The Kiss

She longed for a kiss; she was filled with desire for another tongue rolling around hers, for the passion of another tongue invading her mouth, for an orgasm in her mouth.  A kiss, that was all; she just wanted to be kissed.  She didn’t need love; for her, love was something unnecessary. 

At seventy years old, she’d never been kissed. One time, desperate for another tongue to kiss, she went into her backyard, trying to kiss the animals she came across.  When she tried to kiss an anteater, she got bit and almost lost her own tongue.  Stung with shame, her soul began to bleed, rejected even by the animals in her backyard.

She was a woman of repetitions; her daily routine gave her confidence.  She was not prone to conflicts.  Her personality seemed as steady and even as that of Shiny Shell, her best friend—who was actually a turtle she always carried around in her apron. 

She would apologize to everyone; if anything went wrong, she would blame herself and apologize.  She lived with constant foreboding; whenever she walked down the street, she was careful to avoid looking at her own shadow.  She thought that, if she did, she might die right then and there, collapsing the moment her eyes spied the black outline of her body.

At home, she kept photos of a variety of kisses, passionate kisses that contrasted with her monotonous life, a life of endless repetition.  Alone in her bedroom, she would roll her tongue over the photos, sometimes spending hours just rolling her tongue over photographs of kisses.  She would fall asleep with photos stuck to her lips, covered with saliva, the sad saliva of someone who had never been kissed.

Every Sunday, she would go strolling around the Plaza of Purification, gazing at couples kissing, lovers locked in so many kisses, whether passionate, delicate, shy, or bold. She imagined herself in their place; maybe one day she’d have a lover who would seize her in his arms and kiss her passionately, fervently. “No!” she shouted in the silence of her redundant thoughts. She didn’t need a lover, just a tongue to kiss; all she wanted was to feel a tongue rolling around hers, nothing more.  If only Shiny Shell were not so shy, she mused, if only he would let himself be kissed, she would never be deprived of kisses.  But Shiny Shell kept his tongue to himself, withdrawing into his shell any time she tried to kiss him.

Every night, she dreamed the same dream of an interrupted kiss, of tears and sadness. Sleep meant fear, so she slept little.  She struck up conversations with the stars in a mute dialogue, a dialogue in which all the verbs conjugated her solitude.

One day, with the television tuned to a soap opera, she watched a scene of a young woman who was accidentally shot; as she lay there dead, her murderer kissed her lips, frozen by the stupidity of a senseless killing.

The next day, she went to a gun shop and bought a .38 caliber.  Wielding it allowed her to banish what most tormented her to the not-self. 

She now slept peacefully; in her dreams, nothing more tormented her.

On Sunday, all that remained in the Plaza of Purification was a desert of fear, now that kissing meant fear.

She was never forgotten, since neither was she ever remembered. She sent flowers to the kisses she interrupted, kisses that were like those in the soap opera—lifeless yet precise in their farewells.

EDINEY SANTANA was born in Mundo Novo, State of Bahia, in 1974, and now lives in Brasília. 

He graduated in Languages and Literature and went on to publish his first book in 2002 with the State University of Feira de Santana.

In addition to writing for newspapers, he has also published books of poems, about politics, short stories, and one novel.

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