Let’s call her Paula.
She was tall and graceful. Many years after, these two features still first come to mind when I remember her. I didn’t find her particularly very beautiful, but I guess that is my shortcoming; after all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
More importantly, Paula and I worked together in the same organization. We were both newly graduated from university and had not quite figured out what we wanted to do with our lives. This mutual unsureness brought us together. We shared with each other our dreams, goals, and fears. As we got closer, we shared intimate stories too. Like, I told her how a university heartthrob had left me lovelorn; and she recounted how some guy had only wanted her for her body. These narratives always felt like a prompt.
Soon, we started greeting each other with bear hugs; we scheduled our shifts at work so we could leave together; I called her Bonnie, she called me Clyde.
It became clear Paula had not just fallen for me – that would have been easy. She was smitten. Every conversation was steered in the direction of a potential relationship. I played along. Her texts were punctuated with many X and Os, mine had emojis emoting a variety of smackers.
It was a Wednesday, I think. She told me she had never kissed a guy before. This was late in the evening when everyone else had left the office building. We had 15 minutes left on our shift and that Westlife album from 1999 was playing from my PC. I looked her in the eyes and told her I had also never kissed a girl before (I did not mention that time my cousin pecked me on the cheek and left me wondering for days if I was guilty of incest). Paula giggled. I knew what it meant but I had done the maths. It was insoluble. She was looking for commitment. I was not ready to give her that. To kiss her would lay a fertile foundation for something that could lead to something. So, I hesitated. The clock ran out. We closed the office then walked to the closest BRT stand with the matter buried alive.
Under the BRT stand I pondered out loud, “You’re serious you’ve never kissed a guy before?”
“Yes,” she said. It was inviting. I had already done a situational appraisal. It was sufficiently dark enough that no one was would see. I leaned close, eyes closed until I felt the taste of her lip-gloss. It was welcoming. I lingered. I do not remember how long for but when our lips parted there was a warm glow over me. I wanted to do it again.
After the kiss, I held her hands as we walked to the bus stop. Her steps had a certain spring in them. I remember she said something about the weather. I replied absent-mindedly. I was contemplating the awkwardness that would follow the next day at work.