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There are two teenage girls in a house on Cape Cod. It is the earliest time of summer, when the light is golden and fresh and the days are warm enough for the two girls to take walks around town in flip-flops. They ride to the old drive-in movie theater in a convertible with the top down, and they laugh as they try to comb their fingers through their impossibly tangled hair.

The days are lazy and hazy, warm and sticky. The girls spend the mornings reading books and scrolling through social networks, and they say few words to each other. They need a daily dose of the separate worlds they come from, a steady footing in reality so that they can reach out to each other when the sun is high in the afternoon.

Almost every day, the two girls visit the pond. They bury their feet in hot sand and glower at children that have occupied the dock in the middle of the water where they want to go. They tan on beach towels printed with seashells and stripes, and they make up life stories for all the other summer people that they’ll never really meet. They name them Walter and Sheila and fantasize about their children and jobs and their secret lives at the country clubs. Tentative steps are taken into the pond, and there is always a count of “One...two........three!” before noses are plugged and brown shoulders and faces are submerged. The girls notice the way bodies move underneath the water made transparent by the sun. They notice the beads of sweat that drip from foreheads, and they suck on dark, heavy braids of wet hair.

When they return home and drip water onto the carpet, they change against the fading mango glow of the day they left behind. Heavy towels are dropped onto the floor, and hair is wrestled out of ponytails. Each girl in turn says to the other, “Don’t look,” and turns her back to change. But the peeking happens in quick moments. Hungry, guilty eyes gaze over soft peachy skin and the stomachs they wish they had. There are quick, hurried glances at breasts or butts or hipbones or thighs, and then the other girl turns, now clothed, and the curious gaze darts back to where it came from.

The two girls huddle together on a bed that is too small for the both of them. Their legs entwine, and a head is rested on a shoulder. They each take a moment to wonder about the other, they wonder how far ahead their friend has gone past them in the years they’ve been apart. They cease to filter their heads the way they do in the winter, and they talk about things infinitely bigger than themselves while each staring up at the same crack in the ceiling. There are several silences, a few shifts of legs and arms and abdomen, and, as usually appears in a talk such as this among girls, there are confessions.

“You’re my best friend in the whole world.”
The girl who has been spoken to props her head up on her palm and looks into the eyes of her friend. But it’s not just the eyes that are inventoried, it’s the freckles and the curls and the pink lips, and for a brief second, the weight of an imagined kiss hangs in the heavy summer air. It is accompanied by the thought of the peach-fuzz skin and the feeling of a soul stripped bare and left raw by the overwhelming freedom of June.
“You’re my best friend too.” A shaky voice, attributed to emotion, to compassion, or maybe to embarrassment. And the girl flops back down on the bed and tries to calm her wretched heart.

The two girls are up until three AM, suppressing giggles and bearing cleavage to far-away boyfriends over video-chat. It becomes too hot to sleep in the upstairs room with the two double beds, and so the girls drag armfuls blankets all the way down to the basement in the dark. They make a nest on the floor and their bodies sigh with the cool touch of the cement floor against their backs.

They leave the lights on for a little while longer down there in the basement. They make lists of all the things they want to do and all the things that make them happy. They play Scrabble using only words that make them blush, words that their parents hope they don’t know yet. One yawns and the other notices, and they turn off the lights and fight for the blankets. They text the far-away boys to say goodnight. The girls lose sight of each other in the dark and each one falls asleep imagining that she is alone.

I woke up early that next morning to find the heavy weight of her head on my shoulder. She was warm and I was cold, and her salty, curly hair was spread out over my collarbone. Instead of pushing her to the side or reclaiming the blankets that she had stolen from me, I let her stay where she was. I couldn’t fall back to sleep, and so I listened to her breathing and counted the tiles on the ceiling until she rolled off of me and woke up, four hours later.

“You were sleeping on my shoulder.” I said softly, playfully.

“Was I?” she laughed, “I’m sorry. I must’ve thought you were my boyfriend.”

There was so much honesty in the week on Cape Cod that I spent with her. There was honesty in our curiosity, there was honesty in our laughs and honesty in the questions we asked each other and in the questions we asked ourselves. Summer stripped us of our school-girl shells and revealed us as sunburnt children with a love of doing handstands in shallow water and an intense longing to know why everything else in the world couldn’t be as beautiful or as truthful as summer always was. There was honesty in the solidarity of being a teenage girl, of feeling the world instead of seeing it and shopping for trinkets you’ll never need. I was honest, and I thought that she was too.

But when she told me that she had curled up to me because she thought I was someone I was not, someone strong and male and so far away from our Cape Cod world, I didn’t think she was being honest.



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KayleneB said...
Mar. 11, 2013 at 11:51 pm
This is really good and personal I really like it Continue writing because you are really good
 
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