Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Short Fiction
He moved in, hand clutching hand as I was pushed into the wall. The sky was eerie bright, the half-moon large, sparked light.

It was our third date, a monumental first step. The first had been drinks, the second dinner; the third a whole afternoon around London town, with a train ride back.

He’d been sweet, Robert; we’d met at the library, and run into each at a coffee-shop. “Must be fate,” he said, before handing over his number. He was book-ish smart; he wore sweaters, a scruffy beard, and a British accent— like everyone on campus who wasn’t on exchange. When I told my mom she said this was what being abroad was all about. So I texted first and we’d agreed on drinks.

Our first was when I realized the UK folks could really hold their liquor. I stayed proper though. I wanted to walk back to my dorm without thoughts of unease.

He dropped me at my door. We left with awkward goodbyes and that stranded moment where we stared at one another. I was the one who finally offered an anxious wave, leaving.

I sat against my bed contemplating that. “I should have kissed him,” I told my best friend over the phone. It’d been the perfect moment, what was expected, even if it was only one date. We hadn’t even held hands yet but I’d meant to lean in close.

“Next time,” she told me.

So I texted him, and the second date started that next week.

We did dinner, and planned on a movie— but had missed our show time and ended up eating fries at a fast-food joint. We talked. It was fun, but a notification pop-up pulled me away; an assignment deadline that evening.

“Sorry,” I said in a hurried rush. I grabbed my purse and he said goodbye as I ran out of the self-opening door.

It wasn’t till I handed in my report by email that I realized what I’d forgotten.

I had planned on diving in, pecking him on the lips, at least a hug. Palm to my forehead I let out a groan. What an idiot I was.

So I promised myself, that’d I’d try again on our third outing. It’d be my third first kiss. I was primed and ready, nothing would stop me this time.

Robert clasped my hand and smiled. He budged me further into the brick-lined wall and brought a finger across my temple. I leaned in; I guess I gave him permission.

His mouth pressed hold against my lips in a sweet angelical fashion. Then, he pushed further, fingers moving under my shirt.

I stilled as our peck turned into a kiss. I wouldn’t pull away, but a little voice in the back of my head was screaming. Our tongues exchanged.

It wasn’t till he clasped my left breast that I found my own courage.

I pulled back, unaware that was what the third date had to entail.

“Sunshine,” he muttered, as he got in closer and pushed in for more. His other hand reached forward and touched my stomach.

Panic— I hadn’t wanted it to go past this. But what kind of girl was I if I just stopped here, this man wanted me.

He kissed me again.

I remembered the encouragement, my friends and even mom would tell me this was what relationships were all about. I of course knew this. But whatever Robert was doing to me—was it rude if I said no? He’d been sweet, I’d offend him; I couldn’t pull away.

I kept in the kiss, despite trying to keep my mind from waning. He didn’t let go, instead, he pushed me higher against the wall, lifting me, asking for more as he pressed in.

Please God let me escape fled my mind. I regretted the thought, but it was my true thoughts.

A blue-haired girl opened the door. She was startled, the glass almost shoving into us; the typical college make-out couple.

“Sorry,” she muttered. Uncomfortable she dashed away.

She’d interrupted us, and Robert had finally pulled back. I had room to breathe.

He muttered a few swear words, clearly upset to have had our session interrupted. My heart though was like pitter-patters from a drain pipe.

I’d let that happen.

Robert recovered and smiled, it was sweet, like when we’d first met. He took hold of my hand and gestured to the glass door.

I paled as I knew what he was entailing. “Sorry.” I pulled back my hand and unlocked the door.

He frowned as I headed inside.

“Wait.” His foot stopped the hinge from closing. “It’s so early?”

I shrugged as I headed for the stairs. I was worried he’d follow me, but instead, he just watched as I climbed. By the time I’d unlocked my dorm room I was out of breath, tears on my eyes. I went over the last few minutes of our tackled time.

“Why,” I said the fury in my tone so incongruous.
It’d been perfect, the day, the man, we’d been having fun. So why had it turned so shallow? Why didn’t I invite him back upstairs? He’d wanted it.

I clutched my chest, my breathing calming as I remembered I wasn’t drowning in some deep ocean.
I’d given this man permission.

I pulled back part of my shirt, reaching and grabbing hold of my own body. I squeezed and in that moment I felt comfortable.

It was my own hand. It wasn’t violating.

Shuttering, I realized what I’d just admitted.

No, he hadn’t violated me, I’d given him permission to intrude my boundaries; I’d wanted to kiss.

I wiped my cheeks of tears, my dorm room still dark as I huddled my knees.

Had I ruined what I’d had with a nice boy? Was everything I’d done all organized to be my fault? No, that couldn’t be right. This feeling, this terror, that wasn’t what meeting boys abroad was supposed to feel like. So why did I feel like I’d done something wrong? When I told my friends where this day had gone, why did I know I’d be the one they’d blame? I’d been the prune, stuck up; I should have brought him back here. He’d wanted it.

My phone blinked up, the blackness gone for a few quick seconds. Robert, apologizing by text. He wanted to see me again. He wanted to kiss me again I realized.

My hand hovered over the phone, but I pushed the text on the screen away, curling in on myself further. My stomach still churned as I cried.

The thought of him doing what he’d done, going past that initial kiss. I didn’t want to go through with that again.

I let the screen dwindle and bring back the darkness.