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A Picture's Worth A Thousand Words

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The first time Carrie Lipton kissed another girl was at 13, around the back of her family's boarding house, under the fireworks. The other girl had been in town for 4th of July with her family. It was quick, dry, and chaste but made her face burn red. The girl left with her family the next day, leaving Carrie brokenhearted for a month, and unable to tell her family why.

The next time Carrie Lipton kissed a girl was in her freshman year of college, at a frat party her roommate, Georgie had dragged her to. She was sitting on a couch as all the bluster and machismo raged around her, nursing her second beer that had been shoved on her at the door. She was looking around for Georgie, who'd probably abandoned her to go see her girlfriend Josie, when someone dropped down beside her and laid a kiss on her. She squirmed for a second and just as soon as the person swooped in, they ducked out. She met the confused, drink-dulled eyes of the girl who'd just laid one on her.

"You're not Josh," She slurred, and lurched away, escaping presumably to find "Josh", leaving Carrie stunned to all hell.

The next time that Carrie Lipton kissed a girl was outside the front stoop of her apartment, staring into the deep, melting eyes of Veronica Speirs after their second date. Ronnie was a vision of dark curls and brown eyes, coaxed into something other than a leather jacket and into tight black pants and dress shirt. At the end of the night there they stood. It seemed to Carrie as if she was waiting for something to spring on her when Ronnie leaned down, gently cupping her chin, tilting it up to meet her lips. Warmth ballooned in her chest, carrying up her heart to the sky. Carrie sensed that this is what she was waiting for, this sense of total elation. Ronnie broke the kiss, gently. Carrie chased it with her lips, desperate to not let it slip away.

"This alright?" Ronnie asked, her voice soft. Carrie nodded mutely and dragged Ronnie back down for another kiss to respond properly.

After that, the kisses became innumerable. Little ones as she rushed out the door. Lingering ones in the mornings, not caring about morning breath. Heated ones at night, just the two of them and a locked door.

On what might have been a regular day at Pride, a different kind of kiss happened. The college where Ronnie taught was marching in the parade, requiring them both to be there. Carrie knew her girlfriend didn't go in much for people. She liked who she liked, anyone else could leave her alone. So a Pride Parade was really far outside of her comfort zone. After the Parade was done, they walked down the confetti and condom-strewn sidewalks, holding hands.

As they dodged rowdy parade goers, they caught sight of the signs. Carrie could see them a mile off, the flames and boldface writing a bucket of ice on the warmth of the day, and started to grip Ronnie's hand tighter. Ronnie looked over concerned and followed Carrie's line of sight, catching sight of the picketing hate groups. In a second, she had an arm wrapped around Carrie's waist.

"We're gonna need to go past them," Carrie said, gritting her teeth.

"Are you sure, babe?"

Carrie nodded, resolutely. They started forward again. Suddenly an idea popped into her head as they approached the first picket sign, the hate spewing, practically a physical power.

"Kiss me," She said, stopping. Ronnie turned to her, a little stunned. Carrie reached up before she could change her mind and brought her girlfriend's face level with hers.

"This alright?" She asked softly. Without warning, the memory of her first kiss with Ronnie came to mind. From the look on her girlfriend's face, she remembered it too. Ronnie nodded swiftly. Carrie pressed their lips together, blocking out the screams of vitriol from the picketers, the yells of the crowd, and focused on the love of her life in front of her, on her lips, on the calloused hands cradling her neck, the sweet perfume that she'd gotten her for their anniversary. 30 seconds felt like an age as Carrie pulled away. She thanked Ronnie with her eyes, words not able to convey how much this one thing meant. The moment held until it was broken by a babbling girl telling them how brave they were, about how she got a picture.

The girl, as it turned out, was an amateur photographer. The picture sat on their mantle piece, taken with every time they moved, they cleaned or reorganized. That kind of kiss is the kind that meant something different, Carrie knew. To her it was that her girlfriend was willing to overcome any worries to do that for her. For Ronnie it was a sign of her girlfriend's bravery and strength. Carrie certainly knew it meant more than any of her previous kisses before Ronnie put together.