The Time I Was Chosen In Dares

My first ‘proper’ kiss was when I was thirteen and at school. It was summer. The weather was gorgeous, and we had an extra long break during afternoon lessons, for some reason or another. I think the teacher was just knackered, to be honest. Being teenagers, four square and even basket ball were off the cards. We were into other stuff, like dares and smoking rolled up paper filled with dry grass. Eleven or twelve of us, mostly girls, crammed into a small stone hut set slightly away from the playground. It was shadowy, damp, and smelt of wood shavings and aftershave. When my dare, was given out, the clichés came, one after the other. My knees weakened like they’d been knocked in with a crowbar, my stomach did some complex, Scottish jig with my intestines and my heart, fuck, my heart, well, that simply didn’t know what to do with itself. The dare involved snogging the lad I’d fancied for fucking ages for three whole minutes.

To digress slightly, every summer holiday for years, I’d hope that when I went back to school, by some miracle, I’d be sat next to him on the back row in class. I think it happened once. That realisation of where I was sitting when I walked in the classroom, well, I’m sure you’ve all been there. (For some reason, I generally ended up sitting at the front of the class or in the middle row, which, was back then, fucking miserable and utterly mortifying. The people put at the front tended to be the bullied crew and the supposedly dense kids.) I used to sidle up next to my crush at any available opportunity, and  start a conversation about anything. For a long time the subject would bat from Friends to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and back again. I even – and Mum, I am so sorry for this -learned to play the flute because he did, and it would mean I could maybe sit next to him during orchestra and band practise.

Anyway, the kiss. Fuck, did I go for it. It was like my life had been leading up to that precise moment. (In dares, I was generally the one that people looked at and said ‘no way, I’m out.’ So I was quietly ecstatic that for once, a lad’s face wasn’t backing away, crumpled with disgust.) We were about two minutes in, (and believe me, this was no easy feat. Snogging for three minutes is harder than you’d expect.) his tongue was at the back of my throat and it was all just perfect, when we heard the gritty sound of Birkenstocks against gravel. Then came the inevitable screech of ‘CLASS!’ and our teacher barged her way into our little cabin of smut. We were marched back inside and I couldn’t feel my face for about half an hour afterwards.

I think back to this moment sometimes when I’m in Middlesbrough. I know he lives there now and I think if we walked past each other, we wouldn’t even recognise each other. I mean, for all I know, I could have stood behind him in TK Maxx or we could have both been browsing the same magazine shelf in WH Smith. It’s weird but equally interesting how people can play these crucial roles in your life and then disappear off  your radar. But it’s good.  All the more fuel for my literary fire.