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Clinging to Childhood

An unexpected reaction to the most anticipated moment

By Marti MaleyPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 4 min read
Top Story - April 2024

The playground is empty, as it should be past sundown. There is a warm breeze, and I can see everything despite the late hour. What time is it, anyway? It could very well be past midnight. I can never keep track of time, especially in the summer. A prickly piece of popcorn hides like a stowaway in the left cup of my padded training bra. I stuffed the tissue in last minute— a decision I’m beginning to regret, based on the events that are unfolding rapidly before me. To my left, laying non-chalantly on his back, is my date for the evening. He is two years older, could probably grow facial hair if he wanted to, and drives a secondhand Honda. He may as well be a Man. I, on the other hand, feel like a fraud with my too-short short-shorts, sparkly lip gloss, and makeshift push-up bra. I keep my arms pinned to my sides as I feel the dreaded circles of sweat beginning to manifest on my brand new Abercrombie top. I cup my elbows with my hands and stare down at my hint of cleavage, praying that the tissue doesn’t pop out like a white flag surrendouring my lack of womanhood.

“Come over here,” my date purrs. He lays at the top of a bright blue spiral slide, his legs dangling lazily down the curved chute. If I pushed the top of his head, he would slide all the way down to the wood-chip scattered ground. The thought makes me want to giggle, making me feel even more adolescent. Tentativly I crawl next to him, joining him on my back, my legs grazing his own against the cool plastic. We both know what this is. He’s been patient, I suppose, taking me to both dinner (Subway) and a movie (Fast and Furious #???) before smoothly alluding we make a detour before taking me home. For reasons I’m not quite aware of, I suggested my favorite playground, a place I haven’t been to in years. As he turns on his side to face me, I pretend to be oblivious as I stare at the clear night sky.

“Did you know that I have a constellation on my cheek?” I blurt out nervously, just as he’s leaning in. He pauses and stares at me.

“Oh yeah? Where?”

“Right here.” I trace the three freckles that lay in a straight line that I’ve had since birth. “You see? Orion’s Belt.” Can he also see that I’m trembling?

“Oh, yeah. Cute.” He smiles and leans in again. This is it– no more distractions. Suddenly I’m back in my bedroom, surrounded by oversized teddy bears, tongue lightly tracing the back of my sharpie-smudged hand. My skin tastes weird. I feel idiotic so I stop, wiping my hand on the back pocket of my butterfly-embroidered jeans.

I wish I had kept practicing.

His lips lightly touch mine, and seem to pause, as if waiting for a reaction. His eyes are closed, but strangely mine are wide open. Again, I feel like tittering, and almost burst out in giggles while he’s attached to me. I swallow the desire down, which he takes as an invitation to keep going. I feel his tongue slip between my lips, and for the third time feel the urge to erupt into laughter. Don’t you dare, I warn myself sternly. I’m vaguely aware of his tongue moving around the inside of my mouth, but all I can focus on is keeping myself together. My sides begin to hurt from holding in the hysterics.

This is NOT how I pictured my first kiss going. Where is the romance, the fireworks, the crescendo? Shouldn’t I be in the moment, instead of watching myself like this? Am I even doing this right? His mouth tastes like milk duds, which isn’t the worst thing, I guess. I close my eyes for a brief moment, then quickly decide I prefer staring at the pores between his eyes. I flash back to being nine-years-old again, with a jaw full of double bubble, whimsically humming to myself as I use multiple gel-pens to draw sketch after sketch of myself making out with a mystery man.

And here we are.

My no-longer-a-mystery man lets out a soft moan, and I’m suprised at how boyish he sounds. Maybe what he’s feeling isn’t so different from me, after all. Maybe he’s also having flashbacks to being a kid again. Maybe he’d also rather play on the swings than jam his tongue against my teeth. Maybe—

Before I can finish the thought, his mouth is on my throat.

Maybe… not.

He’s a vampire! I think comically to myself, biting my lip in an attempt to not shriek out in a mix of unidentified emotions. His lips tickle my collarbone, and then I feel his teeth start to graze the most vulnerable part of my neck. He better not. He better–

He does. He bites down, not hard, but not soft either. A jolt of electricity runs through me— and suddenly I’m slipping away. I’m not imagining it. I really am sliding away from him, down the bright blue swirly chute, landing softly on the woods-chips as I have a million times before. I stay on my back, staring once again at the sky, ignoring his confused protests as I find my constellation. The three stars smile down at me, twinkling brightly in communication.

And finally, I let myself laugh.

Young Adult

About the Creator

Marti Maley

Hi 🙂 my name is Marti. I am an artist and healer living in Alaska & Arizona. I believe in good coffee, chihuahuas, and mental health. I love connecting with fellow artists💛 @msmartimaley

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

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    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (10)

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  • Flamance @ lit.29 days ago

    Well understanding story great job

  • Anna 29 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • D. D. Lee30 days ago

    I enjoyed this. Congrats on T.S.

  • Abdul Qayyum30 days ago

    loved this! Inspiring story

  • Lamar Wiggins30 days ago

    LOVED this story. Beautifully written, with a cool twist! Congrats on a well-deserved TS!

  • Please give me a backlink for my webpage

  • angela hepworth30 days ago

    This was perfect!!

  • Andrea Corwin about a month ago

    OMG, this was perfect - described perfectly how it goes with the first kiss and the thoughts that won't shut up inside you....she got away perfectly too, down the slide! Congrats on TS!💕💕

  • Babs Iversonabout a month ago

    Loved your Y A story!!!❤️❤️💕

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