Screen Kisses – On the Nightbus – 18

The girls are drunk, at that best stage of drunkeness when everything is shiny, anything is possible and when you know that tonight will be inarguably fabulous.

They are at that point of drunkeness when you look at your friends and feel cocooned in warmth and love, when you catch sight of your reflection in a shop window or a pub mirror and realise that you look hot.

They are drunk enough to laugh at non jokes but still sober enough to have conversations, deep, intense talk, with lots of eye contact, hand pats and reassurance of their own rightness on the very planet.

Later, it will get ugly. Alcohol will act like a truth drug, things will be said that are best left unsaid.
At least one of them will be sick, another will have almost sex with a stranger in a not private enough space and somebody will be left behind.

But for now, it’s all golden and they are the golden girls.

They are walking four abreast now, arms linked, all fake tan and artistically tousled hair and perfect pouting lip glossed lips and they are singing

“Girls just wanna have fun

The evening is still warm, for once their tiny, tight hot pants, super high wedges and micro t-shirts are perfect outfits, no goose bumps, mottled skin, chattering teeth to spoil the illusion.

They are at that perfect tipping point, enough alcohol to fill them with a physical hyper awareness, bodies young, legs endless, covering the ground in perfect unison, still sober enough to move with cat walk poise, they are tonight at least, finalists in britains next top model.

And so, the night bus, away from the street of bars, with drinkers spilling out into the unexpected warmth of a city heat wave and onto the clubs and the dancing and the downward trajectory of unwise vodka shots and jagerbombs.

When the bus comes they are the only passengers who get on and the driver turns off the engine, some enforced break and the girls have time to pile on, check out the other passengers, possible talent, potential rivals.

Girl 1 – 2 A levels, but not going to university, not her, is rummaging in her purse for the fare, comes up 10 p short and smiles oh, so sweetly and the driver smiles, cannot help but smile when faced with such self belief and such a tiny t-shirt and waves her on and from no-where or from a tiny little devil inside, she leans forward and carefully, precisely kisses the scratched screen that divides the driver from the real world, plants a ruby red, juicy fruit flavoured kiss where his lips could be.

And then she laughs, with the joy of simply being herself and leans forward again and this time the kisses are slighly smudged, the colour a little blurred, just brushing his cheeks, if only there wasn’t a plastic barrier between them.

He cannot help himself, knows he shouldn’t, knows that this will be captured on CCTV, knows that he will called in, told off, but and the shrug is internal, he turns, stops looking at the road, sat on this stationary bus and presses his face against the screen and this time, her kisses are buttefly light, lips only just touching the duarble, vandal proof plastic and he leans his face into them, can almost feel them on his skin.

There is a pause and she smiles and turns to her friends and this is becoming magical, they all move forward and suddenly there are lips and smiles and smudges of 4 different coloured lip sticks making perfect lip stick kisses and his face is turning this way and the other, trying to catch each one.

He feels as if he bathing in warm sunshine and wants to close his eyes, but is fearful that he may miss a kiss, so instead he lets his body writhe in some thing he cannot describe.

And then, his internal clock pings in and he knows that the ten minutes break is up and inside he is kicking himself, but, but, he turns away and switches on the engine and the girls, laughing, all too aware that they have paid almost no fares for this journey, turn and walk down the bus aisle, hugging eachother with glee and mischief.

The driver drives the bus and the smile last the whole of his shift and every now and then he lets his left hand leave the steering wheel and trace the shapes of the lipstick kisses on the safety screen.

His fingers are gentle, tentative and he wonders how long it will be before he will have to clean the plastic, wipe all the kisses away.





About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

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