On the third day, rain came
Heavy, but slow, dragging rain that made the earth sigh. They drank it deep in their lungs and soaked in the smell. Straight into the towns-people's pores and bones, these showers.
In the morning, everything was white, like sand floating in water floating in air. By the afternoon, soil had softened, slicked to mud in places. Leaves washed into gullies; broken twigs stuck amid the red and brown. It was everywhere-between the grooves of their shoes, their fingers. Dirty elbows.
She watched, her expression caught somewhere between disgust and morbid curiosity as his fingers sunk into the earth, scooping out mounds of cakey, black soil in search of earthworms. His shaggy brown hair hung around his face and clung to his skin in bundles of wet dreadlocks.
"I got one!" he exclaimed suddenly, grinning as a pinkish colored noodle-creature stretched out into the open air. The girl, her nose wrinkled like she smelled something bad, shuffled forward to get a better look, and quickly regretted it as her friend pulled the worm apart.
"EW!" She squealed as mustard-colored guts dribbled out. "Yucky!"
He frowned, stuck his tongue out in annoyance and put both parts of the worm in the napkin-lined cardboard box. "He didn't do it right," he said, wiping his fingers on his mud-stained shorts.
"That was gross!"
He looked over at the white-blond girl, bottom lip sticking out in a pout. "Don't you want to go fishin'?"
"Yeah, but worms are gross! Why'd you break it like that? It's not a fruit roll up!"
He crossed his arms. "'Cause, silly girl! My daddy said it's bad to take the whole worm. You got to turn it into two worms and let one go back so it can get big again and the worm you keep you use for fishin'!"
She pursed her chubby, pink lips, fists clutching the folds of her baby-blue dress, and fixed him with her gray-eyed stare. He'd always thought she had pretty eyes; they matched the sky perfectly on rainy days like this.
"Well… well how come your daddy tells you about fishing, and my daddies don't tell me 'bout fishing?"
He rolled his eyes. "That's 'cause you're a girl."
"So, everyone knows girls can't do the things boys do."
She stood up, mud-stained hands on her hips. "Yeah-huh! I can do anything just as good as you! I'll get a worm and I'll show you!" She ran toward the curb, Velcro-strap shoes sinking into the rain-saturated grass with each step: slap, slap, slap, slap, slap! An earthworm was plucked out of a puddle in the road by a child's hand with bright pink fingernails. A smug little smile filled up her freckled, baby face as the worm squelched between her fingers and, wiggling wildly, was torn in two.
He stared at her with his mouth hanging open slightly, catching raindrops. Finally, after she had put one half of her split-worm in the box, he said, "Wow, you're a really brave girl! Like that queen, Elizabeth!"
She giggled and picked up her new, ladybug umbrella. "Thanks! You think we got enough worms now?" Together they looked into their small cardboard box, observing the worms that wriggled, searching desperately for dirt to avoid drowning in the rain.
He nodded, hands and legs slick with mud. "Yup. Now we can go fishin'!" He sniffed, ran his hands though his sopping clumps of hair, and proceeded to shake himself like a dog. She squeaked, hiding behind her umbrella, but laughed at the silliness of it all and the foxy grin plastered to his face.
She carried their homemade fishing poles: two dry old sticks with purple yarn tied to one end and a paperclip tied to the end of the yarn, while he waddled after her, box between his arms. They stopped at the largest rain puddle available on the street, sitting together under her blazing red umbrella, fishing poles in the water, box next to him, full of seven whole-half worms.
She shook the pole around a bit impatiently. "I don't got any bites yet."
"That's cause fish are super shy," he told her, "We got to be quiet and wait."
Her storm-colored eyes widened and she nodded, putting her finger to her lips, and turned her attention back to the murky puddle in the road ditch, childishly unaware of his eyes on her.
He didn't understand yet why she had two daddies and no mommy and he had one mommy and one daddy; his mommy had told him that it was something he wouldn't understand until he was older. Her daddies and she were new to town; he remembered, just a few days ago, when the big white and orange moving truck had stayed at the house across the street and had watched with large, curious eyes as the grown-ups put boxes in the house and he saw her for the first time. It was really windy that day, like the Big Bad Wolf was blowing at someone's house on the next street.
She wasn't much different from other girls, she wore pink for Big Bird's sake, but what piqued his interest was that she had two daddies. For whatever reason, that simple fact convinced him that she was the only girl in town that didn't have cooties. His daddy didn't want him to go and talk to the new neighbors, calling them some weird name he didn't understand, but he ignored his daddy's words and played with the girl that didn't have cooties.
He usually had to sneak out during the day when his daddy was at work and his mommy was taking care of his crying, diaper-filling baby brother, but she was always happy to play with him, always talking, always asking: "Why do boys do this?" "Why do boys like bugs?" and he, in turn, would ask: "What is it with girls and make-up stuff?" and "Why do girls do that?"
She tapped her shoes together as they sat on the grass, humming "Mary Had A Little Lamb."
He leaned forward and looked into the puddle. "I don't think it's working. Maybe we're doing something wrong?"
She paused in her humming and leaned forward also. "I don't know. What are we supposed to do with the worms?"
"That's it!" he said excitedly, pressing his fingers together in a mock snap. "We got to put the worms in the water so the fish will come." He overturned the cardboard box without hesitation, dumping the creatures onto the grass and pushed the worms into the water with wet, chilly hands. "There! Now we'll catch some fish for sure!"
She smiled widely at him, scooted against him happily, and went back to watching and humming. "We're going to have a feast for dinner, huh?"
"We sure are! A big, big barbeque! Like the kinds kings and queens have!"
She giggled. "Yeah! I can be the princess and you can be the prince that wakes me up with a kiss!"
He frowned at that, tilting his head. "Hey, what is it with girls and kissing, anyway?"
She gasped, looking as horrified as a five-year-old could look. "It's a sign of true love! Like magic. You kiss someone you want to be super-good friends with forever and the magic makes sure! Like your mommy and daddy, and my daddy and da; they're grown ups and they kiss to make sure they're always together!"
"But shouldn't they only hafta kiss once then? How come they kiss, like, everyday?"
That confused her. "I don't know. Maybe kisses taste good?"
"Maybe," he wiggled his fishing pole a little and turned back to her. "You want to kiss and see? I don't mind being super-best friends with you forever."
Her eyes went wide, her cheeks staining red. "R-really?"
He nodded. "Yup. You're a girl, so you want to kiss someone, right? And I want to see what the fuss about kisses is. We're already best friends, we can be friends forever."
She was blushing furiously now, and seemed to be unable to look away from his brown eyes. Like chocolate, she'd always thought. "Okay. You know how to kiss, though, right? I mean; you are a boy and everything…"
"I think I do,"
"Okay. On the count of three, okay? One, two… three!"
Her soft, pink lips met his wet, squishy ones under the umbrella to the pitter-patter music of raindrops on waterproof fabric.
"Is that it?"
She was frowning now. "I think we maybe did it wrong. Lets try again."
His lips tasted a little bit like dirt from when he had dug up the worms, but that magic that was supposed to fill them up like in the fairytales wasn't there. She narrowed her eyes.
"Fairies are liars." She said stubbornly.
He shrugged. "I guess so, but now we're friends forever, right, Eliza?"
She bobbed her head in agreement, droplets of water dripping to the ground from the tips of her hair. "Yup, I guess we are."
Smiling, he placed his arm around her shoulder. "Sorry the kiss wasn't all magic-y."
She hugged him around the middle, waiting for the fish to bite the paperclip hooks. "It's okay, Daniel. You're the best friend forever ever in the whole world anyway. Now where are those fish!"