The kiss

by | Dec 1, 2011 | Fiction, Flash fiction | 12 comments

The Kiss
By Laura McHale Holland

She worried as she walked the buckled pavement past broken storefront windows, dangling fire escapes and leaning Victorians. She worried, but not about the safety of her husband and children, nor the condition of her home. The crew that pried the doors off the streetcar holding her and a slew of screaming passengers said the epicenter was 100 miles away; local damage had been minimal, all things considered.

She worried, but not about the work she’d lose before everything retuned to normal, and not about the gash on her arm and painful bump on her head.

She worried about the kiss. The kiss from a stranger who drew her close as the streetcar erupted in turmoil. As the car shook and shrieked like a pig headed for slaughter, the man who had been quietly texting in the seat beside her gave her a Rhett Butler kiss. And when she thought she was losing everything in the world she holds dear, she kissed him back. She kissed him back with all the fire of Scarlet O’Hara.

She knew as soon as the rumbling died down and the streetcar stopped rocking, when she and the stranger disentangled and averted their eyes, she knew she could never tell her husband about the kiss. And she worried the secret would plague her marriage like antibiotic resistant bacteria eating through tender flesh.

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  1. Jerry Kohut

    maybe the best she could do at this time, Perhaps one last kiss good bye. Harmless but very passionate. Both may be carrying it to their grave with them. A kiss is just a kiss but this one was a kiss to remember. Now was that you!

  2. Robin Leigh Morgan

    My, my, my Laura; a wonderful story full of smoke and mirrors, a story of misdirection.

    There was no earthquake whose epicenter is a hundred miles away. To me it sounds like a story which the woman had a huge argument in their home. The argument had been so huge, she just left her world there, in a huff, leaving her husband, her children and her home without caring what would become of them.

    She then meets someone, who seems to care about her condition. Their realizing they are now in the same “new” world, he gives her a kiss, which she happily returns one. As they continue to embrace, the angry she orginally had with her husband subsides, and she feels remorse for probably having caused the argument.

    She seems to want to return to him, however she now questions her fidelity for allowing herself to be attracted to another man and to give that man a kiss. And if she does return to her husband, this interlude will haunt her for the rest of her life, knowing she can never tell her husband of this.

    I wonder if we’re on the same mental wavelength again. If we are, it would be the 4th or 5th time this has occurred.

  3. admin

    Thanks, Robin. I like where your mind went with this, but it’s not where I was. In my mind, as I envisioned he story, there really was an earthquake, so the story is more straightforward than you emvisioned. But your take is quite intriguing, indeed, givng me a lot to contemplate. What fun!

  4. admin

    Thanks, Jerry. Nope, not me. I was in San Francisco for the 1989 earthquake. I was at home with Moira, who was three, going on four, and it was frightening, indeed, to have the building shake and for things to be falling off of shelves. … The only man I’ve kissed since Jim’s and my first date oh so long ago is JIm. The situation of being in a streetcar during an earthquake just came to mind, and I wondered what two strangers sitting next to each other might do if they thought they were about to die.

  5. Robin Leigh Morgan

    Reading this I began to visualized quite a lot of symbolism.

    She knew as soon as the rumbling died down became
    As they continue to embrace, the angry she orginally had with her husband subside
    [typo angry should have been anger]

    …and not about the gash on her arm and painful bump on her head.
    She no longer cared about the emotional strain she had been put through, especially since
    had run away from all that, and felt safe now.

    She knew as soon as the rumbling died down and the streetcar stopped rocking,
    The emotion she felt at the heat of the moment which caused her to run away
    began to ebb, and she now became able to look at everything with a clearer head.

    This is some of the things (symbolisms) which ran through my head as I read this.

  6. admin

    Thanks, Robin. I guess whenever we write we’re using symbolism, but if I consciously tried to employ symbols, I think it would stifle me a bit, although I’m aware as I’m writing that there’s more going on in my stories than what I’m putting on the page. And when it all comes together in the end and things that are hinted at are revealed, and I have an aha! moment, that’s a wonderful feeling. It doesn’t always happen, though.

  7. Barbara Toboni

    Like the real earthquake way you wrote it. Rhett and Scarlet would have been proud of that kiss too. Loved it all except the pig shrieking description. It was too strong I think. It threw me out of the story. Keep the stories coming. You really have a gift for flash.

  8. Nancy LaTurner

    This is such a treat — a gift — to be given a reason to reflect. Stimulated by Jerry’s and Robin’s comments and your answers, Laura, I’m reflecting on symbolism. I suppose the writer can’t help but use symbolism, conscious or unconscious, but what about the reader? This discussion poked me awake to the fact that every reader uses her own symbolism in the interpretion/understanding/enjoyment of each piece. That’s exciting to me as a writer, to realize how our stories have their own life and their own adventures in the minds of our readers. Jerry had one take on “The Kiss,” Robin another, and mine went a third direction — all different from each other and none exactly the same as the writer’s experience. Add all the other readers who haven’t commented and you have something huge and wonderful!

  9. admin

    Thanks, Nancy! It is a gift to me, too, when people take time to reflect and comment. Like you, it has opened my eyes to just how varied each person’s experience of a story can be –and just how remarkable and rich that is.

  10. admin

    Thanks, Barbara, for your feedback. I think you’re right about the pig image. It’s one of those “babies” I should have dispensed with. There is a better image for that spot in the story, and when I revisit these to make a little collection, I hope I find it.

  11. Lynn Henriksen

    Great comments after a mighty flash from you, Laura. I didn’t see grounds for her thoughts to take her to a ruined marriage over the passion one kiss evoked. My gosh, the earth moved! Perhaps she’s hiding other secrets. I flashed to A Street Car Named Desire…Stellahhhhh.

  12. admin

    Great to hear from you, Lynn. (I was just visiting your site yesterday! Doing your guest post is next up on my list. I signed up for a mini blog tour Dec. 5 through 16 and had guest posts and Q&As aplenty to do for that.) I thought of Streetcar Named Desire, too, but decided not to bring any of those characters into it … could be interesting to see what their presence would do to the story, though. … Other secrets, eh? It’s likely she has more and feels like they’re a bigger deal than they really are. That’s how I see her anyway.

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