Outside it’s stormy. Inside Pete and I are steamy in the church’s bell tower. He’s my second boyfriend, but that’s a secret because Mommy says Pete, a junior, is too old for me. I think that’s just an excuse to keep me down. She didn’t approve of my first crush, Todd, either—and he’s my own age. Plus we never really dated; we just rode bikes together.
All summer long, we pedaled to every corner of our tree-lined suburb. We often stopped for ice cream at a spot near his home. The stout man behind the counter always greeted Todd by name when he ordered vanilla for himself, chocolate for me. I basked in the kindness, which permeated the air like fine perfume. Then we’d push off. He rode swiftly, one hand on the handlebar of his Schwinn, the other gripping his cone, which he consumed with nary a drip.
I couldn’t get the hang of eating ice cream one-handed while wheeling through sweltering summer days. My bike, a dented contraption that has been repainted so many times its brand is a mystery, would wobble as ice cream dripped down my hand and splattered the handlebars, my glasses, arms, and sleeveless blouse. Feeling gooey inside and out, I would pause at the curb. Todd would double back, chortling as he reached into the pocket of his cutoffs for a paper napkin.
We didn’t make other stops. We didn’t stroll into the library to check out books, buy candy at the five and dime, park our bikes and find a quiet path where we could walk hand in hand. We didn’t kiss, not even a peck on the cheek, when we said goodbye. I was looking forward to a goodnight kiss after our first real date to a dance or the movies, which I was sure was coming in the fall.
But that never happened. My first kiss turned out to be with Pete, the boy I’m melted into right now, the boy who is with me even when we’re not together because I’m always daydreaming about the taste of his lips, the smell of his skin. I get woozy at the thought of him being near.
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