Parking Deck Kiss by AJ Cunder
Editor Matty Byloos, Fiction, April 17th, 2017
"I remember wrapping my arms around his back, squeezing..."
My heart pounded as I waited for him on the campus parking deck, just out of reach of the lamp’s orange glow. The New York skyline flashed, a million miles away to my eyes. I cupped my hand over my mouth, blew, inhaled a blast of icy peppermint—quickly sniffed my armpits, making sure I put on deodorant, getting a whiff of the Hollister cologne I hadn’t used in two years, waiting for a special occasion. A few students laughed as they walked to their cars parked in obscure corners, flinging term papers into the air, done with finals, aching for summer. I shrunk further into the shadows, hoping they wouldn’t see me.
I checked my phone, opening the orange app with a black mask where people hid behind headless torsos and headlines like bttmpndr2353. I felt a little embarrassed when I first downloaded it—more so since they sucked me into getting the premium version for $1.99/month. It wasn’t like I expected to find my soul mate here. After an ad popped up for it on my computer, though, I couldn’t resist the urge to experiment. Especially after my girlfriend dumped me, screaming “Homo” as she walked out the door. I probably should’ve cleaned my internet history. Or used an incognito browser. I stopped going to the class we had together, my face burning every time I passed her on campus. She wouldn’t even look at me. Did she tell her friends? She never answered the text I sent her about keeping it a secret, asking her to come up with some excuse about why we broke up. She could say I hit her, cheated on her, lied to her; anything but the truth.
That was months ago, though, and even if I still walked the long way around campus to avoid her and her friends, I couldn’t deny the burning in my blood. A scrawny chest filled my profile on Grindr, my phone’s flash shielding my face when I took the picture a few days ago in my dorm bathroom, the letter M at the top where a name should be. I left my age blank. Said I was 5’11” (when I stood on my toes) and rounded up my weight to 145. Not sure what I want…hmu tho 🙂 filled my bio space.
I clicked the messages icon. Meet u there at 9, his last message read. It was already 9:30. Could he have meant 9 a.m.? Was he bringing other people to gawk? Did he already snap a picture to post on Facebook, Instagram, outing me to the school? I never saw his face. Just a hot body that made me drool over my pillow. Was that really even him, or just a photo he stole from the internet? Was it stupid to come here, to risk my secret for a few minutes of…I didn’t even know what?
Hey, waiting for you— I stopped, then deleted it before scrolling through our conversation.
Nice pic, I had written when those chiseled abs and perfect pecs first popped up. The app said he was close. Probably a student here. My nerves tingled. Was I supposed to say that? I had never done this before. I browsed the other squares, some with faces, passing most without a second glance, hiding behind my laptop as my professor rambled about what would be on our final. I sat in the back, making sure no one could see my phone. When it buzzed, I flicked to the top, clicked on the messages—found a picture of some old guy’s wrinkly ass staring back at me. I blocked him, my pulse steadying as I waited for the headless hottie to respond.
A few minutes later my phone buzzed again. Hey, you too, the hottie wrote back, spiking my blood pressure.
I’m Matt, I typed, my fingers trembling, tuning out the quotations from Twelfth Night our professor encouraged us to memorize.
Nice to meet u :). Well, “meet” up
* “meet” U. Not up. Sorry, dumb autocorrect.
But if u want to meet up I’d be down 🙂
Lol? I typed something, deleted it. Typed something else, deleted it.
So… what u looking for? I finally sent.
Depends on the guy
Really? What have you done before?
Oh cool lol.
I’ve never actually been with a guy
I can show you ;P
Fire crept through my veins, simmering in my fingers and toes, a rush of blood going where it shouldn’t during class. I glanced at my professor writing on the board. I shouldn’t have had my phone out, but I couldn’t let this one slip away.
Wanna meet up tonight?
Gotta study for finals :/ tomorrow?
You go to SHU, right?
U out yet?
No way. u?
Lol. Should I come to your dorm?
Lets do parking deck. Top floor
Meet u there at 9
I wondered how much longer I should wait. If I should try messaging him. I started typing again when someone in a hoodie opened the stairwell door. I leaned against the concrete, trying to cool my erratic pulse. Was that him? He walked toward me, hands in his pockets, closer, splashing through a puddle.
I wanted to look in a mirror, to see what he was about to see.
To make sure I didn’t have any acne.
To wonder again if he’d find me attractive.
A sliver of light fell on his tan face, the shadow of a beard sprinkling his cheeks. Damn, he was attractive. “Matt?” he said, his voice like milk chocolate.
“Jesse?” my voice cracked. “Sorry,” I cleared my throat, playing it off with a laugh.
He rubbed his hands together. “So, you’ve never done anything?”
I shook my head. “Not with a guy.”
“It’s okay. I was nervous the first time too.” He must have noticed me shaking. I tried to think if I had seen him before, if we had any classes together.
“It’s cold up here.”
“A little breezy. Don’t worry. I’ll warm you up.” He stepped closer, putting his hands on my waist, lifting my shirt. I trembled as his fingertips brushed my stomach, intoxicated by the humid air as spring melted into summer. “Just relax.”
His face filled my world, blocking out the stars. He leaned in and kissed me, slowly, delicately, as if he kissed a flower, his cinnamon breath mixing with mine. So similar—and yet so unlike—any kiss I’d had before. I don’t know what I did at first, if I kissed him back, or just opened my mouth like a dead fish. I remember wrapping my arms around his back, squeezing his flexing muscles, pulling him closer, forgetting for a moment those who might walk by and see us. I felt him on my thigh, pressing against my groin. His warm lips slipped to my neck, and I arched my back, struggling to smother an escaping groan.
“Come on,” he said. “Let’s go to the stairwell.” He grabbed my hand and dragged me along, unconcerned about the full moon spying on us through the glass.
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Header image courtesy of Karsten Fatur. To view his Photography Feature, go here.
AJ Cunder graduated from Seton Hall University with a Masters in Creative Writing after receiving a Bachelors in English and Philosophy. His work appears or is forthcoming in Rose Red Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Oswald Review, and Momentum.