Kissing Kathleen, by James T.

    James pulled up to the house and slowly walked to the backyard, where he knew all of the party's invited guests would be hanging out. He walked slowly, because he knew that one of those invited guests was Kathleen, the girl whom his romantic adolescent mind and heart had fallen in love with. The first time he saw her walking down a crowded high school hallway he had said to himself, "I'm going to date that girl before I leave this place." And now, nearly a year and a half later, it seemed that his silent wish migh come true earlier than expected. Not that it was any sure thing -- on the contrary, their first date to a movie had gone well, but despite the fact that he had called her soon after, she hadn't reciprocated with a call in nearly a week. He had gone home that night and scribbled flowery words of her in the only way a young person in love for the first time could, the way he had been taught that love is supposed to be, a chance smile she had given him, the dream of a potential kiss, the fervent desire that his quiet infatuation might be returned.

    He turned the corner of the house and immediately met her gaze. A slight smile danced across her lips. Her returned her look with an awkward smile and reddened cheeks. "I'm an idiot," he thought immediately. He glanced down at his shirt. "Why did I wear this ugly yellow? Why didn't I show up to the party later? She'll think I'm in love with her." His mind started to run on in this paranoid adolescent vein until suddenly he was standing next to her. "Hi," he ventured. "Hey James," she returned, along with a smile that emptied his poor head of any semblance of coherent thought. He looked down at his clothes, at his skinny legs, at his socks pulled up too high, and then back up into her dazzling smile, and sighed. She was far too perfect for him. This was going to be a long night.

    Three hours later met James as he was getting ready to leave. The night had gone a little bit better than he had expected. Once he had gotten over a general sense of unease about saying something stupid or embarrassing himself in general, he relaxed a little bit and spent enough time with and apart from Kathleen to show that he was interested without appearing desperate. He still felt like an idiot, of course, but now he seemed like an idiot with a snowball's chance in hell (which is better than no chance at all). But when Kathleen offered to walk him out to his car, he was caught completely off guard. She was being friendly all night, but had given him no sign that she was actually interested in anything more than being friends. It was very dark out now, and they were walking around the side of the house, when Kathleen suddenly stopped. James turned, slowly, slowly, trying to calm his racing heart, and stared at her as she smiled. She outstretched her arms, and James stepped toward her and hugged her goodbye. "Well, a hug isn't bad," he thought. She smelled nice, sweet, like flowers, or fruit. He started to reluctantly pull away and was about to let go of her completely when she stopped him, still holding on, still smiling. She learned her face towards his and they kissed. James staggered a step back but managed to stay upright for a fleeting yet eternal two or three seconds, before breathlessly nodding good night, walked to his car and fumbled the keys into the lock.

    He joyfully screamed the words to the radio songs all the way home.