JASON REYNOLDS

writin' and whatnot

My first kiss

Well, her name was Delores, but everybody in the neighborhood called her DeeDee, which was a little weird for me because that’s also my older sister’s name. Anyway, DeeDee and I were in my room, under my bed. Let me explain. In eighties there were these beds that (I actually think this style was a carryover from seventies) had drawers connected to them. So if you pulled all the drawers out, it left a hollow space underneath the mattress. Like a fort. So DeeDee and I were in that space. The fort space.

There was no discussion. No planning. DeeDee just pressed her face against mine and shoved her tongue in my mouth. Her whole tongue. And…I stopped breathing. Totally forgot that I could breathe through my nose so instead, in a panic, I just held my breath while DeeDee tongue-stabbed my face like a maniac. I’m not even sure our lips were touching.

Finally, when it was over, which was when I pushed DeeDee off me, I gasped for air as if I had been underwater. As if I had been drowning. DeeDee smiled. I smiled too, feeling a sudden rush. To this day I’m not sure of that rush came from the kiss, or from the fact that I survived suffocation.

We were seven. And we never kissed again. But I’ll never forget that first one, when she almost killed me. Under my bed. Thanks DeeDee, wherever you are. You changed my life forever.