The July sun beat down on Annie’s black dress, baking her into drowsiness as she read. The Z’s ever-still, glassy-smooth surface trickled in tiny whispers against the dock beneath her, offering the promise of cool, wet relief from the summer heat. The words blurred. The pages shimmered against their powder blue backdrop. Each sentence made less sense than the one before it, and Annie disappeared into the sky beyond them.
“What are you reading, Annie?” Andy’s smooth voice interrupted dreamily.
“It’s called Stardust, by Neil Gaiman. It’s a love story about a star that falls from the sky.”
“You mean a meteor?”
“No, a real star. Her name’s Yvaine.”
“Real stars don’t fall from the sky.” Andy sat down next to her.
Annie set the book down on the dock and looked up into Andy’s beautiful blue eyes, dark brown hair tousled in broad curls about his tanned face. “If I was a star and you saw me fall from the sky, what would you wish for?” she asked.
“If you were a star, and you fell from the sky, I’d wish for the sky back.”
“Why? What happened to the sky?”
“If you fell from it, all the other stars would fall too, so they could still be by your side. Then there wouldn’t be a single star in the sky.”
Annie smiled. “But what would you wish for?”
“What did the hero wish for?”
“Hero? You mean Tristran?”
“Sure, if that’s his name. There’s a hero in every story isn’t there?”
“Tristran doesn’t really wish on the star; Victoria wishes she could have it and he promises to bring it to her so she’ll kiss him.”
Andy leaned close and Annie’s heart quickened. “I think that sounds like the perfect wish,” he said.
“Whatever do you mean, Andy?” she asked playfully, but she knew exactly what he meant.
Andy leaned slowly closer and Annie held her breath. Closer still. She closed her eyes. She let her lips part and felt his kiss tingle throughout her body. Delicately, tentatively, she reached her tongue up to touch his, finally breathing again. The smell of his body in the summer heat penetrated her with delight as their tongues twisted together. He pulled his kiss gently away after a few moments, but he held her tight.
Annie opened her eyes and squinted up at him, the bright sky stinging her eyes after their brief flirt with darkness. Her book and wishes upon stars were completely forgotten. Andy had kissed her! “I love you, Andy,” she whispered.
“And I love you, Annie! I’ve always loved you!”
Annie lifted her lips up, eager for another kiss.
Tittering laughter rippled from the dock out across the surface of the lake. Annie sat up with a terrified start, clutching herself as she trembled in mortified embarrassment.
“I thought you were over him,” Jessi laughed. She was sitting cross-legged on the dock in her bikini, mirthfully reveling in Annie’s romantic daydream.
Annie was shaking so hard she could barely speak. “How long have you been watching me?”
“Jesus shit,” Jessi snorted. “Long enough to know if I could have kept my mouth shut any longer, I’d be watchin’ him pop your cherry ’bout now!”
Cherry was a pretty good word for the color of her cheeks, Annie estimated. They burned worse than a whole afternoon of sun. “How did you sneak up on me?” She was almost crying.
Jessi got up. “Flower, when you start daydreamin’, a herd of elephants could sneak up on you.” She walked to the end of the dock, and sat next to Annie, dropping her feet in the water.
“It ain’t very nice of you spyin’ on me, like that.”
“How else I gonna know you’re still crushin’ on Andy? It ain’t like you told me. And anyway, that’s what Super Spy Girls do, ain’t it?”
“You snuck up on me on purpose.”
“Don’t get your panties in a wad over it. I won’t tell no one.” She picked up the book and browsed the open pages. “This a new one?”
“Last year,” Annie nodded, feeling better for the diversion.
“Borrow it when you’re done?”
She nodded again.
“Hey, I just came to get you, dream girl. Jeff showed up with his boat and we’re all goin’ out on it. Come on!” Jessi jumped up and pulled Annie to her feet.
They stood eying each other for a moment. Annie’s face was a pretzel, a reflection of her inner turmoil.
“Hey, come on,” Jessi coaxed. “Who held your hair when you caught him kissing the Wicked Witch?” She put her hand to her neck where it had once worn a childhood gumball necklace. “Heart that beats in my chest, right?”
Annie smiled and her worry washed away.
“Come on then! You got your suit on?” Jessi grabbed Annie’s dress and pulled it up from the bottom. Quickly, she jerked it back down again.
Annie’s eyes were wide with alarm.
“Sorry,” Jessi apologized. “That wasn’t the suit I meant.”
© 2013 Anne Schilde