An often-recurring interlude.
It was a hot summer, and they met many times after that, as the days became a week, slowly losing their shyness with each other, able to talk more openly and to relax around each other, even laughing.
It changed between them so gradually, they didn’t realize how emotionally close they became.
The water level had steadily dropped on the lake, and they’d cooperated to push the small jetty farther out, so that they could sit on it together and dangle their feet in the water as they talked.
They spent many, happy hours together exploring the shore and looking for other warm springs in the shallows, gradually paddling farther out.
He knew much more about things in nature than she did.
He knew the names of all of the trees, of course (it was his family business), softwoods and hardwoods, and could tell her their best use; building, or furniture… fence posts, foundations, or whatever. He also knew a lot of geology, able to name the many different rocks around the lake and in the stream bed flowing into and out of the lake. He taught her to see more than she’d ever seen before; about wildlife too.
They sometimes sat next to each other, their hips touching after their swim, as they ate a lunch one of them had brought. At that moment he pointed out things she would never have seen for herself, sometimes taking her arm and showing her where to look as she peered down it at a deer; or at an eagle floating high in the air above them.
As she did that, he was able to look closely at her breasts (hidden) and at her face, without her noticing him doing that. At other times they just listened. He identified each of the birds and insects that they heard.
Unlike that first time, when he’d been naked, he always wore his underwear when he swam; in case she came, which she invariably did each day after that first one.
He also knew that she sometimes approached quietly without saying anything, sneaking up on him, watching him at first, hoping to catch him in some unguarded way. Maybe hoping to see him naked.
It puzzled him why she wanted to do that.
She never did catch him like that first time, and she wondered why.
He always seemed to know she was there. Even calling out to her, telling her how he knew: she was too noisy, or the birds had warned him, but she soon learned.
There were a few days when she got there before him.
She could hear his dirt bike, or just see him on his other bike streaking down the tracks where it was safe to do so. He took risks. No wonder he’d hurt himself earlier, but boys seemed to be like that.
He was always pleased to see her, just as she liked to see him, and for them to swim together as they did.
Except, there was that day when she didn’t swim, at first, trying, shyly, to explain why not; stumbling over it, as she watched him in the water.
He didn’t know about, ‘periods’, and she skated around it cryptically, until she swore at herself, stifled her embarrassment, and told him. He should know more about her.
He thought he understood. He probably did, but he couldn’t know how awkward she felt at that time. He seemed to think that it wasn’t that big a deal if it was natural, and she couldn’t do anything about it.
After an hour of that, with him often getting out of the water to sit and talk, and then getting back in again; obviously enjoying the water as well as her company and not judging her, she said to herself, ‘to hell with it’.
She bravely told him what she would do, and asked him to turn away as she undressed.
He did as she asked.
She took almost everything off, folding her pad out of sight in her clothes, replaced her panties, and dropped into the water with him. It wouldn’t be that obvious, and he seemed to understand.
He hadn’t watched her but he was still curious, so she explained it to him in a little more detail. He listened, saying nothing.
She wouldn’t tell him anything more about that, or he’d be disgusted with her, and would see her differently... as though she were tainted in some way. She even disgusted herself at those times.
It truly was a curse.
After swimming for a while she asked him to turn away, so that she could get up on to the jetty, and to see to herself without being watched; replacing her pad.
She checked often to see that he was still turned away.
“You can open your eyes now.”
They were free agents up here. There was no one to bother them, or to criticize her, or to warn her about boys (she already knew about them, or thought she did), or to order her around.
Her brothers were at a different kind of school all summer, only coming home on a weekend, and they never came up here. No one would be up in these woods until hunting season.
The woods might soon be closed to everyone because of the danger of fire, but there had been enough light rain to hold off from that.
He brought a lunch whenever he was on his dirt bike; but he rode that less often now, as the fire danger had increased, but he could still ride his other bike. She’d decided to bring lunch anyway, so they often shared, sometimes two lunches, and they gradually stayed longer and longer as one day gave way to the next.
There were times when they even swam across the lake together. They were both good swimmers and loved to explore along the sandy shore together, helping each other where it was hard on the feet. Laughing, sometimes splashing each other playfully. They were not shy to hold hands now, helping each other.
Other times, he would sit on the end of the jetty, kicking his feet in the water as he dried, watching her still swimming around.