Age: 15, Grade: 10
School Name: Horace Mann School, Bronx, NY
Educator: Sarah McIntyre
Category: Flash Fiction
Once, I asked you if we could kiss at the Met
But you told me that we shouldn’t because think about how romantic it would be, and we were too young to be romantic. I told you I thought it would be nice to kiss in front of the paintings that I would pay for us to see, but instead you told me you liked how my hair looked that day and I said thank you because I didn’t know what else to say. You took me to a diner, because that was cliché, and laughed, and asked me isn’t this what you wanted when you said romantic. And I told you that I liked diners even though it was late and I didn’t want maple syrup I just wanted to hold your hand at the Met.
You ordered soup and salad and I ordered a muffin and you told me that I should eat more. And I smiled because I didn’t know what to say again. We talked about the art on the walls of the diner so you wouldn’t feel bad about taking me there, but mostly you talked because I didn’t understand art like you did, and you were trying to teach me about it. I wondered why we hadn’t gone to the Met if you wanted to teach me. There was a blurred photo of a woman holding flowers and the dim light of the room cast her shadow onto your lap.
You grabbed my kneecap with your hand under the table but I don’t think you were reaching for my kneecap, and I smiled again even though I knew what I wanted to say that time. I wondered what the woman in the photograph was doing in the middle of the night at a diner, but you looked confused and I felt sorry for asking. Then we stopped talking about art and you picked at my muffin because I didn’t really want it anyway. I don’t even like muffins or diners, really. I wondered why you didn’t know that.
It was late and we were at a diner because it was the only place that wasn’t closed, and because it was cliché and, isn’t that what I had wanted. I hadn’t wanted it, not really. Diners smell like maple syrup stuck to my clothes, your fingers, the thighs of my jeans.
You told me I should stop wearing jeans because I am with you now and just because I have stopped trying to seduce you doesn’t mean I should stop trying to impress you. Jeans are not very attractive on me and you told me that and even though I knew it, it made my heart break. I wanted you to like me in jeans as much as you liked me with my clothes off. I wanted you to kiss me in front of a painting.