in fat flakes that settled on her beanie hat and briefly on her nose and eyelashes. He was encouraged by her conversation and paid little attention to their route. He didn’t notice until too late that they were approaching the house where she’d grown up and the point at which he used to say goodbye. In before-kiss days he’d punched her shoulder and run. After-kiss, he’d blushed and stammered with his hands in his pockets.

He did not break his stride, fearful of the thoughts the house might trigger. But she halted at the gate and folded her arms, looking up at the great bay window. Perhaps she’d exhausted all the bad thoughts.

“Remember that time my parents were out?”

How could he forget that summer afternoon, when sex lay before them, limitless and unfathomable as the sea?

They’d perched on the edge of her sofa, an ugly thing with wooden armrests. He’d flicked through TV channels, clasping the remote between his legs to mask his excitement. But it had only taken the touch of her hand on his knee to set off their writhing frenzy. He’d ended up on his back, with her on her side next to him, her hand cradling his hard-on through his jeans.

He didn't know what came over him next. He'd clawed so hard at the neckline of her vest that he’d explicitly exposed her breast and the swollen, dark nipple at its apex. He’d grasped the whole swell of it as if it were a stress-reducer. While he gripped her, she’d edged on her back on top of him. Her legs had yawned open and his other hand crept under the waistband at the front of her shorts and ventured under her knickers. One finger ran the length of her slit. She’d sighed and in a second had raised herself like a crab over him. He’d pulled down her shorts and knickers as one and looked down at her bared legs. Another moment of incomprehension: he’d expected them to be as he’d first seen them under a pleated skirt: cartoon-like, shapeless as knotted string. But they were graceful and sinuous.

The immensity of this discovery had stalled him. Again she had to take the initiative. Her face had curled into his neck, her warm breath smelling of the hot chocolate they’d shared minutes before. By lowering her shoulders to his chest and keeping her hips high she could blindly push a hand beneath her to search for the button of his jeans. It had popped and his cock had uncoiled, swollen and numb.

He’d eased his jeans and boxers down while she’d held him tentatively between two fingers. She’d lowered her hips until they rested on his belly; the skin of her bottom cool on his groin. She’d adjusted her grip, levering his cock into the angle between her legs. He’d waited, with a soundless prayer that he would not embarrass himself.

Her legs had opened and he’d been washed by a sensation of warmth that engulfed the head of his cock. He was in. He’d pushed and felt only pleasurable resistance. She’d sucked in a pained breath through her teeth and her legs stretched to an obtuse angle.

She was the perfect mould for him. She’d whimpered, hummed and sighed into his mouth and her eyes rolled. Her tongue had lashed through his teeth and that had confirmed their inseparability: each of them had placed a portion of one inside the other.

He’d held himself inside her then pulled out. Pushed in a little to feel the blissful resistance afresh and then out again, the action making wet noises above the hum of their breathing. He’d looked down once more, past the nub of her still-exposed breast and between her outstretched legs saw his cock, like a polished white spar, entering her from underneath.

The third time he’d pulled out he knew he could not return. His legs had flexed and he’d ejaculated against the down of her pussy. Strands of his come had landed, like bleached seaweed, on her skin and pooled in her bellybutton.

She’d turned her head to his and sighed. His arm had folded over her breasts. Her slowing breathing came from deep within her. It made her chest rise and fall like an ocean swell, lifting his arm like a ship.

She’d kissed him, tasting of strawberries. “Never let me go,” she’d said.

                                          - & -

She walked slightly ahead of him. Her mittens were still attached to his hand by her fingertips. Snow still fell in flurries, but a low sun briefly emerged and cast a halo around the back of her head.

The path they were on brought them alongside a railway track where a train honked past. His darting eyes followed each successive carriage as the train weaved south. He had gone the same direction when he’d left for university. Greed travelled with him. It visits us all, though we often choose not to recognise it because sometimes it wears the gaudy camouflage of gluttony, or the business suit of avarice or the casual clothing of materialism. It came to him masked in the cloak of self-discovery. He’d always wanted to escape his forlorn little town. And at university his looks had given him the opportunity to expand his sexual knowledge he had not spurned. He’d found a dozen willing partners. Abigail (pixie cut, retroussé nose) had been the first. Her breathless sexual precociousness had made him blush. But she was vapid so he’d tried Emma (smart, pierced tongue), who’d quote poetry while they fucked. But he might as well have kissed the back of his own hand, so next came Ludmila (Slovakian, tall), a beauty whose tongue got everywhere. If she’d been fun he wouldn’t have bothered with Daisy (gelatinous breasts, nipples the size of saucers) who’d transfixed him for four weeks until her sour breath and bitterness had snapped his patience.

In a few months, she, the girl who had started everything, was thirteen conquests ago.

She’d left for university the same time as him, but had gone west. The messages she’d sent at the start of term would have seemed a relic of innocence if he’d ever looked at them again.

“Love really hurts without you ♥♥♥ ” she’d texted on day one.

“Guess who’s on my course? ♥” went the next.

A minute later: “Simon! ♥”

And then: “Pls punch him ♥”

He’d read her naive messages in bed, while Abigail teased his foreskin with her tongue. He had not replied.

He’d visited one weekend that first term, but there had been a distance between them the length of Abi and Ludmila laid end to end. Simon had asked her out, she’d reported in mock horror when she’d met him off the train, but he'd only complained about the length of the journey. That weekend he’d called Simon a wanker, drunk too much and slept on her floor.

He’d texted her on the journey back south. Things were complicated, he’d written. He’d changed, and so on. Tried to let her down gently.

By the time Justine (athletic, docile) had met him off the train and given him a sloppy blow job in the station toilets, he’d quite forgotten her again.

                                          - & -

“What are you thinking?” she asked. That expression again, the one she’d worn since she’d been in hospital. Only now did it come back to him where he’d first seen it. In her room at uni, before he’d finished with her – that same look. Not angry or jealous, but solemn and vulnerable and full of fear that things would never be the same again.

                                          - & -

After uni he’d stayed down south with Naira (diffident, unwinnable), whose dark skin had entranced him during office hours until he’d conquered her too. That evening – the evening of the phone call – she’d come back to his place and they’d fucked like stoats. It hadn’t thrilled him as much as he’d hoped it would.

While they were in bed his dad had phoned and told him of a tragic road accident in the town. Terrible scene. Bodies through the windscreen, middle of the road.

Anyone we knew? he’d asked.

That nice lass you used to like, his dad had said. Her folk.

He’d sat blinking while his Dad had assured him he wouldn’t be expected at the funeral.

But on the following Friday he’d squeezed into a gap near the back of the church for the service. A forlorn town had silently filled its pews. Though he hadn’t seen her for three years, he recognised her bowed head at the front.

At the funeral tea, he’d watched her shake hands with a hundred people, return their hugs and smile at their reminiscences. A dozen times it had seemed she might lose her composure. Her head had dipped and her lips had trembled, but she’d recovered her poise each time.

At her side, her bodyguard, Simon. Simon, studiously protective with his arm circling her waist. Simon, whose bead-like eyes, fiery with ancient animosity, had periodically fixed on him.

A minute later she’d come towards him. Regret travelled with her. It visits us all. Usually you’re alone when it creeps up. It tends to wait until the small hours of the morning, or at least the last train home, before it chokes you with sadness. But sometimes it scorns stealth. It stands before you brazenly and hits you violently. That day it had stood next to a girl who spoke to him without a trace of bitterness.

“I didn’t think you’d be here,” she’d said.

“I can’t say how sorry I am.”

She’d blinked quickly. He’d taken her hand and it was as hot and soft as he’d remembered. They’d looked at each other as regret had shaken him by the shoulders and questioned why he’d never appreciated that beauty. Those rich brown eyes were red-fringed, but her cheek still dimpled when she smiled. Regret asked what had he been thinking? What sort of rotten low-life had he been to have abandoned her?

And then, softening its contempt, regret had suggested he ask to see her before he went back south. Maybe it wasn’t too late. But she’d already turned to someone else to thank them for coming.

                                          - & -

He’d spent the next few days with his parents, but didn’t leave bed much. He’d watched TV until his mum had said he’d better start packing for his train. He’d got up and dressed – and then ran out of the door without a word.

She’d still been at her parents’ house. She’d answered the door looking tired and beautiful. No makeup, hair back in a high ponytail.

“I am sorry,” he’d said.

She’d cocked her head. A bewildered smile. “You said, at the funeral.”

“About everything, I mean.”

She’d hesitated, then opened the door wider. He’d followed her into the kitchen. There she’d talked about her parents while she slowly warmed milk in the pan – he’d been encouraged that she’d remembered he liked it. And as she spoke, the qualities he’d overlooked in her – her sense of humour, her smartness, her artless grace – all struck him. All those things he’d searched for since he’d left her.

“Is Simon here?” he’d said.

“Why? Want to talk to him?” She’d handed him his mug of chocolate. “He’s out.”

“Pity,” he’d said. “Thought I’d punch him.”

He’d meant this as a in-joke; a nod to their childhood. He didn’t see the slap coming. Her flat palm landed sharply on his cheek, stinging him. His mug flew and smashed against the oven door. Her other hand swung in to deliver a matching blow to his other cheek. He caught that, but she’d always been fast. She’d tightened into a fist the hand that had slapped him and punched him hard in the belly. She’d closed in; her second hit was weaker. Her third had hardly landed. He’d wrapped his arms around her, as a punch-drunk boxer would.

“Why did you come back?” she’d said.

“I liked your parents.”

“Just that?” Her voice had quivered.

“I didn’t want you to be alone.”

"Please don’t say that. Not now." She'd slumped against him. Her shoulders had shuddered and tiny sobs escaped her.

He’d held her hot cheek to his throat and felt her tears drip onto his collarbone. Her stuttering breath was hot and sharp against his ear. Her wet, shining face so close to his.

“You’d better go,” she’d said, into his ear.

She’d wriggled half-heartedly to free herself, but he had held her.

“You won’t hit me if I let you go?”

She’d wriggled again, leaning her body against his, backing him up against the worktop.

“Simon will be back soon,” she’d said. Her words, so intimately close, had tickled him.

He’d still held her. She wasn’t able to free her arms, but seeking leverage, she’d trapped her fingers in the waistband of his jeans. Its button had popped.

“And should I go?” he’d said.

She’d squirmed, scraping against him. His unfastened jeans had slipped to his knees and her grinding contact had left him with an erection, a shameful great stick between them. She had to have felt it against her tummy. But she hadn’t reacted. She’d rested, defeated and panting, against his t-shirt.

“I don’t want you to go,” she’d said.

He’d gambled: released her arm and placed his finger under her chin. He’d lifted her mouth to his and kissed her. She’d pulled away and looked strangely at him, tears glistening. And then she had returned to him, her lips dancing over his with the lightness of a pond skater. She’d kissed him again and again. On his nose and in the spot near his collarbone that drove him wild. She had never forgotten.

Her hand had drifted forward, into the gap of his boxers. The touch had released something distant and feral in her. She'd grasped him and moved her hand up and down, building up speed until she was masturbating him so energetically that sinews showed in her forearm. His cock, thick and red, had pointed out of his boxers up to the kitchen lights.

But it had not hurt. Her touch had been wonderful, like an impromptu ballet on his penis. Her fingers had floated over his cock. Her other hand had danced under his t-shirt up to his nipple, rubbing it quickly from side to side.

She’d pulled both hands away at once, unbuttoned her jeans and turned to lift herself up on the worktop. She’d shimmied to its edge and opened her legs. She’d drawn the gusset of her knickers to the side, exposing her pussy. The explicit sight had driven him senseless. He was in her like an animal. It had felt impossibly right. As good as it had ever been. Better. Like a jigsaw fitting together.

They'd fucked and fucked. She'd pulled his hair, dragging him to her breast. He'd slid his hands up her torso, pulling her top up to her armpits and almost climbing onto the worktop himself. She’d gasped and moaned and leaned back, knocking a set of kitchen utensils into the sink. He'd covered her breast with his mouth and sucked the whole of it. It had slipped out of his mouth rubbery and shiny. He’d flipped over onto her front and pulled her knickers half-down to her knees and entered her from behind over the edge of the worktop, his cock slapping into her and his hands clutching a tight cheek of her arse in each hand.

“I love your cock in me,” she’d whispered. “It feels right.”

Her explicitness had inspired him. He’d gone into her faster and her body had responded. She’d quivered and cried and laid her hands flat against the surface and had come in waves. And then he’d come too, half of it deep inside her and half outside when he’d pulled out too late; energetic spurts up her spine.

He’d rested on top of her exposed back, on top of his come. Everything had slowed. She’d brought his hand to her mouth and kissed its palm and along the inside of his forearm to the crook of his elbow. And then she'd wept a little.

“I will not let you go this time,” he’d said.

This had been the moment he’d realised he’d loved her all along. But he could never have told them that in his wedding speech. After all, Simon had been a guest.

                                          - & -

They passed the copse as a flickering, sulphurous glow from the lights of the street opposite heralded dusk. This was where they’d sometimes come to be together. Their secret place.

“Come this way,” he said, pulling her through a gap. They ducked past bare branches and over snow-flecked ground that gave way to leave deep footprints behind them. She almost lost a shoe in the slush.

“It was here somewhere, wasn’t it? Our place.”

They scrunched around for a minute in the gloom, before he stopped by a barren birch tree in the middle of a clearing. He was lost.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s probably overgrown.”

He turned to her and placed his arms either side of her head, their palms resting against the tree trunk. Their breath clouded upwards.

He leaned in and kissed her. It was the first time he’d done that since she’d come back. He was amazed anew at the impossible softness of her. How every kiss was a different fruit of the same tree.

She broke off. “There’s not as much of me,” she said.

He examined the tenderness of her nose, the softness around her eyes. That familiar vulnerability. That look that still haunted her. He weighed up everything he wanted to say in that moment, but it was too much. He shook his head. He drew into her, suffocated by an intense physical and emotional desire.

“I have the best part of you, right here.”

She did not speak, but her mittens touched the back of his head.

His hands slid under her jacket and the top of her jeans at the back. She flinched at their coldness on the her skin. From there, his palms moved up her spine and separated to travel up her sides. She did not stop him, though they went no further.

Snow began falling more heavily.

“You’re incorrigible,” she said.

“You have that effect.”

A flicker of uncertainty crossed her face. “Still?”

As if seeking confirmation, her mitten moved forward between his legs. It found hardness there. Her hand travelled slowly up it. He nodded. “Still.”

She undid his button, her eyes never leaving his.

“You have a very big erection,” she said. She leaned forward so her nose touched his.  “But we’d better be quick. Otherwise we might ruin our shoes again.”

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Copyright © © puddleduck/fuzzyblue

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