A Birthday Gift
"I remember kissing you. Your lips were chapped, and they felt rough against mine. Not like how I thought a girl's lips should feel. But I liked it. I liked the feeling of you close to me, the heat radiating off us. I remember how you blushed when our lips parted; I want to say it was like roses, but it looked more like a tomato. I laughed which made you blush harder. I remember kissing you, and for your birthday, I'd like to gift a kiss again. ~ Simon."
Sheila ran her thumb over the blue ink lettering of the card that came in the mail. She could almost believe it was for someone else but her name was on the top, clear and unmistakable. Her stomach lurched as she read it again. And again. Sheila was certain she never met a Simon. More haunting, though, was the abscence of feeling against her own lips, as if the ghost of this kiss danced before her, just out of reach.
A knock startled Sheila out of her thoughts and she quickly folded the card and shoved it under her pillow. A second later, her mom pushed through the door without invitation.
"Happy birthday darling!" her mother lilted for the third time that morning. Sheila rolled her eyes. Her mom liked to make birthdays a big deal. When she was a kid, it was nice to be the one that had the best birthday parties with ice cream cake and pinatas. Now that she was sixteen (officially!), all she wanted was a little privacy.
"I know you didn't want a party this year, but I did invite a few of your friends over."
Sheila paled. A 'few' to her mom could mean the school. All she wanted was her best friend Grace to help her decipher the letter hiding beneath her pillow. As if on cue, Grace burst through the open bedroom door, arms wide open for a hug. "HAPPY BIRTHDAY BESTIE!"
Sheila wrapped her arms around Grace. They were like sisters. Grace never even knocked on their front door anymore and Sheila's mom always joked she should have her own key.
"I'll leave you two to get read for the par-er, get-together." Sheila's mom winked and strode out of the room, leaving her door wide open, a habit Sheila always detested.
"What's up?" Grace asked, tilting her head to the side. "You look like you've seen a ghost."
"Or kissed a ghost," Sheila muttered. She added to Grace's furrowed brows, "close the door."
Once the room was secure, Sheila pulled the now crinkled card from its hiding spot. Grace read it, scowling at first. As her eyes roamed the page though, her brows shot up and to Sheila's surprise, she started laughing.
Sheila crossed her arms. "What?"
"He's such a dork," Grace snorted. "I can't believe he wrote it like this."
Sheila's heart skipped a beat. "You know about this? But I didn't...I've never kissed anyone, Grace. And I don't know a Simon."
Grace smirked. "I think he'll be at your party. And you do know him. Simon's his middle name."
Sheila shook her head in confusion. Middle names were a well-guarded secret at school, though no one quite knew why. It was a tradition that stretched back to the third-grade when people took turns guessing if their middle names were Marie, Nicole, or Lee.
The doorbell went off, chimes reverberating through the walls of the house. Grace pursed her lips. "That might be him."
Sheila gulped as she made her way to the stairs. Grace watched from the bedroom door. Her heart pounded in tune with her feet on the steps. She felt sweat dot her palms as she reached for the front door handle. Her sigh of relief was almost audible when she saw who it was.
"It's just Brent," Sheila called up to Grace, but Grace was no longer lingerng at the top of the stairs. Sheila frowned.
Brenton was Sheila and Grace's dorky counterpart; he made up their trio. The three of them had been best friends since kindergarten. Sometimes, though, Sheila did feel bad when they left Brent out to do more girly stuff.
"We're trying to figure out something very important," Sheila confided to Brent, who was still standing on the porch, trembling. She wondered what was wrong but decided not to bring it up. "Want to come on up?"
"Uh, actually," Brent took one shaky hand and ran it through his spiky blond hair. "Well, first of all, happy birthday."
"Thanks, but why are you acting so weird?"
Brent sucked in a sharp breath. "Did you get my card?"
"Your card? I-" Sheila froze as realization dawned on her. "Brent, what's your middle name?"
He smirked and stuck a hand in his jean pocket. "Simon."
Sheila's mouth fell agape and a rush went through her. She could feel her face prickling and for a minute she thought that Brent even looked kind of cute. "But I--I mean...we never--"
"In my dreams," Brent amended. "I remember kissing you in my dreams."
Sheila tried to reply but the words were stuck in her throat. She felt stupid for standing there, staring, but she was paralyzed. With fear or desire, she didn't know.
Brent cleared his throat. "And I, er, was wondering if you wanted that gift?"
For your birthday, I'd like to gift a kiss again. That's what the card had said. For a moment, Sheila stood there, analyzing Brent. His spiky blond hair made him seem older than he was. His electric blue eyes were open and friendly, and now they were so wide she could see his dilated irises. And his lips...well they did look quite soft.
Brent's shoulders sagged in the awkward silence. "I'm sorry, I should..."
"Wait," Sheila called as he turned away. "Don't leave without giving me that gift."