She wobbled, waved her arms wildly and fell, laughing, from the top of the wall. Rick ran to catch her.. missed and she landed in the grass at his feet.
"It surely is!" She shook her thick brown hair from her face. "Why keep your feet on the ground always?"
She allowed him to help her up and they walked, hand fast,along the verge by the road. The sun came from fitful cloud,the day was warm, not hot.
They had known each other all their lives - and they were getting to know each other. Often, she thought, they had known each other forever.
Fifteen in autumn. Born in spring, both of them, to women who were neighbours but never friends. They played together as babies and fortunes changed. Rick's mother had his sister and left their father,for what was no doubt good reason. Gina's mother had no more children and stayed. A family of boisterous girls moved in to where Rick had lived until he was 11.
Now they met again.
"When are you leaving?" she asked abruptly.
"Don't ask about it".
She pulled him down to the grass, heedless of damp.
"I want to" she pulled her red skirt down over her bony knees. "Four years you were gone. Now you come back with your father, and you might be back for ten days, or ten years or forever. I need to know".
"I could die tonight. So could you".
"True!" her laugh revealed her crooked teeth.
He stood,pulling her to her feet. She leant against him and bent to adjust her sandal, red like her dress.
"Where is your mother?"
"I don't know" he paused. "Gone"
"She left again?"
"We left. Dad came to me in the middle of the night and said we had to go. He wouldn't let me wake Lia or anything. It was too dangerous."
"What are you talking about?" she wanted to shake him.
"Big fat hairy secret!" he shouted and ran ahead. "I know - let's play Romeo and Juliet".
She ran to catch him, their goal ahead, the river where they would lie among midges and avoid picnickers. His legs pumped to stay ahead of her (but not too far). Under his jeans his legs were hairy, and his voice had deepened. There was something unaesthetic about boys. But somehow Gina knew she still wanted to be with him.
She caught him up, where he sat panting on the grass. He pulled her down and kissed her.
A bond was formed, between the beats of her heart. He let her go and his green eyes were full.
"Hey, Juliet" he said shakily."Gotta go"
"No, no, you can't"
He did.No one ever believed her, but he did, just like that, with a roar overhead and a blue light - and he went.
As did she. Deep inside. Where she lived to be very old, and never came out again.