Iowa Writes

A Kiss Haunting: An Adventure on the Thames (part 1)

The realization comes to me as I float by Canary Wharf while perched on the bow of a white party boat, making me break out into a sweat exacerbated by the humid summer air.  My sudden burst of clarity goes unnoticed by the nearby group of exhilarated twenty-somethings with artfully tussled hair, knife-sharp stilettos, hastily ironed dinner jackets, and crisp dress shirts exposing daring glimpses of skin as they cackle carelessly, their hands clasping bottles half-emptied of wine and bumping into each other's shoulders with lazy, knowing precision.  As their eyes flit spastically over each other's jawlines and curves, I see that the promise of this night, of a hundred college students gathered on a boat with cheap alcohol on a river in a foreign country, is speeding towards fulfillment, and I finally understand what potential this cruise could have for me.
        I could get any guy here to kiss me.
        I almost laugh at the outrageousness of this consideration, almost wishing that it was the result of being in a happy drunken haze.  But I've only had one small glass of wine over the course of the trip; I think I'm one of five, possibly six, sober people on this boat if I evaluate the situation optimistically.  However, there's a scintillating, terrifying confidence cemented around this statement in my brain.  Maybe that's because of the delightedly haggard cries that I've heard echoing from all three floors of the boat already.  Maybe it's because the sun is descending below the minute crests of the Thames, bringing on the sharpening night air and the inevitability of further good-natured debauchery.  Maybe I'm inspired by the fact that I look absolutely stunning in my midnight-blue sequined dress and secretly hope that someone else has taken notice.  Maybe I'm feeling the weight of my imminent birthday upon me and am fighting time; I don't want the clock to strike midnight and remind me that I've never been kissed in twenty-two years.  Or perhaps for a single crazy night in the life of a resolutely responsible individual, I want to have a moment of insane fun so I can say, "Oh my God, can you believe how nuts we got?!"
        Beneath my periwinkle suede heels, I feel the boat starting to turn back towards London.  As the air suddenly fills with a low mechanized growl of the engines and we curve towards the triangular tower of the Wharf again, drifting from the last vestiges of the sunlight and blazing headlong into the gathering twilight, I find myself—with a bit of panic and delight alike—thinking that I shouldn't let this realization remain an observation.  I want to act.  I want to give in to instinct, to finally reach the 'we', to find that kiss.  And somewhere on this boat's balcony, bridge, or dance floor is that someone who will help me succeed in my quest.
        And on that certain note, I move towards the crowd to begin my search.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting


Rachel Gosch is an intern at The Iowa Review.  She is currently pursuing degrees in English/ Creative Writing and French at the University of Iowa.

A Kiss Haunting: An Adventure on the Thames will be presented on the Daily Palette in three parts.  Be sure to check back tomorrow for part 2!

This page was first displayed
on January 21, 2015

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