That frighteningly wonderful First Kiss

There was a fairly large group of kids that hung around together quite a bit.  During the summer vacation we did a lot of day-long bike trips.  Sometimes we would just run over to the other side of the housing development to a ball field and play softball, but most of all we liked to go out on our bikes for runs in the woods.

We had several trails we would run on ranging in difficulty from ‘easy’ to ‘get off and walk up/down the hill’.  We were an equal opportunity group of kids so we would allow girls to come along with us.  This was tolerated by the older kids, and tittered about by the younger ones, but, mostly, we just took it in stride.  After all, some of us had good friends who happened to be a girl.

Kathleen lived next door to me and, although we hadn’t actually said so, even to each other, we kind of liked to hang around together.  I never thought of her as being anything special but simply someone to talk to across the fence in the evenings and the like.

One Saturday, we were gathering up a group to go out bicycling in the woods.  Word was passed around the neighborhood rapidly so we ended up with about fifteen kids of varying ages.  The mob was staging down at Hal’s house so Kathleen and I hopped on our bikes and joined them.  Soon the pack was pedaling briskly downhill to the woods across the stream that ran along our development’s border.

Several trails had been worn into the woods by us kids, some more difficult than others.  There were some really steep hills to be overcome on the trail we picked this day which tended to string us out a bit.  I noticed that Kathleen was lagging back and asked her what was wrong.  She showed me that her chain kept jumping off the sprocket and she would have to stop and put it back on.

I had a small tool kit in my pannier and made a couple of adjustments to the chain. It appeared that it would stay where it belonged so we sped up to get with the rest of the group.  We huffed and puffed our way to the top of the hill but couldn’t find them at all.  We had probably taken a wrong turn somewhere.  Since the both of us knew the trails pretty well we just decided to head out on our own.  We picked the wrong trail.

We wound around the ridge of the hill for a while and then headed down a very steep, narrow trail.  She was in front of me and, since I was paying attention to my own steering, I didn’t hear her at first.  The first indication she was in trouble was her scream of fear as she yelled that her chain had come off again.

These were not modern ‘Mountain’ bikes, or any kind of bike with handlebar brakes, these were simple, coaster-brake bikes.  With no chain, she had no brakes and she was picking up speed very rapidly.

I was trying hard to keep close to her but not actually knowing how I could help.  I was looking down to avoid a patch of gravel and didn’t actually see her hit the fallen log in the middle of the trail.  My eyes snapped up when I heard her loud yell and watched as she flew over the handlebars, crashed to the ground on her side, bounced once and ended up on her stomach.  The bicycle, after doing a loop over her head, narrowly missed breaking her arm as it went bouncing down the trail.

I slid to a stop and leapt off my bike.  She wasn’t moving at all as I rushed to her side.  When I knelt down next to her I could see she was breathing, but her eyes were closed.  My Scout training kicked in so I knew better than to try and move her, or roll her over on her back or anything, so I raced back to my bike and got my canteen of water.  I began wiping some of the dirt from the back of her neck and, as I did, she groaned and raised her head.

I figured that if she could do that at least her neck was all right.  She groaned again, looked at me with slightly unfocused eyes and reached out for my arm with a surprisingly firm grasp.

Her eyes went out of focus again and she started sucking in breath which was quickly expelled with a loud “Wooooooooo”.  This was followed by other expressions of pain.  I felt completely helpless as she began chanting “OOwwwww … Woooohhhhhooooo … Hoooooo”.  She held her eyes tightly closed but that didn’t stop tears from leaking down her dirt-streaked cheeks as her body was wracked with pain.

“Oh … Ow … I really hurt” she said in a voice filled with pain.  “My knee banged on something I think.”

I looked briefly and saw that her right knee was showing through her torn jeans and it was leaking blood from a large scraped spot.  She had apparently hit the ground there first.

“Are you okay?” I asked, but that was a really stupid thing to say – of course she wasn’t ‘okay’.

“I … I think so.” She answered as she slowly rolled over on her back.  “My arm hurts something fierce too.”

I examined a large knob that was forming on her left forearm.  That, I figured, had happened when she hit the ground also – probably on that large rock near the log.  Her eyelids fluttered open and closed several times as she tried to focus on my face more closely.

“Ohh, I really hurt all over”

She squeezed her eyes shut and tears continued flowing freely as she tried to rise to a sitting position by pulling on my shoulders.  I thought she might be hurt elsewhere so I tried to make her lay flat, but she was determined to use my arms to pull herself up.  I assisted as best as I could.  I lifted her gently by supporting her shoulders and, as she got her feet under her, she rose fully.  She had tear tracks now running down the dust on her face and I was overwhelmed by a desire to hold her close and wipe them away.

I put my arm around her shoulders and helped her hobble over to another log parallel to the trail and sat her down.  I knelt at her feet and examined her scraped knee.  She had a large patch of skin sanded off which was oozing blood but I didn’t see any actually flowing.  I pulled my t-shirt over my head, dampened it with water, and proceeded to sponge her knee.  As I did, I realized she was watching me closely.  I looked up at her and a strange feeling came over me.  My ears started to buzz as I stared directly into her eyes and I began to perspire.

I had never before in my life felt more protective of anyone.  It was as if my heart had left my body and was waiting to see what I would do before soaring or crashing to the ground.  My breath came in short pants. My whole world had shrunk to just her and those wonderful eyes.  I seemed to not hear the light wind, the chattering of the birds, or the rustle of tree leaves – only her soft breathing as we looked at each other.  I leaned forward and hugged her to me as she began to cry softly on my shoulder.  I caressed her hair and said soft things in her ear to help calm her.  I suddenly realized something that I had subconsciously already known somehow:  I was in love with her.

She went quiet for a moment and then turned to face me again; much closer now.  Her eyes, which I had never really noticed before, were hazel and flecked with gold.  I fell deeply into them.  We hesitated just a moment before I bent close and kissed a tear running down her cheek. She began kissing back – my neck, cheek, and, finally my lips. I wrapped my arms around her tightly.

Powerful waves of differing emotions swept over me.  I felt like I could fly or run or leap over the surrounding trees.  I wanted to scream out loud and, at the same time, whisper words of love.  I clung tightly to her for what seemed like ages with our lips locked together.  We fell apart gasping for air.

“I think I’m in love with you Kathleen.” I said simply.  “I don’t think I realized it until I saw you falling.  There was nothing I could do.  I felt so helpless.”

“I’ll be fine. It’s just a scrape on my knee and a bump here.” She said as she held out her arm to show me. “Mom’s going to have a cow though when she sees these torn jeans – they’re new.”

We held each other until our emotions calmed down then looked at the mess of her bicycle.  The front wheel had a big dent in the rim, the tire was blown, and three spokes were broken.  One handlebar was bent upwards and it looked like the fork may have even been bent.  There was no doubt in my mind her bike was done for.

“We’ll have to get it back home to fix it.  Let me see if I can fasten your front wheel to my rear wheel and we’ll walk them back”, I said.

With a bit of rope I had, we managed to lash her front wheel to the carry basket over my rear wheel.  Before we started back up the trail I hauled the log out of the trail and pushed it over the side of the hill.

The way I felt, I could have carried the bikes, her, and anything else all the way home. I was invincible.  She tucked her shoulder under my arm, put her arm around my waist and we began the long walk home.  I was in heaven.

The next time I worked up enough nerve to kiss her again we were watching a movie.  That one I’ve already documented.

T.O.M.

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2 Responses to “That frighteningly wonderful First Kiss”

  1. robminx Says:

    What a lovely tender story. Wow! It was just so sweet. You’ve got skillz Tom. Keep it coming, the world needs to hear your voice. Please feel free to stop by my robminx and tell me what you think. Again…wow!

    Robminx

  2. robminx Says:

    Thank you so much Tom for stopping by my blog. I really appreciate your encouraging comment. I’ll subscribe to your RSS feed as well. I really like your work, it’s great. You made my day!

    Peace & happy writing,
    Robminx

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