hey jupiter 1 {short story files}

I turned the time back, reeling it in like a length of fishing line, drawing it back into myself like the tablecloths fresh-smelling off the clothesline.

So there I am, back at the beginning again. On the dock. Bare feet dangling, toenails painted a bright yellow I suddenly hate. Maybe because I had been staring at them, hard, for the past 30 minutes.

My throat is dry, thoughts chasing each other round and round.

I can’t do it. I can’t.

Take a deep breath. Open my mouth.

“I need to tell you –”

“So Daisy died –”

I am halted, alas. “Oh. I’m so sorry.”

He shrugs one shoulder; I feel it more than I see it and fall just the tiniest bit more in love with him. Love is like a cookie that way. A stale one. Crumbs keep tumbling off, adding to the little pile you have collected.

“It’s okay. She was like, a hundred.”

“Yeah. But still. I’ll miss her.”

“Slobbery thing.”

“Ruined many a dress of mine.”

“Mm. Me too.” He shakes his head sadly.  “So many.”

“Shut up.”

“Remember the summer we found her?”

I remembered. “Yeah. You had really bad hair that summer.”

“Hey!”

“You did.”

“Okay, that’s true. I did. Hey, I like your toes.” He nudges my foot with his.

I pull away without meaning to. “That sounds creepy.” I look away as a light wind trickles over the surface of the lake and catches the loose wisps of hair escaped from my braid, and permit myself a secret smile.

His laughter nudges my ears the way his foot bumped my foot. “Hey, Jupiter?”

Heart pounding so hard I can feel it blocking my airway, I lift my eyes painfully to his, connecting for an instant before darting away again, skimming over the water. “Yeah?”

“You’re kind of cute sometimes.”

My eyes were on his now, trapped in his blue earnestness that always sees too much.

Tell him now.

He stares back, half-smiling. The words form, trying to reach my lips. They build and topple and build again.

And I fail. Again. I fail again. I can’t say the words that burn inside my mouth. And so they scald me, reproachfully. Now he will never know…

I look away from him again, swallowing hard against the tears that threaten to escape in a sob.

“I just think your color is yellow,” he continues naturally, casually, obliviously.

I force myself to look at him, but his eyes are off wandering now.

“It matches your curly hair.”

I raise an eyebrow. “If my color is yellow, yours is blue.”

He flashes me a giddying smile. “Here, have a bracelet.” His hands, busily knotting together a strand of wildflowers, suddenly move to wrap them around my brown wrist. My skin prickles under his touch, but I don’t have time to dwell on it because he is standing, reaching a hand down to me. Automatically, I reach out and take it.

“I should get you home. Don’t want your dad coming after me with that shotgun of his.”

“The shotgun is mine. You know this.”

“Point taken.”

It went too fast. Time did. I blinked and it slipped past, too liquid to lay hold of.

No. No. No.

I want it back.

 

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