It’s one of those teenage rights of passage that Marie tells herself she doesn’t miss, but when Georgia comes over one day with the news that she’s been invited to prom, Marie feels a pang of jealousy. Even so, it certainly doesn’t stand in the way of shopping for dresses together or paging through countless magazines, laughing and pointing out makeup ideas.
But now the day has arrived and they sit huddled together on Georgia’s bathroom floor, whispering and smiling while Marie paints Georgia’s nails, the other girl uncharacteristically jittery.
“Do you think he’ll try to kiss me?”
Marie shrugs, concentrating on painting her friend’s nails with the dark polish. She’s quieter than usual, but for once Georgia doesn’t seem to notice.
“Do you think…” Here she bites her lip. “People do stuff like, rent hotel rooms for after prom, right?”
Marie shrugs again and feels the tiniest bit guilty for ignoring her friends nerves about the whole evening.
‘Or is that a thing that only happens in teen movies?”
“I wouldn’t know,” Marie finally responds quietly, pulling Georgia’s hand a little closer and resting it against her knee for stability. They’re sitting on the tiles under the window, mirror images with one leg tucked under and the other knee-up. The comment succeeds in pulling Georgia out of her uneasy revere and she watches Marie, eyes going a little sad as she registers just how withdrawn her friend looks. And all of a sudden she understands.
“Sorry,” Georgia murmurs quietly, and they watch together as Marie draws the brush over nails, back to front, back to front, and over again. Marie doesn’t look up from her work. She knows this isn’t fair to Georgia, and so with a deep inhale, she resolves to make an effort.
“Do you want him to rent a hotel room?” She asks finally, letting the ghost of a smile cross her face while she teases.
The color drains from Georgia’s face and Marie doesn’t quite manage to hold in her laugh, nearly covering the tips of her friend’s fingers in dark plum.
“I haven’t even been kissed,” Georgia admits (with shy eyes and a light blush) and Marie instantly feels bad for laughing. “I don’t think I could handle… Yeah, I’m not, I’m definitely not ready for that. Yet.”
It’s an odd feeling, Marie thinks, having more life experience than Georgia in this area. Even though Georgia is younger by two full years, to Marie she always feels like the older one: more outgoing, more adventurous, more worldly. Suddenly she feels much older than her years, giving the rings on her finger a quick nudge and turn on her hand while she considers it.
“No… probably not.”
“How old were you when you…” It’s Georgia’s turn to shrug, not wanting to finish her sentence. This is new territory for them; they haven’t been friends very long and though they’ve grown faster than either would have expected, this part of their lives is fairly uncharted territory.
Marie gave Georgia a sly (and if she had been anyone else, Georgia would have said flirty) look. “I think you know…”
Georgia swallowed and shook her head, looking back at her nails that Marie had started to paint again. “Not that, I meant your first kiss.”
A chuckle was not the reaction Georgia was expecting.
“About a month before I got pregnant.”
“WHA…” Georgia’s eyes blew wide and Marie was still chuckling and Georgia joined in, the sounds of their growing laughter reverberating off the tile. “No, are you serious?” Marie nodded, still dutifully trying to apply polish while she shook with laughter.
“Even more scandalous, it wasn’t even Jackson.”
Marie gave Georgia the same sly grin. “I move pretty fast.”
And Georgia feels like her heart stops for a moment.
She doesn’t ask right away, lets a few moments to pass, silently watching Marie paint her last nail. With a hard swallow and a press of her lips, Georgia finally ventures:
“Do you… could you… teach me?”
Marie’s eyes flick up to meet Georgia’s, unreadable while she twists the top back onto the nail polish. The blonde squirms and opens her mouth to take it back and apologize, but Marie is already responding and it’s too late.
“Hold up your hand,” the older girl says, setting the little bottle aside and doing the same. Marie’s not really sure she’s qualified for kissing instruction – she’s had no complaints from Jackson obviously, but it’s not as if she has any real and varied experience here – but Georgia is her friend, her only friend, and even though they haven’t been friends long, Marie is certain she’d do just about anything if Georgia asked her to.
Dutifully Georgia obeys, worrying a lip between her teeth while mimicking the way Marie’s brought up her first.
“Okay so… try kissing it like… where your thumb meets your hand…”
“Like where a hand puppet’s mouth would be.”
Marie makes a face and Georgia is already giggling. “Yes. Weird, but… yes,” she says, and Georgia’s laughing louder and Marie can’t help but join her. It’s a much needed break in the tension as Georgia leans in to practice. Her lips press against her own hand and it’s dry and boring and nothing more than skin. Unsatisfied she tries again, listening to Marie shift to sit cross-legged beside her.
“I’m not sure this is helping,” Georgia nearly whines, dropping her hand in frustration.
“Well what were you expecting?!”
“I don’t know! Not this!”
Marie rolls her eyes with a good-natured smile and reaches out for her friend. “Come here.”
Georgia freezes, deer in the headlights. “What?”
“Come here! Give me your hand.” Firm hands grab Georgia’s, holding it steady while Marie licks her lips. “Okay, just… watch.” And before Georgia can say anything, Marie’s softly kissing her fingers and it feels nothing like her own lips felt. It’s almost impossible for her to keep still as Marie’s lips move slowly against her smooth skin, but somehow she manages only a quiet gasp. Marie seems unaffected, but thoughts and ideas gradually click into place in Georgia’s head and she’s not sure if she wants to run or… She swallows, pushing the thought down, watching with rapt attention and forgetting even to breathe while Marie pulls her thumb between plump, reddening lips and sucks gently.
Dark eyes look up at the same time her tongue brushes against Georgia’s knuckle and it’s too much. It’s warmth pooling in Georgia’s belly and thoughts she can’t deal with. She makes a sound somewhere between a gasp and a yelp and it’s enough to have Marie pull back.
“Sorry, you, it just startled me. Sorry.” Georgia’s cheeks burn, shoulders curl inward, and she feels like an idiot. But when she looks at Marie, the girl is smiling, beaming even, and Georgia’s discomfort melts away. The other girl’s smile feels like summer morning breakfasts with waffles and orange juice and sun streaming through open windows. It’s the same contented, relaxed feeling and it settles in her bones. She’s not sure what to think.
Marie’s doesn’t know why she’s smiling like this, except that for some reason she feels… safe. Happy. Like maybe she does fit here, in this town, in this life. It’s an odd feeling, especially given nothing in particular has brought it on that she can discern, other than Georgia and how much this girl trusts her. Strange that should be so important, but it is, and Marie beams, squeezing Georgia’s hand, still damp from her mouth. And when Georgia beams back at her, a warmth blooms in her chest in a way she hasn’t felt since Jackson first told her he loved her.
I finally have a friend, she thinks. A real friend.
“Do you want to try?” Marie asks, and again Georgia goes white as a sheet, eyes unconsciously falling to Marie’s lips; full and pink and slick with peppermint chap stick. She can see when Marie inhales sharply, just short of a gasp, and realizes – she meant with her hand. Her hand, not… and oh, Georgia has never wished harder for the earth to crack open and swallow her whole. But then Marie, lovely and kind Marie, is smiling again, and maybe Georgia is hallucinating, but she would swear Marie’s looking at her lips too and leaning just a tiny bit closer.
Georgia knows Marie’s lips are moving, but it takes seconds longer than it should for the words to register. A soft “Go ahead…,” barely above a whisper, and the younger girl suddenly feels like she’s on fire, flames beginning in her belly and licking outward. Without a word she leans in, lips just barely brushing Marie’s – a contact so negligible that Marie will maintain it didn’t happen – but even that barest of touches is more than Georgia is prepared for. Nothing could have been further from the feeling of kissing her own hand, but before she can press more insistently and mimic Marie’s move of captured lip and swipe of tongue:
“Girls?” a voice calls, followed by a gentle rap at the door. “Almost done? Jack’ll be here any minute.”
“Okay, just a sec, Dad!”
And just like that the spell is broken. Marie’s fidgeting and biting her lip against the smile that refuses to fade as she pushes herself from the floor, reminding Georgia of the wet nail polish when the other girl reaches out for help getting up.
Even years later when lying in bed together and trading kisses, hands settled on hips and around waists and in hair, Marie still contends that their lips never touched on this occasion, no matter how much Georgia disagrees.
“All those years you agreed with me we’d never kissed, and you’re telling me you were just lying?”
“You’re the worst, you know that? The absolute worst.”
“And you were my first kiss.”
Marie’s eyes go from teasing to soft in an instant, brushing hair away from Georgia’s stupid, sappy face with it’s stupid, sappy smile. “Your first kiss…” she repeats softly, brushing her thumb over Georgia’s cheekbone.
The younger woman laughs, pressing a kiss against Marie’s palm.