I got to my feet, leaving the comforts of the blanket we had just made love on, to walk to my truck and light up a cigarette. I planted myself down on the open tailgate of my truck to watch her. A swan playing with dreams.
By the time I tossed the the remains of the caner stick, she emerged from the water, walking to and picking up the blanket along the way, only to wrap it around herself as she approached me. I spread my legs and opened up my arms to let her in. I held her close, and kissed her on the nose, then the forehead, cheek and finally, the mouth.
I don't know how long it lasted, but it lasted for quite some time. It lasted not nearly as long as I wanted it to.
She turned around and leaned into me, her long wet hair pressing against my bare chest. We stared out into the darkness of the trees that surrounded. Another Saturday night for a couple of hopeless romantics. "My father would kill me if he knew I was with you." She said, breaking the silence.
"He'd kill me first." I noted.
"I wouldn't be too sure."
"Now why would you say that?" I wondered.
"He expects more from me." She concluded.
Silence fell between us for a couple of minutes.
"Carroll, what am I going to do without you around?" She asked me.
"I'll only be gone for about four months," I reasoned, trying to make light of the situation, "then I'll be back and it will be as if I never left, besides," I continued, "I don't leave for boot-camp for another three months."
"I'm going to miss you." She issued. "I don't want you to go."
"Too late now." I told her. "I already signed the papers."
She turned around to face me. "But, why the Army?"
"The Army Reserves." I duly corrected her before trying to explain it as best I could. "Katie, there's just a part of me that wants to get out of this town."
"I want to leave too." She revealed. "Only ...."
"Only what?" I asked, when she hesitated.
"Only ... I want to leave with you."
"You have two more years of high school left." I reminded her.
"So." She mumbled. "You didn't have to join so soon. You could have stayed and finished your senior year."
"There is no way in hell I could have suffered through another year of high school." I confessed. "Every time I see coach Mendenhall in the corridor, he always asks me why I won't play football. I'm getting tired of explaining to him that I don't want to spend the rest of life getting surgery."
"Just give the middle finger, he'll shut up." She offered a solution. Not the best solution, but it was an idea.
"Great," I sighed, "more detention. I have spent more time in detention the past two years than I have spent at home. Between work and making the social rounds at parties and school events, I'm lucky to find time to spend with you."
"You work for your dad," she replied, "I'm sure you could get your hours cut."
"I don't want to cut my hours." I stipulated.
"Why are we even talking about this?" I snapped back. "You're going off to college anyway when you graduate. Who knows where I will be. You really think we're going to be together in two years?"
"I don't know." She half snarled, turning back around. "It would be nice if we were."
"I don't know, Katie, two years is a life time for us. We're too young to be thinking about settling down."
"If we were together, I might put off college." She threw out there for me to ponder. And ponder, I did. When I was done pondering, I shook my head. "That's sad."
"What?" She gasped. "Why? How is that sad?"
"You're going to jeopardize your future for a guy?"
"That guy happens to be you." She pointed out.
"That's even sadder." I elaborated.
"Any girl who gives up her future for me needs to have her head checked." I bluntly answered.
"Why do you say that?" She really wanted to know.
I paused briefly to make sure I explained it properly. "Because the only person I see in my future is me. That's why."
I don't think I explained it very well.
"You are such an ass at times, you know that?" She responded bitterly. "I thought you loved me."
"I do love you." I stated, then stated some more. "For now. How do I know I will love you in two years?"
"Faith." She affirmed.
"Yeah, well, faith is what I am lacking."
She turned around once again. "So I'm just a summer fling?"
I looked into her eyes. "Shakes the devil when he misbehaves." Was all I said.
Katie stared back. "Fine, you go do whatever with your life, I'll go to college. Meet you here in six years?"
"Then what?" I pushed.
Katie reached up and wrapped her arms around my neck. "Then we'll get married, have kids, and grow old together."
She leaned in and kissed me. Upon our release, I asked her the million dollar question. "But what if I don't want to grow up?"
"Then I'll tell my dad you deflowered me at sixteen, and have him kill you."
"Okay. You win." I caved. "What's today's date?"
I took a peek at my invisible wrist-watch. "Good. I'll meet you here July 22nd, six years from now at precisely 10Pm."
"It's a date." She smiled, kissing me one more time.
"I got a hundred bucks that says you're not going to show." I dangled.
"I got a thousand that says I will. Two thousand that you won't show." She countered.
The night went too fast.
*** Six years later ***
I sat there on the hood of my car staring over the lake. After everything I have been through the past half dozen years, I couldn't believe I actually remembered our bet. Even more astounding, I couldn't believe I actually showed up. Was she ever going to be surprised. I kept my eyes on the water, visualizing her emerging from it and smiling as she walked towards me. I quickly snapped out of it.
I looked at my real wrist-watch. 11:35 PM. I tossed away my cigarette and got into the car. "That's okay," I whispered to myself, "you can owe me."
One of these days I might track her down and collect. Thirty-one hundred dollars is thirty-one hundred dollars. That should buy enough whiskey to erase another memory. That and time. Unfortunately, however, it wasn't enough. I still think about it to this day.