Words by James GiddingsIllustration by Lauren Feather
Mum never let you eat sweets; she used to say, They’ll rot your teeth and your brain, and you could do with every cell. So you never ate any, not a single lemon drop or dust of sherbet; not even when your friends offered you their open paper bags sat invitingly in their hands and said, Go on, she’ll never know.
Now you sit in the house you grew up in, the house that is newly yours, that smells of your childhood. You open the bag of sweets on the table, pick out an oval one that glints glossy and purple in the light of the lamp; you inspect it like a jeweler valuing a diamond, to you, just as precious. You put the sweet in your mouth.
Suddenly you’re sixteen again and Alice is pouring red wine into a glass and telling you how her mum never checks. She asks you if you want any and you tell her that you can’t, that your mum wouldn’t approve. So she drinks until the glass is empty, the sides shining a light burgundy where the wine once was, her lips plump and full leaving a mark on the rim.
She moves closer now and kisses you, her tongue exploring your mouth, everything forgotten in that moment. You can taste the wine, sweet and fruity swirling down your throat, a spark in your brain come alive, electric.
Now back in the room, you laugh into your hands and fall sideways onto the grey boucle sofa, the walls spinning round like may pole dancers. The air is full of wine, your tongue dumbstruck and drunk off that first kiss.