At the Risk of Forgetting(4)

By: A.M. Wilson


I didn’t mind. I’d take just about anything to spend time with Law. Besides, the trail end was close. The buzz of the busy highway replaced the sound of insects, so I knew I was almost there.

“Wait for me!” I wheezed, sucking in giant gulps of air. Standing on the pedals, I leaned forward and gave myself one final push. I was going to make it. Getting off and walking wasn’t an option unless I wanted to be teased for the rest of the summer.

Just as the bike picked up speed, the trail opened. Law stood off next to his bike, grinning at me like a jerk because he was faster and stronger, like always, and he couldn’t wait to rub it in.

“Thought you’d never get here,” he taunted, resting back against his bike and crossing his arms over his chest.

“Yeah well you–" The words floated away on the wind when a giant rock suddenly appeared from a patch of mud. The front tire hit it dead on. The bike flipped, sending me soaring over the handlebars. Law’s shout mixed with my scream, but I couldn’t make out the words. The sound of the highway and the wind roaring past my ears clouded everything else.

I rolled and tumbled down a slight incline. Every couple of turns I could see the dark gray sky above me before it was replaced by the brown and green earth. My body stopped moving on its own when inertia finally gave me up, leaving me disoriented.

Law slid down on his hip. I couldn’t see him, but I heard the friction of his jacket on the grass and felt him stop next to me. “Cami! Are you okay?”

“You put that rock there, didn’t you?” I gasped out of breath.

His laugh was deep and full of relief. He was scared for me. “Sorry. I thought it’d stop you from passing me. Here, let me help you up.”

His cool, damp palm slid against mine, and the other arm circled my back. With a strength most fourteen-year-old boys couldn’t possess, he pulled me into a sitting position. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

I shrugged. Now that the world stopped spinning, I was a little embarrassed. “Yeah. My hands sting, but nothing is broken. Tell your mom thanks, again, for buying me this helmet. Without it, I would have been toast.”

“More like a vegetable.”

I gave him my best scowl. “That’s not even a funny joke.”

He had it in him to look sheepish. “I know. I’ll tell her, even though you’ve already told her about fifty times.”

My fingers sifted through the damp grass, finding a handful and pulling it. “Well if my own mom took care of me, yours wouldn’t have to.”

“Cami, stop. Don’t go down this road again.”

A cool breeze aided me in taking a cleansing breath. Instead of replying, I smiled at him. “Will you help me up? We should get back before the rain picks up.”

Law stared at me for a minute, his eyes studying my face. I wasn’t sure if he wanted to continue the conversation or hang out a little longer. It could’ve been anything with him.

“Yeah, sure,” he replied, abruptly jumping to his feet and holding out his hand for mine again.

Our fingers wrapped around one another’s, and he yanked me to my feet. I started to pull away, but he used our connection to tug me into his warm torso.

Into him.

The comfort was there. The warmth. The hug brought me the usual serenity it did when he’d decide girls didn’t have cooties and wanted to touch me. But, this time it also felt different. Law buried his nose in the hair at the side of my neck, and it was then I felt him trembling.

“Law?”

So slowly it seemed like minutes drifted by, he pulled his head from my neck. “I’d like to kiss you.”

All the breath I’d ever breathed was sucked out of my lungs with his words. “What?”

Law was playful. He was teasing and funny and wild. It was rare that I saw him without a grin on his face. But, in that moment, he looked so serious. He looked older, too. “You’re my best friend, Cami. And even though I don’t like you like that, I still want my first one to be with you.”

Scratch that. He was the same wise guy he always was.

I shoved at his shoulders until he let me go. My stomach ached in the center, the feeling reminding me of that time I fell out of a tree and all the air was knocked out of my lungs. It burned, and the longer I stood there, the worse the ache got.

“Unlike you, I’d very much like the person kissing me to like me like that.” I stomped over to my bike and kept going. “Anyways, you’re too late. I’ve already kissed someone, and he sure wasn’t you.”

“Cami!”

“Leave me alone, Lawrence Briggs.” Victory scored inside me at that direct hit. I knew more than anyone how much he hated his full name.