154 / 365 – Ticks and kissing

FINN TILLARY

The grass is so green now. The prairie seems to ache with it, as if it wants to burst out of all that long winter into life, an explosion of green.

June days, I liked to lie on my back and look at the clouds. In June when the wind blows the sky is deep blue and cotton-puff clouds float across the afternoon. A lot of people in town like to go to Florida or somewhere for the winter, sit in the sun by the water, drink those drinks in pink plastic cups with lots of fruit and alcohol in them. I’m glad nobody orders those at the Uptown. I would probably make them wrong on purpose. I don’t really like lying in the sun. And I think the most boring thing in the world would be to lie on a beach. But in June I love lying in the warm green grass, with the sun pouring down, looking up at those clouds. After winter I want to soak in it for awhile.

You have to watch out for ticks. Some people hate ticks. I don’t mind them so much. Ticks are how Laura and I first started touching. We must have been in eighth grade. Maybe ninth grade. We rode our bikes up north and there was a big field that hadn’t been plowed, high in grass. It looked so good. It called to us. We lifted our bikes over the fence and walked them over to a shelterbelt at one end of them. Set the bikes against the trees and then ran out in the field. The grass was so high nobody could have seen us and we ran in circles like little kids. It was a June day just like this with these clouds rolling across and finally I just plopped down on the bed of grass and looked up. Laura suddenly couldn’t see me and she ran around calling for awhile. I think I scared her a little.

Then she found me and threw a clump of grass in my face but lay down next to me. She said, “Don’t start telling me those clouds look like things.” So of course I did. A baby doing cartwheels. A barn. A trumpeter swan. It was the first day, I don’t know, the first day I think I knew how much she meant to me. There was Chris, there had always been Chris, and there was her. She was like half of the whole world, that whole summer’s day. We talked a long time.

Then she said, “I think I have to go.” She made a face and said, “Milking.” I said, “Wait,” and I reached over and pulled a tick that was just sneaking up her hair, which was sort of spilled around her face where she was lying. I said, “A tick.” Then I moved my hands through the rest of her hair. It was like electricity, touching her. We had been friends for years, we had played games together. I’m sure I had touched her, bumped into her before. But that day, something happened. I could barely control my fingers, like they were going to shock me. She had on a t-shirt and I pulled back the neck just a little. I said, “No more.” And then she reached up and put her hands behind my head and pull it down toward her and kissed me. I didn’t really know what to do, kissing. I stopped after a minute. She was looking at me. I think wondering if that had been all right. My heart felt like it was underwater, then rising out of me, crashing in waves. I didn’t know what to say. So I kissed her back. And then she kissed me again. We didn’t talk for a long time.

It was just kissing. It was just kissing for a little while. And then it was other things. I always remember that afternoon when people complain about tick season starting. It’s not all bad.

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