It was only after Meg had woken up, glanced at her dead arm, noticed a snoring Joan, and had a fleeting moment of panic that she checked the time. It was 7:18. It had officially been twelve hours and fifty minutes exactly since she and Joan had kissed for the first time. Few things surprised Meg March, but that kiss had. Not that it happened, exactly. She’d thought about that. She’d even googled it, Incognito tab on, blankets pulled up over her head. She’d read all the guides, all the suggestions, watched all the videos. She knew exactly how kissing worked: what neurons fired, what hormones were produced, what created the tingling in her fingers and toes, what made her want to hold Joan closer.
The kiss itself had been messy and non-empirical and public, for God’s sake, and all of the things Meg wasn’t. When Meg dated guys, there was no announcement. She would tell Marmee, who would tell Jo, who would tell Amy, who would tell everyone she felt like, and that would be that. There were no status updates on Facebook, no cute couple-y pictures on Instagram, no acknowledgement of any change in her life except as an offhand comment to Marmee. Meg was not the YouTube official type. She wasn’t.
But something about Joan didn’t make her embarrassed to upload the video. Something about Joan had made her bolder, greedier, less willing to wait months before anything happened. More willing to take Joan’s hand and lead her upstairs and spend hours exploring each other’s bodies, gasping and laughing and moaning on Meg’s bed. Something about Joan had made Meg respond to Jo’s knock at the door with a breathy, “I’m busy!” and the sound of Joan’s soft laughter, which must have been as subtle as a speeding train. And something had made Meg not care, not care that she was hooking up, not care that people knew. That was something had to do with Joan, she had concluded the night before, satisfied and dazed, looking at the ceiling without really seeing it. But by the cold, pale light of morning, she wasn’t really sure anymore.
It was Joan who had made the first move, sure, saying her name and pressing lips to lips. But it hadn’t been Joan who had closed the space between their bodies, and Joan certainly hadn’t pushed herself into the back of the couch. And it hadn’t been Joan, either, who’d started this whole thing. She hadn’t sent the invitation to hang. She hadn’t given a five minute speech on how in love she was. It had been, Meg realized, as much her as it had been Joan. She had wanted all of this, had wanted Joan, maybe since she had realized Joan liked her. Maybe since Camp Laurence. Maybe since they had met.
All she knew now was that Joan was tangled in her sheets, her hair messy and body covered in dried sweat, snoring slightly. And still, even like this, Meg thought she was beautiful. Even like this, ridiculous words, like “love” and “forever” floated across her mind, despite the fact that that was too fast, despite the fact that that was insane, despite the fact that Meg March was not a U-Haul type of girl. Meg was falling, unable to control her feelings, dopamine flooding her brain, and unable to even bring herself to care.
And so Meg slipped back into bed, warming her cold feet on Joan’s warm calves, and smiling slightly as she dozed off again.