The fog of Bonnie’s desire was too heavy to hope that it would evaporate on its own. She had to get it off her; something had to happen. If she could have this just once, then she would be satisfied for the rest of her life. Of this, she was absolutely certain, though she couldn’t have said exactly why. If she’d examined her thoughts objectively for five seconds, she would have realized that the idea ludicrous—a childish holdover from fairy tales where kisses always break the spell. But Bonnie wasn’t the type to examine or analyze. She formed beliefs quickly, made decisions based on those beliefs, and then followed them to their end.
Bonnie’s first plot failed. The plan was to make out with Jason by impersonating his girlfriend, Amanda. The two girls didn’t obviously resemble each other: Amanda had vibrant red hair, and Bonnie came off as beige and drawn in comparison. But they had very similar bodies—they were the same height, and had the same small breasts and hairstyles, though Amanda’s hair was thicker. If it were dark enough, it was possible Jason could mistake Bonnie for Amanda for long enough to kiss her.
For days, she studied and perfected Amanda’s handwriting, the light touch of her pen, the tight loops of her letters, before writing a letter and slipping it into his locker:
Meet me at 11 tonight behind the dumpster of The Baroness. Do not bring a flashlight. I have a surprise for you, but you’re not allowed to see it. It’s the kind of surprise that you feel!
She’d felt idiotic writing it, but that was Amanda’s style. The Baroness was Jason’s favorite place. It was an old, half-empty Bavarian restaurant where he went to be alone. He would sit by himself till four in the morning sometimes, reading and eating sausages. Bonnie sometimes walked past on the street to catch glimpses of him through the window.
Behind the place was a large metal dumpster. The street lamp above it was broken, hissing occasionally but emitting no light. So the dumpster stood safely in shadows, its back abutting a black patch of forest that Bonnie could easily disappear into if anything went awry. She had gone over the plan a hundred times: She was chewing the kind of gum she’d seen Amanda chew, so that her mouth would taste familiar to him. She’d bought sheer nylon stockings, the kind Amanda wore, so when Jason touched her legs, they would feel like Amanda’s. As long as Bonnie didn’t speak or say a word, he wouldn’t know the difference. And even if Amanda found out about the note later, and denied writing it, there was nothing in it that could be traced back to Bonnie.
Even as she reassured herself of all this, Bonnie was aware, in a small but significant way, that the idea was completely unhinged, like something from a wacky ’70s sitcom, and that lust was impairing her mind. It was turning her into someone she couldn’t trust.
It didn’t matter in the end. Jason never came. She waited an hour and then gave up, emerging from behind the dumpster. She felt light-headed. But of course Jason wasn’t coming, she berated herself: She was a deceitful and disgusting person, and life would never reward her.
Bonnie trudged across the parking lot. As she passed The Baroness’s windows, she glanced inside, but she didn’t see Jason. The building’s smell jarred her—all pretzel dough and beer and warmth and light. She’d waited so long behind the dumpster, she’d grown used to its dismal, rotten air.
What had happened to her life? Bonnie could barely remember what it felt like to be normal, to be actually alive instead of what she was now—an automated drone powered by obsession. Obviously, she couldn’t go on like this. She was in love, grotesquely in love, and it swelled like a pus-filled lesion. A kiss would bring it to a head and make it explode, then fade away. She had to kiss him. She just had to, and if she couldn’t, she didn’t think she could go on living.
Kiss Jason or die. The idea was strangely energizing. Bonnie’s heart beat faster and she felt actually awake for the first time in months. Her hopeless love had a purpose now. It had become a matter of survival.
It was amazing how much Bonnie knew from dreams. She knew what flying felt like, and she knew what sex felt like. In a hundred dreams she’d kissed Jason, felt his body on top of hers, and even had orgasms, none of which she’d ever done in real life. Maybe in dreams, the mind tapped into all of human experience or something. But the only experience Bonnie wanted in reality was to kiss Jason.
It was three in the morning, and Bonnie was lying awake listening to Jason’s quiet movements in the next room. Kiss Jason or die. She was repeating the words in her mind like a mantra with the vague idea that if she reached a deep meditative state, an idea would suddenly hit her.
Then one did. And it was barely even a full idea before she was fully committed to it. Commitment was Bonnie’s sole virtue. Some people had charm, some had beautiful eyes or curiosity or intellect or great taste in clothes. Bonnie had the ability to conceive of an idea and follow it doggedly to its end.
Bonnie’s second plan also involved The Baroness dumpster. In fact it was almost the exact same as her first idea, only inverted. She’d tried to impersonate Jason’s girlfriend, but that had failed. The key, she realized now, was to trick someone else into impersonating Jason.
She jumped out of bed and grabbed her computer. She logged into Portal, the anonymous gossip forum frequented by kids from her school.
Anonymous Ice Queen seeks hot kiss.
I’m frigid. If you think you can thaw me out, meet me behind the Baroness dumpster and kiss me. Friday night at midnight. REQUIREMENTS: must be tall (6′-6’4″), lanky build, medium-length hair. Please exercise beforehand so you smell a little like sweat. NOTE: My eyes will be closed throughout the kiss. If you say a single word to me, or ask me to open my eyes, GAME OVER. If you meet these specifications, come make me melt.
Bonnie looked at the words. Come make me melt? Where did that come from? It was alarming how easy it was to become a completely different person on the internet. Bonnie didn’t care. What was the point of being herself? Being herself was miserable. She clicked “post,” shut the laptop, and went to sleep.
Don’t open your eyes. Don’t open your eyes.
If Bonnie did, she’d see a random classmate’s face, and the spell would be broken. But if she kept them closed, she could keep kissing this guy and pretending he was Jason. His lips were soft and his tongue was gentle against hers. It felt as intense and unbelievable as in her dreams. She pressed her body against him, and he pressed back. He tasted like pretzels and smelled faintly unwashed, just like Jason. She wanted to devour him. It was Jason—it wasn’t Jason—she didn’t care who it was; it felt so good.
Abruptly, the stranger moaned and shivered violently. She lost her grip on him and slid down his body. Don’t open your eyes. Don’t open your eyes. Bonnie leaned back against the dumpster. He was coughing a little, his lips still grazing hers. He coughed again, and suddenly he tasted strange. Then Bonnie felt him backing away, the warmth of his body leaving hers. She heard the crunching of leaves as his footsteps faded into the forest until everything was quiet.
When she finally opened her eyes, she was alone.