She stopped their kissing but didn’t step away. She said it was different.

They stood pressed together in an alley between crummy apartment buildings, the sky sick with rosy city-darkness. It was late and damp and they were parting, her staying, him going. Happy others, their age, smoked cigarettes and pot on back staircases and porches, laughing and leering, clinking bottles, their voices stumbling from on high into echoes.

The smell of old brick and day-baked garbage.

So far they’d been straightforward, neither shy in saying what they liked and what they didn’t. Last month when they met they’d both cheated to be together.

“Different how?” he said, tugging at her hips.

She didn’t know and she didn’t move. “Slower?”

He stood straighter, out of his slouch. He kissed her faster.

Her body got bored. His got caged and lazy. Their bodies were and weren’t the ways they felt.

He kissed her harder.

He kissed her softer.

“Not that,” she said, “more something.”

He kissed her with more something.

A bottle shattered nowhere near them. “No,” she said.

He kissed her with more no.

He kissed her with more yes.

“Maybe?” he said.

She was angry and then she wasn’t. So was he.

He kissed her with kisses that were arguments, and she kissed him back or didn’t with kisses that were questions, and his arguments became questions, her questions arguments.

Between this their hands happened everywhere, like mistakes.

Photo by bertknot

Joseph Scapellato

JOSEPH SCAPELLATO was born in the suburbs of Chicago and earned his MFA in Fiction at New Mexico State University. His work appears in Kenyon Review Online, Third Coast, Unsaid, Harper Perennial’s anthology Forty Stories, and other places.