Short Stories

We Should’ve Kissed

I didn’t want to go to the party, none of my close friends were going, but I decided to go anyway since I didn’t have anything better to do on a Friday night. It was either that or eating a bag of Cheetos while browsing for a movie to watch — emphasis on the browsing — chances were, I wasn’t gonna watch anything at the end. I got to this new club called “The 8th.”

“Where are you?” I texted Marie, the friend who invited me to the party, her birthday party.

“Inside,” she replied. Of course, she was inside, where else would she be?

Marie and I go way back, we met in first grade, and I always had a sizable crush on her, we grew a little distant after high school, but we kept in touch. After navigating an ocean of people I saw her; she was wearing a bright pink dress.

“Long time no see, Happy birthday,” I said.

“Yeah, thanks,” she replied smiling; she appeared to have been drinking a little bit.

She then promptly walked away when one of her friends called her. I was left all by myself. I bought a beer to not look out of place and then saw one of my high school friends, Katie. She looked amazing, wearing dark red lipstick, Doc. Martens, and a black dress.

“Katie?” I said.

“Oh. My. God. James!” She said while jumping for a hug.

“How have you been?” I asked somewhat surprised to see her there; Marie and she were never the best of friends.

“Alright, I just finished my major. Statistics, baby,” she said, making a rock and roll sign with her hand.

“It’s so good to see you,” I said.

“Same,” she replied smiling.

I then asked her about her dog Sparkles, and then she went on and on for what felt like a solid 20 minutes. She loves that dog – well, loved, she died last month. I remember going to her house and playing tug war with the mustiest-looking French poodle you can imagine.

“You went to my house so often even Sparkles was expecting you every week,” Katie said, laughing.

“Good to know that just the dog was happy to see me,” I replied.

Katie laughed and nodded.

“You know Rachel hated it when I went to your place,” I said.

Rachel was my ex-girlfriend; we dated on and off since high school. The last time we broke up was because I said something along the lines of “Jenna Ortega is pretty,” and then she complained that she doesn’t look anything like her, and so on. A bit toxic, to put it mildly. I wasn’t a saint either; I broke up with her because she spilled coffee on my work computer a few months ago.

“Of course, she did, freaking sicko. Do you remember the time she called my house, and my dad picked up? She was just breathing; my dad thought we were gonna be on the front page of the news the next day. The poor guy slept with a baseball bat next to his bed,” she said.

“She was a little bit on the unhinged side,” I replied.

“Very much unhinged,” Katie said with a smirk.

“She called me last week and went on and on about you, actually,” I said and then took a sip of the beer. It tasted like what someone who doesn’t like beer would describe beer.

“Oh no,” she replied, looking amused.

“Yeah, she was talking about that time I had to sleep in your place because I left my car keys in your dad’s car, and then he and your mom went to some conference or something,” I said.

“YOU SHOULD’VE JUST TAKEN AN UBER,” Katie said, imitating how Rachel reacted.

“You remember,” I replied laughing a bit.

“In all fairness we did sleep together, like literally slept, you couldn’t handle Mad Max Fury Road,” she said.

“I’ve tried to watch it three times since, and I still can’t make it,” I replied. I hate that movie.

“We didn’t even get as close as a peck,” I continued.

We both took a sip out of our respective drinks and bobbed our heads to the beat of the song. 

“We should’ve kissed,” Katie said looking at the people dancing.

My heart skipped a beat. She was right, we should’ve. We should’ve dated, we should’ve kissed every day, but we didn’t. 

“Yeah, we should’ve, it’s the very first time I wish Rachel was right about us,” I said with a sense of regret in my voice.

I nervously looked at her. She was scratching off the tags of the beer bottle with her casino red fingernails. 

“…We still can,” I said.

Katie then moved her body slightly closer to mine. I could feel our shoulders touching. Her arms were covered in glitter and so was my shirt at that point. I lowered my hand and touched hers. Our fingers fiddled for a few seconds. She looked at me after I raised my eyes from our fingers fiddling to her face. She was looking every way as beautiful as I remembered and more. She bit her lip nervously. I went for it.

We kissed.

She held my face as soon as I was about to let go and kissed me.

“Was that so hard to do 5 years ago?” She said with a small smile on her face.

“Apparently,” I replied and then kissed her again. 

Her lips smelled like Sprite chapstick but they didn’t taste of anything but her, and perhaps vodka martini beer.

We kissed for a while longer, losing track of time and space. It was as if we were the only two people in the club, everything else faded into the background. Eventually, we pulled away, both of us out of breath. We stayed close to each other, swaying to the music, our fingers intertwined

We then got out of the club, we took out a cigarette. 

“Want one?” She asked.

“I’m good,” I replied. 

We sat on the sidewalk and talked about the future, how we thought our houses would be, and where would our vacations be. She talked about how she would solve climate change and I rambled about the last movie I watched. We stayed there for about an hour, and she checked her phone.

“Damnit,” Katie said while her face was fully lit by the brightest screen in the history of mobile technology.

“What happened?” I asked.

“Ugh, why did you have to be here?” She said.

“Huh?” I replied.

“I have a boyfriend, James, we’ve been together since the second week of college,” she said.

“But that was like…,” I said while trying to make the mental calculations for that.

“4 years,” she responded.

“I only went to this stupid party because I was in town for the weekend, I have to go back to Cali tomorrow,” she said, looking confused.

We then called an Uber, each to their own place. When her ride was there, we kissed again.

“It was good to see you, James,” she said while entering the car.

And as soon as the car was about to start moving, I knocked on the window, she opened it. I kissed her again. It was one of those kisses that tasted like a goodbye rather than a see you later.

“I’m never giving this up again,” I said, in my best attempt to sound romantic.

She smiled, knowing that this time she was the one giving it up.

© Gabriel Berm

Short Stories

That Night In Rotorua | Short Story

After driving for hours we finally got to the camping park, we barely got to see Rotorua, it was starting to get dark. Emma doesn’t really like to go out at night, she likes to rest and read rather than going out for a drink. I parked the camping van — which was more like a repurposed Toyota SUV than an actual camper — near to a beautiful clear lake. I went to pay for the night and then came back. Emma was asleep, she didn’t even notice we were at the park already. When I came back Emma was taking photos of the lake.
“Nice place, huh?” I said with some pride in myself for picking the best spot there.
“It’s so pretty,” she replied without looking at me.
“Wanna eat something? We can have chicken-flavored instant noodles or chicken flavored instant noodles from another brand,” I said somewhat joking.
“Surprise me,” she said smiling.
As I was boiling the water at the “kitchen,” Emma grabbed my ukulele and attempted to play it.
“Why is it so hard to play? It’s just four strings!” She said now looking at me.
“You’ll get the hang of it, we still have a month left from our trip,” I replied.
“Yeah, it ended up not being as awkward as I thought,” Emma said while “tuning” the instrument.
I poured the boiling water inside each noodle container and placed a plate on top of their lids.
“Awkward?” I asked.
“My sister said going halfway across of the world with a friend, alone, would be awkward,” she replied.
“I knew you would come, you tend not to care what other people think,” I replied.
“I don’t. It’s just, everyone back home thinks we’re having sex all day long but in reality, we just eat instant noodles and you sing me songs with this thing,” she said tapping the ukulele.
“Do you wanna have sex all day long?” I asked jokingly.
“Shut up! I’m being serious,” she said hiding the giggle.
The noodles were ready, I gave one to Emma and we started eating. Emma couldn’t eat without listening to music and since no one has yet discovered how to sing and eat simultaneously she hummed. Desire from Ryan Adams was playing, she loved Ryan Adams.
As I was opening the lid I noticed how clear the sky was. You don’t see that many stars in San Francisco. You’re more likely to bump into a Hollywood star than seeing an actual star. I told Emma to get out and check the sky. As her eyes were hooked on constellations which names I’m too ignorant to know. I could see a perfect reflection of each and every star on her deep brown eyes.
“Wanna stay out for a while?” I asked her.
“Sure,” she replied.
I took out a pair of foldable chairs and placed the two next to each other. I also took out a can of mosquito repellent and sprayed both of us. Now we both smelled like what Off thinks eucalyptus smells like.
“Do you ever think about that day?” She said not looking at me but the sky.
“What day? The day?” I said.
“Yeah, at Patrick’s house” she replied.
“We were drunk it was just a kiss,” I said. “Or, was it?” I continued.
“Yeah yeah, just a kiss,” she said softly.
“We could kiss now,” I said regretting it as I finished the sentence.
“I mean if we kissed at that party at Patrick’s house which had nothing special… I’d say this view demands a kiss,” she said, also seemingly regretting saying it.
I looked at her, our chairs were less than 2 inches apart, now she was looking at me. We kissed. Then as I was starting to go back to my original position, she held my hand. We were holding hands. And we fell asleep while listening from the distance “Just in Time” by Nina Simone playing on Emma’s phone inside the van.

© Gabriel Berm