Never Too Late

Red, yellow and orange spill over the horizon, staining the world in the bright hue. I squint as the sun slowly rises and dawn breaks. I nudge my friend awake; she fell asleep hours before.

“Cindy, get up.”

She sits up and rubs her eyes with her fists. She blinks several times before squinting into the distance.

“Wow,” she whispers, “It really is beautiful.”

A smug smile spreads across my lips. “I told you. It’s the best place in town to see the day begin.”

She snuggles in closer to me, pulling the sleeping bag wrapped around her up to her chest. “You come here all alone? It’s so chilly.”

I take the opportunity to put my arm around her. The closeness of our body sends the butterflies in my stomach swirling. We’ve been friends forever; at least it feels like forever. We grew up living next door to one another. For years I saw her as nothing more than a friend, one of the guys. But in the last year, things have changed.

In three weeks’ time, we would be going our separate ways. Cindy accepted to attend a university out East, and I’m staying local. We’ll see each other whenever she comes home and I promised to visit. Still, it’s been hard.

For seventeen years, Cindy has been my best friend, always at my door with a bright smile. She has cried in my arms, too. I know all her old boyfriends, and she is friends with most of the girls I dated. Though neither of us ever had a relationship that lasted.

Her head rests on my shoulder, and her messy blonde hair falls into her face. She pulls her hand from the warmth of the sleeping bag to brush it away. I catch it with my free hand before she can put it back. Her hand is cool and petite. I can easily wrap my fingers around it, trying to warm hers up. She doesn’t fight my touch. I think I hear her sigh, but I can’t be sure. Her eyes haven’t left the sunrise.

We’re sitting on the tallest hill overlooking the town. The sun pours over our homes; hues of pink, red and orange reflecting off tall buildings and the small stream that runs parallel to the streets. Colours mixing together like a watercolour painting. The image is almost surreal.

Cindy pulls her gaze from the horizon, lifts her head from my shoulder and looks at me. Her peach coloured lips are twisted into an excited smile, her green eyes lit up like a small child on Christmas. She never pulls her hand from my grasp, and never expects me to remove my arm.

“You know me so well.” Her voice is little more than a whisper.

My eyes instinctively dart down to her full lips. The thought of kissing them forms in my mind before I can stop it. More butterflies soar.

“We’ve been friends for years,” I say, looking away from her intense stare.

“It’s more than that.”

She pulls her hand from my hold and places it against my cheek. Her hand is cold against my flushed face, but I won’t pull away. Not when she is willing to hold me. She turns my face back to hers and leans in closer.

“I’ve always been jealous of your girlfriends.”

My eyes dart to her lips once more, my heart starts to race. Has she wanted me all along?

Her soft lips touch mine before I have a chance to consider the possibility. The sleeping bag slips down from her chest, stopping at her waist. I wrap my arms around her, pulling her and the sleeping bag onto my lap. Our kiss never breaks. When she finally pulls away, I resist it, wanting to keep our connection, unsure when I’ll feel it again, if I will. I urge the butterflies to settle, trying to make myself enjoy the moment, but I can’t stop them. The rising sun frames the small figure sitting on my lap. Colours dance all around her. Her eyes shine, she smiles, a musical giggle escapes her lips.

“I’ve always wanted to do that,” she whispers, leaning in close once more and nuzzling my neck.

“Shh,” I whisper back, not wishing to ruin to moment with words. I pull her closer so her back can rest against my chest. “Shh.”

I smooth her long hair and we stare at the sun one more, now almost above the horizon.

“This is perfect,” she whispers. She’s never done silence well.

My arms are wrapped around her waist and give her a small squeeze.

“It is perfect. I just hope it’s not too late.

She pulls away from me so she can look into my eyes once more. Taking my face in her hands, she brushes her lips against mine.

“It’s never too late.”

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