Just Like That

Submitted into Contest #237 in response to: Write a story about a first or last kiss.... view prompt

4 comments

Gay LGBTQ+ High School

           When I was old enough to talk, but also old enough to know that I didn’t particularly want to, I bounced between different means of communicating until I found one that I actually enjoyed. Writing was tedious and complex, almost as much as talking was. I preferred simpler, more structured interactions.

           My parents tried to get me to talk to professionals who could coax conversation out of me, and sometimes I humored them to ease their worries, but nothing ever stuck. Talking just didn’t interest me. The worry remained, quiet and festering, until my grandfather cleaned out his attic and brought his old board games to our house.

           These were forms of communication that I was interested in. They had rules, expectations, specific goals. I knew exactly what the interaction wanted from me. I took to the simpler games as a start, then moved on quickly to more complicated ones with more rules. Games of all sorts were appealing to me, but chess was something special, almost personal. Loads of games could start the same, but the player almost always coaxed the game, the story, in another direction. Playing a new game was like meeting a new person, exploring the avenues of their mind.

           My parents took advantage of this, sparking conversation over games of chess and battleship and whatever else I could sink into. I knew that they were trying, again, to coax conversation out of me, but I followed along. As long as the game was the primary focus, I didn’t mind talking over it. Eventually, I engaged in conversation “normally,” almost always for the sake of everyone else.

           By high school, I came across as pretty normal to people who didn’t know me very well, and I came across as weird but cool to people who did. I joined the “Chess Club,” which was absolutely not a real chess club, but was still enjoyable. I met plenty of people, became good friends with a few of them, and found a nice sweet spot of social interaction.

           A relationship arose that I did not know the rules for.

           I met a guy who played games with me for hours both inside and outside of Chess Club. He didn’t seem to mind when I didn’t talk, and he didn’t feel the need to fill the silence, which was refreshing. The air filled with the sounds of pieces moving, and during a rare few games, the sound a timer clicking at regular intervals. I met him, learned him, through thought-out moves, half-memorized openings, a handful of stalemates. Underneath the games, the silence, and the rare conversation, the center of my chest began to ache at the sight of him. It was as if he had buried something in between his ribs, something that I needed to uncover. I researched the feeling, and everywhere I looked, it was called love.

           Sticking to the rules of the game, I tested this. I spent more time with him, listened to him speak when he did, leaned over his shoulder to teach him new moves. The feeling furrowed deeper, and it felt like planting the seeds of eventual checkmates.

           The final test I needed to carry out was simple. It also seemed to be the smoking gun of the entire thing—lovers kiss. They just do. Everywhere I found love, I found kissing. It seemed to be another rule of the game. So, to wrap everything up neatly, when I spent the night at his house, I asked him to kiss me.

           “I think I might like guys,” I said, and he hummed. He didn’t seem to be very surprised, and he also didn’t seem too bothered by it. I sat quietly, weighing his minimal reaction against what I wanted to ask him.

           “I’m not sure, though,” I said, “I bet if you kissed me, I’d know.” It was honest and real, which was good, because I didn’t think I would’ve been able to come up with a story. Everything I’d read about love also talked about nervousness, but I didn’t feel nervous. That threw me off somewhat, the idea that I should’ve felt any form of fear about the idea of being kissed. He sat for a while, maybe feeling nervous himself, then shrugged and turned to me.

           “Okay,” he said.

           “Okay,” I said back. I looked to his lips, trying to determine how this would go. I’d never been kissed, of course. Truthfully, I’d never even thought about it, so I wasn’t sure how to go about the entire thing. Luckily, he leaned in, hovering a bit above me, and kissed me.

           At first, it was like nothing, like a handshake with our mouths. It hardly felt like something that was supposed to be intimate. He pulled back, then kissed me again, and his mouth moved slightly as he did. I returned the movement, because I thought that maybe that was supposed to be part of the interaction. He seemed to get into it, then, the way people became invested in a good game. His hand touched the back of my neck, holding my mouth against his, and he took my bottom lip into his mouth. It wasn’t terrible, but it still felt something like a handshake, only a bit more complex. It was something I could imagine doing as a game, as a fun competition, but it didn’t seem to do anything to the ache in my chest. It didn’t deepen it, but it didn’t rid me of it either.

           His hand fell away from my neck, and I pulled back slowly, thinking. He was breathing shakily, and I was not, but he was looking at me differently. Very differently. I remembered the first and only time he had ever won a game of chess against me, and I remembered the way it felt to see that new part of him. I felt that way then, seeing his eyes with that interested spark in them, and the feeling in my chest pulsed like a second heartbeat.

           “So?” he asked, quiet, like he was afraid to talk over that thrum. I remembered the point, the kiss, and thought about it. It really had felt like nothing at all.

           “Hm,” I said, “maybe not.” There was nothing in the kiss, and where there was love, there was kissing.

           “Not at all?” he asked. It seemed like he was trying to sound the way he usually did, but I only heard him talk on very rare occasions when he had something important to say, and I could hear the difference. I tried to place it, tried to determine whether I’d heard it before. I thought of a time when he had jokingly begged me to let him take back a bad move, and there was a hint of that tone in there. Something desperate hidden under layers of something else, much lighter.

           “No,” I answered, turning away from him and onto my side. “Thanks.”

           I could still hear the shakiness of his breathing as I closed my eyes, and I realized that I wanted to keep looking at him. I wanted to know what he was thinking. I fell asleep trying to piece it all together, and when I woke up, I sat up straight with all of it in a nice, even row down the center of my mind.

           “Oh,” he said sharply. “You’re awake.” I turned to look down at him, still lying down but looking like he’d been awake for a while.

           “You liked it. Kissing me.”

           His eyebrows shot up, and his mouth fell open. His lips moved around like he thought he could somehow catch the right words to say.

           “Didn’t you?” I asked. His mouth snapped shut, and he sighed, looking at the wall behind me.

           “Yes? I don’t know. I think so.”

           I nodded, and he looked back at me. His face reddened, and I didn’t think it had ever done that before. It was odd to me that a kiss could do so much to him and nothing to me.

           “I didn’t like it,” I said. He looked away from me again, sharply. “But I like you. Does that make sense?”

           He sat up on his elbows, looking at me as if he was looking somewhere else.

           “Like me how?” He spoke quietly, and I thought of his father’s chess pieces, the kind lined with velvet on the bottom.

           “Like I’d like to keep playing chess with you, and I’d like to know what you’re thinking about. Like I want to know badly enough that I’ll start conversations with you. And I’d kiss you again, if you liked it. I just don’t like it. It doesn’t feel to me the way it seems to feel to you.”

           His eyes were wide, and he pushed himself up the rest of the way, sitting back against the headboard. He thought for a while, eyes looking through me.

           “It was obvious?” he asked. I laughed, not meaning to, but he laughed too, so that was okay.

           “Yes. You looked at me like I was a different person.” He shook his head, hiding his face in his arm, then looked back up at me. He looked at me like he might look at a puzzle.

           “I don’t know why I liked it, and I don’t know if I like you. Is that okay?” he asked. I tossed the idea of that around in my head, and it sounded fine to me. It didn’t sound like it would change anything. I nodded.

           “I have a proposal.” His eyebrow went up, and he smiled the way he did when I said something odd, which was often. I carried on. “Let’s keep playing games together, and if you want me to kiss you, I will.” He laughed loudly, tipping his head back against the headboard. It looked very nice.

           “Just like that?” he asked.

           “Just like that.”

           He looked at me softly, and he was still looking at me with that new spark. I moved closer, thinking he would ask me to kiss him again. That would’ve been fine, and I would have done it.

           “My dad’s probably making breakfast. Can I try those new openings on you?”

           He didn’t ask to kiss me, and he looked at me like he might have liked me. It seemed that the rules were changing.

           “If you still remember them.”

           For once, that was fine with me.

February 15, 2024 03:15

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

4 comments

S.d. Schwarz
22:38 Feb 21, 2024

I love the exploration of the MC here! You create a safe space for both characters and accurately portray how it feels to wonder and be curious, but sometimes also confused. And how that's not a bad thing :) I also like how the two characters continue about their interactions in a positive way. Very well written :)

Reply

D'Spencer Luyao
02:21 Feb 22, 2024

Thank you so much!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Danie Holland
16:21 Feb 16, 2024

I loved this story so very much! We have a cautious and watching protagonist who is figuring out how he views the world. I really liked how playing games is the thing that makes him comfortable and so this makes the most sense to him to approach people. As for the first kiss, I think you touched on something so incredibly valuable here. Sometimes, we experience things differently then the way we are expected to, and thats okay! And we show the MC this by his friend giving him permission to feel the way he feels with out punishing him. I...

Reply

D'Spencer Luyao
18:38 Feb 16, 2024

Wow, thank you so much for this comment! I'm so glad you loved the story, and I absolutely love how you phrased all of that- an exploration of consent and openness, and two people innocently excavating each other, warmly and safely. It means a lot that all of that came across in the story! Thank you so much for giving it a read :D

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.