tagNon-EroticA Secret and a Promise

A Secret and a Promise


yesterday i saw a rose, and thought of you,
and how, so many years ago
we explored the woods together,
you and i...
fashioned dolls out of clay and strung flowers in your hair,
roses on my lips,
and dreamed of growing wings someday to fly away as one...
we were never to part, you and i;
such were promises we made

A vague, unfocused, but delightful excitement filled Karen as she and her best friend ever Lisa burst from the house and raced each other down the deck's stairs onto the back lawn. It wasn't yet nine o'clock, and already the air was hot and sultry, but Karen hardly noticed. Summer was now officially underway, and she and Lisa had the day to themselves.

Karen subconsciously understood this summer was the last time she could be a kid, carefree and unencumbered by the burdens of growing up. Even then, she sensed the moments of pure, unselfconscious childishness would be fleeting. The end of this summer marked the start of seventh grade, middle school, when school life became increasingly regimented and compartmentalized.

None of that mattered this sweltering day as she and Lisa bounded across the lawn toward the thick, overgrown meadow. Splotches of color splattered the tangled field as early summer wildflowers rose up and lifted their heads.

The two girls hopped and jumped into the sweet smelling hayfield, giggling as they went. Karen had no idea where they were going; they were just going. She simply followed Lisa, who always seemed to know where they ought to go. There was a half-remembered promise from last night about catching dragonflies so they could see for themselves whether or not they were really fairies, as related in some vague fable.

Who cared if it was childishly silly and ephemeral? It was summer, they were truly best friends, preferring each other's company to all others.

The way they looked at each other and interacted bespoke an unusual intimacy in their friendship, something that was quite sensual and vaguely sexual, yet looked and felt natural.

They plowed through the reluctant-to-yield hay, jumping and hopping when it was the only option, giggling all the while. Karen felt especially exuberant this day. It would be the last like this. Next weekend marked the beginning of the great migration to summer lakeside camps. They would still hang out together every day. Lisa's family camp was a mere mile down the road from Karen's, and a mile to an energetic twelve-year-old girl was no more than a brisk walk.

There would, however, be others intruding on their time together starting next week. Days where they could escape the throngs of cousins, other kids they knew from school, or some they knew not at all except as part of the camp mob, and just be by themselves, would be hard to come by.

So today had an unspoken and unacknowledged urgency to it. That urgency was pleasant for Karen. It hung in her midsection like a glowing orb. As they bounced through the hay, they set a nest of white moths a-scatter, and Karen cried in glee, "Lisa! Check out all the little butterflies."

"Never mind the butterflies," Lisa answered, gesturing broadly for Karen to come on. "I wanna catch a dragonfly and check it out, and the dragonflies are down here by the swamp."

In the spring, the area was truly a swamp, the small stream that cut through the meadow overflowing with run-off. But now, it was reduced to patches of mud and muck and small pools of water, and where the stream was more substantial, reed grass and cattails stood sentinel. On the other side of the mucky area, another swath of meadow sprawled out to a tree line. Each year it seemed the tree line grew further into the meadow.

"It's all yucky over there," Karen squealed.

"What, you turning into a big baby?" Lisa called back. "'Fraid of a little mud?"

"Who you calling a baby, I'm here, right?"

"But your complaining about it."

Putting an end to the questions, both girls stepped into muck at the same time, clean pink tennies instantly ruined. Karen laughed with delight. "I told you it was mucky," and her feet slurped when she lifted them, as if to prove her point.

"I don't care, we're almost where it gets swampy, that's where the dragonflies are."

And so it went. Dragonflies turned out to be harder to catch than butterflies. In spite of their size, the creatures were agile. Both girls cried out whenever one of the insects came near her head, the fading childish legend that they sewed your mouth shut if you swore was still close enough to have some effect.

It was Karen, focused in on one seemingly sluggish specimen, who finally caught a dragonfly in her cupped palm. The insect buzzed frantically, making Karen squeal, "It's gonna sting me!"

"No it is not," Lisa retorted, and Karen relaxed as her friend drew close. "Let's see," Lisa said, "but be careful, don't let it get away."

Both girls were disappointed that the dragonfly truly was nothing more than an insect. No fairy dangled from the wings. "I knew it wasn't true," Lisa declared. "Stupid little kid stories. C'mon, let's go over to the old shed and dry off."

The old shed was the slowly deteriorating remnant of what was once a place to store haying equipment during the summer months when these fields were still mown three times a season. They'd discovered it years before as they flitted about on their explorations. Late last summer, they'd begun to speak of it as their special hiding place, a place where they could safely retreat from the wider world.

Only one corner of the old shed still stood relatively intact. The rest of the structure had long since collapsed into a heap of grayed wood overrun with field weeds. An unruly lilac bush grew at the still standing corner, providing shade, as did an equally unruly blackberry patch.

They were holding hands and laughing. They ducked under the cover provided by the tangled bushes and the remnants of the old shed. It was pleasantly cooler out of the hot sun. Though the lilacs had passed weeks before, their scent still hovered faintly in the air.

"I hate wet feet," Lisa grumbled as she pulled her mud stained tennies off.

"Me too," Karen said as she pulled her own tennies off and set them on the remnants of a beam so they might dry some in the sun. She felt a warmth in her midsection when she looked at her friend.

Lisa was a strikingly beautiful girl. Her lithe and willowy body offered secret promises of delectability in times to come. Lisa usually let her long, honey colored hair with its wisps of natural surf curls go untamed. Her lips were full and lush, and her striking green eyes flashed with restless impetuosity.

Karen herself was an exceptionally pretty girl, her body every bit as sleek and willowy as Lisa's. Her hair, rather than the long, thick mane of her friend, was a nest of unruly curls forever falling over her eyes. Her brown eyes and lush mouth seemed to join forces to give Karen a vast repertoire of expressive smiles and frowns.

Together, they would surely make a formidable team for freshly hormonal boys to confront once the girls hit the fullness of puberty. Karen was aware of the expectation that dating boys was just around the corner. For the life of her, she simply could not grasp what was so special about boys. That must come with the still theoretical P word. Periods meant, she was assured, the onset of womanhood.

For now, though, boys could be damned. It was Lisa who had her full attention, Lisa who was her best friend, Lisa who made her tummy feel warm and achy. At night, she often lay abed before sleep came, imagining both of them teaming up to effortlessly solve all of the world's ills. There was no reason to believe anything would ever happen to rend them asunder. Karen was hardly the first naive prepubescent to believe childhood friendships, however strong, would last forever.


The first mutters of thunder were faint enough that they might be passed off as the rumble of an overloaded pulp truck on the main road almost a mile away, but the western sky was blackening in the distance. Karen was beginning to feel antsy. "Maybe we oughta go back before it rains."

Lisa grinned at her and gave her an elbow nudge. "What? You still chicken of thunderstorms?"

Karen squirmed uncomfortably. "I don't like 'em is all," she muttered. "Besides, our folks might get worried."

"You're such a sissy," Lisa teased, but her beautiful green eyes sparkled playfully, and she was smiling in a way that made Karen's private area feel warm and tingly.

"Am not," Karen said without conviction, captured and held by her friend's steady gaze.

"Don't be a baby. We'll stay dry here, and we'll be together." She subtly patted the spot of bare ground next to her, calling Karen closer.

"OK," Karen sighed, and she slid over. Now the thunder was louder and unmistakable, and the black sky was laced with occasional streaks of quivering light. Suddenly Karen wasn't sure if her heart was racing because of the storm, or because she was tucked up close to her friend.

"You've got dandelion thingies in your hair," Karen observed.


"Want me to take them out?"

"I don't have a comb or brush or anything."

"That's OK, I'll pick them out with my fingers."

"OK, if you want to." Lisa said. She picked a stalk of grass and stuck it in her mouth and sat between Karen's splayed legs.

Karen sighed softly. She'd always loved Lisa's hair, even felt a bit jealous of it. It was long and thick, a golden color that seemed to radiate the light of the sun, and just as soft as a kitten's fur. It had natural wisps of surf curls, a style that would be very desirable in a few years. The thunder was still distant, the sky still bright, and in no time, Karen lost herself in the wondrous feel of her friend's silken tresses in her fingers as she carefully plucked the fuzzy seeds free.

Lisa's eyes were closed and her face relaxed as her best friend groomed her hair. Karen's midsection was beginning to feel tense and warm. Not for the first time, she wondered what it would be like to kiss Lisa, and the thought made the warm tension focus itself in her girl parts, and that was a feeling she relished.

They talked as Karen stroked Lisa's hair, talked about everything and nothing, the casual, easy small talk of girls who'd been almost inseparable since pre-school. It was not lost on Karen that her friend's breasts were becoming noticeable. Lisa had started her period in the spring, and Karen knew that meant Lisa would begin to change soon. But not yet.

A sharp bark of thunder made Karen jump and let out a startled yip. It was getting quite dark, and the flashes of lightning were more frequent and brighter, the thunder's growls becoming menacing snarls. Lisa took Karen's hand in hers and said, "Maybe we better stretch out under the roof so we don't get wet."

The corner of the old shed sat firmly atop a smooth piece of granite ledge. The stone had a natural cup in it, big enough for them to lay side by side, and the remnants of the roof would keep them out of the rain. Karen, heart thudding, whether from fear of the storm, or the chance to lay close to her friend she neither knew nor cared. "Don't be afraid, silly," Lisa said, but there was no teasing in her tone. "I'm right here with you."

They stretched out, and Karen felt a surge inside. "I hate being such a baby."

Lisa smiled affectionately and brushed the tip of the grass stalk over Karen's cheek. "Don't be silly, you know how scared I am of snakes and stuff, everybody's got something silly they're 'fraid of. I'm here, you're not alone." Lisa tone was soothing, calm and tender.

Before Karen could say anything, the hair on her body seemed to stand up. Then came a great flash of crackling light as bright as a welder's arc, and it was accompanied by a crackling, ripping, booming explosion, so violent the ground shook. Karen screamed, and even Lisa jumped and yipped. Within seconds of the explosion, while it still boomed and echoed, a great gust of wind shushed over the meadow and shook the lilac tree. That was followed by the staccato pat-pat-pat of hailstones assaulting remnants of the shed. Then, another sizzling, crackling bolt of lightning, further away than the first one but still uncomfortably close, unleashed an explosion of thunder like a howitzer shell going off. This one summoned the rain, and the skies opened in a torrential deluge.

"Jeezum Crow!" Lisa cried with a mix of delight and awe. "That's fricken incredible!"

In spite of the violence of the storm, the two girls were safe and dry from the fall of water and hailstones. "Wow!" Karen said in a low voice. "I wonder if it's gonna tornado or something, like the Wizard of Oz."

"Yeah, I wonder where our Oz would be."

"I'd rather not find out," Karen said, giggling nervously.

Apropos of nothing, Lisa shifted so she was on her side facing Karen, her head propped on her hand, and said, "You know, that cousin of yours, Jeremy, he's a gross pig."

"He doesn't belong to me," Karen said in defense. "Why's he a gross pig?"

"Cause he's always trying to act all cool and mature, trying to impress me, like he wants to make out or something. That is just so gross."

"Ewww," Karen agreed, and the image was in fact troublesome. "He's a guy, so I guess that pretty much explains it."

"You ever made out with anybody?" Lisa challenged.

"Me? Not hardly, who am I gonna make out with? Not gross Jeremy."

"We'll have to someday."

They looked at each other, bodies silently drawn together like filings to a magnet, on the verge, but neither girl dared pull the trigger yet. Trying a different tack, Lisa suddenly said with authority, "You know what I think is wicked stupid?"

"No, what do you think is wicked stupid. Besides Jeremy," Karen added with a wicked laugh.

"I think it's wicked stupid that two girls can't be in love together. What's up with that? Who says we can only be in love with stupid boys. What fricken business is it of anyone?"

Karen's heart thudded and flip-flopped and her tummy seemed to do a free-fall. She understood Lisa's question wasn't an idle one, but how was she supposed to react? Her mouth felt cottony. At last, she muttered, "Yeah, we should get to be in love with whoever we want." She mentally kicked herself for offering such a lame answer.

Lisa was on a mission and she would not be denied. "We should get to make out with whoever we want, too, boys, girls. You ever wonder what it's like? Making out? Kissing and stuff?"

Don't screw it up this time, she admonished herself. "Yeah, I have. Thought about it, not done it."

Lisa eyes sparkled impishly. "Wanna try it? Kinda like practice?"

Karen wanted to explode inside, but she feigned indifference. She shrugged and said, "Yeah, that might be cool, that way we won't look, like, totally clueless the first time we do it for real."

They both giggled self-consciously and hesitantly came together. Their lips met in an awkward connection. Both girls kept their mouths closed and pushed. They were breathing hard. It was Lisa who parted her lips first, and they both accidentally came together in a real kiss.

"It's kinda nice," Lisa said. "No wonder people like it."

Lisa face was radiant, and to Karen she was the single most beautiful person imaginable. They brought their mouths together with force, both of them squirming their bodies, trying to press as close to the other as possible.

Karen's insides throbbed and surged in a way she'd never experienced before, and it was the most wonderful, yet most scary sensation she'd ever felt. It kept growing until she was whimpering. Their hands unconsciously roamed over each other, tentative, uncertain, and hesitant.

Something was going to happen inside Karen, something both awesome and terrifying, and it was irresistible. It scared her, but not enough to make her stop kissing Lisa. Any pretense of practicing kissing had long since been forgotten.

The thunder grew softer, fainter as the heart of the storm moved away. Still, the rain came in torrents. Above them, unseen, rainwater pooled in cup formed when boards bent under the weight of many seasons. The collected water was straining the boards forming the cup. As slowly as the minute hand on an old clock, the boards began to sag.

Without warning, the wood gave way. A sudden deluge dropped down on Karen and Lisa. The shock smothered their ardor as quickly as it would a camp fire. Both girls involuntarily screamed out in shock. Karen had no idea at first what had happened.

"What the hell..." Lisa cried out in a near squeal.

Karen simply screeched.

They both got up, drenched, looking like a pair of drowned dogs. They bent over, automatically trying to shake the water off.

It was Lisa who started laughing first. A small giggle rapidly swelled to a full on laugh. The rain continued apace, pelting the shelterless girls. Karen wasn't sure what was going on, but Lisa's laugh was infectious. She looked up at her friend, whose expression was sheer glee, and she suddenly grasped the craziness of it all. Her giggle rose to a full laugh.

"Let it rain!" Lisa cried at the gray sky. She grabbed Karen by the hand, and dragged her into the open meadow.

Karen broke free of Lisa's grasp and they both gleefully danced in the rain and the dripping wet meadow grass. Lisa turned her face skyward and spread her arms out, laughing, "Let it rain, let it rain!"

Their dance, like two nymphs frolicking around Zeus, was filled with exuberant exultation. They bound, and spun, fell down, got up, whooped and sang. They grabbed each other's hands and danced in a bouncing circle, while Lisa sang out, "Ring around the rosie, pocket full of posies."

The meadow grass, assaulted by both the torrential rain, and Karen and Lisa's dance of joyful exultation, laid flat. "Isn't this so awesome?" Karen squealed.

"Perfect, perfect, perfect," the girl sang. "I'm so soaked and I don't even care!"

They embraced and continued their dance to Tempesta even as the rain tapered, the clouds broke up, and the sun returned. "Look!" Lisa squealed, pointing at the retreating storm clouds. A rainbow spanned from horizon to horizon.

"Ohmygod," Karen cried, jumping up and down and clapping her hands. "It's beautiful! Lisa! Look at it, I never seen such a beautiful rainbow before!"

"Oh yeah, it's frickin awesome!" She grabbed Karen in an embrace, and they hugged long and hard, rocking back and forth. Karen's insides hummed with a great and wonderful energy. I could be in love with her, Karen thought over and over. Life stretched before them, filled with possibilities, and Karen had never been so happy. This was indeed a magic place.

At last, the sun back in all its glory, the birds returned from their shelters, Lisa said, "We better get back. I bet my Mom's having a cow!"

Karen reluctantly let the moment slip away. Lisa was right. "Yeah, I guess."

The girls slipped on their soaked tennies, and when they stood up, Lisa pinched Karen and offered an impish smile. "Race ya!" and she flew off through the grass.

"Hey," Karen cried. "No fair, I can't run as fast as you."

Lisa stopped and stuck her tongue out at Karen. "Nyah, nyah!"

Karen took off as fast as she could. Lisa bogged down in the muck, while Karen seemed to find a smoother path, but it was no use. She'd never catch her laughing, nimble friend.

When Lisa burst through the grass marking the rear border of her yard, she stopped and waited the few seconds for Karen to catch up. Without saying anything, the girls threw their arms around each other's shoulders. They both looked back on final time from whence they came, before they skipped across the lawn, singing spontaneous tunes.

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