“Sorry,” I said, “I wasn’t looking.”
I picked her up from the ice. She wore a puffy white parka, pink mittens and a red woolen beanie that came down to her eyebrows. When I helped her up, she smiled with perfect white teeth. Her long auburn hair hung on her shoulders. Her brown eyes danced in my head.
“You’re cute,” she said. “You have gorgeous green eyes.”
“What’s your name?” she asked.
“Jill,” she said and took my hand with her pink mitten.
Jill wasn’t shy. Junior High girls seemed to mature faster and knew what to say. All I could do was stare at her beauty and think wouldn’t it be nice to hang with her for a little while longer.
Build Me Up Buttercup was blaring from the big speakers in the rafters. The melody stuck in my head, and I didn’t hear any other songs after that. She led me around the rink. We smiled as we tried to avoid the other skaters.
My friend Jake hit it off with Jill’s friend, Arlene. They were fooling around at the snack bar. Jake was tickling Arlene and making her laugh.
After the rink closed, all four of us took off our skates and walked up the street to the playground. Jill and I sat on the steel merry-go-round and talked under the winter night. It was freezing, but the pounding of my heart kept me warm. We could barely hear the murmur of Jeff and Arlene’s voices somewhere in a dark corner of the playground.
It felt like Jill and I were the only ones under the moon and stars. Build Me Up Buttercup still played in my head when we both leaned toward each other and kissed. Her lips tasted like grape chewing gum. The smoke of our breath seemed to form hearts as they floated up to the sky. I could feel the shape of her fingers under her mittens. Our blue jean knees touched. The moon was bigger than it had ever been, and the stars appeared to look like musical notes. It was my first and only kiss with Jill Solano.