I stare into the mirror at a girl I don't know. Her blond hair is twisted back into a bizarre knot-thing. She's dressed in black head to toe. Her lips are painted dark purple-brown and her blue eyes are surrounded in eyeliner.
I feel like an idiot. A weirdo. A pretender. My best friend, Cassie, insists that I look older and amazing. She dressed me, after all.
Cassie's been to lots of movies by herself, but not me. My dad doesn't much like letting his 13-year-old daughter go out without supervision. His eyes pass over my makeup, my hair, my clothes. He doesn't say anything, though. He doesn't know there will be BOYS at this movie. He's probably just silently thanking the Patron Saint of Overprotective Fathers that I'm wearing a high neck and long sleeves.
The theater is seething with people. I see a handful of popular girls from school and dip my head. They wave to Cassie and don't even look at me. The sickly yellow glow of the lobby lights spreads across the pavement as we stand in line for tickets to see Bevis and Butthead Do America. Not my first choice, but certainly the cooler pick.
Kyle and Jaime walk toward us and slip into line nearby.
We're filing into the theater, almost to the front row. I purposely fall behind and let the boys enter the row first, followed by Cassie. She's my buffer. She's always been my buffer.
The movie starts and I'm instantly bored. I laugh when I'm supposed to laugh even though I don't find it especially funny. Mostly I whisper to Cassie. Then she and Jaime start to whisper.
An elbow finds my ribs and a voice finds my ear.
"You should kiss Kyle."
Jaime's whispering to Kyle on the other side. I can't make out what they're saying past the "heh heh heh's" and "huh huh huh's" coming from the surround sound.
Kyle leans around and looks at me. He doesn't look excited or lecherous or flirty. He looks like his friend is telling him to kiss a girl and he doesn't know how to say no.
Cassie, on the other hand, sounds thrilled. "Your first kiss! Come on, do it!"
Our buffers lean back. Kyle and I try to find the other's eyes in the dark. They're watching. Our friends are watching.
So we lean across two laps and give each other a peck on the mouth, immediately retreating to our respective seats. My heart's pushing blood through my body like it thinks I can't get enough. Butthead fills the screen in front of me. I can't stop thinking about my lips. They tingle.
"Not like that."
I look at Cassie. I don't know what to say.
"A real kiss. With tongue."
With tongue? That is so not what I signed up for.
Cassie and Jaime crawl to the row in front, then turn around to watch us, the movie forgotten. Kyle doesn't move at first. At Jaime's prompting, he scoots over to the seat next to me and rubs his hands on his pants. Is this really happening? This is not at all the way I pictured it. I wonder what Kyle's thinking.
In the same instant, like we resolved to get it over with at the same time, Kyle and I lean in and there is a tongue in my mouth. It's weird. Not bad-weird, just... weird. And then it's over.
Our friends turn around, giggling and obviously pleased with themselves. We don't say anything. Our eyes are glued to the screen, where Bevis is doing his Cornholio bit in the White House. My whole body feels tight. I'm very aware of Kyle's every movement next to me.
I'm so aware that I feel the warmth of his hand several seconds before it touches mine. He wraps his fingers around it. I chance a glance at him. He's smiling.
And there, in the dark, with my black clothes and my knotted hair and my purple-brown lipstick that left a smudge on his mouth, I'm smiling, too.
We hold hands all the way out to the parking lot. Jaime and Cassie let us go off ahead. The light out here is brighter, cleaner. More like starlight.
Kyle's still smiling. We lean in again. This time, no one's watching.
TRUE STORY, you guys. I bet you cash money all of these people happen to pick today of all days to read my blog and rib me about it. Also, SORRY DAD. Happy Friday!