But, standing there next to Mark elbow deep in dirty dish water, I appreciated his ability to stand over me, even if by only three inches.
He started to hum. He did this a lot. Maybe it was something he always did, maybe it was because he usually didn’t have a lot to say. Maybe it was the sound of his voice, or the warm water on my hands, or the smell of his cologne, but something fluttered in the pit of my stomach when his hand brushed mine.
I had only meant to pass him a fist full of forks but I was nearly electrified and the current shot straight up my arm to my spine and the hair stood up on my neck. Did he feel that?
“So, I was thinking…” he finally spoke up.
“Mhmm.” I only grunted. This I learned from Mama. It was called a short leash or something like that.
“I was thinking tonight you might let me kiss you.” This wasn’t the way they did it in the movies. Usually, when a boy decides to kiss a girl, he just does it. It’s romantic. There is music playing and they both somehow “know” and they lean in. Part of me wanted to laugh at the strangeness of the question but I had noticed a catch in his voice. He was nervous and I was too nice to make it worse.
“I thought we already did that on Halloween. You spun that bottle and it landed right on me.” I said as I rinsed another plate and passed it to him.
“That wasn’t a kiss.” He dried the plate and placed it on the rack and reached for another.
“Really? Seemed like a kiss to me.” I was starting to flirt. Me. I was flirting over a sink of dirty dishwater.
“No, no. That one doesn’t count.” By the strengthening sound of his voice, he was starting to flirt back.
“Oh. Well.” I tried to pretend like I didn’t care but my stomach had just hollowed out through my feet.
He was quiet for a little while and I looked over my shoulder to make sure Mama hadn’t snuck up behind. Matt and Pam were arguing over something in the next room so that was a good sign that Mama wasn’t within ear shot.
“It’s my birthday.” He finally said.
“Nice try. I know for a fact your birthday was last week.”
We were quiet again as I pulled the plug on the sink and we both watched the water gulp down the pipe. He was calculating his next move and I was trying to calm the nerves in my stomach. I wasn’t quite sure I even really liked this boy but he certainly had stirred something up in me. I didn’t expect this.
Sure, I had wished for it to happen at some point with someone; but, honestly, this boy wasn’t my type. I didn’t like his long hair and I wasn’t a fan of how tight he wore his pants. He walked with too much confidence and he smoked.
But… but there was something in the way he looked at me. He respected me. He valued me. He had seen me and chosen me. He wasn’t perfect but the longer he looked at me like that, with those eyes, one a little smaller than the other, the more I realized that perfection wasn’t what I wanted.
He was a lifeline. He was a sign that one day, maybe soon, my life would be different. It would be outside these walls and, maybe, with a family of my own where my own aspirations and dreams would have a place. Maybe a place to be always loved, never abused, never worried about what I would wake up to the next morning; maybe a place to be normal just like everyone else.
We dried our hands.
“Yes, what?” He said with a smirk growing across his face. He knew, but he needed confirmation.
“Yes, you can kiss me. But make it quick and none of that tongue business.”
He laughed a little and I saw his cheeks flush too.
“You got it. I promise.”
“Ok.” I braced myself and turned towards him. He was smiling and as he returned the favor and faced me. So there we were, staring at each other. Mark put his hands on each of my elbows and leaned in. I didn’t move. I didn’t know how; I was stiff with fear.
We kissed. It was quick and soft as if he had barely even been there. I’m not entirely sure I even kissed back. But, just like he promised, there was none of that tongue business.
When tragedy threatens to steal her first born Lynn finds herself reliving every disappointment, every heartache, every loss, and every layer of guilt from her past. Pain upon pain twists its way around her heart leaving little room for anything but the bitter taste of anger and hate. But God isn’t done. He has hope, miracles and redemption in store. If only she dare see it.