“Ike you’re so tan!”
He tried to yank his arm away, but she was already rolling up his sleeves and exposing the evidence. I bit back a smile.
“I thought you to be perpetually pale,” Gabriel commented, though not unkindly.
“Go Ike, you’re like a total beach hunk!” Julia crooned, not even flinching as he snatched his arm back.
The sun sneaked past the canopy of leaves above, scattering us with red hot light. Julia had stretched out on the grass, pulling up her t-shirt to expose her flat tummy to the sun. Even Gabriel seemed relaxed, his golden hair soaking up the light and giving him an angelic glow. But I, little red riding hood, was trapped within the shade, a bottle of lotion against my knee. Isaac had tanned from long hours walking along the beach and sketching outside in the early morning. And though I had often been with him, my milky skin remained stubbornly so. In fact, I awoke most mornings with a pink blush across my cheeks and nose, despite lathering up with lotion.
Isaac sat down beside me, throwing me a pitying glance.
“Would you believe me if I said I get even paler in the winter?”
“Tan skin would look unusual with such red hair,” he reasoned, softly.
I stretched out my legs, pushing just my feet into the sunlight. It felt like stepping into a hot bath.
“I hate being confined and hindered by something as good as the sun,” I sighed.
His eyes were distant, his smile crooked as he answered.
“You don’t let anything confine you.”
His hand found mine and we fell silent, our secret hidden by the mercifully long grass. It was one of those moments that you want to keep forever in a little white box. I would open the box in the icy, dark depths of winter and console myself that I had not imagined summer’s kiss.
But lately I longed to keep every moment in a box, preserved for when I awoke from this vivid dream.
Julia kicked off her flip flops as we walked home, hopping as her feet touched the burning asphalt. She giggled manically, ignoring Gabe’s eye rolling. The sky was dusted with orange that blurred the edges of the sparse clouds. Even Ike smiled as Julia danced ahead of us, her backpack barely clinging onto her shoulders as she spun around and around…