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Photo by Alejandra Quiroz on Unsplash

It wasn’t my first kiss, but it was the first significant one. He was my first serious boyfriend. The first one that actually counts. Crazily clever, exceptionally hard working, charming and polite, he was exactly the kind of boy I’d always pictured myself with. I was beyond elated when he asked me out. It was early winter, we were in Year 10, and I had just turned fifteen. After dating for a week, we finally managed to snatch a few moments alone. We had to wait for a torrential December downpour to drive everyone else indoors, but we managed it.

Ours was one of those awkward, early teen relationships powered by raging hormones and infatuation. At that stage, our interest in the opposite sex far outstripped our ability to converse with or behave naturally around them. We knew we liked each other, but we had no idea how to communicate. So instead, we spent our break and lunchtimes standing very close and making doe-eyes at each other.

He had such beautiful eyes. I could never make up my mind what colour they were, but if I had to choose I’d probably say hazel. The colour of early autumn leaves. They had a fire in them that could melt icebergs. With eyes like that, what chance did I have?

By the time we found a secluded corner we were already drenched. Our hair was plastered to our heads, our jumpers and shirts soaked through, but I did not feel cold. We knew what was going to happen without either of us saying it-an unspoken agreement. In the build-up he flicked away a raindrop that was clinging to the end of his nose. I remember thinking it was the most adorable thing I’d ever seen.

In the end, the build-up was better than the kiss itself. He, in his teenage boy enthusiasm, went for tongues immediately, and because I had not been expecting it, I froze. There were a couple of awkward seconds of us standing stock-still before I pulled away from him. That was it. Over. We never did work up the courage to have another go, and no further opportunities ever presented themselves. After that, we were back to being tailed every break and lunchtime by two of his friends, who refused to leave us alone despite our repeated pleas. Alas, schools are not a good place for those desiring privacy.

We didn’t date for very long-just over a month. The breakup came from nowhere and left me reeling. I cried solidly for weeks, and eventually summoned the courage to ask him why he had ended it. He told me that as he was religious, a physically intimate relationship was out of the question. The problem was that he was so drawn to me, he didn’t think he would have been able to keep his distance had we stayed together. It’s not often that someone breaks up with you for reasons that are ultimately flattering. While I understand his reasons, I have always found it maddening that the relationship was never really given the chance to get off the ground. Given more time, I think it could have been magical. I never told him this, but he had the power to set a fire in my skin simply by placing a hand on my arm. Imagine what it would have been like had we been free to explore what was between us. But I suppose that was the whole problem. He knew what it would be like, and he could not allow it.

I like to think that somewhere there is an alternate universe where we get to play out our relationship in full. Where it doesn’t get cut short, and where he never has to refer to me as “the one that got away.” I wish I could go back to that day in December, when the rain was like a monsoon, and we were the only two mad enough to stay out in it. I wish I hadn’t pulled away from him, that I had just relaxed. Gone with it. Kissed him back. Kissed him like I meant it. Caressed his cheek and run my fingers through his hair. I wish I’d done it properly, that I hadn’t messed it up, and that moment of awkwardness had not been our only try.

Ultimately, it probably wouldn’t have changed anything. It may even have hastened the ending. But at least I would know that he and I had shared one perfect kiss.

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