“Kiss, kiss, kiss,” chanted the group, egging me on after I had admitted to liking him or something of that sort. “Kiss, kiss, kiss!”
I was not the kind of girl to back off a dare, so I planted a peck on his cheek—as smooth and firm as a baby’s against my lips. Slight plumage rode above his mouth. He accepted my gesture with a deep blush and shut eyes. We were thirteen-years-old.
They came from Mevo Beitar, a village near Jerusalem. The weekend activity was organised by the Beitar Youth Movement, which I had joined together with a few other misfits; we didn’t care much for the snobbish Scouts. About a dozen of us in total spent the night in the large rectangular room of our town’s branch. Typical teens, spent would well describe that night; there wasn’t much sleeping involved. Can’t remember how the merriment began, but it culminated with me kissing one of the out-of-town boys.
The following day, we hung out in a eucalyptus grove with our counsellors. I joined my crush and a couple of his friends for an exploration, and we ventured away from the others. Ambling through the woods, he was showing off his new pocketknife, marking the trees we had passed with its sharp blade. I glanced at his hand, wondering what it’d feel like sliding mine in his. It was a sunny day, and a gentle wind rustled the leaves above. The air was sweet, and I was happy in the company of these three adventurous boys.
Engrossed in play we chanced upon a small group of older boys that seemed to have popped out of nowhere. Their tall leader sported dark fuzz under a prominent nose. His eyes were locked on my friend’s hand-holding knife. Quick as lightning, a premonition flashed in my mind: my love’s palm cut diagonally, the incision turning into a crimson-dripping streak. I chased away the image.
“I want it,” the tall guy commanded, pointing to the knife.
From the corner of my eye I could see my new pals turning pale. It’s my fault, I thought; I should have paid more attention. I knew we’re nearing a bad neighbourhood. I took a step forward, facing the strangers at eye level. At that age I was nearly my full height of five foot six, and I knew most toughies would think twice before hurting a girl.
“Are these your little brothers?” one of them asked with a smirk.
“Yes!” I replied to the gang’s laughter, the tension around us releasing like air out of a popped balloon. I was awash with a warm wave of victory; my distraction attempt proved successful!
As the older boys turned to leave, their leader quickly snatched the knife from its owner, leaving my friend’s inner hand cut diagonally. Oozing red.