by Jasmine Rhodes
I stare up at my ceiling, fighting back the tears in my eyes. How can any one person be this blind, this stupid, how can you not realize you’re in love with someone for three years, and then all of a sudden their lips are on yours and soft and warm and she tastes like roses and fresh milk and raspberry honey because she’s addicted to those little honeystick things, especially the raspberry ones.
I don’t know how I’m going to get through this.
She talked me into trying out for the play. And the theater teacher decided we were going to do Romeo and Juliet this year.
Rose wanted the role of Mercutio, but the teacher said no, Mercutio can’t be played by a girl. We have a Mercutio, and Mercutio’s not effeminate. Romeo, however, is soft and tender and effeminate, and we’re undercast anyways.
Can you see where this is going?
I didn’t think it would be a problem. Of course I didn’t think it would be a problem. Rosalind’s grinning, maybe she didn’t get the role she wanted, but cross-dressing, dramatic speeches and a death scene? And it’s not like I haven’t acted with her before.
But I never had to kiss her before.
“I hate this play,” she says, grinning, flopped down on the grass with a copy of the script. “Even for Shakespeare, it’s so cliche. And yet it’s the most commonly acted play in high school theater, you know that? High school is so cliche, so it’s perfect.”
“But Mercutio’s your favorite character,” I murmur.
“Sure, I mean, it’s not like I’m blaming Shakespeare for writing a crappy plot. Shakespeare was all about the crappy plots. He stole most of them from other places, anyway. His true genius was the dialogue and the characters. And the dialogue and the characters—well, the dialogue and Mercutio are unparalleled. Even the cheesiest, most overdone scene in all romantic literature, it’s genius.”
We go over the lines. There are two kiss scenes in the script.
The first time we go over the lines, Rosalind’s goofing off, overacting it and teasing me, and instead of kissing me she pounces me and tickles, and we roll over each other in the grass, giggling.
I don’t realize it’s going to be a problem. Not until we’re in rehearsal and the teacher wants us to go through the scene and this time she’s taking it seriously, and I think my heart’s going to explode, it’s beating so fast. Rose is an amazing actress, that’s easy to see, and she’s serious this time, so that when she looks into my eyes, her gaze is deep and infatuated. She whispers that line against my lips—
— then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take. Thus from my lips, by yours, my sin is purged —
And kisses me.
I think you’re supposed to close your eyes during a kiss. Mine stay open, wide, staring, because I feel her breath as she exhales, the wisps of warm air teasing into my mouth as she pulls away and gives the next line.
I’ve forgotten mine. Someone cues me, and somehow, somehow I manage to stammer it out. I can’t stop staring at her.
I don’t even hear her next line, and this time her hand reaches up into my hair as she kisses me, and maybe I’m dreaming, because I swear I feel her tongue quest playfully across the rim of my lower lip, and then she pulls away again, and the rest of the cast catcalls, laughing.
“Juliet,” the teacher says, trying to snap me out of my daze. “Juliet? Celia!”
My face goes red. I’m acting like a starstruck teenage fangirl. I am a starstruck teenage fangirl.
Answer me this. Honestly, who faints? That doesn’t happen outside of the movies. It’s not supposed to happen outside of the movies.
She tastes like roses and honey.
I don’t think I can do this. I mean, as if it’s not obvious enough to the whole drama class that I am completely and madly infatuated with my best friend Rosalind, we’re supposed to perform this in front of the school. With parents.
Maybe I can get out of it. I’ll just… become deathly ill. I already fainted, right? That’s a start.
I convince my mom that I’m sick and she lets me stay home the next day because I never miss school, so if I miss school, it must be serious. I lie in bed and stare at the ceiling.
There’s a pounding on my door. I blink, but don’t get up, and the door opens, and Rosy falls through, trips on my backpack and catches herself on the bed, giggling. I stare at her. She kicks the door shut and flops onto the bed, with one hand on either side of my head to hold herself over me. “Hi,” she says.
I stare at her. “Hi,” I reply, feeling a blush inching its way up my cheeks.
“Why weren’t you in school today?”
“I’m sick,” I tell her.
“No you’re not,” she giggles. “Is this about the fainting?”
“Yes.” I’m trying very hard to keep my eyes on hers. I want to look at her lips, so close to mine, so soft and full and warm…
I’m so hopeless. I hardly know why she puts up with me, much less how she endures kissing me.
“Well,” she gives this serious contemplation, sitting up. “Maybe we rushed you. Have you ever been kissed, before yesterday?”
I sit up, too, my face red. “No.”
“Ah, that’s the problem. You just need practice.”
“Right, you have to get it right, before the play rolls around. Don’t worry, I’ll coach you.”
She leans in, grinning. “What what?”
“What do you mean, you’ll coach me?”
Rolling her eyes, she keeps leaning closer, and I lean back to get away from her until my back hits the bed again and we’re horizontal. “I’ll give you kissing lessons. So you can have it right, once we get to performance. No more fainting, y’know?”
I feel lightheaded. “Kissing lessons.”
“Sure,” she says. “Wanna make out?”
“You can’t be serious,” I say.
“I’m serious,” she murmurs, and kisses me.
I push her away. “Rosy!”
My cheeks are burning up. She watches me.
“Why’d you faint?”
“Because,” I mumble.
“Why weren’t you in school today?”
I don’t reply, turning my head away. “I can’t tell you.”
“You’ll hate me.”
She starts giggling. “Cel, I’m not going to hate you because you have a crush on me.”
I stare at her.
“I’m right, aren’t I?” She’s grinning.
“You think I’m such a loser,” I whimper.
“Nah,” she says. “I think you’re hot.”
She leans down, pressing her nose against mine so her lips are half a centimeter away, and she’s grinning. I stare, eyes wide, and I can taste her breath on my lips.
“You rock my world, Cel, don’t you know that?”
This time, it’s me who initiates the kiss.
Her mouth opens against mine, fingers all tangled in my hair, and she’s messing up my braid but I don’t care, because I love the way she giggles when I run my hands over her skin, because she’s soft and warm and incredibly ticklish.
“Wanna get naked?” she whispers in my ear, and then giggles, and I love the way she has of saying dirty things when she just sounds sweet and cute and adorable, and that’s the way she is, dirty and sweet and cute and adorable, that’s the way she has, of discussing completely inappropriate things with absolute nonchalance, like dildos in Ancient Egypt or whether or not it’s hygienic to have sex with a banana (she concluded that fruitophiles should be advised to put condoms over their vegetable lovers, for safe fruit-sex).
“Yes,” I agree, winding my arms around her neck. “I do.”
She kisses me again and sits up, straddling my lap as she pulls off her shirt like a porn star and tosses it aside. She falls forward again, catching herself on her arms and smiling down at me. “Get my bra clasp, won’t you, hot lips?”
I reach up, running my finger under the seam of her bra because I love the way she twitches and bucks and giggles and whines my name, complaining about being ticklish. I unfasten the clasp and let it fall open, and the satin straps slip off her shoulders and down her arms. She lifts it very purposefully and drops it aside, watching me with a smile.
Her breasts are pendulous, because she’s soft and slender and voluptuous, because Rosy grew up with curves in all the right places. I cup one in my palm. The nipple is cool to the touch, which is strange to me, but under the breast, where it nestles against the body, is warm, and I spiral my thumb around the nipple to warm it, growing hard and eager against my touch.
“Celia,” she gasps, watching me as my hand cups her breast, and I don’t know why hers are so fascinating, it’s not like I don’t have a pair of my own, but hers are soft and pale like cream with raspberries, and they jiggle slightly, like jelly, which is the best part. I want to taste her, so I lift my head and kiss the shy pink areola, slipping out a touch of tongue and flicking it rapidly over the tip. She gasps with surprise, her whole back arching, head falling back. I should have suspected she was so sensitive, since her whole body’s so ticklish to the touch.
She rolls, flipping us over so I’m on top, our legs tangled together somehow, and she smiles up at me. “You need to be naked.”
“You need to stop distracting me,” I reply, and take off my pajama top to please her, leaning in again to kiss the other nipple, sucking on it and savoring the moan it produces. I lavish my tongue across the skin of her breast, sucking as much of it as I can into my mouth like I’m starving for her, and this makes her cry out loudest, her pretty face flushed with pink.
She whimpers for me, and I kiss her again, wet and messy but ever so sweet, our bodies pressed close together, and she fumbles with the fabric of my sports bra, whimpering with impatience, until it’s skin on skin and her arms are wound tight around me like she’s never going to let go.
We’re tangled, hearts and tongues and bodies, and her thigh presses up between mine, rubbing demandingly against the crotch of my jeans, and I’m not sure how I’m supposed to be capable of thought right now, because she’s scrambled all the codes to my brain with sex, sex, sex. I grind back, my hips meeting hers. I don’t know how either of us learned to do this, but it’s good, so good, and now her fingers are fumbling with my zipper, and mine are dipping inside her jeans, my fingers parting the soft wet petals between her thighs, gliding over the tender skin. She begs for more, and I give it to her, searching out the spots that I like best and finding out which ones make her cry, fingers dipping smoothly inside and scissoring a soft rhythm, exploring her from the inside out.
Her grip tightens suddenly, as she comes, head arching back as she whispers my name and sinks back into the bed, dizzy and panting.
I lay down beside her, playfully licking my fingers clean.
She laughs. “I’m dizzy.”
I grin and kiss her, and we go again, and again, until we’re both too tired to keep kissing and giggling, and she falls asleep with her head on my arms.
She’s right, of course. I don’t know how or why, but she’s right.
When she says her lines the next day, and kisses me, I kiss back. And I don’t faint. I don’t forget a single one of my lines. I kiss back.
And I don’t mind the fact that she insists we practice that scene over and over before the performance, even though she knows and I know that we know it by heart. Because we both know that after the play is done and the curtain falls and life goes back to relative normality, she’s still going to kiss me. And I’m going to kiss her back.