And then it happened. The whole room filled up.
The sound of air rushed into my ears and my surroundings, impossibly, seemed to expand while at the same time the items inside the room grew closer and clearer to me. There was a sharp pain at the base of my neck where Linklyn had opened me. Everything tingled. I was an exposed nerve, alive, really alive, for the first time.
“How do you feel?” he asked.
“Like a freshly-peeled orange.”
Cheza came out of the bathroom, ran over to me and grabbed my arms.
“Do you see now? Do you see what it’s like?”
“Careful!” Linklyn said, quickly pulling his hands away from my neck. “I’m stitching him.”
“Oh yeah, sorry Link, go ahead and zip him up.” The young man shook his head and went back to work. Cheza took my hands in hers and rubbed our fingertips together. “I’ve wanted to do something these past few weeks but I needed to make sure you’d feel it the way I do.” She tilted her head and leaned into me. Our lips met, but she pressed so hard that our front teeth bumped. I couldn’t tell you why but it was quite possibly the grossest millisecond of my life. She must have felt the same because she immediately pulled away.
“That’s not right,” she said. Then she took a huge breath and leaned in again, more slowly this time. She closed her eyes (I was watching) and it was as if her full lips were reaching out for mine, towing me in with the tractor beam of her love. We were like two ships in outer space trying to dock on each other. What were we doing? The calculations hadn’t been done. It couldn’t possibly work.
Our lips met . . . again . . . softly.
We rubbed our slick, velvet skin together to what purpose I had no earthly clue other than it felt really, really good. We separated.
“That’s a kiss,” she said.
Yes, it most certainly was.
Our magical moment was poisoned only by the presence of Linklyn, who was mock-barfing over my shoulder “Blech! I forgot how awkward you studs are when you get your new juice. It sounds like a barnyard in here.”
Cheza smacked him in the arm. Linklyn just smiled and wheeled his tray over to the sink. I think I was still in a state of shock. “Why would anyone want to take this feeling away?” I asked them. Cheza looked exceedingly proud of herself.
“It’s real simple.” Linklyn started the water and began to clean his tools. “They figure no feeling means no kissing, and no kissing means no sex, and no sex means… ” He waved a finger toward my pelvis. “No sex means no Venus sickness, no teeny bumps, and no melodramas—absolutely no distractions of any kind from your studies. Everything kiddies a century ago got away with are off limits to you. Isn’t it progressive that we get to pay for our ancestors’ mistakes?” He dried off his lightscalp with a towel. “Like I said, it’s real simple. I didn’t say it was real fair.”
Cheza scoffed. “Kuffing fulls don’t think we can handle it.”
Linklyn laughed. “I hate to sound like one of your sensors,” he said, “but you can’t handle it. You’re only teenies, you’re not supposed to be able to.” Cheza and I could only stare at him.
“What a punky Judas you are,” she said.
“Oh, stop it. Whether you realize it or not I’m just stating the obvious. The fact that neither of you can control your urges isn’t the problem. The problem is that most every full I know can’t control theirs either—the quicker you’re allowed to figure that out and deal with it, the better off this whole damn society will be.” His face went all radish and his voice got loud. “Senses shouldn’t be some carrot to dangle out in front of our children.”
“Now you’re preaching a religion I can believe in,” Cheza said, pounding her fist against the table.
The man suddenly composed himself and gave a quick smirk. “But if they didn’t hold you studs down I’d be scrounging my way through med school right now, so I guess I’m a hypocrite.” He dried his hands, unbolted the door, and held it open for us. “Now I’m sure you’re both excited to hit the town and if I don’t get nabbed for juicing I could probably do time just for watching you two fumble around with each other. So go do what ever feels good to you, but do it somewhere else. You’re welcome.”
Cheza and I stepped into the alley, flying high in a new world of pungent, pulsing miracles. Cheza closed her hand over mine and we crept out into the streetway. I pressed my feet against the hard sidewalk and we set off. Her fingers were painfully tight around mine, but I didn’t care—it was good to feel anything so strongly.