She looked over at him and giggled slightly.
His face crunched as he dipped his toes in the cool lake water.
Their families had been coming here every summer since they were both ten. Though they lived in separate towns, they had summered together for half a decade. She had to admit- he was less awkward, and not nearly as gross as he was a couple years ago.
She looked up from her towel and saw both sets of parents lounging at the top of the hill, and talking loudly. He was coming back to his towel now, laughing and shivering without making it even halfway into the water.
She rolled her eyes.
He opened his eyes big. He had never heard her curse before, and she felt a surge of pride over the fact that she had let him know she could be a little dangerous.
That pride turned to squeals however, as he hoisted her up over his shoulder and ran with her to the water’s edge.
“Don’t even think about it! I will make you wish you were never born…”
The water was cold. Her toes and hands immediately went numb, but her face felt flush.
Gasping, she rubbed the iciness out of her eyes, and looked up the hill to see both mothers peering over their margaritas to make sure nobody had perished.
She waved an arm to signal she was fine, grabbed his hand, and used all her might to pull him head first into the lake.
He grabbed at her legs, but like a slippery fish she was free and climbed out of the water.
“Oh no you don’t!” he yelled as she screamed and ran along the lake edge.
She glanced over her shoulder and saw him racing right behind her…
Her face was a centimeter from a boulder, she was on the ground, and her knee was bleeding. She sighed in relief over the fact that she didn’t smash her face. She also blushed realizing she probably tripped over her own foot. The she winced as the true pain from her knee started to set in.
Her eyes were a little blurry as she saw him running full speed toward her.
He was calling, “Are you okay?… You okay?”
Before she could assess if she was really okay or not, everything seemed to slow down.
In slow motion, she watched him stub his toe, yelp like a puppy, fall forward, catch himself, and skid on the gravel while doing a handstand on his left hand. Twelve inches away from her, he came to a stop.
His hand looked like raw meat.
“You okay?”, he asked, breathless.
He nodded. “You?”
*nodding again* “You?”
He studied her knee. Then, drawing her leg closer, ever so gently, he blew on it.
His breath smelled like Cheetos.
She looked at him, and felt paralyzed.
With their families just up on the hill. Neither of them knew quite what to do.
Then… with a deep inhale… he pressed his bloody palm onto her gashed knee.
Gentle at first…
then with a little more pressure.
She felt a sting…
and then a throbbing.
She placed her hand on top of his… urging him to press a little harder.
She watched as his blood trickled down the side of her leg and mingled with hers.
She looked up into his eyes, and knew instantly…
that she loved him.