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Clandestine Hickeys

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It’s another afternoon in a janitor’s closet. This time, it’s Mr. Broncha’s because that's the only one with a working lock and she needs the privacy.

Jimmy Jr. cancelled another date, didn’t even have the audacity to tell her. Instead, he ignored her during lunch and only spoke with Tammy, making plans to meet up after school and get drunk off the leftover wine in his dad’s restaurant. Jocelyn was invited, so was Zeke, but Tina was ignored even though she was right. there. sitting next to Jimmy Jr. So when the bell rang, Tina dumped her plate and grabbed Zeke before class.

“Woah, T. Wanna tell me what’s goin’ on?” he asked, but she didn’t listen to him because if he really wanted to talk, he could’ve easily stopped her. Instead, he lets her drag him down an empty hallway, into the empty closet, and onto her. He doesn’t say anything else; his mouth only moves when it’s against her skin. He doesn’t remove the bandage, choosing to bruise the skin around it, and when Tina pulls his hair, he follows.

He trails up her neck, untouched by Jimmy Jr. for a whole week. It’s virgin skin, something Tina realizes with a shameful satisfaction, something Zeke seems to realize a beat after she does. He’s relentless, ravaging her neck like he’s never done this before, like he’s forgotten how to do this. It’s rough and unskilled and wet, and it leaves her breathless. There isn’t enough oxygen in the closet to stop her head from spinning.

But then he stops short of her lips, and Tina takes a deep breath.

It’s a boundary she placed the first time they started doing this. She had just watched Pretty Woman, and Julia Roberts made a very convincing case about only kissing people you care about. Kisses were for love, intimacy, and connection.

But fuck that. Today, kisses are for revenge.

She’s the one who drags him down, and he follows willingly. Enthusiastically. His kisses are just like his hickies: teeth and pressure, tearing into her mouth and bruising her lips. He likes using his tongue, just like Jimmy Jr. - but unlike Jimmy Jr., he lets Tina take charge. It’s give-and-take, and it’s not until Tina has Zeke pressed up against the door that she realizes how much she’s given and how little she’s received.

She’s starved, craving the taste, touch, and sensation Zeke is giving her. It’s their tongues sliding together, their hands entangled in each other’s clothes, their bodies stumbling into shelves and cleaning equipment.

It’s the door swinging open and Mr. Broncha gaping at them. It’s the way she walked into her class half an hour late, all eyes staring at her flushed face and swollen lips and bruised neck. It’s the whispers that circulate the school that very moment.

It’s how Jimmy Jr. refuses to meet her eyes when they (along with their siblings) walk home together.

Kisses are vindication.