Sweet Sixteen by Gary Wilson

I read this flash story out loud in nearly every class I teach. I can’t believe I missed posting it here for so long. It’s included in the Flash Fiction Forward anthology, which I highly recommend – and am convinced contains many memoirs posing as fiction. There are so many things to love about this perfect story, just one of which is that it’s one long sentence, a shining example of the uniqueness inherent in flash stories.

Sweet Sixteen
by Gary D. Wilson

and never been kissed, she teases, like she’s been doing all evening in my car in front of her house, the windows fogged over, Paul Anka crooning, her head on my shoulder, my left arm locked numb against the door, my right around her, aching vaguely, fingers tingling like they’re asleep or frozen, sparks shooting through the ends of them inches above her right breast, but I dare not move or speak for fear I’ll ruin everything, look totally stupid, like some twelve-year-old trying to get through a doorway without running into it and she’ll wish she were with someone else, any one of at least a dozen other boys we both know would give anything to be where I am, doing what I am, her long brown hair smelling of shampoo and fallen leaves and tasting the way I think a girl’s is supposed to as she finger-combs it back from her face and looks at me, eyes half closed, lips searching for mine, which they find, nipping, nibbling, joining, our breaths mingling, mine spilling over the soft bare expanse of her neck she suddenly tucks away and snuggles deep into the crook of my arm, a long breast-raising sigh that brings strands of mohair sweater to the tips of my fingers which she lifts just in time to kiss one after another, before holding them to her cheek and guiding them back to rest, poised perfectly above the swell of her breast, which I know she wants me to touch in the way she – and I, I suppose – imagine a lover would, but she does nothing to make it happen – doesn’t shift up against me, as if chilled, doesn’t lay her hand on top of mine, pressing it gently down – and I do nothing either, even though the tingle in my fingers has become almost painful again, and I know as sure as anything without quite understanding why, that if not then, never, that once this moment is gone, it can’t be recaptured, re-acted – although certainly rethought, re-created – and that a time will arrive sooner than we can possibly anticipate when the porch light being turned on at her house will not mean her father thinks she should come in but that he’s died, felled by a heart attack on his way out the door to retrieve the Sunday paper, and that his wife, her mother, will, in a fit of grief, move the family to be closer to her own in Colorado and we will lose contact long before it would have occurred naturally, and she will eventually marry and move to Hawaii, divorce and move to Seattle, where I will write her, asking how she is and will receive no answer, and I’ll wonder for the a long while whether she does, or ever has, herself wondered.

 

More flash reading:
Hitchhiker’s guide to flash stories online
Best flash memoir collections
more featured stories

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