The Last Kiss Before She Says Goodbye

The Last Kiss by J. Kuzmier --  photo by John B. at

A crowd gathers by the bus terminal this particular day. It’s a good day to leave town. The sun kisses its brilliance onto the scene, yawning its warmth into anyone who is graced by its touch. It’s accompanied by a breeze that sings in the air, occasionally blowing louder and harder when it has something to emphasize. This elemental couple makes it easy to slow down, to throw away the indoor plans of the day and seek pleasure in the outdoors. It’s easy to imagine traveling the open road, looking for unknown paths to travel.

Like a conspirator in this scheme, the bus shows up to load up all the wanderers and the nomads to ferry them away. The bus also has another purpose, for this town is full of temporary dwellers who call another place home. The bus serves to transport them back to their place of grounding, so far away from here. Everyone here has their reasons for leaving this place. So many stories to tell, they blend together in the blur of people herding towards the bus. Hard to tell any of them apart in all of this. All, that is, except for this one couple.

They make themselves the exception, standing apart from the crowd. They make themselves the exception by not moving towards the bus, like everyone else is doing. They are so different from the rest of them, you might think they have nothing at all in common with the travelers. But by their feet, you see bags and suitcases. Someone, if not both of them, is traveling somewhere. Yet they seem to not see the bus, as though their travels are taking them in another direction than those around them.

They seem to stand apart from the others, with the man embracing the woman. No one else here is doing that, not anyone. So he says something unique, just by this embrace alone. The woman says even more by hesitating before she returns his gesture. Her arms remain at her sides for just a second while he holds her, before she hugs him too. This pause seems to compel the man to hold her tighter, wrapping his arms around her so that they fold upon each other. He does not want to let her go, it appears. She doesn’t push away from this overture. But she does nothing to reciprocate his sentiment. She holds him, loosely. Her hands hold him by leaning against his back, like he is an armrest.

To see both of their expressions, you would have to circle around both of them, like you are some kind of predator sizing up prey innocent of its fate. Perhaps it is good that they are humans, in this metaphor of predator and prey. They seem to be seriously unaware of what is going on around them, which would be bad news for them if they really were prey in the wild. Or maybe, as humans are so prone to do, they just give the impression that they are oblivious. Maybe they are so aware of the reality of this moment, that they bury its implication. Humans are like that. They say much with their faces. They sometimes say nothing at all. Sometimes, their silence says everything.

This is the way the man and the woman seem to be. Neither is crying. Neither is laughing. He holds her with little movement, while she shifts her position in his embrace, not quite pulling away but not standing still. If you watch long enough, you can see their differences in appearances. He’s the flannel and denim type, with a goatee and short cropped hair. She’s a little shorter than he is. She wears a long dark blue skirt. When the wind picks up, as it does occasionally, it ruffles through the material as though it’s a naughty boy trying to sneak a peek. She wears a sleeveless white shirt, and sandals. Circle them enough, and it appears there’s a ten year age difference in the two, the man being the older. There is a slight cragginess in his eyes that is beginning to take root in his face. The woman seems the age of the other departees, in her early or mid-twenties. There is a line forming by the bus that they both ignore. Instead, he brings his mouth to hers.

His lips part, as though he is drinking her. His thirst seems to shrink her, does something to still her. She takes her hands, places them on his chest. It is hard to know if she is pledging her heart to his, or if she is pushing away from him, like someone pushing away from a table when they have had enough to eat or drink. Perhaps, it is a little of both, but she says nothing to verify any of this. She returns his kiss, but through lips that barely move. Her kisses are small puckers, as though she is bestowing butterfly kisses on a baby’s head. He responds to this by leaning more deeply into her. In response, she leans backwards like a branch bending in the wind, allowing herself to be the reservoir for him to cast his need on her.

The line boarding the bus is getting smaller. Inching to its end, the nomads and the travelers disappear inside. The driver is busy right now, loading the assorted bags into the baggage compartment on the side of the bus. He stops midway, looking at the couple, before returning to his task. Somehow, the woman has noticed this. She breaks the kiss, leans forward into her lover, tilting her head in the direction of the bus. The man slides his hands downwards over her arms, stopping at her hands. She pulls them away.

The line to the bus is completely gone now. The man grabs the bulk of the suitcases by the woman’s feet, while she slings one bag each over her arms and they head for the bus. The driver loads the bags, and disappears for the driver’s seat. Inside, he’s busy taking notes, and the engine is running. The man and the woman are the only two left standing by the side of the bus. Everything is ready to go now.

This time, the woman goes to the man, wrapping her arms around his neck. This time, it is she who is thirsty. This time, it is his hands that push at her chest. It is a strange dance. Their appetites and desires seem out of sync with one another, as the wind blows through again, wrapping her skirt around his legs. The bus is waiting, and it will be time for everything to stop. The man seems to sense this, and pulls away. But she kisses him again, this time, like a lover. It is the last kiss before she says goodbye. This time, it lingers for a second of forever before he steps away from her again.

The bus needs to leave, and they need to say goodbye. She walks away from him, towards the bus. Stepping into the bus, she turns around to see him once more. But he is already walking away, and the bus door closes.

4 Responses to “The Last Kiss Before She Says Goodbye”

  1. Boyd Lemon says:

    Enjoyed the story very much, Jessica. I loved the phrase, “…a second of forever.” I would have ended the story with the penultimate paragraph–just my opinion.

    Boyd Lemon-Author of “Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages,” a memoir about the author’s journey to understand his role in the destruction of his three marriages. Information, excerpts and reviews,

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