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I've Never Been Kissed
Skittery turned and stared at me. "You're jokin', Snitch."
I shook my head. "No. Never been kissed."
"That's such a waste," Skittery sighed, shaking his head and sitting down on a box just inside of an alleyway. "I gotta rest for a bit. That okay?"
I shrugged. "Sure. 'Course." My boots crunched in the snow as I went to sit next to him. It was cold that morning, even though there were a few solitary sunbeams breaking through the gray clouds above. Kloppman's left knee had promised us another foot of snow before nightfall, but that was okay. Snow was fun, after the selling was finished. I liked making snow angels most of all.
"So you're sixteen years old and you've never been kissed?" Skittery started up again. "How sad."
"Okay, so now you know. You asked, and now you know, can we shut up now?" I was blushing; the heat in my face was evident even with the chilly wind pinching and smacking my face.
"No, I wanna know why."
"Why? I dunno why. Does it matter?"
"Yeah. 'Course it matters. Youse a good-lookin boy, you should've gotten your first kiss ages ago."
I blushed brighter. "Good-lookin? Me? Now you're jokin."
Skittery grinned. "Naw. I mean, look at ya! Blue eyes, curly hair, strong body... yeah, you're good-lookin. Can't deny looks like those." He paused. "You've never even been caught under the mistletoe?" He was staring, his eyes intense.
"I avoid the mistletoe," I said, shrugging. "What use is it in a house full of boys?"
Skittery's eyes jerked away. "Sometimes girls come in."
"Yeah, to visit their sweethearts," I sighed. "Which ain't me."
Skittery smiled. "Like I said, youse a good lookin boy. You'll get a sweetheart and a kiss someday."
I stood up and stretched. "Someday. That sounds so hopeful, Skitts."
He laughed and stood with me. "C'mon. Let's finish sellin'. Mush and Jake are havin' a snowball fight in the park at noon, and we wanna be in it, right?"
I grinned. "'Course. Let's go."
That night, I went downstairs after lights out. The stairs creaked, but I'd lived in that house for eight years, so I knew all the squeaky spots to avoid.
The house was decorated for Christmas, or at least as decorated as we could get it. Itey and I had stolen a holly wreath covered in gold ribbons and silver bells, and Kloppman had hung it out front. Some nice ladies from the church had donated a full, green pine tree to us, but we didn't have much to decorate it with, so it just kinda stood in the corner, dropping needles and making Pie Eater sneeze.
But the thing I was looking for was hanging from the center of the walkway, between the sitting room and the dining room. Mush's girl had given it to us after using it on him, and he'd brilliantly hung it up in the hallway, still blushing. I sighed. Why couldn't I be that bold? Just take the damn plant, hold it over a girl's head and steal a kiss. I stole everything else. What was holding me back?
I stared up at the plant, silently cursing it. Why? Something to curse. Something to lay the blame on. No one likes to take the blame; it's always better to blame something else.
Only Skittery called me that, that strange blend of his nickname and mine, which he'd slurred up while drunk one night. "Heya, Skitts."
"Whatcha doin down here?"
I shrugged. "Nothin'. Did I wake you up?"
"Nah. Couldn't sleep."
"Really?" I turned and looked at him. "Why?"
He walked up beside me. "Just... thinkin'. Too many thoughts."
"Why're you starin' at the mistletoe?"
I shrugged again. "Wonderin' how a little plant can have so much power."
He laughed. "Skitcha, that's silly. Mistletoe don't have no power."
"Yeah it does! It makes people kiss each other if they stand under it!"
Skittery rolled his eyes. "Lemme show you somethin', Snitch. Here," He grabbed my shoulders and placed me beneath the mistletoe. Then, he stood back and crossed his arms over his chest, staring expectantly at me. "Well? I don't feel anything making me wanna kiss you."
I blushed. "'Course not. We're both boys."
To my surprise, he scowled. "Lemme show you somethin else," he said, taking my wrist and leading me tot he picture window in the sitting room. He opened the curtains, and snow-filtered moonlight flooded in, making me squint. We looked out at the Queen Moon and her sparkling star people for several moments before Skittery turned his gaze back to me. I saw a strange look in his eyes that made my heartbeat quicken. He put one cold hand on my cheek, softly stroking my lips with his thumb
"Now I want to kiss you," he whispered, leaning forward. He paused just before our faces met, his breath shaky, warm on my lips. I wondered briefly what he was waiting for, and then he struck.
It was nothing like I'd thought it would be, yet everything I'd hoped. There was a short moment where a dim voice in my ear insisted that this wasn't right, that Skittery was a boy and it wasn't right for m to kiss a boy.
But if it wasn't right, then why were my hands moving to Skittery's waist without any coherent order from my brain? Not like my brain was capable of coherent orders in that shining moment, anyway.
His hand fell down my neck, across my shoulder, softly squeezed my bicep, then trailed lightly over my inner arm before tightly clasping my hand, braiding our fingers together. He lifted his lips for an instant, nuzzled my cheeks with his nose, then replaced them where they belonged...
I mean, on my mouth.
Even though there was no heating in the Lodging House, and there was snow flying on the breeze outside, I felt very warm. The house creaked silently around us, mice poking their noses out of their holes, sniffing for food and finding none. The Christmas tree stood sentinel in the corner, seeing and saying nothing.
Skittery pulled away, and I found myself disappointed. For a first kiss, it had been fantastic, but... so brief? I wish it had been longer.
He put his fingers in my hair, and continued to hold my hand with his other. We stared at each other for what seemed a very long time before he kissed my forehead and smiled.
"Can't say you've never been kissed now, can you, Skitcha?"
I giggled, and we embraced, our cheeks pressed together like our mouths had just been. Then, we set off for bed, our fingers still cheerily entwined.
I've Never Been Kissed by Lute