Stormclouds & Starlight
“Have you ever kissed anyone before?”
The breeze is low, and the night is quiet. Our hill overlooks a silent town nestled away in a valley of hilltops and stone. The midnight above is strewn with a thousand glittering stars, but I’m too distracted to appreciate their beauty because she’s sitting just inches away and observing the same sights as the question leaves her lips without a hint of anxiety.
“Um.” I force a laugh and glance at her out of the corner of my eye. “What?”
But her gaze remains on the scattered town below, her eyes steady and silver against the starlight.
“I said, have you ever kissed anyone before?”
“You mean like…ever?”
A small smile tugs at the corner of her lips. “Yeah. Like…ever.”
I look up at the sky and search for the constellations. “Are you going to laugh at me?”
“Not if you don’t say something funny.”
“Okay.” Suddenly the nighttime air feels much colder. “Yeah. I have.”
“Really?” Now she’s looking at me, her face half-wreathed in darkness and her hair braided with dark silver lines. “When?”
“It was back in freshman year, right after I’d started going out with this girl.”
She makes a face at me. “Not sure I like where this is going.”
“Wait, wait, wait. Just hold on a second.” I take a deep breath and recall the memory. “We were just leaving the theater after watching this terrible romance movie when she saw her friends in the lobby. I wanted to go, but she went over to talk to them for a few minutes, and when she came back, she was acting all nervous.”
“And her friends?”
“Whispering and giggling by the concession stand like the two of us were the funniest things in the world.”
“Hm. So what did she do?”
“Nothing, for a while. She wanted us to hang around the lobby for a bit, but when I said I wanted to go, she just told me to lean down and—”
“That’s when she went for the goal?”
I nod slowly.
“I see.” She watches me carefully, and I try not to squirm under her gaze. Her eyes are cool, but also unbelievably dark and incredibly vast, like growing storm clouds soon to swallow the sun. For a few seconds, it feels like she’s staring straight through me.
Then I realize she’s saying something.
“W-What?” I blink a few times. “What did you say?”
“Did you like it?” The hill is plunged into complete darkness as the stars are stolen by a roaming group of bandit clouds. “When she kissed you?”
“No.” The words leave my lips without any hesitation at all. “I didn’t. We weren’t…like that.”
“Then why did you go out with her?”
“What do you want me to say? I was a freshman, I was stupid, I don’t know. I wanted to try something new with someone and she just happened to be there. I barely even remember her.”
“Do you regret it?”
I look away. “I don’t really care about it enough to regret it.”
“Mm.” Her outline shifts in the dark. “I guess I should rephrase a bit. Have you ever kissed anyone that you actually liked before?”
“Well.” My heart thunders in my chest as I feel her hand creep over mine. It’s smooth and soft, but also as cold as ice. “I can’t say that I have.”
“I see.” Her breath is warm against my nose.
“Can’t say I have either.”
“Really?” Now I can’t hide the way I’m looking at her—eyes darting over all her features in the dark, counting her freckles, meeting her gaze, staring at her lips. “Crazy coincidence.”
“Isn’t it? Interesting how these things happen.”
Then the night shifts, and she’s coming up to meet me, and I forget the world exists because all I can think of is her.
It barely lasts longer than a second, but for just that moment, I’m burning up like a star about to explode. She’s cold, so cold, but also so warm and so bright and so fierce that I’m melting away in her grip.
She leans away from me.
“You—” I don’t remember how to speak words. “I—”
“You okay?” She laughs gently, but it’s different this time. There’s something new in her voice. Something light and kind and so tender that it steals the breath from my throat.
“I—um. Yeah.” I laugh too, but it comes out awkward and forced. “That was…short.”
“Did you want something more?” I can almost see her smile in the dark.
“If I’m being honest…” I'm leaning toward her again before I even know what I’m doing. “Yeah.”
This one is long and slow and warm and so full of everything that I can barely even think. All I can smell is rain and rosemary as she leans into me, hair falling loose around her shoulders as she wraps an arm around my neck, and I bring myself even closer to her to stretch this moment on as long as I can. The stars are gone and the midnight is silent and I’m burning all the way up into cinders as a hand pushes against my chest and takes me down to the soil.
The clouds shift, and then the sky is full of stars shining brightly over us as I lay against the ground and her hair falls over me in a curtain of chestnut perfection. Her curls are all over my face and her eyes are locked in eternal combat with mine, but I don’t think she’s going to win anytime soon because I could stay like this with her for the next fifteen years.
“I like you," she murmurs. "I really, really like you.”
“Me too. I—”
She leans down again and then we’re together for the third time’s the charm, and my head is burning with the addictive smell of her. One second turns to two and two turns to three and three turns to however long I can hold my breath because not being able to do this with her would be the worst way to die I could ever think of.
Her lips are full and smooth, and her skin is glacier cold against mine, but I can’t help but love the chill, because I now feel like her late-winter fingers are an even more perfect fit for my too-hot summer heart.
Then the world comes flowing back as we separate for the third time. She’s on top of me, and the stars are above us, and for a moment I just can’t believe that any of this is real and that she’s here with me.
“I—” My breath is a gold-medal runner whose record I just can’t break. “Wow.”
“Yeah.” She’s breathing just as heavily as I am. “Yeah.”
Her eyes are the darkest shade of gray that I’ve ever seen, and I have to wonder if the clouds took their cues from her because there’s no way that anyone or anything could ever do the color better.
She sighs and falls down beside me. I try not to stare at her, but I can’t help but sneak a glance. I smile because she looks just as lost as I am, storm-cloud eyes bright and wide with wonder.
For a few moments, we lay together beneath the stars, gathering our breath.
“So…” I begin.
I look at her. “Is this a thing?”
“You tell me. Do you want this to be a thing?”
She turns on her side to face me, and oh god I might need to see a doctor because now I’m addicted to the smell of rain and rosemary, and I don’t think I can ever get by again without it.
“What do you think?”
“Well, after that, I’d like that say yes, but—”
“Then yes.” She taps me on the nose with a smile. “This is now officially a thing.”
“Huh.” I try not to stare at her lips.
“None that I can think of. You?”
“Nothing too important.”
“I guess that does it, then.”
“Yeah.” I feel her hand find its place in mine. “I guess it does.”
The rest of the night is silent bliss as we lay together in the cold and watch the stars shine on against the dark.
A lot of people limit themselves to writing only one type of genre, and I’ve always wondered why. Isn’t it more fun to write about a lot of different types of things?
Romance is one of my favorite genres to write, but it’s also one of my least favorite to read. It all really just depends on how it’s done!
Do you remember your first kiss? Mine was right outside Culver’s at 11 p.m.
Thank you for reading!
Samuel Kuforiji is a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences and the Honors Program. He loves to write, play sports, and spend time with his family and loved ones. Samuel has loved fantasy since he was a boy, and he loves how authors can convey deeper messages in their writing. He’s always wanted to write a book, and he one day hopes to write his own series of novels, just like his favorite authors.