The Wipe-Away Kiss

Gregory Stephens and Safiya Stephens

When I was a little girl in Puerto Rico, Daddy used to cover my face in kisses. I would giggle and squeal! But then when I got to be a big girl, I started to wipe away his kisses. Daddy would say:

“Do you know what happens to kisses when you wipe them away?”

“They go to someone else’s cheek?”

“Well maybe. But how do they get there?”

Daddy took my hand and looked at it. He looked like I was holding something.

“What’s that on your hand?”

“I don’t see anything.”

He smiled like when he’s playing a trick. “Didn’t you just wipe off my kisses with this hand?”

I looked at my left hand, the hand I write with. I didn’t see anything. But I could feel something on my hand, a likkle tickle, the way Daddy’s kisses tickle when he needs to shave.

“I know! That’s your kiss on my hand!”

“Ah!” His eyes twinkled. “So if you want to wipe away my kisses, then you’ll have to go wash your hands, won’t you?”

I laughed and ran down the hall. I turned on the faucet and washed my hands. But I felt like maybe the kiss was still there.

“So…is the kiss in the water now?” Daddy asked.


“And where do you think the water goes?”

It’s always raining where I live, so that was easy. “It goes up in the rainclouds?”

“You got it!”

I giggled because I already knew what was coming next.

Dad picked me up and carried me to the window. There were some dark clouds. It looked like it might rain.

We stepped out on the patio, by the basil plants. You could smell the rain coming.

“I know what happens next!”

“Tell me, mi amor.”

“When the rain falls on your cheek, the kisses get stuck there again.”

“But how many people does the rain fall on?” Daddy asked me.

“On the people from my family.”

“Well, your sexy mama doesn’t like to be in the rain.”

I chuckled. “Yes, because my mami like to keep nature far away from her.”

“Yeah. But you can run, but you can’t hide,” he said, casting his eyes back down the hall.

“Ah, when she takes a shower then?”

“Probably. Because the rainwater goes back to the faucet, eventually. But where else does the rain fall?”

“On the plants.”

“Oh, so then my kisses you wiped away fall on the plants too?”

I chuckled a little louder.

“What happens when we eat the tomatoes that have the wipe-away rain kisses on them?”

I rolled my eyes. “Tickle?”

“The tomatoes tickle us?”

“No silly Daddy, I want you to tickle me.”

“Are you going to wipe away my tickles too?”

His hands were already on my ribs. I was jumping up and down, and laughing like a clown. I heard our pericos singing on the patio. The rain had begun to fall.

About the Author

Gregory Stephens is Associate Professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, where he specializes in Creative Writing for STEM students. His book "Three Birds Sing a New Song: A Puerto Rican trilogy about Dystopia, Precarity, and Resistance" was published by Intermezzo in 2019. Short fiction includes “Raw Meat (Sexy Mama),” Smaeralit 3 (2017), and “Caiseas Blues” [excerpt from a novel-in-progress "A Terrible Racket"], The Esthetic Apostle (June 2019). Literary nonfiction includes “Voice, Conscience, Community,” Prometheus Dreaming (June 9, 2019); “Integrative Ancestors redux--A Child's story from the past to the future,” Dreamers Creative Writing (Oct. 2018); "Split-Screen Freedom,” Writing on the Edge (Fall 2017); and “Che’s Boots: Discipline and the flawed hero,” in Intraspection.

Safiya Stephens turns 10 in august 2019.