“You ready?” He smiled and stepped inside, using his free hand to violently brush through his hair. It didn’t help though. The back was flat and the sides were poking out. I didn’t mind but even liked it that way. Later I would knot my fingers into his curls and–
“Come on, slow poke,” he said. He took my helmet from the shelf and then followed me to the kitchen. I zipped the backpack on the table shut. “I got it.”
“No, it’s okay.”
He helped settle the pack on my back and downstairs, he buckled my helmet for me – just for fun.
“Good to go?”
“Yeah.” And we drove off. When we got to the roads with no lights, he slowed down. There were stars and his headlights, but otherwise all was still and dark.
“Tell me where’s a good place,” he called over the sound of the motor.
“You know this place better than I do.”
He braked and my helmet tapped against his. I hated when that happened.
“Here’s good,” he said. We spread out the blanket, he put his music on and opened the beers with his keychain.
“My hair’s all messy,” I said, settling on the ground and running my fingers through the strands. He held my arm.
“I like it that way.”
I tried not to smile too hard and finally looked away. “What are the chances?” I took a sip of beer and nodded to the sky.
He sighed and swung his bottle by the neck between his knees. “High. Just keep your eyes open.”
It shot across the sky – a streak of light against the glittery purple of the night. I opened my mouth, smiling, watching as it disappeared.
“Well, city kid? Was it good?”
“Now make a wish.”
“I’ve been thinking about it,” I said, scooting back to sit closer to him. “And I can’t think of one.”
He laughed. “You’ve been dying to see a shooting star but don’t have a wish?”
“What did you wish for?”
“Ah, I can’t tell you. It won’t come true then.” He tipped his bottle and gulped from it.
“Drew, tell me.”
“I’m not telling you.”
“Big deal. Please, Drew. Please, hm?”
He watched me for a minute before smoothing some hair behind my ear. “I want you to be happy.”
I smiled. My eyes shifted across his face – from his eyes to his mouth, his forehead, that hair. “I am happy.” I clutched his arm and rested my head on his shoulder. “I’m very happy.”
We sat there for a long time, catching at least half a dozen more stars, making wishes in silence. Later I lay my head in his lap, and he played with my hair until I fell asleep.
“Come on, darling, we should go.” Dawn was breaking. He helped me with my backpack and helmet again – this time I was sleepily grateful. The air was cool and the low rumble from a distant farm joined the morning birds. I held his waist tightly but my eyes closed in between. Tap, tap. I was too tired to keep our helmets from touching.
I didn’t see how it happened or how suddenly it came. All I could see when I opened my eyes was the pavement and the back wheel of a red tractor.
Drew died on the way to the hospital, and I never saw a shooting star again.