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You sit down gently, the old bench groaning loudly in protest. A few paint chips come off, spilling onto the dewy grass below, their color reminding you of the samples you pored over at the mall, reminding you of the color “Winter Wonderland” that you finally chose for your bedroom wall.
The air is moist and heavy with the last rain. A few clouds still linger in the sky, occasionally pausing over the moon and stars above. Light filters down from a nearby streetlamp, casting a yellow shadow onto your figure, which sat hunched up against the humid air.
The wind blew, rustling the leaves on the trees, and you shiver slightly, moving your feet in the dirt below. A twig breaks, sending a sharp snap throughout the almost deserted park, which upon hearing you sit up straighter, trying not to look at the blonde girl sitting next to you, who barely flinched at the sound of the breaking branch. What must she think of you?
You watch him sitting there, so terse. He winces at the slightest touch, the slightest sound. His back snaps up at the sound of the twig cracking. You don’t move from your slouched position. This old, creaky park is familiar to you. Your dad took you here many times for a picnic when he wasn’t away on one or another of his business trips.
The boy relaxes a little. You can tell by the subtle movements of his body, the way his darting eyes slow their path, the way his sneakered feet dip so they point toward the ground instead of at sharp angles. Well, he can go back to his nervous state. You smirk faintly and sidle up to him, closing the couple inches of distance between the two of you, then tuck a curl behind your ear. You’ve got him sweating again, and you’re enjoying it.
The park smells like fresh rain and hardening mud and yellowing grass and worms. Just like that sweet spring day when you visited the botanical garden in New York City with your dad when he got home from his trip to… now where was it again? Oh, yes. When he got home from Paris, laden with new stories and gifts and hugs and kisses. You’ve seen so much from these stories, been so many places. You’ve seen some foreign countries for yourself, too, when he lets you go on a trip with him. You sigh, missing your dad. He won’t be back for another month, at least.
You take the boy’s hand and squeeze it. It’s all sweaty and clammy, like yours was when you took your driving test seven months ago. Was it really that soon? It feels like it had been years since you got your driver’s license. You squeeze his hand again, trying to be reassuring, casting off the cloak of intimidation you’ve been wearing for the past… what, half hour? You take a good look at him and the corners of your lips turn up in a gentle smile. He really is cute, with his frightened, deer-in-headlights look and mussed up hair, even though he can’t be more than fourteen years old.
He’s even worse now. You can just imagine his blood pressure rising, rising, shooting sky-high. You smirk, exposing a sliver of your neat teeth to the glowing moon.
You turn toward him and lean in.
She’s tilting toward you. All you can see are her big, blue eyes, staring at you, filled with compassion and sympathy and something else. The hint of a dare. Are you going to? her eyes ask, taunting you.
You have your answer ready. Yes. Yes, you are going to. And you mimic her, leaning toward her in a rusty old park over an ancient bench with paint chips falling off of it, tingling with anticipation.
You close your eyes.