“You noticed anything different about Ash?” my cousin, Sawyer, asked as he climbed up the tree to sit beside me on our favorite limb overlooking the lake. I shrugged, not sure how to answer his question. Sure, I’d noticed things about Ash lately. Like the way her eyes kinda sparkle when she laughs and how pretty her legs look in shorts. But there’s no way I’m confessing those things to Sawyer. He’d tell Ash and they’d both laugh their butts off.
“No,” I replied, not looking at Sawyer for fear he’d be able to tell I was lying.
“I heard Mom talking to Dad the other day, saying how you and me would start noticing Ash differently real soon. She said Ash was turning into a beauty and things between the three of us would change. I don’t want things to change,” Sawyer said with a touch of concern in his voice. I couldn’t look him at him. Instead, I kept my eyes fixed on the lake.
“I wouldn’t worry about it. Ash is Ash. Sure, she’s always been pretty, I guess, but that’s not what’s important. She can climb a tree faster than either of us, she baits her own hook, and she can fill up water balloons like a pro. The three of us have been best friends since preschool. That won’t change. ” I chanced a glance at Sawyer. My speech sounded pretty convincing, even to me.
Sawyer smiled and nodded. “You’re right. Who cares that she’s got hair like some kind of fairy princess? She’s Ash. Speaking of water balloons, could you two please stop sneaking out and throwing them at cars right outside my house at night. My parents are gonna catch y’all one of these days and I won’t be able to get y’all outta trouble. ”
I grinned, thinking about Ash covering her mouth to silence her giggles last night when we’d snuck down here to fill up the balloons. That girl sure loved to break rules. Almost as much as I did.
“I heard my name. You two better not still be making fun of me about this stupid bra Mama’s making me wear. I’ve had it with the jokes. I’ll break both your noses if it doesn’t stop. ” Ash’s voice startled me. She was standing at the bottom of the tree with a bucket of crickets in one hand and a fishing pole in the other. “Are we gonna fish or had y’all rather just stare down at me like I’ve grown another head?”