A teenage girl experiences a shared moment that will help shape the rest of her life.
|Rosie stared down at her hands, the long fingers lacing and unlacing nervously in her lap as she tried to think of something to say. She couldn't bring herself to look up into the eyes of the young woman seated beside her, but Rosie could feel that intense, discerning gaze on her skin like a palpable heat. Or was she just blushing? Yes, she was definitely blushing, and even as she thought it her heart began to race, flushing her warm blood through her cheeks and turning them a telltale shade of crimson.
"Are you blushing kiddo?" Sofiya laughed in that charming, wild way that Rosie's brother found so alluring. Actually, that everyone found alluring. Rosie had known Sofiya for one whole year now, and in that time it seemed that everyone who met the free-spirited young woman fell in love with her one way or another. Sofiya was always laughing and smiling, always cheerful, but there was a glint of mischief in her amber brown eyes that was unmistakable. She could be trouble, but the best kind of trouble. The kind you would do anything to be a part of, to say you were there with her.
"C'mon, I only asked you what you wanted for your birthday. What's to blush about? Whatever it is, you know you can tell me. Sixteen is a big one, you should get something special," she continued when Rosie remained silent, nudging an elbow into her side. "C'mon spill it kid!"
Rosie finally managed to look up at the older girl, a weak smile on her mouth, "I... I don't want to say. It's embarrassing..."
Sofiya shook her head, dark waves of raven hair bouncing on her tanned shoulders. The tank top she was wearing looked like it has been through a woodchipper, but she wore with an effortless cool that some girls just seemed to possess. Rosie knew she was not one of those girls, would never be one of those girls. She was lanky and too tall, too thin, flat-chested, with skin too pale and eyes too large. Sitting next to the bronzed, petite, curvaceous bastion of womanhood that was her brother's girlfriend just made Rosie feel even more awkwardly non-cute. And that was exactly why she didn't want to tell Sofiya what her birthday wish was.
Sofiya gave her a long, silent look that made another shiver roll inexplicably down Rosie's spine, then the older girl nodded to herself and got up from the sofa to head into the kitchen. Where was she going? Rosie could her banging around in there for a minute, the rattle of ice in cups, and fizzy liquid being poured, then she reappeared with a triumphant grin and two small glasses.
"Uh, what's that?" Rosie sounded timid and childish even to herself. It made her cringe, but Sofi just sat down close beside her and thrust the drink into her fidgeting hands. The liquid was dark and bubbly; it looked like cola, but there was a sharper scent underneath that. Alcohol. Immediately the younger girl shook her head and tried to hand it back, "Oh, I can't, Mom would be so mad."
Sofiya laughed and gently pushed the drink back toward Rosie, even cupping her hand underneath the girl's own to guide the glass up to her lips. "Your Mom is out of town, again, and on a milestone birthday for you too by the way, which I personally think is pretty shitty. She's not gonna know Roz, you worry too much. You deserve to let loose a little! Besides, you're safe here with me," with that, she draped a warm arm around Rosie's thin shoulders and drew her closer against her side. Rosie felt a flood of warmth through every cell in her body, all the way to the tips of her toes. After that it was very easy to take a long sip of the drink, which was surprisingly good, and bask in the radiance of Sofiya's approving smile.
"Now, take another sip of that and tell me what your birthday wish is."
Rosie choked, nearly spitting out the drink, "I'd thought you'd let that go!"
"Never," Sofi gave her a mischievous wink. "I never let things go. So, tell me."
'Sofi please, it's so stupid anyway. Besides, won't Evan be missing you upstairs by now?"
The young woman drained her drink in a practiced way, setting the empty glass on the side table and turning her full attention back to Rosie. "Trust me, he's fine in X-Box land for the moment. And it isn't his birthday, so you're the important one tonight. You're not getting out of this one kiddo."
"I'm not a kid," Rosie stated with a huff, and tried to drain the remainder of her drink in one swallow the way Sofiya had to show she meant it. But it was too much, and she ended up spluttering and coughing, the bite of alcohol overwhelming her untested palate. Half of the drink ended up spilled onto the front of her old Nirvana t-shirt, the other half had been spewed onto Sofiya's white tank top.
Rosie stared in horror at the mess, at the dark liquid soaking into the pale fabric, sure that Sofiya would be furious. She'd barely begun to wail out an apology to beg forgiveness when Sofi surprised her by laughing merrily and clapping her on the back, seemingly unperturbed. "Whoa there girl, too much too fast! I like your spirit though, you remind me of me." Next she peeled off her tank top, exposing an expanse of smooth tan skin and a skimpy top underneath. Small triangles of tiger-print fabric barely covered the woman's ample breasts, and were held up only by two straps tied behind her neck.
Sofiya caught her staring, and Rosie felt another blush fill her face as she hurriedly looked away, trying to ignore to strangely insistent desire to touch her. "Yeah, it's a bathing suit. I can't be bothered to wear a proper bra most of the time, especially in Summer! You just never know when you might need to go swimming on a moment's notice, ya know?"
Rosie nodded mutely, suddenly afraid of what might come out if she opened it. Then it was happening, she was saying it, before she could stop herself, 'A kiss." It came out as a barely audible squeak.
The older girl stopped, leaning forward to force the younger to look her in the face. "What was that you said?"
"Don't make me say it again!"
"You said, a kiss, Roz?" Sofiya's eyes were bright.
"Yes I said a kiss! Since you won't stop asking, I wanted to get kissed for the first time for my birthday but nobody at school likes me like that and my party last weekend that Mom planned before she left for Denver sucked. It's like she still thinks I'm 10! But I am lame and weird, and it's no wonder nobody wants to kiss me." Rosie said it all in a breathless, angry rush, then buried her face in her hands, mortified at her willingness to tell Sofiya all of that, as if the popular young woman would care.
"Oh, poor sweet bunny. You think no one wants to kiss you? Why do you think that?" Sofi's voice was soft, accompanied by a gentle hand moving Rosie's long blonde ponytail aside to stroke the back of her neck. It was a sensation both unfamiliar and thrilling to the younger girl, and she tried not to visibly tremble under the unexpected touch. Instead she gave a muffled response through her hands.
"I'm not pretty like you, I'm not funny, I'm not really good at anything except drawing, but people think I'm weird because I like to draw scary stuff. Even Mom thinks I'm weird."
"Well, people are stupid, ya know? I don't think you're weird, but I do think you're very pretty. You have those kinds of looks that when you grow up you'll be the envy of all those girls you think are pretty now but really they will all just be boringly normal someday. Who cares what they think? The people who matter will see you for yourself and love that about you. Because the worst thing you can do is pretend to be anything less than exactly who you are - don't sell yourself short for the shortsightedness of others."
It was delivered with such sincerity, Rosie had never heard Sofiya talk like that, and it brought her head up to look at the older girl. She was smiling, but it wasn't her usual playful beaming grin. Sofiya's smile this time was almost sad, soft and real, matching the warmth and understanding in her eyes. Maybe, once, this bright and confident young woman had felt like a fish out of water too.
"Sofi, thanks," Rosie returned that smile, and Sofiya didn't skip a beat as she moved to lighten things up.
"So, you wanna get kissed huh? Never have before?"
Rosie shook her head,
"That's okay, if there's one thing I know it's how to get kissed. Any boys you have your eyes on? Your first kiss should be with someone who knows what they're doing, or else it will just be awful, trust me."
Again, Rosie shook her head in response, "No, no boys."
There was a brief pause as she could practically hear the gears in Sofiya's lovely head turning. With a knowing smirk she reached out and took Rosie's chin in her small hand and turned the girl to look at her, her next words delivered with a teasing deliberateness.
Rosie felt another flush of heat creep across her face, giving her away as Sofiya wouldn't let her look away, holding her gaze. "I...I don't-" she stuttered, trying to find the words to tell this beautiful older woman what she had barely been able to admit to herself, much less to anyone else. Not even her mother knew, and the idea of anyone finding out terrified Rosie deeply. If people already thought she was weird, that would certainly seal their negative opinion of her in this small town, wouldn't it? And now Sofiya too would be disgusted to learn the truth that Rosie had been wrestling with for years now.
She jerked her chin out of Sofi's hand and buried her face back into her fingers to hide the tears she felt stinging at her eyes. The drops fell warmly onto the tops of thighs, seeping into the fabric of her jeans as the she tried to cry silently but was unable to stop the wheeze of a sob from escaping.
Suddenly a warm arm was around her again, pulling her close, pulling her face from hiding back to meet the glowing gaze of her older friend. Sofiya was not smiling now - there was a serene expression of patience on her lovely features, but none of the disgust or shock Rosie had expected to see. She found herself being drawn into Sofi's arms for an embrace, the woman's hands stroking her hair and smoothing away her tears, cooing softly as she did so.
"Oh, little bird, don't cry. You have nothing to be ashamed of. That's just a part of who you are, and what did I say? Never pretend to be less than you are just because others have small minds." She smiled down at her again then, and it lit up her whole face like a golden sunrise. Rosie felt herself drawn toward that light like a moth to Sofiya's flame, suddenly intensely aware of the press of their bodies together, the warmth of the older girl's skin against hers, the gentle hands petting her comfortingly, the curve of the corners of Sofi's mouth as she smiled, those full lips looking so perfect and inviting...
Rosie could not help herself. Her instincts and desire pushed her to stretch forward, tentatively closing the distance between them, pulling her body up so she laid more fully alongside one another on the couch. She stopped when their lips were a breath apart, looking up into Sofi's eyes with a silent plead, the unspoken question needing no words.
Her answer came as Sofiya slipped an arm around Rosie's slender waist and closed the gap herself, dipping her head slightly to brush her lips along the younger girl's mouth. It was a feather-light touch, but Rosie felt a buzz of pleasure instant ripple through her as a tiny gasp left her throat. This must have been the signal of consent Sofi was waiting for, for no sooner had that small sound of delight passed between them than she had lowered her mouth back to Rosie's and kissed her deeply, her soft tongue tracing along the inside edge of the younger girl's bottom lip. Rosie eagerly followed her lead, slipping her own tongue out to meet Sofi's while her hands moved to caress the smooth skin of the woman's sides.
Light and fire burst inside Rosie's brain, inside her chest, filling her up with a rapturous joy she had never felt before. Her breath caught in her lungs, her heart pounded blood through her veins with such a fervor she thought she could hear it in her ears, and the whole world slowed til the only point of her awareness was Sofi's perfect mouth on hers.
It was over in another second, the older girl gently pulling away and stroking Rosie's cheek, "There now little bird, you have been kissed." Sofiya stood up from the worn old sofa and gave her another warm smile before moving to climb to stairs without another word.
Left in stunned silence, Rosie could only stare after her while her lips and her body still tingled with lingering sensations. It had been the most surreal and fantastic 30 seconds of her life so far, and suddenly she felt much more at peace even if she couldn't think of anything except the way Sofi had felt underneath her, touching her. It was a birthday gift she would remember forever, the gift of being freed to be herself, unapologetically.
(written for the LGBT Writing Contest for June 2019 - Happy Pride Month! )