Meg stood in the kitchen, looking at the piles of dirty dishes.

“I think I’ll leave it,” she said, more to herself than to anyone else. “I can do it tomorrow.”

“I can help?” Gillian offered, but Meg shook her head, she had made the decision.

“I want to enjoy the sunshine,” she stopped. Looked at Gillian. Really looked. “When will I see you again?” she asked, and The Three Degrees started up in Gillian’s head.

“Christmas, I suppose, if you’re coming back?”

Meg nodded slowly. She was going to Oxford to study English, and all of a sudden Oxford seemed a long way away. Christmas seemed a long way away. School would be forgotten, friendships would be left to die a slow, long, painless death and memories would no longer be remembered, but left forgotten, replaced by the people and moments that would suddenly seem like so much more.

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 “You’ll still be here?” Meg asked, though Gillian had no idea why. She had no plans to leave, no wish to leave.

“I’ve got the farm. My grandad’s getting too old – ”

Meg cut her off, caught up with her own train of thought, “It’s funny, thinking of you shearing sheep.”

“Don’t think I’ll be doing much of that,” Gillian laughed, pushed her hands into the pockets of her shorts and made her way back to the open door. “You can visit me in the spring. Help me with the lambing?”

“I’d like that,” she said vaguely, beginning to follow Gillian out of the door.

“Actually,” she stopped half in and out of the kitchen.

“Actually, can—can I talk to you?”

Gillian flicked a glance her way.

“Yes..?”

She imagined at this bleary point in the afternoon Meg just wanted to talk more about lambing, university, or some obscure book she just read but couldn’t remember the name of.

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 They stood by the side entrance to the house between the door and the porch where the last few roses of summer were thick and sweet-smelling and turning brown at the edges.

“I want to talk to you. I wanted to talk to you about – ” she stopped, made to restart and stopped again. “I wanted to – ” she gave up. Almost laughed, and then, in a moment of madness, grasped Gillian’s wrist with one hand, the back of her neck with the other, flinched at the muffled squawk of surprise, ignored another protesting syllable, lost her balance so that she inadvertently had Gillian up against a hopefully not-too-hot wall, and kissed her.

But this sudden, attention-grabbing flourish quickly transformed into something deeper, slower, more sensual, something that got better and better, an ardent give-and-take that defied expectation. A thousand kisses condensed into one, a book of a thousand pages fluttering to conjure the beauty of a single word, a thousand sensations distilled into one moment: the sun-warmed wall at her back, Meg’s hands pulling her closer, and a sweetness like biting into an overripe fruit, and that thousand-page book was on fire, everything must be rewritten, reworked, retold because the fire, this fire, consumed it all.

Meg was the one who pulled back first. Blue eyes wide. She took another step back, flexed her fingers and folded her arms tightly across her chest.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered too quickly. “I’m sorry.”

Published by Tipping the Scales Press

Available to purchase as an e-book or paperback from Amazon 

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