A TRIAL BY KISS • by David Beers

The lights came on, and Lisa looked away from the stranger for what felt like the first time in years. The bar was nearly empty, and through the haze of four martinis, she realized it was closing time. The stranger, Michael, looked up as well, surprised by the time.

Lisa’s eyes widened as she realized her friends were gone.

“Where… where did my friends go?” She asked herself, as much as Michael.

“You don’t remember? You told them I’d give you a ride home. I still can, it’s not a problem.” His voice didn’t slur, and Lisa’s eyes found his again. They must have been talking for hours. Lisa felt a twinge of heat, and guilt, as he mentioned driving her home.

“Are you sure that’s okay? I totally didn’t mean to impose on you…” She trailed off as she looked once more around the bar.

A cute, blonde bartender put a ticket down in front of them.

“Just pay it when you’re ready.” The bartender smiled.

Michael pulled his wallet out, and put a credit card down on the bar. He looked back at Lisa.

“Really, it’s no problem driving you home. I’ve only had a few drinks anyway.”

Lisa looked into his green eyes. Either the vodka, or his voice, was making her lose control of herself. She couldn’t do this. She knew she couldn’t. It wouldn’t be right, and she would hate herself in the morning. More than hate herself.

“Okay, that sounds great,” she heard herself saying. It was like a dream, and she was only playing her part.

The stranger leaned in closer to her, and she found herself doing the same. He placed his hand on her thigh, and smiled. She smiled back, and felt warmth growing.

She couldn’t. It was wrong. It was awful.

She was lost in him already. She couldn’t pull herself away.

“Would you mind if I kissed you right now?” the stranger asked, like a nervous kid at a high school dance. Only his smile showed that he wasn’t nervous. He was making a joke, being polite — whatever — but not nervous.

This was her chance. Push his hand away from her leg, stand up, and excuse herself. He asked, and she must answer no. It wasn’t okay. She did mind. Leave her be.

She felt herself shaking her head. She didn’t think she had consciously willed it, but still, there her head was shaking no — giving him permission.

The stranger, Michael, leaned forward more. She saw his face moving in, and saw his green eyes disappear behind his eye lids as they closed.

At the last moment, she turned her face slightly to the left, and moved a bit. The stranger’s lips hit her cheek, and he paused. He opened his eyes, but didn’t move from her cheek.

“I’m sorry, I can’t,” she said. The stranger backed up to his sitting position and looked at her.

Lisa stood up from the barstool and grabbed her purse.

“I really am sorry, it’s just…” She looked down, hoping he would realize.

“I know, I saw it at the beginning. No worries,” the stranger, with the most beautiful green eyes, told her.

She walked out of the bar, her heels echoing in the emptiness. Her left thumb moved over to one of her fingers, and felt the engagement ring that seemed to weigh a thousand pounds. Lisa walked out of the bar feeling both proud, and disappointed. Pride won out.

David Beers is a young writer, bent on entertaining people.

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