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The Risen Moonlight, Chapter 2

It was Ben’s first night visiting his aunt when he saw Ali. She was rocking the stroller her baby brother was in. Ben startled her, which he found oddly comforting. He had tried to kiss her once, but been interrupted by her little brother.
But he had kissed her. When he’d walked the stroller back to her house, behind Ali, who was cuddling Max, he’d kissed her. It was magical, though it didn’t last long. He wanted to know more about her. She wasn’t like the other girls he’d seen yesterday. She spoke what she felt and didn’t make you guess how she felt.

*-*-*-*

“Hey,” Ben said. “How’s it going?”
“Wonderful.” Ali sighed. “Just wonderful.”
Ali and Ben were sitting on the back deck, Max comfy in Ali’s lap. Ben had come over to get to know Ali better, and she’d welcomed the company.
“What’s your deal?” Ben asked. “I mean, you’re always taking care of Max, I’ve never once seen your mom, and you obviously don’t seem to be pleased to be here.”
“My mom,” Ali began, “doesn’t work, doesn’t pay the dang bills, and doesn’t give a hoot about what goes on in my life. It’s all about her.”
Ben didn’t say a word. He wasn’t sure what he should say to Ali. Ali had opened up to him, and he had no clue what the right thing to say was.
Ali wondered why she’d said that. Her mother wasn’t all that bad. Well, she hadn’t been all that bad. Until she told her that Max was on the way. Her mother had exploded like a warm can of soda. First, she’d yelled. Then, she’d lectured Ali. Then, she’d just flat out ignored Ali. She didn’t even bother to show up at the hospital when Max was born.
“What’s your deal?” Ali fired back, breaking the awkward silence that had lingered for a few minutes.
“I’m visiting my aunt.” Ben didn’t seem to want to give anymore details, and Ali had seemed content with that, if not grateful for that much.
Suddenly, she turned to Ben. “Why?” she asked.
“Why what?” Ben asked. “Why am I visiting my ant?”
“No.” Ali was quite for a moment. “I’m not like all the other girls here. I’m different. That’s always been enough to keep visitors away from me.” She paused, thinking. “Why are you making an effort to talk to me?”
Ben thought for a moment. “Honestly,” Ben began, “because you’re strong. You take care of your younger brother” – Ali cringed at this, and Ben wondered why – “when your mom does whatever she wants. You don’t try to fit in to the ‘it’ crowd. You wear whatever you want. You’re not afraid to tell the truth” – Ali cringed again, and Ben wondered if she always did this – “about your life. And you opened to me, some guy you don’t even know.”
Ali nodded, considering this. “I suppose,” she said smiling widely, “that’s a good enough answer.” She grabbed Ben’s hand and looked at it. “Tell me more about yourself.”
“Well,” Ben said, conscious of her grip on his hand and how good it made him feel, “I am planning on going to NYU. My dad is a firefighter in New Jersey, where I’m from, and my mom works as a lawyer back home. I’m an only child, and I have a dog, Sparky.”
“What do you want to be when you get older?” Ali asked.
“I’m not sure,” Ben said honestly. “I’m going to be an astronaut, a professional golfer, a singer, or all three.”
“You have got to be kidding me,” Ali said, playfully punching Ben in the arm.
“Why?” Ben asked, putting his hands up in surrender. “You haven’t even heard me sing or play golf.”
“I can only imagine,” Ali said, a huge smile on her face, “a professional golfer slash astronaut slash singer.”
“Well,” Ben said, “wait long enough, and you won’t have to imagine. It will be me, the first man to excel in pro golf and singing, while still a widely acclaimed astronaut.” He put on his goofy smile, making Ali want to kiss him. Instead, she smiles and takes another swing at his rather muscular arm.
Ali leans in slowly and kisses Ben on the lips.
Ben enjoys it, as does Ali, who feared it may have been too much too soon.
Backing away, Ben notices Ali’s cheeks are bright pink. “What are you doing for July 4th?” he asks, remembering tomorrow is July 4th.
“Nothing.” Ali sighs. “Well, actually, this.”
Ben cocks his head slightly. “Want to have a picnic tomorrow?”
“Sure.” Ali’s heart is pounding in her chest. “Can’t wait,” she said, meaning it, until Ali remembers Max: her son, her responsibility.
Ali is the girl who wears black nail polish, neon shirts, and black short shorts. She doesn’t care what people say. Ben is the guy who will identical muscle shirts and tan shorts everyday. They’re like night and day.
“Actually,” Ali says, biting her lip, “I have to care of Max.”
“You can bring him,” Ben says, hopefully.
Ali considers this before saying, “Well, I don’t know, Mr. Anderson. Are you sure that is all right?”
Ben pretends to be deep in thought before saying, “Yes, Miss. Mitchell, I believe your brother may join us on our picnic adventure.”
Ali pretends to be flattered. Then, she gets up and walks over to Ben. She sits on his lap, and he wraps his arms around her. She kisses his lips gently but passionately.
After pulling away, Ali smiles. “Was that alright, Mr. Anderson?”
Ben bounces her on his knees. “It was more than alright, Miss. Mitchell.”
“I think…I mean…I love you,” Ali says. “I know we kind of just met and all, but I mean it.”
“I love you too,” Ben says. He leans in and kisses her.

Dear Diary,
Not only did I have an amazing day today, I have a date with her tomorrow. Today, we told each other “I love you.” I meant it with all my heart; I could tell she did, too.
Today, we just hung around her place. It was really cool. Her mom wasn’t home, but Ali didn’t offer any explanation as to where she may have been, and I didn’t ask.
Ben



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