The Ancient Kiss

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Okay so my two words in our short story exercise were ancient and (yuck, ptooie…ahem—sorry) kiss. Here goes:

I was pretty much the only one in the hall on the last day of school—the last day of fifth grade. Next year, we would be in middle school. The big kids.  And I would be one of them. I pulled the magnet that said Property of Mason Jones from the top of the locker. Next year, for the first time in forever, this locker would belong to someone else.

Now, I’m not a real emotional person. Take those movies…where somebody’s dog died and everybody cried. I didn’t cry. Wasn’t my dog. But here I was getting a little sniffly as I dug through my locker tossing stuff into my dad’s army duffle bag brought just for the occasion.

Yeah, it would take more than just a year’s worth of stuff to get to me. And more than just my last day at Gomer Jones Elementary at that.

But this was something more.

My locker was in the corner of the blue hallway, and with my dad’s cousin’s best friend being the janitor, he not only kept it off limits to everyone else, meaning I’d had it since first grade. But more than that, he let me keep my stuff in it all year. I’d never cleaned it out.

While next year’s locker would have a real lock, with a real combination, this wasn’t easy sticking memories from my whole life into a canvas duffle bag.

I heard her before I saw her. “I’ve changed my mind,” she said. “I’m not taking your name when we get married.”

I only thought I was alone. Kinzie Papadopoulos leaned her bony shoulder against the locker next to mine and stared through her thick-rimmed glasses.  “You’re slow. You know that right? You may as well be a no-legged Testudinata. Know what that is?”

I sighed. “Kinzie is to annoying as water is to wet.”

“Cute. But no. What you just said was an analogy. What I used was a metaphor, and that’s not even what I was talking about.”

I tossed a pack of papers and notebooks from this year in my bag. “What’s a metaphor?”

“For making you look dumb, Testudinata. Now when are you going to ask me out? Moving on from Gomer Jones, I can’t promise I’m going to wait on you forever.”

I shook my head and pitched a crumpled pack of fourth grade papers and a sock I’d been looking for in the bag. You should know some things about Kinzie. Other than being a blister that wouldn’t pop, she liked me. Since first grade. And no matter how many times I tried to let her down nicely, she would have none of it.

In second grade, she sent me a note that said: DO YOU LIKE ME? CHECK YES.

In fourth grade, she showed up on my porch in a dress and told my mom I’d asked her to the school dance. Mom felt sorry for her. Made me put on a suit. She wouldn’t believe me when I told her there was no dance. And when she found out I was right? Kinzie cried. Mom took her to get ice cream. I had to go. And Mom made me dance with her right there in the middle of Thirty-Three Flavors! I always suspected mom would’ve rather had a daughter.

“What do you want Kinzie?”

“I brought you a present.” She dug in her pocket, unfolded a piece of paper, and slapped it flat against the locker next to mine.

She wasn’t going to let it go until I looked. The headline read: An Ancient Kiss? It showed two skeletons facing each other, their heads touching. What looked like an archaeologist knelt nearby.

“That,”—she tapped the picture with her free hand—“that is what you call true love. Two lovers together in an eternal lip lock. The last thing both of them ever did.” She sighed.

I shrugged. “I guess. If you like kissing your mummy.” I tossed a brown paper pilgrim hat from third grade in my bag

She punched my arm. Something else I should tell you about Kinzie. She has a purple belt in karate. As belts go, I’m not sure how close that is to a black one. As for bruises, I can promise—it’s very close.

‘This is love,” she said, pulling the paper down and staring dreamily at it. “A kiss that lasts forever.”

“Uh-huh.” I smiled as I pulled out a ribbon from our second grade Little Olympics. Third place in the forty-yard dash. I was so proud. Now days, I play on the offensive line. Coach says I move like pond water. I’m not that slow. Maybe more like  a Testudinata. Whatever that is.

“Yep,” she said. “You’re going to regret not punching your ticket with me early. You just wait. I’m going to blossom into something to behold. You ever hear of Aphrodite? Goddess of love. Bet she looked like me when she was young. She was Greek too by the way.”

So was Medusa, I thought. But I didn’t say it. I told you Kinzie knew karate. I didn’t tell you her temper was a stick of dynamite with a short fuse. I think that’s a metaphor, by the way. Anyhow, I kept my mouth shut. No need to set her off, and, besides, Kinzie really wasn’t bad looking. I just liked football more. They let me put on pads before they hit me.

She sighed, folded her arms, and leaned her back completely against the metal lockers. I could tell she was staring at me. My locker was almost completely empty. Just a few wads of paper, a waaayyy overdue library picture book on turtles, and something else. A Valentine card from first grade. From Kinzi. And it still had the piece of candy attached to it.

There are things you do in life that you know you’re going to regret. You just know it, but you do it anyway because the moment—that single moment in time is just too, too perfect to pass up.

I leaned close, reaching past her with my right arm. Her eyes widened and almost…almost made me think twice about what I was going to do.


She swallowed. “Yes?”

“I need to give you something.”


“Close your eyes.”


“Hold out your hand.”

“Umm, all right.”

I leaned closer, so close I could smell her strawberry scented hair. “Kinzie?”

“Yes, Mason?”

I plucked the piece of chocolate from the locker and plopped it in her hand.

“Here’s your ancient kiss.”

The perfect moment over, I dropped the bag and took off running.

Something else you should know about Kinzie. She’s very, very fast.


And there it is. Now I know this wasn’t an archeological story like you might think—just a kid digging through years worth of layers in his locker, but I wanted to show that, as a writer, you can really make a story be about anything you want. I know sometimes I come up with a concept and think that it’s not worth pursuing because I think every writer would write the same story. But that’s not true. The thing that makes a story unique is you. Your voice. Your take on the situation. So don’t be afraid to pursue an idea. You may be surprised at the uniqueness of the outcome.

For a book similar to the story above, you cannot go wrong with Gary D. Schmidt’s Newbery winning The Wednesday Wars. If you haven’t read it, you need to. A great exercise in learning how to write witty dialogue, dynamic and intriguing characters, and an exceptional story.


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