Friday Reads: If I Kiss That Girl by Heather Fowler

Friday ReadsWelcome to our new column “Friday Reads,” featuring stories of the archives of jmww. Kick back, grab a comfy chair, and start your weekend off with beautiful, provocative, startling, unforgettable reads!



Our first read, which appeared in the Summer 2009 issue of jmww, comes from Heather Fowler, whose latest novel, Beautiful Ape Girl Baby, was published in June by Pink Narcissus Press.

If I Kiss That Girl
by Heather Fowler

Because she is waiting, seated on my hotel bed, making comments about my sonic white toothbrush being a vibrator, telling me she’s bi, gorgeous with her poly-amorous discussion and long brown curling hair, with her fawn-like face and delicate breasts, with her enjoyment of having both nipples touched, she says, stroked, gently, as her clit is sucked-if I kiss this girl, my tongue will move in her mouth, I will absorb her with my lemon drop martini breath hovering like vapor on her pink tongue gliding over mine as I inhale her exhaled past heartbreaks of yesteryear’s asshole, her quick breath, her inability to decide a permanent major, her willingness to keep poor men actors as pets if they please her, or possibly the coy way she reads Proust’s Swann’s Way, not the Davis translation, while drinking red wine from a thin stemmed glass because that is the only way to absorb those long, full sentences like you mean it, like you’d live in them or with them in those rainy little-boy gardens, meandering with the murmuring quality of a wandering stroll through a twilight mind that only penetrates a good translation, which she does not have. Because If I kiss the girl, these things will belong to me, her struggles, her concerns, her enigmas, as she will belong, for the moment, in my arms, on my tongue, in my hair, and on my hands, becoming a part of my history, my lifetime, my amorous disconnect with the world and inability to hold onto her (or anything so beautiful) for longer-though I would like to heal her wounds with gifts of orgasm, deep listening, and full-body spoons, one after the next-but I cannot kiss her. She his half gone already, slow boat to China gone in my mind, a drifting barge, yet her breasts press into mine. We stand in doorways. Her face pauses. A doe. A deer. A dear. Thin, beautiful lips. She wonders if I might lean in. And I want to. But, let me just think about kissing her for now, pull away mentally from her siren song, yet pull her slim frame in so close I can feel her heart beat in chaste goodnight hugs as I long for more without taking. Because I do not deserve her, because I have already forgotten her name. Twice. What a bastard (I am).

Female or otherwise.

She is worth more.

So I let her walk down svelte hallways alone, unmolested, taste her only in the memory of a vanishing possibility. Shut the door. Linger in the mixed blessing of a maybe turned to no. Let her disappear. Let her reappear on this page, let you see her, all eager and ready for me to please her, let you see me not–for I have made such mistakes before. Let her touch a cotton gray scarf wrapped three times around her neck with warm fingertips, gingerly, before going. Let her eyes drop and her taut torso turn away. Let you feel my lack as she leaves, and my damp skin, and the falling tide of this passion turned to calm. A pretty girl’s dropped footfalls land softly in the outer hall.

I cannot hear them or listen. She is leaving the page, too, as she left my room: her fragrance in the air, in my nose and throat, all that wisteria, tuberose, musk, faint sweat, shampoo, and clean clothes scent now turning into subtexts for ubiquitous immaculate desire. I am her everlasting cataclysmic non-event. I am stationary with unquenchable longing. One day, news of my new fame will reach her. She will read this story somewhere and remember this night and my response. Will it sting less then, when I say the things I did not tell her saddened face? I sit alone, pressing my legs together like the pages of a closed book, tight, held shut, wanting her back, but not opening them, and not following.

Heather Fowler is the author of the novel Beautiful Ape Girl Baby (Pink Narcissus Press, June 2016) and the story collections Suspended Heart (Aqueous Books, Dec. 2010), People with Holes (Pink Narcissus Press, July 2012), This Time, While We’re Awake (Aqueous Books, May 2013), and Elegantly Naked in My Sexy Mental Illness (Queen’s Ferry Press, May 2014). Fowler’s People with Holes was named a 2012 finalist for Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award in Short Fiction. This Time, While We’re Awake was recently selected by artist Kate Protage for representation in the Ex Libris 100 Artists 100 Books exhibition this February and March in conjunction with the 2014 AWP Conference. Her fictive work has been made into fine art in several instances and her collaborative poetry collection, Bare Bulbs Swinging, written with Meg Tuite and Michelle Reale, is the winner of the 2013 TWIN ANTLERS PRIZE FOR COLLABORATIVE POETRY and was released in December of 2014. Fowler’s stories and poems have been published online and in print in the U.S., England, Australia, and India, and appeared in such venues as PANK, Night Train, storyglossia, Surreal South, JMWW, Prick of the Spindle, Short Story America, Feminist Studies and others, as well as having been nominated for numerous prizes. She is Poetry Editor at Corium Magazine. Please visit her website:

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