Once Upon a Summer

Anita III

It’s strange to me how adults sometimes forget things. Either that or they don’t care anywhere near as much as it seems at the time. Curiously, adults aren’t the stable, powerful creatures I had thought they were when I was younger. They overreact, change their minds, and break their promises. This is what I thought three days later when Meredith came over. I’d thought for certain that her mother would never let her come over again.

I was sitting on the couch, knees pulled to my chest, reading a book, when she came in and sat unobtrusively on the couch beside me.

I looked up, surprised. “Hey.”

“Hey.”

“How’s it goin’?”

“Fine.”

“Aren’t you mad at me?” I’m not sure what made me ask, and as soon as I said it, I sort of wished I hadn’t, but it was my fault she’d gotten spanked by her parents, I’d watched her dad spanking her and it had looked painful. The fact that I’d wanted to do so myself, that I still did, made me embarrassed. I wanted her to like me, not be mad at me.

“No.”

We sat quietly for a while, me pretending to read, Meredith picking at a toenail on her bare, grass stained feet. She was wearing shorts that left most of her legs bare and a sleeveless shirt. I could see the edge of the curve of her bottom.

Eventually she looked up and said, “Hey, you wanna’ wrestle?”

I felt hot in the cheeks. I wanted to say yes; to get that blond waif over my knees and… but I also was worried about getting caught again, about getting in trouble or getting her in trouble. My aunt was still in the house and the boys were just outside. I didn’t want to risk it.

“Um,” I said, and she said, “Or, ya know, play video games or something?”

So we settled in on the floor, shoulder to shoulder, thigh to thigh, and engrossed ourselves in the adventures of digital heroes. At some point, my aunt came in. She told us she was taking the boys to a movie and invited us along.

“Um, no thanks,” I said.

And that was that. My aunt smiled and nodded and off they went. The sudden quiet of the house on a mid-afternoon in summer was nerve-wracking and enticing. I looked at her and she looked at me and we forgot the video game. I’m not sure for how long we stayed like that, but our mutual trance was broken by the sudden explosive sound of thunder on top of a stroke of lightning that washed the color from life and left it in stark shadows.

I jumped, my heart leaped into overdrive. Meredith and I were clinging to each other, shaking like leaves and breathing like frightened mice.

As though the lightning strike had been a spigot, rain began to pour down, pounding on the roof of my aunt’s house. The rain was like a barrier between us and the outside world.

I whispered, “We could wrestle now… if you still wanna…”


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