It was not until later that week that Mark dared me to kiss him. We were in the building site by the side of his house and we had crawled into some unused concrete pipes. Inside the pipes it was secret, shadowy. We closed our eyes tight, held our breath, scrunched up our faces, puckered and pecked lips. That first kiss was quick and ticklish. I covered my face and cracked up laughing and he waited for me to stop and then leaned towards me and we did it a again and then a few more times. Each time lingering a little longer, sitting side by side.
Then Mark dared us to kiss with open eyes. At first I kept giggling and it was an embarrassed mess of slobbering and a clashing of teeth, but I remember the heat of another mouth being so close to mine and the feel of it on my cheek when he exhaled through his nose. Then he dared us to kiss in the open air. I took some convincing. I was afraid of being seen as we stood on top of the pipes and kissed under the naked sky, in full view of all the birds and the trees. We kissed with the tea-time sun burning above us. God could have looked down and seen us and Jesus and anyone else who was watching to see if we had been good or bad. My cheeks flushed, the hairs on my arms and neck stood on end and my heart pounded in my chest.
In the cool of that summer evening we locked ourselves in his dad’s shed with the lawn mower, plant pots and the spades, to play James Bond. The game was to act out the part when James Bond kisses Miss Moneypenny. Mark asked me to take off my cardigan so I could be more like Miss Moneypenny. We both agreed that she would take off her cardigan to be kissed by James Bond. Then he lay down and asked me to lie beside him on the floor of the shed. We kissed as we had seen adults do in films, with our lips glued and our heads turning slowly at different angles. We were in a movie of our own and he was the hero, the handsome James Bond, and I was the helpless, beautiful girl wrapped in his strong arms. We put my cardigan over our heads and in that hot pitch blackness, we sank into our own school cardigan world of soft first kisses.
I ran home then, when I thought I might explode and when I could take no more kissing. I ran faster than I ever could all the way up the hill and home. The steep climb didn’t hurt my legs as they pumped on the adrenalin of kissing and the fire of the secrecy surging through me. The neighbourhood kids, my classmates, were playing and racing on their bikes out on my street, it was still early and light, but I ran past them. I burned and I couldn’t bring myself to speak to them in case they saw it in my eyes. I was afraid that I had been doing something wrong and that it was there for all to read in my face. I wanted to be alone to replay every moment, to make sure I remembered the kissing, every sensation from beginning to end. While it was still light outside, I got into bed and lay there, listening to the birds’ evening song. I had a book open in front of my face but the words were not going in. When I closed my eyes I could imagine I was kissing him again and again. I was fizzing like a bee in a jar.
New Illustrated Ape Magazine is out now!
Limited edition First Love Issue features this exclusive excerpt ‘First Kiss’ from my book Springfield Road among many other super cool words and pictures…
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