First Kiss by Chinenye Anyanwu was the winner of the 1000 words romance flash fiction writing contest, which was held in August 2022.

I hated parties.

To be fair, I haven’t been to a lot of them, but I still hated the ones I had been to.

As an unrepentant introvert and someone that generally hated people, parties represented everything I hated. And the loud music and the abundance of alcohol at the party I was currently at weren’t doing anything to improve my impression of parties.

A party I only agreed to go to because my best friend, Dera used her birthday as an excuse to guilt-trip me into attending even though I already bought her a diamond necklace that I spent my entire savings on.

As a weak act of defiance, I stuck to her side the entire night, holding a cup of something that smelled like a hospital while she interacted with other people. I wondered why she had even invited me to the party because I hated socialising and asides from her, all my other friends would rather die than go to a party.

“Chidera do you want to play spin the bottle?” One of her friends—Sandra yelled over the noise, pushing through a crowd of sweaty people that were dancing badly and making her way toward us.

“Sure,” Dera called back excitedly, before turning to me, her eyes pleading, “What do you say Toby?”

“No.” I deadpanned, pretending as if her doe eyes had no effect on me.

“Please?” She implored, pouting her lips and making it impossible for me to say no.

“So?” Sandra asked, finally reaching us. “Are we good to go?”

“I’m still trying to get Toby to agree,” Dera said, putting me in the spot. If it was hard for me to say no before, it was impossible now and she knew it because she knew I was scared of Sandra.

“Toby?” Sandra asked, trying to hide a grin, “Can you even play?” She posed the question to me.

To clarify things, I had quite the reputation amongst Dera’s friends because I wasn’t as crazy about teenaged antics as the rest of them were.

“Yes,” I said, giving into peer pressure because I wanted to wipe the grin off Sandra’s face.

“Have you ever kissed anybody before?” She asked again, stifling a smile. I looked to Dera for help but she seemed to be waiting for the answer to that question as well.

“Yes,” I said, lying this time.

About fifteen of us sat in a circle, watching the bottle spin for what would be the tenth time that night. All the people surrounding me smelled like alcohol and it was taking everything in me not to get up and call it a night, especially since about four people had kissed Dera and I was tired of pretending that it wasn’t getting to me.

It’s not like I even wanted to kiss her, I just didn’t like the fact that boys that smelled of alcohol were sticking their tongues down her throat while other boys that smelled of alcohol cheered on.

I was so lost in my thought that I didn’t even realise that the bottle had stopped spinning and was now pointing at me.

“Hot.” One of the smelly guys said, earning cheers from the others while I wracked my brain, trying to remember who it was that had spun the bottle.

“Well, I can’t wait to find out what kind of kisser you are,” A familiar voice said through the noise and my eyes almost popped out of my head as Sandra made her way towards me from where she sat.

My heart rate spiked up and my palms started sweating almost immediately. When I agreed to play, I only did it to humour Dera. I didn’t think that I would actually have to kiss someone.

By the time Sandra reached me, I had gone into full-blown panic mode and I searched frantically for something to calm me down. My eyes instinctively found Dera’s and I saw that she too had a panicked look on her face. Holding her gaze, I watched her shake her head but the movement was so slight, that I wondered if I imagined it. However, that was all I needed to give me the courage to do what I wanted to do next.

“I’ll pay,” I said, my voice trembling a little because of the rush of emotions. There were a few murmurs of disappointment but it wasn’t as if I had broken the rules. After all, one guy had also opted to pay instead of kissing the other guy the bottle had pointed to during his turn.

I avoided Sandra’s death glare as she returned to her seat, instead focusing my gaze on everything in the room but her. After paying the one-thousand-naira penalty fee, I took the bottle and spun it because as per the rules, whoever the bottle previously pointed to had to spin it next.

As the bottle spun in a circle, I shut my eyes and crossed my fingers dreading having to pay another penalty fee. At the silence that descended upon the room, I opened my eyes to see that the bottle was pointing to Dera.

“You aren’t allowed to pay this time,” Someone called out eliciting murmurs of agreement from the others.

My heart rate spiked once more, but a different kind as I contemplated my next move. I didn’t even have time to decide on what I was going to do before Dera started making her way towards me, as if she had been anticipating the bottle stopping at her.

In a flash of movements, she reached where I sat and straddled my legs, as though she were trapping me to stop me from escaping.

“I’m not going to let you get kicked out of the game.” She said softly before cupping my face with both her arms and planting her lips on mine. The sound of the boys cheering was immediately drowned out by the sound of my heart pounding a tattoo as her lips moved against mine.

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