We’d just spent the whole day together, the four of us, me and Jimmy, Fern and Able, an entire day. I remember it was warm, too warm for Spring, Easter around the corner, things were simpler then, when we still anxiously awaited the Easter Bunny, wondering what goodies we would find in our baskets. No school for a few days. The long trek to Scranton to see the relatives we only saw twice a year, once for a huge Easter brunch and their yearly summer visit in Sea Isle City.
The creek had been especially cold still, too cold really to put our feet in, but we did so anyway. I shivered a bit, and Jimmy pointed out the goose pimples on my arms. He started trying to warm them, and they only grew worse, not from the cold but from his touch. I turned a bright red, which Able pointed out, and I just tried to explain away as part of the unusual heat.
We headed over to the swinging rope from there, the boys daring each other to swing farther out over the creek, then taking turns attempting other dares, trying to outdo each other for the sake of our affection. It wasn’t until the rope started to break that they stopped, and Jimmy won, of course.
Fern and I sat and chatted while the boys played with a frog they found, listening to us giggle from afar. They pushed each other a bit, back and forth, but playfully. They weren’t fighting over us, everyone knew Able had a thing for Fern, and Jimmy, well Jimmy had already told me he was going to ask me to marry him one day.
It was Fern who pointed out the sun, guessing it was probably almost supper time when we started hearing all of the neighborhood moms yelling out children’s names, so we started the long hike back through the woods. Birds sang, the boys hit saplings with walking sticks they found, and we just followed.
We emerged from behind old Mr. Sampson’s back yard, careful not to be seen since he was a notorious kid hater, and was known to call parents when kids cut through his yard. But we didn’t care, it was a perfect day and we practically dared him to call our homes as we strolled through.
It was after we got to the street that Jimmy slowed down, allowing me to catch up, telling Fern that Able wanted to ask her something so that she would run ahead a bit. He took my hand in his for the first time, and an excited chill ran through my body to my heart. I smiled a crooked smile, trying to act normal and keep from him how he made me feel, and as Fern turned around, smiled, and waved her goodbye to me, I wiggled my free fingers at her in return and Jimmy walked me home, holding my hand all the way.