This story is by Robert Corra and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
As the door slams behind us, and the loud, repetitive music fades, my survival instincts kick in. Not really, but I’m here now, in full panic mode…
Thinking back, I’m not sure why I decided to leave my comfortable spot by the party’s exit. People were counting down loudly from the other room. Who doesn’t like a good countdown? When I ventured into the room to see, all kinds of cheering erupted as a couple emerged from a door with sheepish grins on their faces.
Seth, whose parents owned the gilded house we were now in, then pointed his engorged finger at me and yelled in a drunken howl, “You!” From across the room I could see the look of shock and regret on my friend Bill’s face. He was the one who had dragged me to this off-campus party with the promise of free booze – always a compelling argument.
The truth is, I had nothing better to do. I wasn’t exactly the coolest kid on campus. It’s difficult to be popular when you spend most of your life avoiding the rest of the population. I only had time to say, “What…,” before I was being pushed along to the door.
“And YOU!” was what I had heard next, from behind me. The room cheered, and then a bunch of partygoers yelled out, “Seven minutes in heavennn!”
Oh no. My worst fears had come to life. Public embarrassment, awkward social interaction, and ego-crushing rejection all rolled up into one big cigar of shame. And I don’t smoke. So what do I do now?
The room is pitch black, as the door runs snug to the floor. I can barely make out, umm, see that there is someone else next to me, but I can hear her breathing. She’s probably as scared as me, if not more. I figure we must be in some small closet. Isn’t that how these things are usually portrayed in those horrible coming of age movies? But I don’t feel any coats crashing down on me.
I fish for my phone and say meekly, “Hold on a second.” As I turn on my phone’s flashlight, the first thing I see is Kelly’s’ face, sporting a rather pained expression. I recognize her from my English Lit class. She sits on the front right of the class, is consistently sweet-natured, and is entirely cute in a subtle and effortless way. I’ve noticed her, but never really had the nerve to talk to her much. I’m surprised to see her here, because, like me, she’s not the most socially confident. She recognizes me too, and her expression seems to relax just a little.
The second thing I notice, as I turn my head, is that this isn’t any ordinary closet. It is an abnormally large walk-in closet. It’s like the Taj Mahal of closets. It might even be bigger than my dorm room.
“Jesus, this closet must be bigger than my dorm room,” says Kelly. “That’s exactly what I was just thinking!” I reply. We glance at each other and snicker. The right side of her lip curls up into the cutest of crooked little smiles, and I think that’s so Kelly. It’s something I didn’t quite notice before, or at least I didn’t realize I had.
Seeing as we have a few minutes on our hands, and are now in danger of falling into an awkward silence, I blurt out, “Let’s go on an adventure.” She looks a little surprised, but I decide to take the lead. I shine my flashlight forward and to the right and proceed to walk around the perimeter of the room.
All across the right hand wall are racks of designer clothes. “Damn, some wardrobe,” I say, as I take some time to admire the goods. Kelly follows along, slowly doing the same, until she pulls out a glittery red dress and holds it up to herself. “How do I look?”
As I move the flashlight around, the light glimmers off of the sequins of the dress, and even more so from the glint in her eyes. The only thing I can think to say at that point is a slow, “Wow…”
I catch myself and clear my throat as she shyly puts the gown away. Thank god for the dark, because my face is probably matching the shade of that dress right now. I quickly move towards the back of the closet, which has shelves upon shelves of shoes.
Seth’s dad must be a bit of a sneaker-head, because I spot an impressive collection, arranged meticulously across the back. I eventually gravitate to a pair of limited edition Adidas Stan Smith’s that catch my eye. “Hey, those are like the shoes you wear all the time,” says Kelly. “You must really like them, I think I’ve only ever seen you in them. I mean, in different colors, not always the same pair,” she adds, almost apologetically.
I’m quick to add, “I like the flats that you wear. They’re…flattering, and you always match them to your outfit, like the blue ones you wore this week.”
“You remember that?” she asks with an inquisitive look in her eyes.
I’m a little surprised I do, but I can picture her now, clear as day, dangling the same blue flats in class. “Umm, yeah. I really like your style.”
“Thanks. I like yours too,” she says, as the right side of her lips curls up into that smile of hers again. Right now that smile is rapidly shooting up the list of things I like most, somewhere between ice cream and Stan Smiths.
We move on to the left side of the room and inspect some elaborate looking drawers and mirrors. I randomly press a button, and an electronic hatch suddenly pop opens and slides outward.
Kelly grabs my arm from the mild shock, and then laughs, “Whoa, that is some hi-fi stuff there!” I get a kick out of seeing her excited and childlike like this.
When we see what the drawer reveals, we’re both taken aback. A bevy of jewels are spread out before us. If there ever was any doubt that Seth’s parents are loaded, this removes all of it.
“We probably shouldn’t touch any of that,” I say.
“You’re right,” says Kelly, as she lets go of my arm, and I feel a tiny tinge of sadness when she does. Next thing I know. she picks up an obscene diamond necklace. I mean, you’d be hard-pressed to find more rocks at a quarry. She holds it up to her neck, and simply looks at me, with a regal stare. I instantly know that this is an image I will never forget.
Time stands still for a bit, and then Seth’s booming voice rings out and quite rudely interrupts, “Here we go!”
Reality hits, and Kelly instantly drops the necklace back in its place.
I start fumbling with my phone, getting ready to turn off the flashlight.
“Wait…” I say nervously, and our eyes meet.
I go for it. Purely out of instinct, I kiss Kelly. Our lips come together and simply melt.
It catches me off-guard how soft her lips are. How perfect it feels. So a first kiss becomes a second…
And a third…
Our lips slowly come apart, as if clinging for dear life.
We look at each other with dazed looks on our faces. I can tell she felt the same thing. I was expecting it to be nice. Sweet even. And hopefully well-received. Fuck it, I wasn’t thinking much of anything at the time. But this was something else. Like a magic trick you can’t explain. Only this was real. And it was overwhelming. And to think, I flunked chemistry.
As I struggle to process the moment, she collects herself and I wait for her reaction. A smile spreads across her face, and this time both sides of her lips curl up. Her whole face beams, and I know to myself, I’ve just kissed the prettiest girl in the world.
Still looking at her, my fingers slides the flashlight off, and we find ourselves where we started, submerged in darkness. I can still see her in my mind though, clear as day. I can still feel her on my lips…
At that moment, a roar goes up and I’m blinded by the light as the door whips open. I cover my face with my arm, and I can tell Kelly has quickly left the room, consumed by the crowd outside. I hesitate for a moment, still overwhelmed, still reeling. I cling to the moment, never wanting it to end, and a little scared of the magnitude. How can something so small feel so profound? And what happens now? I don’t know, but I’m excited to find out. I take a step towards the threshold of the room knowing that somehow everything has just changed…
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