It wasn't my first kiss but it sure was my best kiss. I felt the warmth passing through my body long after Catherine left that day and yet - as wonderful as it was - we both knew that there really was no future for us. Her little speech on the couch made it clear that Catherine was resigned to her situation. She didn't have an escape like John and that left her with no choice but to honor her parents and follow their rules living under their roof.
She was sixteen years old - what was she supposed to do? She went to Catholic School, I went to public school. Her parents wouldn't let her date - or communicate with boys. She was a member of a very religious and conservative family under the control of very strict parents. I came from a politically liberal and religiously lacking family who taught me independence and self-reliance (even if they were hard-asses when it came to my head injury).
Attempting a sneaky secretive romance would certainly lead to disaster. Catherine's parents kept too many tabs for her to get away with deceit for long - plus Hillsboro was a small enough town that we would be seen and people would talk. Not that any of my family or friends would care - but I knew Mr. Miller would go completely nuts if he found out Catherine was lying and going behind his back. Who knows what he'd do to me!?
I sat on the porch as usual the next few days. I saw Catherine pass by a few times - she waved but she didn't ride up the driveway or knock on the screen door. Of course I couldn't contact her so I was left with the hope that either she'd stop by or I'd bump into her around town like that time at Red's Tastee Freeze.
My mother was willing to let up on some of my house restrictions so I was at least leaving the yard more often now but I knew there was no reason for me to stop by the Miller house without raising suspicion. I didn't get the impression John was coming back for a visit anytime soon.
Maybe the first (last) kiss was the best way to end it - a sweet, memorable, meaningful, innocent, purposeful, memorable kiss. I would always be Catherine's first kiss and I would always remember how special that honor made me feel.
One morning a few days later, I took a late shower. Because I had the house to myself, modesty was not an issue so after drying myself off in the bathroom I exited stark naked to head for my room. I was startled when I heard a scream and there - standing in front of me in the shadows of the hall - was Catherine, staring wide eyed with her hand over her mouth at all my "glory".
It happened so quickly and unexpectedly that I didn't even process a reaction. She was wearing some sort of long blue smock that ended at her ankles, making her look like a missionary.
I could have covered myself with my hands. I could have made a dive back to the bathroom or bolted for my room but instead I just stood there looking at Catherine looking at me.
Don't ask me why she didn't dash screaming from the house in horrified humiliation. Don't ask me why a conservative religious innocent sixteen year old girl would stand there in a perpetual freeze frame staring at my manhood with a mixture of intrigue, fascination, embarrassment and shock on her face. I don't know why she didn't freak or even pass out.
"What are you doing here?" I asked, making no effort to cover myself up. I figured what was the point now? Besides, I kind of liked the way she was looking at me.
"I knocked," she stammered. "Nobody answered."
"I was in the shower."
"Why are you here?"
"I came to say goodbye," she said sadly.
"Where's your mom this time?"
"Uh...um...oh, they went to Aunt Marion's."
"And you got out of it how?" I smiled.
"Good behavior," she smirked and I laughed at the ironic statement given the present situation.
"I should probably get dressed," I realized.
"You don't have to," Catherine blurted out and then she blushed even though she had yet to take her eyes off of me.
"This really isn't something we should be doing, Catherine," I said knowingly.
"I'm tired of people telling me what I should and shouldn't be doing," Catherine said with obvious annoyance and even anger in her voice.
"Easy for you to say," I pointed out. "You're not the one who's naked."
She nodded in agreement. "This is true," she said. Then, slowly, she hiked up her dress, reached underneath and tugged and I saw her underwear drop to the floor by her feet underneath her dress.
"Catherine," I said awkwardly. A moment later her bra was down there too and even though she still had her dress on I felt myself become hard.
"I'm not saying we should have sex, Randy," she said, her eyes getting wider when she saw how I had reacted to her movements. "Of course we shouldn't! We can't. We won't. I don't want to. I'm not ready." She sucked in her breath. "I'm just saying for once I'd like to break all the rules, ignore the expectations, and do something really taboo just to be able to escape from it all for a moment."
She reached up and slipped her dress off her shoulders and it slowly fell to the floor to reveal her in all her beauty.
I had never seen a girl naked before and now it was my turn to gawk at her milky white breasts and small batch of blonde pubic hair between her legs.
"You definitely broke the rules," I deadpanned before I finally walked into my bedroom.
Catherine followed and she drifted to the window, staring out across my back yard with her back to me and I stood admiring her backside beauty.
"My parents are such hypocrites," she said sorrowfully.
"What do you mean?" I was surprised by the angry tone in her voice.
"My father is now some holier-than-thou Born Again Self Righteous Christian who knows how God wants me to act and behave," she complained. "But up to the time he met my mother he was a uncouth immoral party hound, fornicating his way through life."
"Geez, Catherine," I said, taken aback.
"It's true," she said strongly. "He wasn't even married to John's mother so what does that say?"
"I don't know," I admitted.
"Then God supposedly puts my mother in my father's life and all of a sudden he discovers the meaning of life, dumps a "sinful" woman as he put it and converts and marries my mother and brings four more children into the world 'the right way' as he says, raising us 'the right way'. " She glanced over her shoulder. "Well, what about poor John?" She wanted to know. "Is he a sin? Was he not raised the right way because his mother is a sinful person? Sometimes I think he's better off having escaped from my parents' self-righteousness."
"So you got naked for me out of some sense of revenge?" I asked, slightly amused.
"Just to escape, even for a minute," she confessed. She turned and faced me. "They'll never know but you and I will always have this tempted little secret between us and I'll always know that I did something outrageously scandalous and that I'm my own person and not my parents' robot."
"I'm glad I could be your temporary escape," I grinned.
"Could you imagine the melt down they'd have if they knew we were standing naked together in your bedroom?" She asked.
"They'd send you off to a real convent," I agreed.
"Now you should get dressed," Catherine told me.
I nodded and pulled some clothes out of my dresser and quickly dressed, feeling awkward as Catherine stood there in the nude watching me. When I was finished, she stepped up to me and gave me a hug.
"I didn't want to hug you when you were naked," she said with humility. She reached up and gave me a kiss. "Goodbye, Randy," she whispered, her voice breaking.
"Goodbye, Catherine," I said quietly. "I'll never forget you."
"My temporary escape," she smiled bravely as she broke from me and headed for the door.
I followed and stood in the doorway watching while she dressed. When she was done, Catherine smiled at me, waved sheepishly and then headed for the stairs. I stepped to the bannister and watched her slowly walk down the stairs. She stopped at the landing, looked up at me and I could see her eyes glistening with tears. I gave her an encouraging smile. She nodded and then disappeared from my view. I heard the screen door squeak and I knew she was gone, back to her life of rules and obedience – but for a brief moment we had both been set free in our own temporary escapes.