Summer, 1983. In bare feet on wet grass we're jumping past puddles to the trampoline she got for her 10th birthday.
I grab her hand to help her onto the tramp. She's more worried about holding her skirt than falling over so I give a swift tug. She flops over the edge and lets out a cute yelp. Laughing, we crawl to the middle of the mat. It is still damp from last night's storm, but we don't care.
We lie on our backs and scoot to each other's side. There isn't a star in the sky tonight. Only street lights shining with orange halos through thick air. The trees look tired. Their twisted branches and torn leaves are heavy with humidity and wet.
She stretches her hands toward the sky, twists her wrists and sighs... "Do you think you'll have trouble remembering me someday?"
"What do you mean?"
"I don't know. It's just..." Her hands drop to her side. "We've been friends forever."
"Yeah?" A wet sprig of leaves tickles the back of my hand. I pick it up, have a look, and toss it in the grass.
"Next year we'll be so far apart. I'll be sad when you forget about me." She turns over and bounces lightly to her feet. "I almost don't want to go."
I see something new or, rather, different. I feel it in my stomach. There is beauty there. She's almost floating, gently twirling. She is made of meat.
She smiles, springs up and comes down hard. With that, the trampoline bounces me directly in her path. Coming down on me in a flailing mess of arms and legs, she yells, "JACK!" and grabs onto me hard to stop the bounce.
With her arms wound tightly around my waist and face buried in my side she says, "Oh my god, I need you."
"Whaaaahh?" I tense up. The springs in the tramp squeak and creak.
Laughing, she looks up at me, "I need you!"
"You need me?" I'm shaking my head. "But, we've been friends since Kindergar..."
Still laughing she cuts me off, "No! I need you."
Automatically my hands slide under the back of her shirt. I pull her close. Our lips touch.
"OH GOD!!!!" she thrusts away from me. "What are you doing??!?!"
"But... You said you need me."
She's backing further away. "I did! But why the hell did you kiss me?"
"You grabbed onto me and said you needed me." With my hands out -palms up- I shrug. "What was I supposed to do?"
"No! No! No!" Shaking her head, "I neeeeeeed you."
"I heard you!"
"No, dammit!" She points to her knee. "I kneed you. I kneed you in the balls. Are you ok?"
"Oh... Knees… Balls… You missed… I'm fine… Are you?"
She nods, "Yeah, I'm ok."
I hesitate... "Isn't it funny how the highway always sounds further away on nights like this?"