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A branch cracked, and I looked up. Michael entered the clearing, and my heart leaped to my throat.
I jumped to my feet and brushed off my dress. At least it was Sunday, and I wore the dress Aunt Jenny had given me for my birthday. I raked my fingers through my hair before stepping forth to meet him.
“Hi,” I said.
His eyes lit up when he saw me, and I felt myself blush.
“Hi, Jay.” He glanced at me. “I’ve been coming here every day, hoping you would come back.”
I shrugged my shoulders. “Sorry. I haven’t had a chance.”
He sat down on one of the boulders and studied me. “Is everything okay?”
I smiled wryly. “Fine as frog hair split three ways.”
He smiled back, his eyes twinkling in the filtered sunlight. “You know the problem with frog hair?”
“Sure.” I caught his eyes. “It doesn’t exist.” I took a seat on another rock, wanting to escape his scrutiny, but glad he was here. I couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“I haven’t seen your momma at church. Is she doing okay?”
My hands trembled, and I clasped them in my lap. Squirrels chattered in the trees, and I focused my eyes on them. “Not really.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
I shook my head. He helped his father farm. How could he help?
And I would be too embarrassed to ask him to, anyway. If he did help, he would have to be around Momma. No way would I want him to see her. Or her to see him. No telling what she might say.
I sighed, and Michael rose from his rock and sat down next to me.
“All things work for good if we trust God,” he said, quietly.
I nodded and stared down at my hands. It was hard to believe everything would be all right when an avalanche of trouble threatened to crush me.
“You’re always in a hurry after church,” he said. “I never get a chance to talk to you.”
I sighed. “I’ve got to get home now. I’ve got chores to do.” I didn’t move but looked into his eyes.
“Jay, I meant what I said. If you need anything, let me know.”
He moved closer, and my heart thumped louder. Ever so gently and slowly, he brushed his lips against mine. I shivered before pulling away.
Into the clearing walked twin fawns on wobbly, long legs, only a few feet away from us. They spied us and veered away, but with an awkward grace, not in fear. Eyes wide, large ears erect, fur still dotted with white spots, they stared at us as we stared at them. I held my breath and knew Michael did the same.
They lowered their heads to the stream and drank before moving back into the woods. We both exhaled in a whoosh.
“Wow,” Michael said. “That was something.”
“Yes, it was.” I clamped my hand over my mouth, but sudden laughter leaked out. The first time I had laughed since . . . since . . .
I pushed from the rock and whistled for Chance. I headed down the path and felt Michael watching me, until I, like the fawns, disappeared into the trees.
Sheila Hollinghead is an eclectic OCD, ADD, and LOL (lots of letters) author. She has started her series “In the Shadow of the Cedar” with Thundersnow. Follow her blogging adventures at Rise, Write, Shine!