THE TWO BOYS • by Charlotte Nash

He kissed me at the pier under a starry sky, but it was a tentative kiss, full of apprehension, both of us wondering what the other would think. If this was too soon, if each had read the other wrong. Everything that had come before that point had been steady and pleasant, even exciting at times. After, there was relief, and a warm glow. Perhaps that was the stirring of love, but that’s not what a short life is about. We had worked hard on that kiss, or at least what had led to it. There’d been courting, and secret smiles, all those nights at the theatre and coffee afterwards. But after the kiss, I saw a slow whittling that would make us forget its perfection. There would be the slide into domesticus, swapping pumps for low rise, then for flats. Him going from the nothing-under-it puff of shirt into his waistband, to a small roll, to ever-straining flesh. It would never last, this kiss.

The week after the kiss and my exodus that followed, I met boy two at a house party in Hamilton. The flat was dark, the music profound. Faces I didn’t know clustered around conversations: neofeminism, Jason Bourne, their fingers doing the maypole dance around martini glass stems. I’m in heels and a short dress, but I’m bored by just talking. I catch his eye as I move past a group. He holds it, I look back. He keeps looking, I look back again. Each glance longer than the last. Surety gaining strength. Carnal interest, unabashed. I step out onto the balcony, which hangs above the water. No one else is here; too far from the bar. His footsteps follow me out and he introduces himself. I miss his name. Because this talking is not for talking. It’s sure in form and purpose, a pre-flight checklist knowing this beast is going to fly. He edges closer. His eyes are on my face now, on my lips and cheeks and neck. My fingers drift to touch his chest, a gesture, a space bridged. We speak in low murmurs, knowing our voices are only lubrication in this delicious electric bath. His kiss is relief, permission to leave the checklist behind. We don’t care who can see us, we are leaving soon anyway. What has come before was effortless, and what comes after will be empty. Passion is a match flare, a detonation. A shock wave propagating in the consciousness. Within an hour, I am in a strange bed with this man between my thighs. We are out of our minds with immediacy, the next moment more thrilling than the last. We both know the end will come, but before it does not matter and afterwards, we do not care. He kisses me goodbye before we are cold; we part with fondness, nothing awkward, sure only of what has been. A kiss set in perfect resin, unsullied by expectation or regret. A kiss that will last.

Charlotte Nash was born in England and grew up in the Redlands of Brisbane. She has degrees in engineering, medicine and writing and has enjoyed an eclectic career. These days, she works as a gun-for-hire corporate and technical writer, enjoys nerd culture, and has a thing for heavy machinery. She writes science fiction, fantasy, romance, and any combination between.

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