Piper pulled another handful of course green grass out of the ground, tossed it aside, looked up at the thick branches of the magnolia tree and sighed, “When is your little friend going to get here anyway?”
“Any minute,” I replied, “He only lives down the street.”
The late afternoon sun hung low, peeking out between clouds and a jagged skyline of oak trees and houses. Piper and I sat under a blanket of fragrant white blooms.
“There he is.” I said jumping to meet him at the end of the driveway. Piper reluctantly pulled herself up from beneath the magnolia and shuffled down the drive. “Piper, this is Jonathon. Jonathon, this is my friend Piper.”
Jonathon’s blue eyes were almost buried under a mop of brown curly hair. Although a year younger than us, his slender frame stood tall. I bumped my shoulder playfully into his chest as I walked past him saying, “What took you so long?”
Piper grabbed my arm and leaned into my ear. She whispered excitedly, “I’ve seen him at school but I didn’t know who he was!”
“Yeah, he’s cute, isn’t he?” I replied smugly. It wasn’t often that I knew someone she didn’t. “He’s my friend Abby’s brother.”
“What are you two talking about?” Jonathon interrupted running up to catch us. He came along the other side of me, his sweaty arm brushing up against mine. My stomach tingled a little.
“Nothing!” Piper and I quickly remarked as we picked up the pace to the corner store. It was hard to believe that she and I would be starting our freshman year of high school at the end of the summer. When we got to the convenient store, Jonathon held open the door for both of us. My arms broke-out in waves of goose bumps.
The walk back to my house was quiet as we each slurped down our cherry slushes. The high-pitched chirping of saccada echoed around us like a symphony of maracas.
Jonathon grabbed my hand, jogged passed my house and said, “Let’s show Piper the hiding place!” The three of us scurried down the street to a narrow cement drainage gully. We followed it to a wooded area. The sound of running water drowned out the rest of the neighborhood noise. On the other side of the stream was a large green belt. Jonathon, his sister and I came down here for hours to talk.
I took a seat on a large flat rock and took another sip of the sweet 7-11 nectar. Jonathon sat down beside me as usual. I felt my cheeks get hot.
Piper went to sit between us but lost her balance. Her arms flailed wildly, her hand hit my cup. Sticky red liquid splattered and oozed down my new white t-shirt. When I jumped up in surprise Piper’s calm voice trickled out, “Oooh that looks bad. You should go home and clean up before it stains.”
Jonathon stood up to start back for the house but his arm was caught in Piper’s grip, “We’ll wait for her to get back.” She said staring through me, “If that’s ok with you, Allie?”
All I could do was nod in agreement. Three blocks rushed by as I raced home for a clean shirt. “Surely this was just an accident, “I thought, but my stomach churned in disagreement.
Once cleaned up, I headed out the door but was greeted by two figures walking down the road. Piper’s long blonde hair bounced on her shoulders with each step her tanned legs took. Jonathon and Piper said goodbye before they got to my house. Jonathon sheepishly turned my way and waved, “See you later Allie,” he said.
“Yeah, you too” I gulped.
Piper walked past me up to the house, a delighted smirk slinked across her face and said, “You were right, he is cute.” The summer sun had started to sink as a grape scented breeze from the Mountain Laurel trees filled our lungs.
“And a good kisser, too” she added.