Title: Meet Me At The Bridge (01/01)
Author name: E.D. Fiorentino
Category: Romance
Sub Category: Drama
Keywords: teens, love
Rating: K+
Summary: Two teens encounter love in the most unlikely of places.
DISCLAIMER: All characters were derived from the author's imagination. Any similarity to persons--either living or dead--was not intended, and is purely coincidental.
Author notes: I'm almost disgusted with myself for coming up with this. I normally can't stand fluffy, sappy fics, but there you are. This is dedicated to Kristen and Dani, because this is the world they live in.

Meet Me At The Bridge

She steps onto the bottom part of the railing and pulls herself up so that she can peer over the top. The old bridge itself is in poor condition; the only reason it still stands is because it has been built well, so the floorboards remain strong, and the rusty supports hold.

There is a lantern nearby, one that had lit the young woman's way as she picked her path down the trail to this place. It shows her lithe figure, toned by countless hours of running and biking; her slightly angled face; her shoulder length tresses, some of them held up at the back of her head by a rubber band; and her pale green eyes, accented by the loose strands of hair hanging down in front of her cheekbones. Those same eyes stare out, past the trees that live near the creek bank's edge, into the open field of tall grasses, and to the cloudy night sky above.

She is here for a reason. Her mind is clouded by the confusion of the day's occurrences, and she has come here to clear it, or to at least find some answers to her questions. At sixteen, life seems too complicated for her to handle. Barely a month before, she had broken up with her first boyfriend, an older boy who acted younger than he was. Her friends had seen the breakup as a joke, something to constantly harass her about. The people she'd first told, however, when she was at wits end with the relationship, the people she'd run to when she no longer knew what to do, comforted her, told her to ignore the others.

Now, all thoughts of him fleeing from her mind, she focuses on another boy. He is kind, thoughtful, wise. He is intelligent. He acts his age.

She speaks with him often, confiding her thoughts, her fears, her secrets within this boy, this man.

Meet me at the bridge, he'd whispered to her in passing during that day. Meet me at the bridge, at nightfall.

How he'd known about the bridge was a mystery to the girl. She had discovered it long ago, shortly after she had moved to the town, while searching for a nook or cranny in which she could hide and be by herself. An old trail-at first she'd thought it a deer path-lead back into the woods behind her house, winding and twisting until it met a stream, and then the stream met a field of tall grasses, which smelled sweet and were soft to lay down on during the warm summer nights. The grasses eventually met an old, forgotten road, weeds poking from the cracked pavement, and then to the bridge, which went over the stream found earlier.

"It's a beautiful night, isn't it?"

She turns at the masculine voice, and sees him, his hands in his pockets, his shoulders slouched against the cold winter wind, striding down the road. His medium brown hair has been tossed this way and that, and his freckled cheeks are rosy. Even though she stands on the part of the railing that is at least six inches off the ground, he is still taller than her.

"Cold, you mean."

He grins, his teeth flashing in the light of the lantern. "Good weather for snow."

She nods, and then looks back out towards the field.

"Does it remind you of where you used to live?"

She turns back, and steps off of the railing. "No; there were no fields. Grass, yes, but nothing like that." She gestures off into the gathering darkness.

He walks towards her and leans against the railing, next to her. The warmth he brings with him is a welcome reprieve from the chill air.

They stand like that for a while, looking back into the trees, listening to the happy gurgle of the stream.

"I hate the cold," the girl comments suddenly, not looking at the boy. She says it with such bitterness that it surprises him. "I'm always cooped up in sweaters and jackets. I long for the days where we can wear tank-tops and shorts to school again!"

The boy smiles. "Well, people like you do; those of us who don't have perfect skin don't enjoy showing it off."

The girl doesn't seem at all startled by his comment, yet in her mind, she thinks, Perfect skin? Where did that come from? "Well, there's always that."

They turned to look at each other, and they smile.

The girl looks down, to her mitten-adorned hands, and begins to pick at a piece of fuzz on the left one. The boy removes his hands from his pockets and takes the hand in his own. She is surprised to see how much his own dwarfs hers. Then she realizes that he is not wearing gloves, and takes her other hand to cover his.

Looking up into his light brown eyes, she thinks of how lucky she is: she has a great friend that she can spend time with, someone who won't judge her, who will talk to her when she feels lonely.

Suddenly she realizes that maybe--just maybe--she cares for this boy--no, this man, as more than just a friend. Her heart flutters in her chest, and she feels her cheeks grow warm.

"You know something?" he asks her, pulling one of his hands from her grasp.

"Hmm?" She is distracted by the way he strokes his hand back and forth along her jaw line. It is hypnotizing, in a way.

"You have beautiful eyes."

The girl blushes heavily and looks down. His hand trails down to her chin and gently pulls it up so that she's looking him in the eyes again. There's something there that wasn't there before, she notes, a serious, mature look.

They are so close to each other that their combined breath is clouding up his glasses. She smiles faintly, ignoring that.

"I want you to promise me something," he whispers to her.

She looks at him curiously. "Alright."

"Do you promise, if I go through with what I'm about to do, that we'll stay friends?"

Now she's concerned, but she readily agrees.

"I don't want to wait any longer. I fear that if I do, I'll lose you to someone else. I've liked you for a long time--not that I've actually admitted this to anyone."

They both laugh somewhat nervously. She looks down at her hands, and rubs her arms with them, the cold seeping through her turtleneck sweater.

He unzips his jacket and pulls her close, then pulling the jacket tighter around them. She inhales his scent; something light and unfamiliar, yet comforting all the same.

"Are you saying what I think you're saying?" she asks. Her emotions are whirring; what she had thought he would say came out differently than she had thought, but the message behind it was the same. "Because if you are..." She looks up at him, her eyes searching his. It appears that he's holding his breath.

A month before, I was claiming that I didn't want a boyfriend. Now this happens...am I ready? Should I leap before I look?

She sits there for another minute, and then smiles. I've thought about this, even if it wasn't in so many words. I trust him with more than my life. "What the hell," she says, a slight quaver in her voice. She steadies herself. "Sure."

He smiles. A snowflake drifts between them.

The teens look up at the swirling mass above them, and drink in the happiness of the moment.