“Kiss me,” he said.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t.” She said.
They were together in the living room. In daylight, the room would’ve been bright, but now deep in the night, it is pitch-black and neither he nor she could see a thing. But this was of little concern to them.
“Why not?” He asked impatiently. “You’ve kissed me before.”
“Yeah – when we were having sex.” She said.
“What makes this any different?”
“Why do you want to kiss me anyway?” She ignored his question.
He was just going to tell her to answer his question first – something she always tells him to do whenever they had an argument – but he relented. Instead, he responded by saying, “I love you.”
There was a pause before she spoke again. “I love you, too.”
Now he was annoyed. “Then why won’t you kiss me?”
“Lovers have to kiss? Why?” – he knew this was a rhetorical question, but still he answered. “Everyone else who is in love do.”
“And are we like everyone else?” She asked. “Are we?”
“No.” He said quietly.
“Exactly.” Unlike all of their previous arguments, there wasn’t the usual tone of victory in her voice, nor was there a sense of relief. They waited together in the dark. “But why don’t you want to kiss?”
It was now her time to pause. “I just dislike it as an expression of love.”
“Why do you love me?” She was doing it again. But once again, he answered. “You are a funny and charming person.” He whispered. “And you have the most beautiful voice I’ve ever heard.”
That made her chuckle. “So you are saying that you don’t love me because of my ‘golden complexion?’ Or because of my ‘sweet breath?’”
He protested, but she stopped him. “If you love me for what I say, then listen. You don’t have to kiss me.” She paused. “Now, let’s talk about something a little bit more pleasant, like Owner’s…”
He wasn’t ready to let it go. “That’s not the only reason. I know it isn’t. Tell me.”
Before she could answer, a loud thud came from the bedroom at the end of the hallway. They waited for the sound to pass, before she sighed and said: “You are right. There is another reason. I” – she faltered – “I don’t want to lose myself.”
“What did you have for breakfast today?” There she goes again.
“Scrambled eggs.” He said. “What does that have to do with anything?”
“If I were to kiss you,” she ignored the question, “then wouldn’t I taste that scrambled egg?”
That made him chuckle. “Only if we do it for a really long time.”
“Not only would I taste what you ate,” she continued, “I would also taste the cigarettes you smoked behind my back. The mouthwash you used to hide the fact that you smoked. And the beer you drank after we had an argument about you and the cigarettes.
He was confused. “So?”
“Don’t you get it? I will be overwhelmed by all those tastes, all those flavours. The flavours of your life. At the same time, you would be tasting the flavours of my life. Now I love you.” He was at lost for what to do. “I love you so much. But if we kiss all the time, one day my mouth will have the stench of cigarettes, and I don’t know if I’m comfortable with that.”
As she said those words, he could almost detect a hint of a sob or two, but he couldn’t be sure because the room was dark. He wanted to hold her, but he couldn’t.
The next day, a scruffy man and the girl he picked up at the bar last night exited the bedroom.
“Nice living room you’ve got there.” The girl giggled.
“I know right,” The man couldn’t contain his gloating smile as he opened the pantry. “So want do you want for breakfast, Justine?”
“It’s Kate.” The girl walked over to where he and she were looking at each other. “Ooh… cool paintings!” The girl picked her up. “This girl was drawn with such clear lines.”
“You want it?” He was desperate for a second date.
“Sure!” She quickly unhanged the painting from the wall. “I especially love the way her mouth is drawn.”