Authors: Wanitta Praks
Tags: #sliceoflife, #contemporaryromance, #teenromance, #teenfiction, #contemporaryfiction, #dramaromance, #romeojulietstoryline, #schoolromance, #starcrossedlovers, #teenfictioncontemporary, #tragedyromance
“Yeah? Like what?” Kai asks.
“Like squeezing out of this barricade of
people,” I joke.
“Yeah, but if I had a face like yours, I
wouldn’t be hiding it behind a mask, now would I? I would show my
face to every single girl here so I could get some lip
“Lip service my ass.” I laugh.
I scan the crowd, aware now that people are
still staring at me. Hell, what do I have to do to get away from
those stares? But then my eyes land on an exit point. The beverage
I walk over to the stall and buy a cup.
“Ugh, what the hell is this?” I cough out.
It tastes like orange juice and watered-down coke, which is foul as
“What did you put in this?” I ask the
“Orange juice,” the burly man states with
his arms across his chest, a stance I know too well.
“Right.” I nod. Going to the waste can, I
toss the whole thing out.
“Should have asked him for a beer instead,”
Kai suggests from behind.
I gaze at other people around us, holding
cans of beer and making small jokes.
Alcohol. That’s how we teenagers transition
from teenage life into adulthood.
I spin to face Kai. “Do you think he’s going
sell us beers with us wearing masks like these?” I question his
“Yeah, bro. You’re right on that one.”
We spot an isolated site and decide to chill
out there. The crowd is starting to get too noisy. Laying our
disguised masks to the side, we lie down and look at the black
night sky dotted with bright stars.
The faint music drifts to us on the cool
breeze. On nights like this, I feel at peace with the whole world.
I don’t have to think about why my parents divorced or why Mum
If I remember rightly, our family wasn’t
always like this. It only happened after the night Dillon, my older
half-brother, came home accompanied by a police officer. Mum
followed, and I’m not sure what happened next, but he ended up
doing community service for a whole month. Then Mum and Dad always
shouted at each other and a few months after that, they got
divorced. Dad chose me while Mum took Dillon.
I like to think the reason she didn’t choose
me is because of the hearing damage my singing causes. Plus, I
refuse to become a lawyer like her. I love music, so I intend to
pursue a career in music, which Dad fully supports.
Why am I even reminiscing about this shit
anyway? It’s not like I can turn back time. She hardly keeps in
contact with me, so it’s best if I just let things go. Take one
baby step at a time. That’s my motto.
I get up and spread out my arms.
“Wooo! Yeah!” I yell into the emptiness.
Drained of those negative thoughts, I sit back down, only to have
Kai give me a
you’ve gone completely nuts after drinking that
I only grin at him. “I feel like doing
“You’ve already done it.”
“I’m serious, man. Haven’t you ever thought
why people who dress up in costume can do ridiculous things?”
“Rob a bank.”
“Yeah, right, bro. We rob a bank.”
“No kidding.” I laugh.
“Seriously, bro, like what you wanna do?”
I only give him a nifty smile.
“I got it. Up to a challenge, bro?” He
I click my tongue. “You bet.”
“Then let’s play Truth or Dare,” he finally
I burst out laughing. “You know everything
about me, Kai, so let it be a dare.”
“Okay, bro. In the next thirty… no, ten
seconds, I dare you to pick a girl from this crowd and kiss
“What?” I laugh out again but this time in
What is in that foul head of his? Kissing and
“You’re kidding me, right?”
“Not kidding.” He shakes his head.
His lips almost burst from the forced grin
he’s trying to suppress. I want to bong him on the head, but I’m
afraid he’ll know I’m nervous.
I can do anything, I tell you. Give me any
challenge and I’ll swing through it with ease. Play guitar, sing on
stage with hundreds of fan girls hurling flowers at me, but for the
life of me, a challenge such as this, randomly picking a girl and
giving her a kiss… now that has me shaking in my boots.
I silently force a nervous swallow and
summon my courage. “Bring it on, man.”
We walk back into the crowd, putting our
masks into place. I shift my eyes, scanning for my potential target
as we approach the throng of adrenaline-filled teenagers again.
“Ready, bro?” I hear him asking me.
Stupid Kai. Of course I’m not ready. Not
only do I have to prepare myself physically, but I also have to
sort out my mental state too. I don’t want to kiss a girl with
Wait, how the hell am I supposed to know if
the girl’s just eaten garlic? Shit, I didn’t think this through at
all, did I? Is it too late to back out now?
“One of these girls is about to be the lucky
one who gets to kiss our very own lead singer of Apollo,” Kai
announces next to me. I clearly want to add,
Plus claim the
prize of being the first girl ever to kiss me,
but I don’t.
Otherwise, I’ll be the laughing stock of the whole school. Me, the
notable handsome guy in all of Woodville High, has never been
kissed? I’m sure I’ll be the next biggest gossip in the history of
“Ten!” Kai shouts out, surprising me.
Shit! The countdown already?
I panic. I’m not ready. My
heart is racing. I need to look for a girl and fast.
Look for a girl, Zac, any girl at all. No,
not just any girl. Look for your ideal girl, a girl you would enjoy
Long hair or short hair? Definitely long
hair. Wouldn’t want to pucker up to a girl that has the same
hairstyle as me.
Okay, tick that. Now color. Blond? Jesus,
no, too bitchy. Not that every single girl with blond hair would be
bitchy, but the latest one who tried to ask me out accused me of
being gay, since I preferred to hang out with Kai instead of
spending a whole weekend at her house.
Red? Too fiery. Mrs. Dale, my math teacher,
has red hair, and she got all mental the last time I handed in my
assignment late. That’s why I ended up with a D-minus for
Black hair, then? Yes, that should be fine.
Kai has black hair and he’s nice. Yes, an Asian girl would be
Now where’s a black-haired Asian girl when
you need one?
My eyes zoom in on a brunette.
And when she turns to face me, I breathe a sigh of relief. She
looks to be about the same age as me. Though not beautiful, she’s
not entirely ugly either, just passable, one people don’t give a
second glance, one who fits right in the middle of the normal
distribution graph. But that’s good enough for me.
I check her out a bit more. She seems lost,
like she’s uncomfortable in her surrounding. Her eyes shift around
the arena, like she’s searching for someone.
“One!” Kai slaps me on the shoulder. “Time’s
up, bro. Who’s the lucky girl?”
“That one.” I point to her.
“Average, bro,” he comments.
I don’t need his opinion. She’s fine by my
standard. Plus, what’s he expecting, asking me to pick from this
pool of crazy teens? Out sprouts Selena Gomez?
“Is she your ideal?” he questions.
“Come on, Kai, you gave me ten seconds.”
“Right!” he drawls out, then turns to me.
“Ready since yesterday.” I grin. “Just
Kai only nods and folds his arms, ready for
me to carry out my dare.
I make my way into the stampede of teens
stomping the ground, all the while watching and assessing her.
There are many attempts where she tries to catapult herself out of
the human cage, but being a small thing with an estimated height of
about Kai’s 1.65 meters, no matter what she does, she only falls
back into the pack.
I shake my head. For sure I know my task of
kissing her won’t be an easy one. I need to get her out of this
crowd. I come up with a plan.
“Found you.” I smile when I manage to break
through the barricade of human bodies. I grab her hand and drag her
away from the throng of people. I feel like I’m a knight in shining
amour, saving a damsel in distress like this.
Once free of people, I brace her against the
wall, near an empty part of the stadium. Putting my arm out to trap
her, I smile again and say, “Hey, Romeo finally meets Juliet.”
How the hell did I come up with that lame
The girl looks up at me as if mystified to
see a boy in a Phantom mask saving her from the jungle of people. I
suppose she wants to thank me. But before she can say a word, I
seal my lips to hers and…
Jesus Christ, it’s like a million stars
shining bright in my eyeballs, blinding me for a full second before
I can grasp the situation again. She tastes like wine, if that is
what wine tastes like. The flavor is like a mixture of grapes and
honey, leaving a subtle trace of sweetness on those soft lips. So
nice, a crispy sweet texture on my palate. Jesus, I’m addicted, and
“Ow,” I yell, recoiling from her. This girl,
she… she just bit me.
The Stolen Kiss
Suffocation swamps me. I want to breathe
proper air, but I can’t. Not when I’m stuck in this human barricade
in the middle of a concert filled with adrenaline-pumped teenagers
colliding against me on all sides.
There are so many people, bare arms flailing
and sweat flying. I feel self-conscious, pulling at my long sleeves
despite the heat wave and perspiration sticking to my skin, making
me even more nauseated.
Where has Mandy gone?
I search around for my friend. She wanted to
see Zac Elliot, the lead singer of Apollo—or her “future
boyfriend,” as she never failed to remind me—up close since he’d
finished singing his song, so she told me to stay put while she
moved near the stage. It was only supposed to be for a second, but
now she’s been missing for more than half an hour.
Why did I let her drag me to a place like
this? This isn’t my scene. I should have stayed home and continued
to unpack our luggage. My family only just arrived from Auckland a
couple days back. But Mandy insisted I come, and I can’t say no to
her. There’s no one to blame but myself.
I try my luck again and push forward, but
once again, I’m trampled on. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a hand
appears and holds on to mine, dragging me away from the crowd. It
feels like there’s no longer a wall of resistance, that broad back
breaking the barricade for me.
This guy in an opera mask, which I glimpse
from his profile, leads me to an isolated spot at the back of the
I want to thank him for allowing me to
breathe fresh air again. I look up, but the image that greets me is
of his partially obscured face getting closer and closer to
And then his lips move, “Hey. Romeo finally
What does he mean by this? Who’s Romeo?
Who’s Juliet? I’m confused.
I want to ask, but his face, it’s moving too
close to mine. I don’t like this. I should—
Too late. At that moment, I lose all
coherent thought, feeling only his lips caressing mine. It is so
beautiful, so nice and warm, like an autumn breeze. I feel myself
sinking into the ground and my back pressing into the wall. I lose
all strength in my limbs and cling to him for support. Out in the
distance, the faint echo of another band playing on stage reaches
my ears, but I don’t register any of this. All I know is I’m in
Who is this guy in the mask? And why is he
kissing me? Wait, kiss… He’s kissing
? And then it clicks.
I’m being kissed by a total stranger.
I open my eyes and see him staring at
I feel a sudden coldness attack me. Those
eyes, those emerald irises of his, they’re similar to the man who
killed my parents and brother. For a moment, I imagine myself being
kissed by that killer, and I panic. In my sudden distress, I
accidently bite him on the lip.
He gives a yelp and recoils like he’s been
stung by a bee.
I stand back up, my body supported by the
brick wall, nervously looking up at him, expecting him to attack me
or yell at me. Instead, he just stands there licking his bleeding
He smiles at me. “Mmmm, salty but sweet.”
Bracing his arm next to my head and leaning his face forward until
his lips are next to my ear, he whispers, “Romeo kissed Juliet, and
Juliet strikes back, marking her territory. I hope to see you
again, my Juliet.” He takes my hand, places a kiss on the back,
gives me another dashing grin, and disappears back into the
I’m shaken. No guy has ever kissed me
before. And I ruined it by biting him on the lip. Worse yet, I
didn’t even give him permission.
So does that mean he stole my first kiss?
But if I enjoyed it so much, would that be stealing? Does he have a
I trace my lips to stop myself from thinking
absurd thoughts. I focus on the feel of my lips and imagine the
soft contour of his pressing against mine.
I want to go home. I really want to go home
right now and look at my lips to see if they’re swollen. But there
are too many people. And I can’t find Mandy.
I wedge between sweaty bodies to try and
find an exit point on the other side.
“Ivy!” Mandy calls, appearing out of
nowhere, her eyes all big and wide and her face scolding. They’re
only magnified more behind her glasses, like a goldfish underwater.
“I saw you… You and hottie in the mask.” She speaks like she’s a
faltering machine that requires fixing. “O-M-G.” She puffs out,
then takes out her asthma inhaler and squeezes two puffs into her
mouth. Once she’s calmed down, she screams into my ears at the top
of her lungs. “Who was that gorgeous guy?”