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Midsummer Blues

It's summer. Change is in the air. Love lurks around and Bree's life changes in unexpected ways.
“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 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 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 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. I don’t know how many hours I spent in front of the telephone, debating whether I should try another call, and what the best time might be.

My emotions were riding on a swing, from desperate over hopeful to raging and back, in a constant motion, and it was taking its toll on me. Whatever I did, there was one thought on the forefront of my mind. Kirsty. I couldn’t eat more than a few bites each meal, which didn’t get unnoticed, and my mother’s worried questions got more adamant each day. Even dad started to ask me if I was well, and while he was more reserved with his questions, the worry in his eyes made me feel even worse each time I circumvented answering.

The final straw was solstice. When I declared that I wouldn’t attend the bonfire, mum pushed me down on a kitchen chair and pulled out another one, took a seat directly in front of me and fixed me with a glare.

“You’re not leaving this chair until you’ve spilled the beans, young lady! You’re neither eating nor sleeping enough, and your dad and I are both worried. We’ve waited long enough for you to bring whatever it is in order, but we won’t watch you tear yourself apart.”

The old clock on the wall announced each second that went by with its loud, dry ticks, while I looked at the floor, counted the tiles above the counter, let my eyes roam everywhere but to my mother’s face. But even though she had a few faults, impatience wasn’t one of them. I risked a glance. Her face was soft and caring. My resolve broke.

Tears started to stream down my cheeks, and I cursed myself for all the crying I did lately. “I’m in love.” A dry sob shook my body.

“Okay,” mum said slowly, “I thought as much. Someone from around here? Will you tell me his name?”

“Her name!” There it was, out in the open and not being taken back. I hung my head.

“Oh.” A few seconds went by. “Oh my. That explains it.”

“Explains what?” I managed to ask a little rebelliously through my sobs.

“Pastor McKilligan’s sermon about love as a godly institution between man and woman this Sunday. He was trying awfully hard to make his point, I think he even mentioned brimstone and fire.”

My breath hitched. Did she just make a joke about it? “You’re,” I stammered, my voice high but hopeful, “you’re not disappointed?”

“Only a little, that you didn’t come to talk to me about it earlier, but I can understand that too.”

She got up from the chair and opened her arms. Finally, I could do what I had wanted for what seemed like ages now, and I threw myself into her arms and bawled for all it was worth, safe in her embrace, while she rubbed my back and whispered soothing words.

* * * * *

We talked almost two hours after my tears had finally ebbed, and I spilled my whole misery to her. Without the gory details, of course, but I was sure she heard more than I told her anyway. She knew about the conundrum about Kirsty’s flunked math exam and college, and I didn’t have to tell her much about Mrs. Underhill’s reaction. She did question me more than once about whether I was sure that this was more than a simple crush. Which wasn’t that bad, because I had to dig inside my own heart, and when I told her that I had, in those short and precious moments with Kirsty, felt complete for the first time in my life, she smiled.

I did notice dad’s face peek around the corner a few times, but it was always quickly followed by the entrance door falling shut. When his visits came in shorter intervals though, mum became aware that they had to get ready for the bonfire, told me to take a hot bath and watch a movie afterwards, and that everything would be alright, that she’d help me make sure of that.

That’s how I ended up soaking in the bathtub with a huge container of strawberry ice cream and, for the first time since that fateful event, carrying a real glimmer of hope inside.

* * * * *

Mum stowed the rattling stack of plates into the cupboard. Dad was already out on the field. “We talked to Daisy Underhill at the festival.”

I put down the cup of cocoa. Breakfast instantly seemed less important. “Did she…” I bit my lip, afraid of what I might hear.

“She’s worked herself into a right state. I’m not sure what’s going on with her, but she’s foaming at the mouth, and it can’t be good.”

A lance of ice-cold worry stabbed through my tummy. “And Kirsty?”

She turned towards me, leaned against the counter and shrugged. “Couldn’t get a word out of Daisy about her. But I talked to Reggie, he’s going over there today to service their milking installation, and he’s promised to keep an eye out. He will give me a call when he’s back.”

“Thank god.” The force with which the breath I hadn’t known I had been holding made its way out my throat was enormous.

“She’s a strong girl, just like you.” She stepped closer and laid a hand on my shoulder. “It’s going to be alright.”

I hoped so, with every fiber of my being. The day seemed to drag on endlessly, and I stayed in the house, never straying far from the telephone, hopeful and anxious about what Reggie’s call might bring.

* * * * *

The call didn’t come. Every hour that went without word about her by raised my apprehension to new levels, and when dinnertime went by and the phone hadn’t rung, even mum was becoming agitated, but she kept me from looking up Reggie’s number and calling him.

That’s how I fell asleep on the couch for the second time in a row, but while I had been hopeful yesterday, dreadful images haunted my unruly slumber.

When the crunching of gravel announced a car coming into our yard in the middle of the night, I was instantly awake. I shook off the blanket mum had spread over me without me noticing and flew to the front door.

Pulling it open, I froze at the scene. It was Officer Eddings, helping a figure wrapped in a brown blanket out of his police car, a frail, female figure with blonde-streaked hair. The girl looked at me and I almost tumbled backwards.

“Kirsty!” My pained shout resonated in the silence of the night.

One side of her face was dark and swollen, her lips were bruised and her shoulders sagged. She moved with difficulty, and I had to grip the door frame to support me while I watched her with a painfully throbbing heart. She made her way towards me with small, insecure steps, guided by the officer’s strong hands.

Then they were right in front of me. My heart broke when I saw how badly she was shaking. She wouldn’t even look at me.

“Kirsty.” All the anguish and sorrow condensed in a single word. I tentatively reached out and stroked her good cheek. “Come in, let’s get you up into my room.”

Officer Eddings cleared his throat. “Sorry, I know that you only mean the best, but I’ll have to talk to one of your parents before I leave Miss Underhill with you.”

“It’s quite alright, Joshua.” My mother’s voice came from the window above the entrance door and filled me with relief. “Let Bree get her settled in, I’ll be with you in a minute. Make yourself comfortable in the kitchen.”

* * * * *

Kirsty was a mess. Her face was swollen so much that her taut skin looked close to bursting, and when I helped her strip out of the dirty pajama she was wearing underneath the cover of the blanket and she winced and whimpered with every touch, I wanted to cry with her and smash something to pieces. It took ages to get her undressed, and her left side was a mess of bruises.

She stank, I realized; there was no other word for it, and her hands and feet were dark with grime. I steered my apathetic best friend through the connecting door into the shower and washed her as cautiously as I could, but the softest touch of the washcloth on her bruises was enough to make her whimper.

She didn’t talk, and I couldn’t find words either. Once dried, I got her settled under the blanket, naked as she was. I went to fetch the ice bag - the big one that dad had bought after a cow had stepped on his foot - from the fridge. I wrapped it into a fresh dish towel and brought it to her. The small flicker of gratefulness when she held it against her face was the first conscious reaction from her.

Finding the painkillers in the medicine chest took me a bit, and while I rummaged through it, I heard snippets of the conversation between Officer Eddings and my mum. Kirsty’s mother had apparently completely snapped. She had beat her up after she had thrown me out and locked her in the basement, only throwing in a few bottles of water, but otherwise leaving her there all alone, cold and in the dark. My heart broke again for her, and I shivered at the brutality. It must have been hell, and I damned the vile woman that called herself her mother for turning my beloved best friend into the suffering, damaged girl that was lying on my bed now.

Remembering my own swollen face after I had my wisdom teeth pulled, I stuck a straw into the glass of water. She put the pills into her mouth herself, awkward and flinching, barely being able to open her mouth at all, but she drank the water greedily, so I fetched a full bottle and gave her a refill.

When she slumped back, spent from the little action, I crawled into the bed too and snuggled up to her on her right, uninjured side. Her body trembled. I wanted to hug her, to pull her tight and tell her everything would be alright, but I couldn’t, so I buried my face in her shoulder and tried not to let her hear my suppressed sobs.

“Bree.” Her voice was barely audible and full of pain, but hearing my name from her lips was enough to make my heart soar.

“Shush,” I whispered and gently touched her cheek, “it’s going to be alright. You’re here with me now, and I’ll never let you out of my eyes again. I’ll never let anything like this happen to you again. But you need to sleep now. I’ll be here tomorrow.”

Her arm wrapped around my back. In all the wrongness of what happened, this single gesture felt incredibly right. It took almost half an hour until she fell asleep, but finally her body relaxed and her breathing evened out. I lay awake for ages, images of her battered body dancing before my eyes and scaring me back into wakefulness each time I was about to drift off.

* * * * *

The week seemed to stretch endlessly. Mum took Kirsty to the doctor in the morning, which had been arranged by Officer Eddings. I begged and pleaded, but I wasn’t allowed to accompany her, something about ‘proper procedure’ or such. So I spent an awkward, tense morning in my room, listening for slightest sound of the returning car. When they did arrive back it was well into the afternoon, and I had been fearing the worst.

I was already waiting at the door when they exited the car. Kirsty was wearing a long bathrobe and I could see the hem of those cheap hospital gowns peeking out from underneath.

“I’m okay,” she said as a greeting, and when I didn’t look convinced, she added, “really! Nothing broken, nothing permanent.” She smirked, but it made her flinch in pain. “Hurts like a bitch, though.”

“And that is why the doctor told you to lie down and take your meds as soon as we were back, young lady!” My mother admonished.

We helped her up the stairs and into bed, and after she had taken her pills and sucked almost a whole bottle of water through the straw, she was out like a light. I sat on the edge of the bed and watched her face slowly relax.

“What did the doctor really say?”

Mum was arranging knick-knacks on a highboard and trying to appear busy. “What she told you.”

“That surely wasn’t all!”

She sighed. “No. But she was lucky. If she hadn’t been as fit, she would probably have ended up with broken ribs or worse.”

“How could Dianne to this?”

Mum sat down next to me and pulled me close. “I can’t really understand it either. She’s been having issues ever since her husband left her. Perhaps all the farm work and caring for Kirsty became too much for her. I’m not sure if we’ll ever know.”

“I could kill her!” God, the woman who hurt my love deserved so much pain!

“But Kirsty doesn’t need revenge or hate now. She needs to be loved.”

I cried into her shoulder. It wasn’t the last time either. Kirsty’s injuries were slowly healing, but she couldn’t make any rapid movements or stand being in the sun. She was basically locked inside and only a shade of her normal self. I tried to be there for her as much as I could, and there were moments where I was sure that we both felt that close connection, but at other times I had the feeling that she was drifting away, slipping into a cocoon and making herself intangible.

Dad tried to make it easier for me by getting me to help with the farm work. We spent a few hours each day replacing the fences at the far end of the grounds. Mum did what she could best, that was mothering Kirsty and giving her the feeling of being at home.

* * * * *

The time went by too fast. A month had already passed since that night and we were approaching August. The only remaining evidence of my love’s ordeal were a slightly paler complexion and a pained expression every time she thought nobody was looking. It ate me up inside.

The moon was full and cast the world in pale, bluish light. It shone into my eyes and woke me up. I was alone in my bed.

The door into the hallway was open, but I couldn’t hear the tiniest noise, so I untangled myself from the blanket and crept out of the room, a strange fear clutching at my heart. The stairs creaked under my bare feet.

It was too bright at the bottom, and when I came down, I saw the entrance door opened all the way and a small lizard scuttling into the house. I didn’t give it a second thought.

Finding Kirsty was easy. Even from right in front of the door, I could see her silhouette in the middle of the hayfield, and I looked at her for a few, anxious minutes and watched her sway back and forth, her shoulders shaking.

I made my way towards her.

“Kirsty.”

I only whispered her name, but she spun around as if it was a gunshot.

“Oh.” She quickly turned around again, away from me.

I stood next to her, close but not touching, and when I followed the direction of her gaze, I realized that she was staring at her home. Tears streamed silently down her cheeks, little silver gems of sorrow that glinted in the moonlight. Even now, with all the sadness of the world painted in her face and in that silly white pajama of mine, she was beautiful.

“It hurts.” I had to strain my ears to understand her words. “Oh god, it hurts so much. And every time I look at you, it happens again, and, and…” Her voice broke with anguish.

I froze for a moment, my own tears accompanying hers in their silent mourning. Then, slowly and carefully, I stepped behind her, wrapped my arms around her and rested my head on her shoulder.

“It’s going to take time,” I whispered.

“I don’t want it to take time! I… We don’t have time!” She tried to pull free, but her struggle was half-hearted and I hugged her closer.

“We have all the time in the world. You have all the time in the world. I’m not going anywhere!”

“You’re going to college, in little more than a month.” Her tears slowly stopped, but the trembling in her words spoke of loneliness.

“I won’t go. Not without you!”

She was silent for a long time. I could feel her muscles tense and relax in my embrace.

“It’s your future! You can’t just stay here and ruin it because of me!”

I snapped. That’s the only word I can find for it. Not the going-crazy kind of snapping, but I stopped thinking.

I spun her around, hard. And then I stabbed my finger at her chest, in time with the words that tumbled over my lips in gut-wrenching, heart-clenching cold fury. “I. Will. Not. Leave. You!”

She tried to recoil from my sudden shift in mood and stumbled, making me freeze. She sat on the ground, legs splayed and chest heaving. Her eyes looked up at me, wide and incredibly vulnerable. Suddenly I was kneeling between her legs and crying. “Don’t,” I sobbed, “push me away! Please!”

We stared into each other’s eyes. The world narrowed to a tiny space and there was nothing but us. Us! Hope surged like a flame in my heart when her face softened, and when she reached out for my hand, took it in hers and softly caressed my fingers with her other hand, tears of joy welled up in my eyes.

She pulled my hand to her lips and kissed my palm. Tingles, warm and lovely, spread out from where she touched me.

“Love me!” she whispered with an urgency that made me feverish.

And then we pulled on each other’s pajamas, stripped each other in a frenzied moment of desire.

“You’re so beautiful!” I gasped when her breasts where exposed to the moonlight, pale and soft and perfect.

“You’re too!” Her voice was full of need.

I toppled over when she pulled my pajama pants free of my legs and threw them aside. A moment later, we were both nude and lying next to each other. There was a hint of dew on the grass, cool and smooth to our backs, and I pulled her over me.

Our kiss was like fireworks, really. God, she tasted so good, even better than I recalled, and when her tongue started to tease mine, tickling and touching, I closed my eyes and got lost in the moment.

She suddenly pulled away, and I tried to sit up and follow her, but she put a finger to my lips and gently pushed me down.

“Don’t move,” she ordered with a whisper, “I’ve wanted to do that so long.”

She slowly crept backwards, puzzling me at first, but when she was between my legs and ran her fingertips over my thighs, my breath hitched. “Oh god, Kirsty!”

The first kiss was like drop of honey on my skin, it fell moist and warm and incredibly soft on the inside of my thigh. She put the second on the other side, and I couldn’t stop myself from pulling up my legs to ease her access to that one spot that lit up with burning need. My heart pounded against my chest, both from need and from fear I might be too forward, too lewd.

But before my insecurities could take a hold of me, her fingers danced over my lips and tickled me in the most wonderful ways. I moaned, barely audible but loud enough to make her smile at me.

“I’ve wanted…” she whispered huskily, “for ages…”

She lowered her face agonizingly slowly, and my breath flew, short and hard and labored. My whole body started to tremble, and then it was there. Her tongue touched between my legs, delved between into my swollen sex in a touch that was so magical that the world started spinning.

Kristy! My best friend! My - lover! I had to tell her, and I tried, but the intimacy of the moment took my breath away, and the pleasure that shot all through me robbed me of my senses.

“Kristy!” I moaned, and she answered by licking deeper and harder. “Kristy!” My voice shook. Her tongue found that one, sweet spot that immediately sent sparks of pleasure through my lower body, and I arched my back.

I lost all sense for time. I whispered her name as a prayer, a mantra, while she drove me up an endless spiral of pleasure.

With a last, drawn-out, almost desperate shout of her name, I came. The waves of pleasure shot up and down my body. I think I cried, but I couldn’t really say, my whole being awash with that incredible feeling and my heart almost bursting with joy. I was flying, soaring through the sky on wings of sweet, delicious love, and only slowly coming back down.

When my senses all returned, I was wrapped in Kirsty’s arms. She kissed me with incredible tenderness, and though the thought that my own juices were on her lips crossed my mind, I couldn’t give a damn.

We kissed and cuddled for what felt like ages.

When I finally pushed her onto her back and whispered, “My turn,” she had that same feeling of incredulous desire in her eyes that I had felt earlier. I teased her even longer than she had me, showering those soft spots at the top of her thighs with little kisses and caressing her legs with my fingertips. Each touch and kiss was rewarded with small gasps and whimpers that steadily grew in intensity.

When her legs began to shake, it was the sign.

Heat. Moisture. Sweetness. That were the first impressions that assaulted me so pleasantly when I finally buried my tongue between her legs and tasted, for the first time in my life, another girl. It was the most sensual thing I had ever done, and when she moaned my name, I wanted to hold onto this moment forever.

She soon shook and twisted in bliss, and I reveled in the knowledge that I was the one to gift her with this pleasure.

We made love for ages, right in the middle of the hayfield, and the full moon poured its blessing over us.

* * * * *

“Hey, lovebirds,” my mother’s voice pulled us from our whispered discussion about a particularly obscene looking cloud, “I’ve brought you coffee.”

She didn’t mention that we were up a little after sunrise - which we had watched right here - and sitting on the hay ball in front of the house in our pajamas, Kirsty between my legs, my arms wrapped around her and our fingers interlocked.

“Thanks, mum,” I answered her, reaching for the cup she held out for me, the grin threatening to tear my face. “You’re the best!”

She didn’t stay long.

“You know what?” Kirsty asked and sipped on her steaming coffee.

“No?”

She rested her head back on my shoulder. “I wish this summer would never end!”

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