J is for… Joy

By Vita Forest

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Pip is lying under the edge of the big fig tree, head resting on her bag, trying to keep cool, trying to study, trying not to think about Sam.  Speaking of Sam, a shadow falls across her body and she squints up into the sun.  Hallowed by the heat haze is a very Sam-like shape, hair sticking out in all directions, long arms hanging by his side, skinny jeans, even in this heat.  Sam.

She sits up and shades her eyes with her hand, “Hi.”

“Hi,” he answers, “Wanna come for a swim?”

Pip looks down at her book then up at this silhouetted vision again.

“Sure, she says, “I’ll just grab my things. Whose coming?”

He shrugs and grins at her, “Just us I think.”

She looks down as she packs up her bag so he won’t see her blush.

“Oh.”

 

The bus is hot and old and crowded, no air-conditioning.  The windows are pushed open as wide as they can go.  They hang off a pole together near the door, taking big gulps of the breeze that blasts through the bus every time the doors open.  At the Junction, a lot of people get off and then they move to a seat.  Pip is very aware of the entire right side of her body pressing into the entire left side of Sam’s.  Shoulder to shoulder, tricep down to elbow, hip to knee.  Does he do this to every person he sits next to?  Or is it just her?  They chat merrily away, like they usually do, but Pip feels the heat rise to her face and concentrate along that line of contact down her right side.  Sam holds her gaze for just a moment longer than is necessary, or is she just imagining it?  Perhaps today is the day.  The bus barrels down the hill and Pip grips the top of the seat in front of them, Sam grabs her elbow as the bus swings around a corner.  Their eyes meet.

Today could be the day, thinks Pip.

 

They leap off the bus and run down the hill to the sand.  They peel off sticky clothes and run to join the hordes in the water.  Pip sinks underwater as a wave crashes over her.  She feels her body relax and cool in the thrumming silence.  She rises up again above the water into the heat and the light and the noise.  Sam is there beside her, hair slicked back by the sea water, grinning at her.  She takes a deep breath and watches the waves driving in toward them.  There is time, she thinks, time to find his hand underwater.  Time to pull him toward her, time to wrap her arms around those shoulders, those shoulders of his! Time to lean in…

“Pip!”

Sam grabs her shoulders and pulls her down as the wave crashes over them.  She splutters and coughs and finds his hands underwater.  She grips them tightly.  They rise to the surface again.  She looks at him.

Today is the day.

 

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