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Masked Lips

May 5, 2021

A Short Story by Sara Ann Comte

“And Cally freaked out and hid in the bathroom for an hour.”

“Wow.” I could almost see Tanya bouncing with pleasure as she told me the latest gossip. “Sounds like a crazy night.”

“Yeah, it was.” Too typical, blonde-bubble-girl reply, as always. “Ya should come next time. Lots of hot boys.”

“Yeah, maybe.”

“Come on, Halley. You’re always talking about wanting to meet a guy but you never come with us Friday night. I mean, what do you do? Can’t meet any guys at home.

I hated this conversation. It came up every Sunday morning. I could hear Tanya tapping her nails against her bed stand as she waited for my reply. I puckered my lips and tried to think of an explanation.

* * *

Last night was almost like any other Friday night.

James walked through my door at precisely 6:30 p.m. carrying a small, black backpack. “Roommate gone?”


He set the bag on my too-clean white, linen couch and headed straight to the fridge. I watched from my bedroom doorway where I was just pulling on my black, knee-high boots to match my black pants and black T-shirt. James pulled out a coke, drained it all in two seconds, and said, “Let’s go.”

I grabbed my keys and followed James out the back door and across the lawn—quicker than going around the block. We climbed over the fence and jogged to the nearest gas station. Our journey always began at the gas station.

James and I sat on a cool metal bench and spilled the contents of the black bag: binoculars, handcuffs, two black ski masks, two black radios, etc. James handed me a radio, a ski mask, and the handcuffs.

“You kids ain’t plannin’ on bringin’ your party over here tonight, are ya?”

James and I twisted to see a tall, hunched, balding man in the convenience store doorway.

“No,” James replied, “Don’t think so, Mr. Gun.”

“Good. Keep it that way. Scares all the customers. Especially the out-of-towners. Thinks there’s a robbery or somethin’.”

“No need to worry tonight. Trenton’s group’s got the legend. He won’t come west.”

Mr. Gun just nodded and went back inside to lean against his counter—close enough to the door to overhear us.

I put the ski mask on and watched James do the same, then sat back to wait.

James spoke. “You ever get tired?”

I closed my eyes, letting the cool evening breeze sweep across my eyelids. “Course.”

“No. I mean of this.”

I squinted my eyes in his direction while trying to keep my eyes closed. “What do you mean?”

“Every Friday night, black, running around, chasing nothing.”

I opened my eyes and raised my eyebrows. “Are you tired?”

James hesitated too long. A red Wrangler skidded across the parking lot and stopped in front of our bench. A skinny boy in a black hoody called out from the driver’s seat, “Park,” and took off.

“Figures they’d take it to the park,” James said.

“Yeah, sure does,” I agreed. Tired? I was tired. “East or south?”

“Better head east and get them from the rear. They probably came from the center of town.”

It was 7:00 and finally dark outside. Our black clothes blended well with the night. We passed a few parties and even a drug bust. I didn’t stop.

But James did.

James stopped in the middle of the road, watching as two cruisers turned a corner, heading the opposite direction. I didn’t notice and kept walking. “Halley,” he called. I turned. James was a block away. “Halley, come back.”

Confused and curious I jogged back to James. “What’s up? Did you see someone?”

James shook his head. “No.”

“Then what’s up?”

James just stared at the tiny cruisers. I turned to leave. The mission would fail if we didn’t get moving.

James grabbed my arm, tightly. He yanked me to face him, staring at me with nervous, focused eyes.


He jammed his lips against mine, quickly but forcefully, the holes of our masks rubbing together, but his lips finding space between hidden cracks. He then shoved passed me, practically jogging down the street.

I didn’t move. A bit confused, I rubbed my tongue across my lips. It tasted good.

“Ya can’t stand there all night,” he called. “The Greenies already have a head start.”

* * *

“I don’t do much,” I finally answered Tanya.

“Obviously. But if you’re only going to stay home all night, you have no excuse not to come out with us. We’ll kidnap you next week.”

“I don’t know.” I really didn’t want to miss next Saturday night. “I can’t imagine a night on the town being any more fun than just relaxing, maybe reading a book.”

“A night on the town? You need to get out more.” Maybe, but not next week. “Oh, Halley, did you see those freaks dressed in black running around the park? Well, I guess not if you were home all night. But, Jack says they’re always running around town playing some combat game. Crazy, huh? Nerds. Bet they don’t get out much. Can you imagine, two lovey-dovey nerds.” Tanya laughed.

“Yeah, funny.” That kiss wasn’t so funny.


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