I had kissed men before. Kissed men who used me; men I used to try to convince myself that I wasn’t gay. I had never kissed with love or passion, or even the hope of love or passion.
She had kissed men before. Men had kissed her with passion. She had kissed some of them with affection.
Neither of us had ever kissed a woman.
My life is now divided between before and after.
I remember the last moment before, in precise clarity. The brilliance of the sun and the sharpness of our shadows. The color of the sky. The little clouds. The scent of the trees and the wildflowers and the earth, the thyme soap on her skin and the scent of her hair. The dry mountain heat and the little breeze. The race of a cicada and the call of a lark.
Then time stopped. At the break of her lips.
How long? It’s meaningless: Time stopped.
It was glorious. Glorious beyond my wildest imagining. It was sweet and tender and then playful and then wild and chaotic and terrifying, until she drained all the life out of me and I drained all the life out of her.
I remember the moment after, remember it as vividly as I remember the moment before. The same sun, the same shadows, the same sky, the same clouds, the same scents, the same heat, the same breeze, the same cicada and lark.
But we were changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. Everything was changed.
We stood, arms around each other, heads on each other’s shoulders. Her breath was coming in short gasps.
When her breath finally evened, she said,
“Do you know you’re vibrating? I don’t know if it’s humming or purring.”