In Bloom

By Bryan Gonzalez

It began with a girl. Her name was Amber Hendricks, and she was the most gorgeous thing I had ever seen. She had hair like copper, eyes as green and beautiful as emeralds and she had 9 birthmarks on her flawless, milky skin; the constellations of my universe.

It is deep into Spring, and the flowers are in full bloom. Today is a particularly pleasant day, so we decide to take a walk down to the creek before returning home from class. Had we never decided that, what happened next would have never happened, and had that never happened, I may have never done what I did.

We go to the spot we used to go to as small children, where we would splash about in the creek, and get so muddy our mothers would have to wash our clothes twice. The beatings we caught for it were always worth it. Amber is still in her school uniform, and her skirt blows gently in the cool breeze as she leads the way to our spot. Her hips seem to sway a bit too much, they have been getting wider lately, it changes the way she walks. As she walks, she lets down her hair (she always hated when her mom put it up in those scrunchies each morning) and it sways in perfect synchronicity with her skirt in the breeze.

The creek came before I knew it. I suppose I hadn’t been paying much attention to anything but her. I had missed the black mud beneath our feet, the spider webs in the trees, the mold enveloping the trees.

When we come to the water, she spins around playfully, her hair catching in the lip gloss she had just begun to wear, and beckons me over. I knew what would happen next, it had happened a hundred times before, why did it have to be different this time? What had changed? Everything. Everything changed. Her hips were wider, her lips had sticky stuff on them, her blouse was poking out ever so slightly around her chest.

I tried to remove myself from the situation. I went back to when we were little kids and watched from the trees. From my perch, I studied our movements. I watched as she splashed me with water, and as I retaliated by pushing her into the creek. I watched as we clung to each other, dipping each other’s heads beneath the water in the deep parts, rolling around in the shallow ones. Then I watched from the creek, and saw her face go under, and then my own, and I could see our feet dancing around on the submerged pebbles.

My mind flashes to the present, but it can’t happen yet. I can’t tell you what is to happen yet, and I certainly cannot enact the action. So, I will try the same trick. I put myself in the tree and study our movements. Only, there is no movement. There is just a tension, a palpable hesitation on my part to join her by the creek. Without movement, I focus on her, and can see down her blouse, which is unbuttoned one button too low. One more birthmark is present further down on her chest. 10 birthmarks on her skin. I move to the creek, but the water is still, and from it I can trace her long white socks up her skirt, one birthmark on her left leg above her knee, two on her right, higher than that; a constellation from an unforeseen galaxy, illuminating the dark center of the universe.

Amber’s continuous beckoning puts me back in my own mind, and I am forced to join her, I have lingered too long. When I am close enough she splashes, I push, and we go through the same motions we have since we could walk. We cling on to each other in attempts to submerge the other. Why is it different this time? My breathing is heavy, I can’t be tired already. There is a hollow feeling in my chest that feels like yearning. Before I know it, we are soaked and muddy like always. The mud seems wrong this time, somehow offensive. Amber’s dress clings to her skin tightly, revealing new curves. I can’t help but stare. When she sees this she gasps and tackles me to the ground.

On top of me, she stares into my eyes for a long time, and me into hers. Those eyes, too vivid, too alive, emeralds in a deluge of cosmic flame. If only they were a less vibrant shade of green, if only they were cooler, more shallow; if only her hair didn’t smell like the flowers by the creek bed, maybe what was about to happen wouldn’t have happened, and I would have never done what I did. She smiles coyly, and bites her lip before descending it slowly onto mine. My heart is pumping, blood as red as her lips. What is she doing? This isn’t her, she does not kiss; I have never seen her kiss. My mind is exploding, a white-hot supernova. I try to rip myself away, but it is as if my face is being pulled towards her, by some force of gravity, independent from my control. A warm tingling begins to permeate my body, and then I go numb. Suddenly, our lips are locked, and my hands are caressing her passionately on the cheeks.

But this isn’t the big event. This is only the spark. I loved Amber, and I wanted that kiss, I wanted more, I wanted things I didn’t understand. But I couldn’t let her do that to herself, and suddenly my hands are no longer on her cheek, but around her throat, and her beautiful emerald eyes are growing dimmer and dimmer. Dying stars. Tempered. Pure forever.

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