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Chicken With Lemon

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It's like we were playing chicken.

She would come to me, and I would pull away. She would back off, but after a while, when I just knew that there was no other way to get her out of my system, I would be the one to go back to her. This little game of ours went on for months.

I'll never forget that summer.

She was beautiful. I know that she had just turned fourteen, but she had this beautiful sophistication about her. Does that sound nuts? Probably, but what did I know? I was only twelve.

My parents drove for hours to get to our cabin. We passed rolling hills, majestic pastures with cows grazing peacefully without a care in the world, lakes and ponds and small forests. We finally got to the beach after two days of driving. The road was deserted, and my parents even let me drive for a bit! Can you believe it?

"Why not?" said mom. "Twelve years young and you're almost a man."

I never really understood what that meant, to be honest with you. How could I be "almost a man"? At what point does a boy become a man? When does a girl become a woman?

At least I got to drive. I kept my mouth shut.

Among all the cottage villa's trailers and shanty cabins, the eeriest one, at the end of the street was hers. I don't even think it was her cabin; I think it was her house, but I never got around to asking her what her parents did off-season. Just beside hers was the loftiest cottage, which belonged to her bubbly, popular cousin.

She was walking along the sand in her sundress and flip flops when we pulled up into our summer cottage. She looked like an angel.

"Do you want to go for a walk?" she asked me.

I said nothing at all. I just gaped at her. Her long, wavy hair was like a halo that framed a face full of character. What was her story?

"You can go," said dad, shrugging at me.

"I should help you unpack," I whispered.

"What?"

"Unpack," I said again.

"Oh, it's fine, son. Go with the nice girl. It'll be good for you to make some friends," said mom.

That was that. I was friends with the angel. It was that easy.

By the way, all of the other kids on the street said she was easy, and I didn't really know what that meant. I still don't fully understand. But it doesn't matter anymore. I just wish I could forget that summer.

That first day that we met, we walked for hours. When we were out of the villa, she took my hand. An overwhelming feeling came over my gut, but I played it cool. I felt like something great or exciting or awful was about to happen, and whatever it was, I wanted to be ready for it. I don't think she ever realized the hold that she had over me.

She told me her name was Lemon. Honestly, I didn't believe her. I mean, would you name your daughter Lemon? I guess I'll never know what her name was.

We walked all the way to the farmland. There was a large barn and a silo overlooking a small corn field and a large grazing ground for cattle. The canola field in the distance looked magnificent against the setting sun. The farmer lived in an old red brick house with yellow brick corners.

"No one is ever home," said Lemon.

"How do you know?" I asked.

Lemon ignored the question. "We should go in," she said.

Hand in hand, we stepped over the fence and wandered across the field and into the barn. She never let go of my hand.

"Mmmmmmuh."

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