The sun sits high in the sky, nestled between dense clouds. Branches of an old oak break the sunshine apart. Alma stretches her limbs across the grass underneath. The sun graces her rich skin in slits.
She basks in the sun until she hears her voice.
“Alma! Hey, my Alma!” She yells into the open air of the field. Alma feels her cheeks burn with the stretch of her smile.
“Suki!” Alma jumps to her feet. The two embrace in a bone-crushing hug, knocking each other to the ground. They meet the lush grass in a pile of brown limbs and giggles. Breaking apart finally, the two sit in front of each other under the tree.
“So…” Suki starts, suddenly timid. Her fingers twist the grass until it detaches into her hand.
“So…” Alma repeats.
Suki busies herself with the grass. Alma takes in Suki’s features. Her full lips are stained purple from the blackberries her family grows. Thick twists frame her round face. Suki blinks her big brown eyes up again, cheeks tinting pink under Alma’s focus.
“I don’t wanna leave you.” Suki’s voice is barely above a whisper, so soft it could be carried away in the breeze that dances through the leaves.
Alma has been dreading this day since Suki first told her. Her parents were sending her up north, saying it’ll be better for her education. Alma didn’t understand; she was doing just fine in school. Suki would be fine down here, too.
“You gotta?” Alma’s voice wavers. She can feel hot tears sting her eyes. Suki nods solemnly.
She grabs Alma’s hands in hers. Her thumbs rub soothing circles, and Alma sighs.
“Quit being such a sap.” Suki forces a laugh out of her tightening throat. Alma chuckles, squeezing Suki’s hands.
“I ain’t no sap.”
Suki narrows her eyes. Alma rolls hers, pushing Suki away. The two burst into effervescent giggles, wrestling each other into the ground. They twist and turn, blurring the lines of where Suki ends and Alma begins. It ends with Suki pinning Alma underneath her. Alma drops with a huff, wincing from the pressure. When she opens her eyes, she becomes acutely aware of their position. Suki’s legs are on either side of her hips, her hands still on her shoulders. Her face hangs over Alma’s, all big eyes and blackberry lips. Alma’s exhale stutters on its way out.
“You ever thought about what it’d be like?” Suki asks quietly.
“To kiss. Like, on the lips.”
Alma feels her chest tighten with anticipation. Of course, she thought about it. Those thoughts aren’t supposed to be for best friends, though. Or girls. So why did thinking that about boys make her sick? She blinks, waiting.
“Well?” Suki urges.
“Um… y-yeah. I have.” Alma can hardly breathe.
Suki gives a half-smile. “So, what do you think?”
“I think it’s like… a firecracker in your heart.”
“A firecracker?” Suki laughs, boisterous. Alma wants to sink into the ground.
Suki stops suddenly, noticing Alma’s expression. She lifts her hand from Alma’s shoulder to place it against her face. Alma’s skin burns beneath her touch.
“Alma, look at me.” Suki breathes, lips hovering above hers. Alma opens one eye to see Suki closer than she’d ever been. In a soft movement, Suki presses her lips to Alma’s.
Sure enough, Alma feels a Fourth of July show go off in her chest. She savors the taste of blackberries and Suki, and in an instant, it’s gone too soon.
Suki breaks into a fit of laughter. “You were right.”
Alma wants to kiss her again, again, and forever. Suki stands up, dusting the grass from her clothes. She pulls Alma up with her.
“I gotta go now.”
Alma nods, eyes concentrated elsewhere.
“I’ll miss you, my Alma.” Suki cries, pulling Alma into her chest. Alma can feel Suki’s sobs against her cheek.
“Don’t be gone too long.” Alma sniffles.
Suki nods against the top of Alma’s head. She pulls away, taking one last look at Alma before making her way across the field again.
Alma watches Suki with a stinging heart. Her fingers brush her lips, cherishing a moment that’s already a memory.