Jillybean had always been my favorite in the neighborhood. She was part of the second wave of kids on our block: primarily girls about five years younger than the first wave and she stood out amongst them.
Mischief always seemed to accompany her. The flash of an unruly mop of red hair and a perpetually skinned knee announced her arrival. Anytime there were butterflies to chase or a new species of bug to inspect Jill could be found darting through my mom's rose bed, swinging her white net wildly, or crawling on her hands and knees coaxing some uncatalogued insect into a glass jar.
The summer I received Mexican jumping beans, from a visiting aunt, Jill got her nickname. The endless movement of the small brown nuggets reminded me of Jill and her tireless blur of motion. The first time I called her Jillybean she let a funny smile spread across her face, before she punched me in the thigh and sprinted through a hole in the fence just large enough for her slender body. That same summer she took to calling me Spike. I never could figure out how she turned Sean into Spike but if anyone else called me Spike I would hold them down and punch them in the shoulder until they howled "Mother Mary berry," the neighborhood equivalent of "uncle."
When the other girls began to comb their hair straight and 'dress for boys' Jill was more interested in climbing trees and riding her bike through the nearby woods.
Being the resident tomboy was sometimes difficult for the active redhead. When we boys--that made up the first wave of kids in our neighborhood--were sprinting through the woods clad only in loin-cloths salvaged from a rag barrel and shooting at squirrels with homemade bows and arrows, Jill was either ignored or she became the lost heroine tied to a tree by 'the renegades' only to be forgotten. She would cheerfully endure this treatment in order to be accepted as one of us. I was nice to her because she tried so hard to be accepted and, in fact, could run the woodland trails better than Matt, the husky kid from the next block over who had asthma.
When I started high school, ecology became my all-consuming interest. The forest behind my parent's house was a tangle of ivy, blackberries, laurel, and other assorted introduced species that had run amok in this new environment. I set about clearing the invasive greenery and replanting the native species. Every weekend and most afternoons after school, for almost four years, I could be found crashing around the dense woodlands nearby. At some point, Jill showed up and offered to assist me in my quest to rid the forest of all things foreign.
When friends my age came to help they usually saw the skinny little girl with pigtails as a pest, with her incessant questions and discoveries of 'ancient artifacts' that were mostly junk discarded decades earlier by the local farmers. One day she found a piece of plastic with a hole in it. I laced a piece of broken shoestring through it and told her it was precious ambergris as I placed it around her neck. She smiled broadly and pressed the new found treasure to her chest.
Rain or shine I could count on Jill to show up.
One afternoon she burst through the ferns at a dead run and tumbled down a slippery slope only to land in a pile at my feet. Rubbing her head gingerly she shrugged and told me she had 'planned that.' She was one tough kid. But, by the time high school ended, girls had replaced ecology as my all-consuming interest, and I saw little of Jillybean after that.
I attended a college halfway across the country in hopes of escaping my small-town USA roots.
Pushing myself hard I graduated with a Master's of Civil Engineering in five years and then decided home looked more inviting than I remembered. Back I went. Returning home I was disappointed to see heavy equipment nearby scratching at the earth, leaving angry red scars in the native clay.
My first Saturday home I trekked into my familiar woods to assess the recent damage. I pushed through the ferns and brush only to find, to my surprise, few of the foreign plants had made a resurgence. Thinking I had accomplished a major feat of removal, I bent over to pluck a stray piece of ivy.
"Hey! These are my woods. Don't you dare pick anything!"
I stood up. A female voice echoed from the thicket of Indian plum by the creek. I squinted but couldn't make out the form in the darkness of the woods.
"Shut up! I live here!" I barked back.
"That doesn't give you the right to come in here and..."
A figure burst out of the thicket and headed straight towards me quickly before tripping over a downed tree.
Laughing hard I ambled towards the muddy prostrate body. I thrust my hand out to help the figure to her feet.
"Go on! I don't need your help!" She swatted at my outstretched hand.
She shook her head vigorously and her baseball cap plopped onto the muddy banks of the creek allowing a cascade of thick red hair to fall across her face. When I tugged at her arm the girl let loose with a string of profanities and punched me hard in the thigh. I lurched forward and grabbed my leg. The girl shook her hair away from her face and stood over me fuming with her fists clinched.
"I told you I didn't need your help, damn it!"
"Jillybean?" I asked as I squinted up at her.
She froze. Her creamy white face turned crimson. The little freckled-faced tomboy I remembered had transformed into a beautiful young woman.
It took her a moment before she cocked her head and gulped, "Spike? When did you get home?"
I bounded forward and tackled her. "That hurt, you little insect!"
She squealed as we tumbled down the bank and into the creek. We splashed around in the water for several moments before I picked her up and dropped her into the deepest pocket in the creek. She shrieked and grabbed my knee causing me to collapse backwards. When I came up she pounced on my head to hold me under.
"Say 'Mother Mary berry,'" she screamed. "Say it, or I'll drown you!"
"Mother..." I swallowed a mouthful water. "Mother Mary berry," I coughed out.
Suddenly, she was gone. I stood up sputtering. Then I spotted her running up the opposite bank towards the giant maple tree where she had so often been held captive. I ran after her, her giggles making it easy to follow her.
When I finally got to the top of bank I saw her standing beside the tree staring at the heavy equipment that waited patiently to continue its destructive path come Monday morning.
"Hey, you ragamuffin..." I started.
She turned to look me in the eye solemnly.
"I tried to get the city to save this little strip of woods as a park but they said it wasn't big enough to worry about."
"Yeah?" I puffed as I tried to shift gears to adult behavior again. "It's still in good shape, though."
"It ought to be. I came out here almost every day to work on it. I was an ecology major, too. And this was my 'Senior Project.'"
I stood with my jaw slack. Jillybean had taken care of the forest while I was away. It was her forest, now. I shook my head and pulled my wet shirt off.
Jill laughed out loud when water splashed onto the ground from the flannel material of my shirt as I wrung it out. I grimaced at her and hung it on a low hanging branch before I took off my shoes and socks. Jill sat down next to me and removed her shoes and socks too.
"I really missed you." I smiled at her comment. "I kept your necklace." She fished the piece of plastic, now tied to a long strip of leather with a metal clasp, from inside her tee shirt.
"That's not really ambergris, you know?"
"Duh. I kept it because..." she turned her gaze from mine, "...you gave it to me. I had quite a crush on you then. You were the only boy who was ever nice to me."
"Well, I thought you were an okay kid." I didn't like the way that came out. "I mean you were... I mean you are... um..." My gaze wandered over her burgeoning female physique.
Turning back towards me, her eyes grew wide and she bobbed her head to help me find the right words. They still escaped me. At last, she giggled and finished for me.
"How about 'stacked?'" She grabbed the front of her tee shirt with both hands. "These showed up a couple of years ago and they just keep getting bigger."
"Well, some people consider those a good thing... uh, things." I shook my head and smirked.
"Then you carry 'em around."
I held out my hands as an offer. She laughed and then looked uncomfortable. Haltingly, she put her hand on my thigh where she had punched me earlier.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to punch you so hard."
"It's okay." The words caught in my throat while the heat from her palm dug at my insides. "Ahem... So what's going on over there?" I asked pointing to the exposed soil in attempt to change the subject.
"Condos for the elderly. Can you believe it? I begged the city to save this strip but it's not gonna happen."
"You've done a great job with it."
She blushed deeply. "Thanks, I just... finished what you started."
"Why did you pick ecology as your major?"
She plucked at several long green strands of grass growing near the tree. "Bear grass, Xerophyllum tenax. I was in class one day and realized I knew more about these native plants than the teacher." The now attractive woman I remember from my youth as a skinny little pest shrugged. "You gave me a head start."
We sat together for several hours talking about the things that had happened to us over the past five years. She confessed she had not found a steady boyfriend but was no longer a virgin, had done well in ecology at high school, and her parents had divorced. Because of the divorce, she had spent most of her free time out here in the woods to avoid the unpleasantness at home. We found we had many of the same teachers, at the local high school, and we laughed about the quirks of some and the silliness of the academic world in general.
I admitted that I had not found any women at college who could hold my attention for more than a weekend. The Civil Engineering program was not replete with female enrollees so I was not in close contact with many. My degree sounded like treason to her. She bleated that I would be destroying other sacred strips of forest in somebody else's backyard. I assured her that was not my intent but ecology and this tiny strip of forest seemed so far away now.
It was small talk, mostly, but I could feel a heat between us that was not brought on by the June weather. A lump in my throat kept threatening to choke off my words. Every time she laughed she leaned forward and the temperature increased. It threatened to burn me. This girl was only 18 years old but was fast becoming a woman who cared about the world around her instead of living to grab all that she could horde.
Her soft green eyes and sparkling red hair were all I could think about that night as I lay in my bed. The summer heat kept me on top of the sheets while my hand roamed down to my erection. I stroked it thinking of Jill's metamorphosis. Like those butterflies she chased so often in our yard, she had become a flash of beauty seen from afar: difficult to capture without crushing the wings that held it aloft.
That red hair of hers had sparkled in the sun light, changing--shifting hues--each time she moved. As I approached an orgasm I imagined her under me responding to my urgent thrusts and returning each one of them while her red hair shimmered with our movements. I fell asleep with my softening flesh in my hands.
Sunday morning I lounged in bed until nine AM. A knock came at my bedroom door and I pulled the sheet around my waist.
Jill burst through the door.
"Come on, Spike. You can help get some hawthorn out of the creek today..." She was almost breathless in her excitement.
"What makes you think I want to help you, ya rug rat. Look what you did to my leg."
I peeled back the sheet and pointed to a bruise on my thigh.
"Oh, did I hurt da' widdle baby?" Jill said mockingly in baby talk.
I flew out of the bed, pounced on her and wrestled her to the floor, secretly hoping that my sheet would 'accidentally' fall to the floor. It stubbornly clung to my hips.
"Say it!" I yelled.
Between giggles and her gasps, squeezed from her body by my weight, she managed to say the words.
"Mother Mary berry."
I let her go but could not stand because I realized I had an erection. I had a king-sized woody that was not going away anytime soon. I think Jill noticed but she did not seem to be in a hurry to leave my room.
"Okay, I'll help." I raised my eyebrows. "Can I have some privacy while I get dressed?"
"Have you got something I haven't seen?" She cocked her head as she quizzed me.
I pointed to the door. "Get out!"
She rolled her eyes, shrugged, and went downstairs.
I managed to stuff my erection into my pants, where it finally began to subside.
"Sean, did you know Jill was in the same classes you took?" my mother asked in an insinuating tone as I hit the bottom of the stairs
"Yeah, Ma. I know."
My mom smiled and looked at me in a way that said, "She's nice. I like her. When are you going to go out with her instead of those trollops you see at college?"
I smiled back to say, "Ma, mind your own business."
Jill and I stomped into the woods and attacked a copse of hawthorn that grew along the creek. We worked for hours clearing, cutting, and pulling the stubborn plants out of the ground.
At last, exhausted, we sat down next to the creek.
Jill leaned in close to me and I turned my head to watch her. She sniffed at my clothes and let out a heavy sigh.
"Pee-you! You smell!"
She shoved me into the water and sprinted for the other side of the creek laughing. I caught her halfway up the bank and pulled her back down into the water. We wrestled in the water but I was determined not to get caught by surprise today. She suddenly stood up and put her fingers to her eye as though she had something in it.
"What's wrong? Are you okay?" I stopped my attack briefly.
I leaned forward to look closer. She let loose with a fountain of water from her mouth that hit me directly in the face.
She shrieked wildly and bolted up the bank.
"Oh, that's sick! That water's awful."
I let her get halfway up the bank before I set off after her. I caught up to her at our tree and I threw my arms around her so she could not escape. Her ragged breathing on my chest caused my stomach to twist in knots. Slowly, she tilted her chin towards mine and closed her eyes.
Our parted lips met. My heart was pounding as I gently sucked her tongue into my mouth and felt her body melt against mine. Her arms snaked around my neck as she tugged my head towards hers. Then, I felt her grind her hips against mine. She broke our kiss long enough to whisper in my ear.
"We need to dry out these clothes."
She let go of me and I fell back onto the ground. Kicking off her shoes she then tugged at her socks. Standing in front of me, with an impish grin on her face, she toyed with the bottom hem of her tee shirt while her gaze held mine captive.
Slowly, very slowly, she pulled the hem up to her ribs before then turned away as she flipped the shirt over her head. Eying me over her shoulder she undid the clasp of her bra and let it fall to her feet. The buttons on her shorts popped open and her pants fell to her ankles in a pile. She stepped boldly out of the wet fabric.
I felt a lump in my throat and a bigger lump in my pants. Slim-hipped with peaches and cream skin, Jillybean turned slowly to face me. Ample pale breasts pointed towards me riding high on her ribcage.
She stuck her thumbs into the waistband of her simple white cotton panties and pushed them past her knees where they slid to the ground at her ankles. Youthful beauty opened itself to my gaze. Stepping out of her panties she faced me, her chin held high and her hands flat against her hips, staring into the distance. Staring at what? I could not tell but it seemed her body was playing her cards faster than her mind. I watched her swallow hard and the gentle rise and fall of her ribs as her passion rose within her chest.
Jillybean stood before me, naked as a newborn babe except for the necklace, I had given her so many years before. She stood against the tree--that stood in contrast to her long slow curves--the tree she had been willing to hold as the 'damsel in distress' awaiting some rescue by the 'pony soldiers' or some handsome man wearing a white hat astride a nervous palomino.
I drank in her smooth contours and round breasts: breasts that would not give in to the forces of gravity for many years to come. There was a soft crease between her breasts and her ribs: each rib standing prouder than the one above it until my attention fell to her soft pale belly. The expanse of buttery skin was interrupted by her belly button, that sat higher than I expected, and a small pink birthmark between her hip and a narrow patch of wispy auburn hair: this dainty spot of pink, the sole wayward traveler across her smooth skin.
At last, she turned her face towards me. Her face was different now, her eyes wide and inviting while her breathing was labored. Sparkling green eyes glinted through the dappled forest light flashing back the fire of the sun multiplied by a sum of her beauty. Her nostrils flared slightly as she drew a deep breath and her chest heaved gently.
She sucked in her bottom lip as she focused her eyes on me now and leaning forward she absent-mindedly ran her middle finger below her collar bone, tracing a line of sensation that ended circling her delicate pink nipple, causing it to stand high atop her breast begging for my attention. Mouth parted, she tilted her chin towards my face and let her eyes close slowly.
I stood quickly and gently pulled her willing body to mine, her soft curves forming to my angular male physique. I slid my hand along her hips towards the soft swell of her belly and dipped my fingers into her warm slippery sex. She shivered at my touch and panted into my open mouth. I tapped lightly at the center of her auburn-fringed well which caused her to bite the cloth of my shirt while she her nails dug into my arm. When I touched the nubbin that controlled her pleasure her knees buckled slightly and I pulled her body tight against mine so she would not fall.
Jillybean's hand searched blindly for my hard flesh: eager for her touch. Massaging my erection through the fabric of my jeans her body weighed on mine and I felt the entrance to her body yield as my finger broke through the sticky resistance between the swollen lips of her sex. A sigh escaped her lips and was captured in my flannel shirt while her grip on my erection slipped. Jillybean was lost in her pleasure now.
Eyes screwed shut, her face, in fact, her entire body slid down mine and I had to pull her back up to keep my busy fingers, between her quivering thighs. Staccato breaths from her open mouth warmed my skin and I felt, for a moment, that I was holding her with nothing more than my fingers: fingers that were being pulled inside her hungry sex, milking them for whatever pleasure they possessed. The veins on her neck strained against her skin as she approached a satisfaction of body and spirit.
Her body twisted violently in my grasp and her mouth clamped shut as she whined quietly. It was the sweet whine of a young woman on the cusp of adult passion. Then she hit her apex and tilted her chin towards mine, she clutched the back of my head pulling my lips to hers roughly. A series of a squeaks came from deep inside her throat and her entire body shivered as her climax overtook her. The breath left her body in a rush and then her passion subsided leaving her to whimper softly against my chest.
At last, she was able to speak.
"I dreamt of this moment a million times, Sean. Please, say something," she muttered sleepily.