I was in Form One, new to everything around me – having been a sheltered Catholic school kid now thrust into public boarding school life. Everything overawed me, especially the Drama Club. It was the only place where Form Ones and Form Fours spoke like equals; plus, it meant escaping mandatory cross-country runs every evening. Massive win!
As the conversations after practice tended to do, they drifted to the topic of girls. I remember being in awe each time the Form Threes told us about how girls would let them touch them during Drama Festivals and joint practices. The Form Fours would talk about how they’d actually had sex with girls on school grounds. To me, they were demi-gods. I was this shy kid who’d only ever gotten kisses, under protest, from my mother. This was otherworldly stuff to me.
So one practice the topic got round to girls again, and the older students were picking on the Form Ones. A few had actually had sex and said as much, and they instantly became part of the cool crowd. Eventually it got round to me, and I froze.
‘Now look at this Form One, he’s probably never even kissed a girl,’ the chairman Marangu teased.
Everyone burst out laughing until I shouted, ‘I have kissed a girl before.’
It happened on reflex, and then the lies kept tumbling out. By the end of it, I was apparently the coolest guy in my estate who had kissed all the pretty girls. It seemed to work, because everyone was high-fiving me and patting me on the back. Even Marangu, with his characteristic smirk.
The next week we had provincials, and we wrapped up our performance around 11 am. We were having a joint lunch with our sister school, with everyone having paired up except the Form Ones. While we were cracking jokes among ourselves, Marangu walked up to me and asked for my watch. Now, Drama Club or not, disobeying a senior was a major no-no. So I handed it over to him, and watched in horror as he walked over to Mueni and plopped it in her lap.
Mueni was a Form Three, captain of her school’s drama club, and one of the most beautiful girls I’d ever seen. I couldn’t even look her in the eye, much less talk to her. But my watch… I walked over extremely slowly and asked for my watch back in what must’ve been the tiniest voice ever.
‘Not so fast,’ she said. ‘Take me to our bus to get my sweater; then you can have it back.’
‘So. I hear you’re quite the kisser. Apparently your whole neighbourhood knows about you,’ Mueni chimed as we walked. I could feel every bead of sweat running down my face. Marangu had snitched on me. I gave a weak-hearted confirmation, and she chuckled. ‘Well, if you want your watch back, you’ll have to show me just how good you are,’ Mueni said, as she walked onto the bus.
My feet turned to concrete as I followed Mueni to where she had left her sweater. As she picked it up and turned, my body refused to move. She smiled and leaned in, and I literally just pressed my lips against hers.
She let out a short laugh, grabbed me by the back of the head and gave me the most intense kiss ever.
I didn’t even know tongues could do that. She took a step back, patted me on the face and said ‘now take that back to your neighbourhood and see how you do.’
She handed me back my watch as we walked back to the group.
She laughed so hard when I told her I’d never kissed a girl before. She was cool about it though, and promised not to out me to Marangu or my friends.
I couldn’t stop smiling the whole walk back, and when Mueni ruffled my hair and pushed me towards the Form Ones laughing, I laughed as well. As I walked by the seniors, I caught a glimpse of the trademark Marangu smirk. He winked at me and went back to charming those around him. In that moment, on that day, he was the coolest person in the world to me.
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