by Erika Walsh
It starts with noses. It starts with noses rubbing against each other and turning red. The noses get drippy, so the people attached to the noses move down a bit. Mouths stretch behind the gums like a rubber band. Teeth clang against teeth. Ow. The woman whispers, we’re never doing that again. So they never do that again.
Men and women rub noses and women and women rub noses and men and men rub noses. Handkerchiefs are in style.
A girl with grey eyes is pouting because maybe she is sad, or lonely. A person who maybe loves her pouts too, and they press their pouts together. The word sweet is born. We have found a way to conquer the bone. The deceased rattle in their caves.
The French conquer the sweetness without meaning to. The word hot takes on new meaning. Tongues press against tongues. Word spreads, by carrier pigeon. By camelback. By minds looking into other minds. Somewhere in the Arctic tundra, a tongue pries past blue lips to meet another tongue. The pink slugs twist to taste each-others’ capillaries, and get stuck together. Georgie whispers, Shit, not again.
Boys kiss girls and everybody says aww and claps. Girls kiss girls and get killed. Boys kiss boys and get killed. People who are not boys or girls kiss whomever they please, and get killed. The word paranoia is born.
You’re supposed to do it in private. Shh. Somebody puts a label on it: first base. It becomes a means to an end. Baseball is a respectable sport. Nobody flaunts the marks on their cheeks. Blushing happens. The stock market crashes. People forget what it feels like. People only know how to touch. Everybody keeps getting killed and lips taste bloody. You rinse the salt and iron out of your mouth.
Lips discover collarbones. Lips discover bellybuttons and backs of hands and the little indents where thigh and hip meet. Lips kiss when they’re too afraid to speak. Lips speak when they’re too afraid to kiss.
The word kiss is a commodity. The stock market rises. There is a high demand for kisses, tied up with some extra bonus that looks like love. People glance at it and shrug and say close enough. They wrap a big pink ribbon around it. They forget about the blood. They forget about the sweetness. The man on the TV says it’s not a big deal, so it’s not a big deal.