There will be kisses, and they will not always be good, they will not always be memorable. Your first, 8 years old, will taste like chocolate and soda pop. He will have a smudge of dirt on his nose, it will transfer to your cheek, your mother will wipe it off when you get home. You will not remember his name but it’s okay because you’ll remember that you played in the mud afterwards. He was your boyfriend for a single day. It was fine. You were more preoccupied with being the fastest runner.
Your second will look like a sticky summer afternoon, you are 14 years old and your entire body is a goose-bump, he does not know how to hold your face properly, you bump teeth and he says ‘sorry’ and you blush so hard that you feel faint. When he tries to kiss you again you both lean forward at the same time and leave forehead bruises on each other for an entire week. He mouths ‘sorry sorry’ every time he looks at you. Your hands shake when you write his name in your diary.
The third, fourth, fifth. You are 18 years old and they are drunken car crashes in the dark. Each ghosted breath against your mouth smells like beer and teenage desperation. They will put their hands on your body and you will try to wriggle your way into their skin. You wish one of them would ask you on a date. None of them do. In the morning they only know that you were beautiful and that your mouth tasted like ashes.
When you are 19 you will be kissed and you will not want it. There will be bruises on your jaw, and your upper arms. You will not be able to look at a man for months without shrinking inwards. He will not say sorry. He will not look at you after. Instead he’ll take his guilt home and feed it to himself. When his mother asks what is wrong, he won’t be able to meet her gaze.
It’s at 22 when you are kissed properly, when you are kissed into romance novels. There will be a man and he will cradle your jaw between his hands, he will cup your scalp and bend you backwards. You will cling desperately and you will eat at each others mouths like you were starving. He will only touch your face, but somehow your entire body is on fire. Even the air is flushing deeply. You will forget your name, he will forget his. The entire summer is pressing itself against the places where your bodies meet. It is tongue and teeth and lust. It is what your mouth was made for.
This is the kiss that you are looking for, do not accept any others. These are the ones you will remember when you are lying naked at night and the light wears you like a dress and the other side of the bed is empty. These are the kisses that touch you only on the lips and turn all of you into flames."