Congrats to Matt Merritt from One Block for his winning contribution:
The air twirled with Maple seeds.
They sat quietly near the bank together. Her fingertips danced on the back of his hand. Her palm was damp and warm, and the heat climbed her wrist, up her arm to her elbow, which was nestled in his. Everything else was numb.
She took in his smell of dirt, sweat, peanut butter, and honey. It was so uniquely boy.
She studied his knee, a smear of dry blood on dark green, and the threadbare hem of his khaki shorts. She studied every blemish on the back of her hand as it lay on his.
Then he turned toward her. She was spinning or everything else was. She closed her eyes and saw white.
Sunlight burst from her. It bounced back off the water, leaves and grass. The pair glittered.
He squeezed her shoulders hard and pressed against her, upsetting her tenuous balance. She caught herself and put her arms around his neck without breaking contact.
It was absolutely everything she had dreamed and obsessed over. Perfect.
“Ryan! Time to go!” They jumped apart as his mother called for him.
She blushed fiercely, and he scrambled up the slope. “Bye,” he said and raced across the grass to where his mother was rounding up picnic supplies.
She fell back against the knotted trunk, replaying each moment, rewinding the memory, and playing it again. She subconsciously added a breath of wind, sunbeams, and bird chirps at just the right moments.
Ten minutes later she rejoined her parents.
“Hey, honey. Did you have fun?” her father said as they loaded the minivan.
Barely 24 hours later now, she sagged against the Maple tree and stared through the bare earth between her knees.
The world was dull grey, gone cold and soulless. The tree wept with her, seeds that clung to the tousled curtain of hair encircling her down-turned face.
Clenched in her hand was a note, crimpled and smudged but legible.
I hope we can still be friends.
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