The Kiss

I wrote this for a flash fiction contest. It didn’t place, but it did score pretty well. I think it should be published somewhere, so here is as good a place as any.

~~~

It always starts with a kiss—one long, breathless kiss. It begins so fiercely with eyes squeezed shut and arms wrapped tight around him. When it ends, she’s left to her darkness, frantic to begin again. It’s all she has now. She tries desperately to hold on to it. She clings to its memory, binds herself to it. The kiss that says hello and goodbye all at once. The kiss that means a new start in life, but it’s over before she has the chance.

She can’t remember how she got here, or why, or who, or what. Even her name escapes her. Someone says it, a face she remembers like the fading part of a dream. But before she can grasp what it was, it’s gone. Again she dreams of the kiss.

What happened that night? It was night wasn’t it? She worries the memory, unfolding it and bending it into a shape that might make sense. Lights. She sees them, blurred by streaks of rain—bright lights scuttling toward her. And a terrible screech pierces the moment, finishing it with a thunderous crack—and pain. She’s in such pain. It seizes her unexpectedly, ripping her limbs, crushing her bones, biting her skin until she’s too weak to breathe.

The face is there again. Though too hazy to see clearly, she can tell he’s crying. He shouts her name. She strains to hear it, struggles to remember it. He says it with such hurt in his voice. A shudder warps the sound of it. His fingers in hers, he cries it out once more. Isabella. She remembers now, and she tries to say it out loud. But nothing can penetrate the deafening silence of this place.

She lies in a cold, black cell of decay. Why is she so cold? The foul stink of her swallows the small space they’ve left her in, and it mingles with earth, worms, and bugs. She wants to move, to reach out for something, anything. If she could just get to her feet, get a feel for the space, maybe she could find a way out of here.

But her feet won’t move. Her fingers won’t twitch. Her eyes refuse to open. No matter how she fights, nothing moves except the scene she repeats. And she holds tightly to it, this dream or nightmare. A memory perhaps? The warmth of skin touching hers, tender caresses, gentle sighs, and a violent scream. She lets herself return to it. The beginning plays for her like it’s the first time.

It always starts with a kiss.

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