The pages of Jean’s book made a satisfying deep rasp as she turned the next page. The thick, still air, the calm before a July storm, cloaked her in quiet and warmth. The bench could have easily been her couch.
A short, clean “Hi” cut through the stillness. A gangly boy, almost as tall as her, peered over at her book, before slumping uninvited at the other end of the bench
She turned the book over to show him the title: “It’s one of my favourites.”
This left little impression on the young man but he pulled himself further onto the bench, his legs sticking out in front, and quizzed her on her reading. He told her about his favourite books (they were unashamedly juvenile, as they should be for a boy his age). His eyes never left hers.
Jean placed her book back in her bag to better concentrate on this animated youngster.
He brushed a flopping fringe from his eyes and her mind was thrown back to a school desk and a brown-haired boy who’s hair flicks left her face hot and her jaw fixed shut.
Jamie had been in her class since primary school. A quick boy with an unshakable smile and boundless energy. In her mind she would run through jungles with him, climb mountains. He was adventure, wildness, joy. The quick wild boy and his untameable hair.
Jamie took her to her first school dance. He walked her home almost every afternoon after that. Their first date was a hike and a picnic. Proper Scottish rain turned their picnic into soggy mush and the smell of ozone clung to them as he rushed them into a cafe on the way home. Drying out over hot chocolates, he kissed her. Marshmallows still stuck to their noses. He laughed, blue eyes sparkling as he flicked his hair away in a practised, unconscious movement.
There were more kisses in the weeks to follow. Then they lost each other. Jamie’s mum got a new job and he was gone. Kisses were spent after that, wasted on others who could never give Jean the world.
She didn’t know what she’d lost until she found it again. At a friend’s wedding, out of the corner of her eye, Jean spotted a familiar hair flick and she never wasted a kiss again. They saw the world, less jungles and mountains but more adventure than she dreamed.
The young boy in front of her waved to get her attention:
“You were away on another planet!”
“Actually I was all over this one.”
The boy blew at the hair drooping over his eyes:
“Granny, Mum thinks I should get a hair cut, she says it’s ‘wild’.”
“There’s nothing wrong with ‘wild’.”
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