Sweltering heat and that blasted Nordic skin of hers had sent her searching for cover indoors. No one wanted to hang with a girl who had a burnt nose. Plus, she didn’t want to spend the next two days wincing every time a piece of clothing touched her blistered chest. Let them walk around in this pressure cooker weather, she was staying put in the cool and sheltered cellar of the VFW.
She saw him across the room. Saw him saunter over to the water fountain. Realized he had a child in tow. “Another parent, living hand to mouth and unwilling or unable to buy his kid a soda pop,” she said to her girlfriend.
“Higher!” the little boy coaxed, “I can’t reach the water, lift me higher.”
The man in the purple shirt with the wind-swept hair was holding the boy so that his toes dangled a few inches above the floor; trying to position him correctly so that he could refresh himself with a few drop of the cool water flowing from the fountain hooked to the wall.
“Don’t let go of my balloon!” the boy said.
“Okay, Okay,” was his reply. The juxtaposition of the boy in his arms and the balloon in his hand was funny enough, but when the fountain sprayed water all over the front of him, Maybe could hold her laughter no longer.
He glanced across the room. Saw her. Saw her smile and heard her laughter, but it was her freckles that caught his attention. Her freckles and that fearless giggle of hers. He made a gesture with his head, shifting wet hair out of the way so that he could get a better look.
She was sitting on the counter, legs dangling, jeans short, halter covering breasts that swung bra-free. He liked what he saw, and now that the child he’d had squirmed free, He planned to take a drink of his own before making his way to her side of the room.
“Today’s my birthday,” he said, when he’d reached her.
“Your birthday, hunh? That’s original.”
“It is!” he protested.
“On the fourth of July.” she answered flatly, giving him one of those looks that says, I don’t believe you, but I don’t believe you in a cute and saucy way.
“I’m serious. Today is my birthday.”
“And how old are you today?” Maybe asked.
He was moving in on her. Anxious to touch her bare legs. She could tell. She crossed them at the ankles, leaving a space between her knees where he might penetrate her force field, should he have the guts to try it. They talked for a few minutes, flirting recklessly, before he said, “How about a birthday kiss?”
“So that’s the kind of girl you think I am?” she asked. She was totally that kind of girl, and he would soon discover it, but she didn’t want to appear cheap. Not at first.
Her girlfriend made an excuse and left the cellar space for the fairground’s midway a story above them. “I’ll catch ya on the fly,” were the last words she spoke, before being swallowed up by the blazing sun shining in from outside the VFW door.