Midsummer Blues

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“I wish this summer would never end!” Lying on a bale of hay, one naked leg stretched into the sky so my red-painted big toe made a dangerously gleaming eye in the wolf’s head which drifted above our heads in its fluffy whiteness, I suddenly felt strangely grown up and serious. This was the last whole summer at home, and this time next year I’d probably be staying in the city or go travelling with college friends. Kirsty hummed a dark tune which I didn’t recognize right next to me, and something small with more than four legs tried to wiggle its way down my back. I sat up to brush it off and scratched a few spots where the hay clung to my sweaty skin and made me itch. Jacko, our neighbor’s big red tomcat, sent me a reproachful look from across the meadow, but he was finally ready to admit that the mousehole he had been guarding all afternoon had long since been abandoned, and he closed his eyes and lay down on his side. The sun was nearing the horizon and the light took on that crisp, intense quality, bringing color back to the world after the flaring heat of the day. The endless fields, a deep green just two weeks ago, were already turning brown at the tips, as if a golden blanket was being spread over them. Old Billy Tucker chugged by us in his medieval green tractor, the whole thing creaking and squeaking pathetically, and shouted something – no doubt rather lewd – to us. I couldn’t hear a word with all that racket his monster produced and simply smiled and waved back, making sure to wiggle my upper body, quite certain that I was making his day. Then he was gone again, and the only sounds were the chirping of the crickets and Kirsty’s humming. My wolf-cloud had long since been blown apart by the wind up there, and it didn’t look as if another worthwhile one would arrive soon. The silence stretched like a rubber band glued to my tummy, and I had to break it. “Kirsty?” “Bree?” One-syllable sentences were the norm on days like this one, when the afternoon temperature had scratched hundred degrees. It was all about preserving energy. But what did I want to say? What did I have to say? It was the first time that words didn’t tumble out of my mouth on their own volition around her. A puff of smoke shot up in the distance, right behind the Tuckers’ barn. “I guess Billy’s tractor just passed on.” “Yeah, it was hard not to notice him.” “No, I mean passed on as in, snuffed it, up and exploded, gone to the ever-after.” “Good riddance to that beast.” “You’re awfully talkative today.” “I don’t know. Just leave me be, okay?” Now I was getting seriously worried. Kirsty always talked, usually without pause, so much that people were certain she was able to breath in with her feet to keep up the constant airflow out her mouth. And when she was in a bad mood, she talked even more. A silent Kirsty was a frightening new development. When I had come over to her parents’ farm, I had wondered why she didn’t even mention the bikini she was wearing, even though it was brand new. She hadn’t said five full sentences the whole time I’d been here. “Is it Brad? I swear if that jerk has done something…” “It’s not Brad. It’s not anything.” I turned towards her, but she had flipped on her stomach and was facing away from me. The bikini bottoms gleamed bright orange and made me envy her perfect tan once more. “It’s something,” I surmised and stretched out on my front side too, “something’s got you as moody as I’ve ever seen you. Just tell me, it can’t be that bad.” And when she still didn’t reply, I tried my last weapon and wrapped my little finger around hers. “Best friends forever, remember!” She yanked her hand away without a word, and it felt like being stabbed through my heart. “Kirsty?” Real panic filled my voice now, and when she still didn’t reply, I grabbed her shoulder and pulled her around. “Kirsty, you…” The words got stuck in my throat when I saw the tear tracks on her face, the trembling lips and the red rim around her eyes. I reached out to brush away her tears without conscious thought, almost overwhelmed by worry. Kirsty didn’t cry. She grumbled, raged, threw a tantrum, but I had never seen her cry. Not even when she had broken her leg at the swing. “Kirsty?” What could I say or ask? “I’m sorry!” She suddenly sobbed and jumped up. “I’ll just – I’ll be right back.” When she turned around and started to walk, a feeling of dread gripped me, an invisible hand, cold like ice and hard like stone, wrapped around my heart and squeezed. I jumped up as well and raced after her fleeing figure, suddenly sure to the last fiber of my body that something really bad would happen if I didn’t reach her. My calves burned after a few steps and sweat sprang from my pores, but I was catching up, even though she had picked up her pace as well. My breath raced and the world narrowed to a small spot that was filled by her. A burning pain shot through my toes and I felt myself tumble, my vision suddenly just a whirlwind of colors, then I hit the ground and rolled, sharp grass biting into my skin and pebbles leaving their bahis siteleri marks. I ignored it though and scrambled to my feet, once more racing after Kirsty as fast as I could. My fall had cost me, and now my whole legs screamed with pain. I’d never run this fast before, and it was all I was capable of, even if my life depended on it. I reached her ten feet from the barn door, caught her hand in mine and pulled. She was twirled around and I tried to capture her other hand as well, but then we were both tumbling to the ground, exhausted and sweaty, and she somehow ended up right below me. “Shit!” She tried to wiggle out, but her movements were sluggish. “Kirsty,” I pleaded again, “tell me what’s going on! I’m worried!” She looked away and I felt her shudder under me, but then her body slackened and her breathing slowed. “I’ll not be going to the city college with you.” “You – you’re not? Why? If it’s about money, I’m sure we can find…” “It’s not money. I flunked maths.” Fresh tears streamed from her eyes. Hell, that was something that put our plans to shambles. “You can always re-sit it at the end of next year. You’ll still be able to go.” Without warning she flipped us over, her face filled with a strange rage. “You didn’t listen,” she hissed, our faces just inches apart and her breath blowing hot and moist over my cheek, “I’ll not be going. With. You.” I stared at her, nonplussed, when her lips suddenly pressed down on my own. All thoughts left my mind when she started to nibble and pull, her hot, soft lips almost ravishing mine. I still lay there long after she had stood up and walked away. “My best friend just kissed me!” That was the only thought in my mind, and it spun around in circles and made me dizzy. * * * * * I had been in no mood to eat, so I had made up having already filled my tummy at Kirsty’s and excused myself for an early night. I wearily trudged upstairs to my room, my parents hardly noticing, engrossed in the planning for this year’s solstice celebration. To lie on the bed wasn’t such a good idea. Even though I had both windows open to allow the soft evening breeze to blow in, I was sweating profusely where my skin touched the fabric of the sheet. But that somehow felt right. Some part of me felt that I deserved to suffer for making my best friend cry like this. A chair scraped over the wooden floor downstairs, my parents probably moving into the living room to watch the telly. A glance at the clock told me that it was far too early to sleep, and I didn’t feel close to do so anyway. I tried to think about college, but that couldn’t hold my attention; about the upcoming solstice festival, but that only made me think of Kirsty. There was no use trying to avoid the thoughts about her. She had kissed me, and it hadn’t been an innocent kiss between friends. The question was, how did I feel about it? It had been so quick and intense, and my body so high strung from the exertion that my skin had been hypersensitive. Did she have a crush on me, or real feelings? What about her ongoing almost-relationship with Brad? And what about our friendship? That was the question that nagged at me the most, and the thought of not having her in my life anymore almost ripped out my heart. It was the longest evening in my life. By midnight I was still tossing and turning and trying to find just a hint of an answer. I got up and drank a glass of milk around two, and just when the sun rose again, I drifted off into a shallow slumber filled with disjoint, fleeting images that agitated and frightened me. * * * * * I came awake with a gasp, sweaty and out of breath. A swarm of birds chirped in the tree right outside my window like there was no tomorrow, mum’s vacuum cleaner buzzed and bumped through the hallway and the muffled wails of Elvis could be heard above the ruckus. In short, it was a normal morning in the Olsen’s household, but today the noise threatened to make my head burst. Mum didn’t even notice me when I traipsed down the hallway and into the bathroom with a clean bikini in my hand. When the spray of cool water hit my skin and washed away the sticky sweat, I slumped against the wall and let out a relieved breath. The world was coming into focus and my stomach reminded me that I had missed a meal. Perhaps there were still some pancakes left, I hoped, then I could just cover two of them with blueberry jam and wrap them up, to have something to munch on while I headed over to… My mind grinded to a halt, and the splashing of the water on the tiles suddenly sounded like the thundering of a maelstrom. Kirsty. My gorgeous, tanned, lithe friend Kirsty, after whom all the boys in our year lusted. And who had kissed me. Me! I looked down my body, and even though the drops and rivulets glinted in the morning light and softened my looks, I found it hard to believe that someone as pretty as her could be attracted to this pale skin that stretched over a clearly visible tummy, to too thick thighs and knobby knees. I stared at my tits that were somehow pointy and looked too soft with their canlı bahis siteleri huge nipples. Now that the wheels in my head had finally started spinning again, another realization came forward and I let out a chortle at my own ignorance. This was about more than just kissing. This was about all the things we had whispered about in sleepovers without really saying them aloud, about all those touches and tastes I had avoided on those few dates I had let myself get talked into. I had always thought that, once in the big city, the boys would be different and attractive and I’d finally feel those butterfly feelings everyone was talking about. But now the only person I could think about was Kirsty, with her short, dark blonde hair that bleached with the first rays of sun until it was an assortment of shades and mirrored her bubbly personality, and with her perfectly shaped breasts. I bit my lip at the idea of touching them, even kissing them, and then they were there, flocks of butterflies swirling and tumbling and fluttering in my tummy, and I slid down the wall and let the water spray down on me, laughing and crying. * * * * * Thank god mum was now vacuuming in my parents’ bedroom and dad already busy in the barn. I dripped all over the floor on my way to the kitchen, suddenly in too much of a hurry to towel myself dry, wrapped up one pancake, slipped into my sandals and almost flew down the gravel road towards Kirsty’s place. Emily, their goat, got to enjoy most of the pancake, and I swallowed hard to get down the one bite I had brought myself to take. I knocked on the door. Dianne, Kirsty’s mum, looked me up and down with a strange look, then shook her head, as if I was a lost cause. Well, perhaps I was. “She’s up in her room,” she told me with a sigh and gestured for me to come in. “Thanks, Mrs. Underhill!” I really tried to slow down my steps, but once on the stairs, I couldn’t hold back and took three steps at a time, then hurried down the hallway to Kirsty’s room. It was funny. The moment I stood in front of it, it felt as if my batteries had been switched off, and a feeling of dread mixed into the elation that still had me in its grasp only a second before. I knocked, hesitantly. “Yeah?” The old wooden door gave a small creak and snap when I turned the handle, and then I was suddenly on the other side, my back pressed to it, and staring nervously at my best friend who was still wearing her orange bikini and sitting on her bed with her arms around her pulled-up knees. Her eyes were bloodshot, but she looked at me with so much wonder and trepidation that I felt dizzy. “Bree?” Just my name, her voice scratchy and pained, and I melted. “Kirsty,” I sobbed and flew across the room, throwing myself onto the bed on my knees and capturing her cheeks in my hands. She looked so incredibly sweet and vulnerable at this moment, and I all I longed for was to wrap her in my arms and kiss her. Her hands pushed against my shoulders, prevented me from leaning in and doing just that. “Bree,” she rasped, “you’re not – I mean, this isn’t just…” I searched her eyes when she didn’t finish her question. Uncertainty. A glimmer of hope. Fear. I swallowed hard. “About friendship, you mean?” She lowered her head, but her hair bobbed softly up and down. “No,” I answered and tried put all my conviction into my voice, “it’s not just about friendship. It’s about,” my voice almost failed me when the enormity of it all washed over me like a huge wave and sent my mind tumbling head over heels, “about love.” I held my breath, the thumping of my head loud enough to shake the world around me. She didn’t move, and we both stayed frozen like this for ages. Had I misunderstood? Did I bungle it? But then I heard a sob and she looked up at me again, her face trembling and wet. “Don’t,” she implored, her words choked and pained, “don’t break my heart! Don’t just say that if you don’t mean it!” My own tears wouldn’t stay back anymore. The world blurred, but I caught her arms and pulled her to me, awkward and nervous but determined to show her I wasn’t playing with her. The panic when my mouth neared hers only lasted for the blink of an eye, and then there was this feeling of absolute truth. Our lips touched, soft and warm, wet and salty, and I wrapped my arms around her. It took only a second, but then her actions mimicked my own and she pulled me close with all her power, forcing the breath from my lungs, holding me, as if for the first time of my life, safe. Our lips took on a mind of their own, brushing against each other’s, nibbling and touching, and we both gasped and moaned and our breath caressed each other’s cheeks. She started to giggle, and when I looked at her, she shook with laughter. “You’ve,” she managed to stammer, “got toothpaste,” she blinked a few times, “in the corner of your mouth.” I lifted my hand to wipe it off, but she pushed it away. “No,” she whispered, “let me.” She softly guided me onto my back and climbed atop of me, put her legs to my sides and slowly lowered herself until our hips canlı bahis touched. Sparks ignited between our bodies and danced over our skin. And then she bent forward, ever so slowly, and the moment felt frozen in time when her tongue, pink and moist, sneaked out and touched the corner of my mouth. A soft, melodious giggle escaped her throat, like wind chimes in the distance. “Yummy…” she whispered. “Peppermint Bree, my favorite!” For a moment we simply stared at each other, but then we dissolved in giggles of relief. “Kirsty,” I finally stammered once my tummy stopped convulsing from the laughter, “please do that again.” “What,” she whispered back, grinning like the cat who ate the canary, “this?” She ever so slowly extended her tongue, and when its tip tickled the corner of my mouth, my face exploded with warmth. I opened my lips and tenderly touched her tongue with my own. God, she tasted sweet. And a little bit like peppermint. I trailed the tip of my tongue over hers, and when she gasped in delight, I was filled with a giddy joy. “Bree!” She growled. “What?” I asked innocently. “If you don’t stop this, I won’t be able to stop either. I want to rip that bikini off you and taste every little part of your body!” “Oh god,” I moaned, eyes wide and suddenly trembling, “but how?” She froze. “What do you mean, how?” “How,” I brushed over her cheek with my thumb, astonished at the little shivers in her skin and the entranced look in her eyes, “how can someone as beautiful as you be attracted to plain old me?” I was taken aback by the ferocity with which she snatched my wrists, pressed them down onto the bed above me and growled at me. “Don’t ever,” her grip on my wrists became painful, “ever again put yourself down like this. You’re a wonderful, beautiful person, inside and out!” I tried to say something, to explain how the thought, despite her words, was beyond me. But the moment my lips parted, her mouth was there, hungry and forceful, and when her tongue sneaked inside and started to wrestle with my own, thinking became impossible. My whole skin started to crackle with electric discharges when we fell into a heated dance of tongues and lips, gasping, moaning, breathing each other’s breath and feeling closer than ever before. Our fingers somehow became interlocked and her body stretched out on mine. It felt glorious. * * * * * The door flew open with a bang. The air was suddenly filled with shrieks and the trampling of feet. I could see Kirsty’s eyes for a moment, wide and frightened, but then she was yanked off me and I felt my own arms pulled upwards painfully. The only thing I could do was follow the force, and so stumbled from the bed and after Kirsty’s enraged mother who shouted threats at me at the top of her voice. I was dazed, the emotional up and down becoming too much for me, and had to use all my concentration not to fall down the stairs. Then I was shoved out the front door, and the last words I heard where, “don’t you ever come back here, hussy! You’re not going to mess up my daughter’s life, you – you sick devil!” * * * * * The walk home happened in a trance. My thoughts were flying in all directions, but the only thing I was conscious about was the feeling of something essential, something profound and precious, was painfully ripped from my chest, and I wanted to howl and rage. I shivered, even though the sun was already radiating heat with all its power. When I traipsed inside, mum was just coming out of the kitchen. I stopped, suddenly fearful that Miss Underhill may have called her, but she didn’t appear different from her usual self. She did notice that I was far from that though. “What’s up with you, honey?” She was worried. “I thought you’d stay over at Kirsty’s again today. To were awfully quiet yesterday, but,” she took in my appearance, my ashen face and misty eyes, “gosh, you look a fright! Has something happened to Kirsty?” Her hands had gripped my shoulders, and the only thing I wanted to do at that moment was to throw myself into her embrace, bawl my eyes out and tell her my whole misery. But I couldn’t, not about this. So I shook my head and tried a weak smile. “It’s really nothing. I’m just not feeling so well. I think I’ll go and lie down for a bit.” Another pretense of a smile and I stepped around her and up the stairs. “Bree?” I halted mid-step, afraid she wouldn’t let it rest and desperately trying to find something to say. “Yes, mum?” “You can talk to me about anything.” “I know mum. Thanks.” It felt pointless to step into my room and lie down on the bed, but what else could I do. Perhaps I just needed to wait until Kirsty’s mum had cooled down. Fat chance of that, knowing her and her devotional Christian belief, a little voice in the back of my mind told me. But I couldn’t give up hope. I couldn’t give up Kirsty. Not now. Not ever. * * * * * The following week was the worst one in my life. I tried to call Kirsty a few times, but the receiver got smashed onto the phone after the first syllable. I went on endless walks that led me past their house again and again, hopeful that her mother’s car might be away for once, or that I might spot her through her window. I had no luck. My days were filled with nothing but walking and watching and trying to think up a way to reach her.

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