He led me away from the party, my right hand loosely clasped in his left. I felt like I was sixteen again and memories of my first kiss flickered in my mind. I followed behind him as we made our way past the cottages that dotted the reserve, the music from the wedding DJ thudded in the background. I was a little apprehensive. I mean, I had watched enough Law & Order, Arrest & Trial to stop and pull back a little then ask if he had plans to kill me in the bushes. His answer? “…to kiss you”
I was a bit surprised. I mean, we had danced together on the tiny wooden dance floor beneath the Chinese lanterns that lit up the smoky velvet night. We had laughed at each other as we led a ‘dance-off’ with his nieces who barely reached my elbow that night; the wine-red heels loaned me teetering height that night. I had seen him glance at me earlier on in the night as he sat next to his mother. I remember thinking that perhaps it was my choice of slasher red lipstick and 80’s shoulder-padded white jacket that caught his eye. I had not been out for a while. I had not done my makeup that well in a while. It was New Year’s and we were out in the middle of a nature and animal reserve, a good 40 minutes drive across giraffe-ridden, warthog-filled forest land, complete with the bumpiest of dirt roads. The dirt road bumps and dips and potholes and general impassability rivaled those I found deep within Ethiopia. But I digress. He looked at me. I caught him at the tail-end of that look, but I didn’t think anything of it. I was surprised at his kiss declaration.
He pulled me in close and all I could think about was my breath. My drink of choice has been gin for a long time, usually Hendricks, with muddled cucumber and a pour of ginger ale. That night, budget, rural area placement and opportunity dictated that I would welcome in the new year with Viceroy. Urgh, brandy. So I thought about what my breath was smelling like in that moment when he looped his arm around my waist and pulled me in. We were standing in the semi-darkness, a pool of light from the pathway lighting falling short of us by a few feet. Some more feet away, the wedding party was in full swing.
I also thought about the last time I was kissed properly. And the last time I felt like a ‘woman’ woman since I had my little one. I knew this kiss was going to open up a whirlwind, hurricane and storm of feelings within me so I braced myself. I felt my back stiffen up and his hand gently caressed the length of my spine, turning that stiffness into gooey chocolate as it traveled downward. He looked at me. And smiled.