<play> for a better reading experience
“Meet me under the juniper tree,” was all that the note said, and so as she reached the summit of the hill on her vintage green bicycle, she saw a picnic blanket, basket, and an opened bottle of wine. And, of course, her boyfriend.
“Cute,” she said as she approached him, leaving the bike propped against the tree. The blanket, an old plaid one from the sixties they’d bought at a yard sale, was held down on each corner by different objects: his journal, the wine, a stack of 45s, and the old battery-operated 45 player they scored at a thrift shop. He moved the needle over the 45 already on the player, and Woman by John Lennon started playing as he stood up and reached his hand out.
“Care to dance?”
She took his hand and they danced under the juniper tree, the wind blowing through the prickly leaves, berries dropping here and there, one landing in her hair. He reached out and pulled it out, fixed her hair where it was messy from his fingers, and then returned his hand to its original position on the hip of her plaid t-shirt dress.
“You’re something else, aren’t you?” she asked. He smiled. “Don’t get a big head over this. It’s impressive, yes, but still, don’t get cocky.” Her smile told him he was doing a good job. “So what’s the occasion?”
He thought about it as they slowly rotated, moving from sun to shade and back again. He finally shrugged. “No occasion. Just felt like it.”
Her arms squeezed a little tighter, making him exhale a little, move his hand up to the back of her head and into her hair, and he brought his lips to hers. She made a tiny sound, letting him know the feeling of excitement in his chest was shared.
The 45 finished playing, and he stopped kissing and released her, returning to the blanket and opening the basket as she just stood there, a bit dazed.
“I got us hummus, pita, and of course, for you, green olives. Blech!” he said as he opened the jar and some of the liquid spilled on his hand. He placed everything on the blanket as she walked over, took her flip flops off and sat, knees together and feet under her.
“How thoughtful! Try one.”
“Have you ever had one?”
“As a kid, yes, Gross.” He squinched his face so she understood he didn’t like them.
“Just try one. For me.” He looked at her, she pushed out her lower lip, letting him know he didn’t really have a choice. He opened his mouth, and she threw one at him, missing completely as it rolled down his vintage brown shirt, leaving a small trail of wet brine.
“Nice,” he said, smiling at her as he dabbed at the trail with a napkin. He picked up the olive and threw it into his mouth.
She laughed. “You like it, don’t you.”
“No!” he said with a sound of defensiveness in his voice. She smiled.
“You don’t have to admit it. But I know you do.”
He put out the food as she poured the wine into plastic cups. They ate in silence for a while, taking turns removing the berries from the hummus as they fell from the tree.
“This is nice,” she said to him after a sip of wine. He smiled at her and refilled her cup, and then his. She spread more hummus onto her pita and then passed it over to him. He took a bite and was surprised.
“There was an olive hidden in there!”
“You’re welcome,” she said with a curt smile. He laughed.
“You’re trouble, you know that?” She nodded.
He spread some hummus on a piece of pita and took a bite.
He thought about it for a few seconds, and after much deliberation said, “Can you pass me the olives?”
After a know-it-all smile at him, she passed him the olives, and a berry bounced right off the bridge of her nose, making both of them laugh.