Kisses by Christopher Locke


At first people thought it was raining. Yet the sky held its one note of blue and all the clouds were vanquished. A park of rolling grass and spread blankets, shady oaks and rows of pink tulips snapped to attention. Bodies lazed in the sun’s opulence. Two old men thought very hard as they moved chess pieces across a table. A scoop of bedraggled college students whipped a Frisbee back and forth, their hair and t-shirts powdered in the fragrance of good weed. A nervous mother carefully fed Cheerios to her infant daughter; a monolith to tenderness everywhere.

The mother felt the first one, her right cheek suddenly damp with quick tension. She grimaced, swatting quickly at her face, thinking hornet, or worse. Then it was the other cheek, but breathier. Then the back of her neck. She spun around, stood up off the grass. She looked up, and that is when one landed directly on her mouth, full of desire.

The others, too, started to feel the assault. Hands, arms, exposed bellies, all caught in a swell of falling kisses. Everybody panicked. Some stood up and ran, covering their heads with the Sunday paper; the ink moistened and split. The college students laughed and one girl with yellow dreadlocks yelled smiling “What the hell was that?”

Ears were sweetly nibbled, and the kisses fell wet and invisible in a growing sigh of lust. The old men swung their hands back and forth like fighting off gnats, their faces both knotted in disapproval.

Many ran over to the cover of the bandstand in the park’s center. The kisses drummed the white wooden roof and fell wasted into the grass. Everyone had to raise their voice to be heard over the din. A short man wearing a Yankees shirt called 911. When asked what his emergency was, he blurted “They’re kissing everybody!” and the operator had to wait and think before she responded.

One woman in the parking lot became overwhelmed by the onslaught, wrapped her arms around herself and faced the sky. She remembered her first love, the day they biked to Mount Monadnock and how that night they set up a tent and made love for the very first time in the thick summer darkness. Her lips parted in a rush of pleasure and she closed her eyes.

A few stragglers who didn’t find shelter felt the kisses lessening: the deep, pronounced ones coming more infrequently, their damp shirts and hair finally feeling lighter. The people under the bandstand held out their hands and now felt only a smattering of dry pecks, the roof no longer a riot of passion. “I think it’s over,” said a teenager holding his skateboard to his chest. And bravely, they started a cautious unwinding back into the open air, hesitant, looking to the sky. Someone would let out a slight cry as one or two still found their mark, skittering off an arm or an uncovered head.

Then, just like that, nothing. The sky grew still. Birds could be heard again, as could the faraway traffic and city noises. The teenager smiled, relieved. The mother stopped clenching her baby and hoped they could all go home now. The college students high-fived and somebody laughed.

That’s when they heard it before they felt it. The people looked up, terrified. Everyone scattered as an ocean of sorrow collapsed on their heads, knocking them down, merciless, breaking the wood of the gazebo, flattening the tulips. They became awash in downpour of screams and blame — a confluence of rage and jealousy, of suspicion and petty meanness. Bodies spun off balance and collapsed into the bushes now muddied in a torrent of accusations and loneliness. The mother screamed pitifully as she was knocked to her knees, holding her baby who looked merely stunned.

And then came all the plates and upturned furniture, the crumpled love letters; the rows upon rows of shattered glass.




Christopher Locke’s flash has appeared or is forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, Barrelhouse, Noir Nation, Maudlin House, New Flash Fiction Review, Moonpark Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, and elsewhere. 25 TRUMBULLS ROAD, his first collection of flash speculative, won the 2018 Black River Chapbook Competition, (Black Lawrence Press), and will appear in February 2020.


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Art (cropped) Emiliano di Cavalcanti CC2.0