Her kiss is lingering still. Not the one everyone saw, the one that might have come out of a movie shoot in some leopardskinned-sofa seedy backlot. Not that one. I could take a thousand of those and not complain, give back all day for the show, for posterity. For the fifty-dollar bet that's now burning a hole in the cotton of my bra, I'd do it again, and forget it again.
No, the kiss that's burned onto my lips is the one that came between "Goodnight" and "I'll see you tomorrow," in a trailer-trash lot on the end of town where we white kids with no futures come to bury our lives. It's the one she left me when nobody was looking, in the dark dirt roads between our white steel cages, somewhere after the arc-sodium streetlights cut out. It's there, sweet and short and I can still feel the touch of her lips against mine as I face the trinity of concrete stairs that form my chipped ascent into hell.
And I know tonight's going to be the same, sure as counting the empties on our gravel lawn, sure as hearing the radio at war with the ten-inch TV, country twang and preacher stare, sure as the shadow blocking out a beating in the yellow rectangle of light. I'm late coming home, and I don't have a good excuse. School was out a half-dozen hours ago, and if my homework's done, he can't read it to know. It's the same as every night.
Only tonight, I've got fifty dollars hidden where he won't see it, and I've got a kiss to keep me going, something he can't beat out of me or knock off my lips. And I'll see her tomorrow, and I'll see her again, and one of these days things will change.
You just wait.