She reached down to hold my hand. Our fingers interlocked as soon as we felt the warmth of one another’s hands. Up to this point in our relationship, the only contact our hands had ever made was to spread the peace of the Lord by way of a handshake. Abrupt silence disrupted the chatter in a bedroom full of rowdy teenagers. All eyes fell on Avy and me. Nobody had ever seen us kiss and they wanted consummate proof. The closest we ever got to the act was a hug I had given her on her birthday.
Her sweet caramel almond shaped eyes were fixed on me. The smile on her face caused my ears to heat up and my back to shiver. Her sun-kissed complexion began to take on a pinkish hue, until it turned red. The crowd surrounding us grew louder and more impatient. She was ready. I was afraid. I saw her close her eyes just as I was closing mine. She was about to take a bite from the fruit of a tree that she had been forbidden to eat. Avy was my sister. Sister in Christ. Her father was the pastor of my church and always kept a close watch on her. Pastor Gabriel had enrolled his daughters in a private Christian prep school in an attempt to keep them away from temptation and place them under strict supervision.
We leaned in. I could feel her breath on my nose, it smelled like menthol from the ChapStick she usually wore and sweet mint from the Trident gum she usually chewed. As soon as I felt her lips on mine, I opened my eyes in disbelief. She kept hers closed and let out a slow, warm, prolonged sigh. I gulped what felt like a mouthful of saliva. Our hands began to sweat and were slowly sliding apart, so she clutched mine tighter.
Avy had a petite athletic body and a gaze that would make me forget how to speak proper English. According to most people in the congregation she had a big nose, a nose that was the butt of many jokes in my family. Things like “When you go in for a kiss, make sure that she doesn’t gouged your eye out” or “That’s a pretty girl on that nose.” It was her father’s nose. She had so much of her father in her. More than either of them felt comfortable with. He wasn’t the father that she wanted and she wasn’t the daughter that he wanted.
I could tell that she had kissed other boys before me in the way that she was pressing her fleshy lips against mine, gently gliding them. Guiding me. I knew that she knew that she was my first.
The weight of Gabriel’s shortcomings was borne by Avy. In his mind, she was to graduate from a Christian university, marry a good Christian white man and give him white grandchildren to carry on his legacy. She was his salvation and through her ascension, he would rise along with her.
Avy was humble. As humble as a preacher’s daughter can be. On the other hand, Gabriel was a proud man often boasting that he worked for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He was neither a director nor a writer nor an actor. Gabriel was a gardener. At church, it seemed as though he was more preoccupied tending to his daughter’s virginity than that of Mary. “Is everything OK?” he would often ask Avy while in the company of her church friends. While her lips said “Everything’s OK, daddy!” Her eyes said, “Fuck you.”
As the warmth of her lips left mine, I closed my eyes. When I opened them again, a smile had returned to her face. She seemed pleased. The other kids began to cheer and went back to their chatter. Avy leaned onto me with her full weight and I wrapped my arm around her. I held her as she rested her head on my chest. Her chestnut colored hair smelled of beach water and sunblock. It was a sweet scent.
We simply sat there, on someone else’s bed. No words were exchanged.
That which needed to be said had been said.