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I’m in the middle of nowhere. I find myself surrounded by high mountain peaks, silver lakes and cascading rivers. The wild summer grass reaches just above my ankles and butterflies flutter about my knees. A doe and her two fawns descend from the trees and they glance at me with their glistening eyes.
Then I see you. Our eyes lock and your mischievous smile is captured into my memory. You bring your hands from behind and I see that you hold a collection of my favorite wild flowers. There are some radiant purple ones and some as bright as the sunshine and still others that remind me of oranges. You hand them all to me and I lift them to my nose and take in the sweet smell of honey. I see that you are holding yet another flower. It is a wild sunflower with red streaks running trough its petals. You reach and place it in my reddish brown hair.
I look into your eyes once more and they smile down at me. Suddenly you poke my side with your fingers then you take off racing down the hillside. I chase after you and we giggle and laugh as we stumble over marmot burrows and jump over fallen trees. Through my ears I hear the sound of rushing water I know we are running along the river but my eyes are on you and I don’t see the rainbow trout or the flecks of gold beneath the ripples of crystal clear.
A splash of icy cold runs down my face as I follow you behind the waterfall. You turn around and I know that it’s my turn to tag you back. Instead I stand on my toes and give you a small kiss on the cheek. In my mind I am remembering about the time you and I stood at the beach watching the waves roll out sea. I hear a whistle and I zone back into reality. My hand goes to the whistle hanging about my own neck. You reach yours first and it’s piercing sound echoes through the stone.
You take my hand in yours and pull me trough the vial of spring water. We taste it as we go by. It reminds me of mint. We splash trough the river water, but suddenly we stop. I hear a pail drop against a mossy rock. I know who dropped the pail. It was your best friend. He and your other buddies stare at us, their mouths wide open. They say we need to get back for dinner then they start back to camp.
You and I say nothing. Your fingers slowly slip away from mine. I pick up the pail and fill it with water but it’s too heavy for me to carry. Our eyes meet and you send me a shy smile. This time I smile back. Together we carry the pail up the slope. We walk in silence and I look about me. The mountains with snow covered tops, the evergreens bright and strong, the sky clean and pure. I see other things too; a jack bunny sniffing the air and two bucks laying side by side. They are not afraid because they don’t scurry away as we go by. Then my eyes drift towards the river and I remember.
I’m just a country girl and you are a city boy. No one thinks we make a match. You have promised many things but in the end we both know what will happen. We will grow up and you’ll marry a pretty girl. She won’t be me, but I still love you because you are my friend.
I feel the cool water running down my face. I forget about my thoughts. I reach into the pail and fling some water your way, just as you did to me. We are giggling, we are throwing water, and soon the pail is only half full. We stop. We need that water for dinner.
The sky reminds me of a scoop of sherbert ice cream. It’s a swirl of neon tangerine, lavender purple and sapphire blue. It’s getting chilly now and I’m shivering. You untie your sweeter from your waist and you place it about my shoulders. We’d better hurry because it’s getting late and I’m getting scared.
The skunkweed smell of bear reaches my nose. I know you smell it too. I shouldn’t have worn flavored lip-gloss, as the bear might like it. I reach for the whistle strung about my neck and I hold it tight.
I don’t think I’ll need it though, because I can hear the other backpackers. That means we are close to camp. You carry the pail on your own now and we walk apart. Just before we enter the light range, I look at you and you look at me. You give me a wink but it’s time to stop dreaming. I ignore you.
You grin, I didn’t expect that. I look into your eyes but they are different, they are round and black. I see that your teeth are as sharp as a shark’s. I see that you have a snout and a big black nose. You are becoming hairy all over and you have grown a small tail. The smell of skunkweed surrounds me. That is not you I see, that is a bear.
I scream and I find myself in my sleeping bag. It was just a dream but I rather not go back to sleep so quickly. I lift the cover off my face and I feel the warm breath of a living creature. I am face to face with a bear and it is looking at me funny. I shouldn’t have worn flavored lip-gloss. I want to scream. I want to run. A light shines my way. Wait that is not a bear; it is a curious fawn. I let out a sigh of relief.
My Mom asks if I’m ok. I tell her I am. She turns on her flashlight and shines it down the hill. I see many glowing eyes, some far and some close. They belong to the deer who graze at night. Other campers turn on their flashlights. They have noticed the deer too.
I lay back and gaze up at the heavens. I can see so many stars that the sky appears to be more white than blue. The world around me gets lighter and lighter. The stars began to fade. The colors slowly return to my surroundings. The high mountain peaks, the silver lakes and cascading rivers shine in unspoken beauty.
I sit up and look around. The rest of the camp sleeps peacefully. I look your way and see my lips printed upon your cheek in blueberry lip-gloss. That happened yesterday behind the waterfall while we played tag. I look down and I see your sweater upon my shoulders. You let me borrow it yesterday as we carried the water pail up the mountainside.
You open an eye and look across the campsite and into my smiling face. Your lips part into a grin. Suddenly a pair of hiking boots steps on the flowers and wild grass between us. You close your eyes and pretend to slumber. A figure with ‘hands on hips’ stares at the mark on your cheek. Then the boots march toward me. I sink into my sleeping bag. The truth is no longer hidden, in a few minutes the campers will know that I am your secret crush. It took a single tattletale kiss- I shouldn’t have worn lip gloss.