Her Best Kiss
by Kira Marie McCullough
Lilly’s best kiss was not the one she got when she was five.
Although, that was an interesting kiss.
She had endured it from her cousin, the only boy on her mother’s side. They were covered by a blanket, hiding inside of an enormous empty cardboard box during a game of Hide and Go Seek. The other girl cousins counted to 100 and shouted, “Ready or not, here we come!”
While they searched the basement, her five-year-old cousin grabbed her, giggling, “Kissy, kissy!”
He put his wet lips on hers and made funny slurping noises.
“Yuck!” she said.
“Ewww…,” the girls had said when they found Lilly being kissed by their boy cousin in the cardboard box. The girl cousins ran upstairs and told his mother, Aunt Lucille. She had stiff, hair-sprayed blonde curls and tight religious morals. She stomped downstairs in her high heels and pulled her boy out of the box.
“Don’t kiss your cousin!” she said, dragging him away by the ear.
Years later, when they had grown up enough for Lilly to notice how handsome her boy cousin was becoming, she daydreamed about kissing him again. But on that day when they were five, her aunt had put the fear of hellfire in him with a good paddling. He never kissed her again.
Lilly’s best kiss was not the one she got when she was sixteen.
Although, it would be the first of many kisses.
She had gone to the high school dance with the goalie of the soccer team. He was short and muscular, with brown hair and freckles, and he stuttered, especially when he was around Lilly. They stood awkwardly together on her front porch, holding hands.
“Mmm...m..may..I…kkk..k..k..kiss…you?” he stammered.
When their lips met, the kiss was soft and warm and brief. He sighed, like a man with a full stomach after eating the best steak. She quickly opened the front door.
“Good-night,” she had said, closing it behind her. She felt as if she had kissed the wrong person.
Lilly’s best kiss was not the one she got when she was twenty-four.
Although, that was supposed to be a forever kiss.
Her long, satin wedding gown flowed behind her as she walked down the aisle, on the arm of her father, who took shorter steps because his legs were long. He walked tall and proud beside her.
When they arrived at the altar, her fiancée in his ivory suit with the peach tie took her hands in his, his blue-gray eyes seeming to say, “I will love you always.”
He lifted the gauzy veil.
“I pronounce you husband and wife,” said the pastor.
They tilted their heads at a specific angle, as they had practiced during rehearsal, to accommodate the various positions of the photographer who furiously snapped photos for future scrap books. Their lips touched gently.
Many years later, it was her father who had come to Lilly’s house when she found her husband’s note on the kitchen table. Her father quietly packed her suitcases while she sat crying, looking at her wedding photo on the wall, wishing that her husband had not decided that he had kissed the wrong person.
Lilly’s best kiss happened unexpectedly.
Although, she did not realize that it was her best kiss at the time.
It was a hot summer day, at the outdoor birthday party for her fifteen-year-old niece. The pouty girl preferred her teen-aged friends in the pool to the adults, who stood around sweating, telling jokes, and spiking the lemonade with tequila.
Lilly found a shady spot beneath a blue, plastic tarp, where she sipped bottled water and observed everything through her sunglasses.
It wasn’t long before she saw her father beneath the mesquite trees, struggling to push his walker through the overgrown grass. He wore his customary newsboy cap on top of his balding head; his bent body strained towards the patch of sunlight and shorter grass beyond. He moved quickly, as if he were younger than the sickly 87-year-old man that he had become.
“Over here, dad,” Lilly called, pulling another lawn chair under the tarp.
Her father crumpled into the chair with a sigh. He sat with Lilly in the shade all afternoon, sipping cold water, watching the teenagers and children splash in the pool, waiting for the hamburgers to finish grilling. They talked of the early years, when Lilly was a baby and they had lived in the farmhouse in Kansas. They laughed together, remembering how small she was, how she could walk under the kitchen table when she was three; they remembered when she had won the piano contest and the basketball championship in high school. They cried when they talked of her mother, who had passed away the year before.
As the shadows grew darker and the night whispered that it was near, Lilly reluctantly stood up.
“I have to go,” she said.
Her father looked at her with his blue-gray eyes now rimmed red.
“It’s been good,” he said, removing his cap, letting the cool breeze tousle the thin hair.
He reached his stiffened fingers towards her, taking her hands in his.
Lilly felt a sudden sadness within, like a cold gust of air bringing winter, making her tremble. Her thoughts turned to all of the years when she had ignored her dad and taken him for granted.
“I’m sorry, dad…,” she whispered.
His lips curved upwards into a smile that made the gray skin beneath his eyes become a dozen jagged lines of kindness.
“I love you, daughter,” he said.
Lilly leaned over and gently touched her lips to the top of his head, which was warm and soft, like baby’s skin.
“I love you, too, dad.”
She turned and made her way through the tangled mesquite and tall grass, looking back once to see her father, as he became small and distant, blending into the brown and twisted trees, becoming one with the blue twilight.
© Kira Marie McCullough, 2019
Kira Marie McCullough has had a long and fairly boring career as a professional writer. She worked in radio as a news director; in the PR industry as a marketing copywriter; in the freelance market as a journalist; and as a magazine editor/communications director for a large company in Florida. However, her first love has always been writing fiction. Find out more about her creative concoctions at https://kira-marie-mccullough.weebly.com
Her Best Kiss was read by Kira Davies on August 20th, 2019 as part of the 2019 Short & Sweet Flash Fiction edition.