“Can I kiss you?” he asked, softly as if he was sure I’d say no.
I took a deep breath. My first kiss was going to be at the top of a Ferris wheel. I’d never heard of anything more romantic.
“Okay,” I said, wiping my mouth with my sleeve.
Kes leaned in and I felt his dry lips press against my cheek.
I turned to stare at him and he was grinning, looking inordinately proud of himself.
We held hands for the rest of the ride, and I’d never been happier.
The Right Reverend Shaw spoke half-heartedly about the evils of gambling, which included throwing a ring around the neck of plastic duck to win a prize, a comment that had me rolling my eyes in church. I half expected to be struck down, but when God gave me a pass, I decided that He must like the carnival, too, because of all the smiles it brought to town.
“I come up here every night after you’ve gone home.” My breath stuttered and that pebble of disappointment rolled around in my stomach. “Oh,” I said, my broad vocabulary reduced to a single syllable. Kes turned his head to look at me, and for once his smile was gentle. “I can see your house from here,” he said. “I can see your tree and your bedroom window. Nobody bothers me up here, so that’s when I think of you.”
Kes was moody and difficult, brilliant and beautiful. He scared me and he protected me. He could be incredibly hurtful and incredibly thoughtful. He wasn’t perfect, but he was perfect for me. He challenged me, he took me out of my safe little box and showed me the world could be magnificent. He was everything I wasn’t, but somehow, together, there was a synergy, an alignment, something that just made sense, no matter how crazy it seemed to anyone else.
Kes wasn’t safe. He wasn’t a sensible choice. He made my heart race, and swoop, and die a little. When I was near him, I burned. When he was far away, my blood moved sluggishly, reluctantly, cooling without his heat. Maybe we’d burn together. But maybe, just maybe, we’d fly.