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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Romance/Love · #2280411
The square root of a negative contemplates Skye becoming the Aurora Borealis of his soul.
The Eleventh Sign
by B.K. Compton

On thin-bladed, pale earth, she laid her weight right on me. After half a block running ahead with long, loping strides, I allowed a spirited girl tumble me down to land on my torso. She reared back like she just roped a calf. Hot bodies pulsing, breathing slowly descended. My air intake regulated sooner, before she uttered, “you're as irrational as you are impossible to catch, Lee.”

“So, I'm the square root of a negative?” She didn’t bite, remained intent on dominating me, though I always let her win. Familiar strawberry essence exuded, noting fleck freckles fading into that smooth, summer complexion.

“You’re a zero, that’s for sure.” Her two hands pressed the hardscrabble patch on either side, as she laid, still bemused. So, I rolled her over onto the flowerbed, partly shaded beneath Mother’s sainted Rose of Sharon. Its ample, fuchsia blooms were bountiful and never attracted an invasive bug. Remaining on all fours, I considered that waving ocean of irises below.
Flowing hair folded beneath her neck.

My quarry would not elude capture, as I offered, “we’re freshmen in two weeks.” Skye inserted 'so'. “Aren’t you tired of these kid games?” My gaze was drawn upward briefly to note haphazard Japanese beetles. They wildly whizzed about like runaway carnival rides above a droopy, moon-flowered hibiscus. Ravaged early in its neglected bed, leaves gaping, blooms folded and withered to ensnare in mossy mulch.

I pressed my exposed thigh into hers, firm. Her glassy reflection and sun-kissed skin soon reddened like a summer burn. She pushed me off harder than that little kid I knew, and scolded, “you’re the square root of something.”

My lifelong neighbor dusted off faded shorts she'd outgrown. Her creased buttock was revealed, and pink undies, tight-outlining a womanly chassis. She tugged a rumpled, fading blue, Camp Wawatay tee, calibrating everything into perfect alignment. I rolled to one side, leaned chin into propped elbow to admire further. Squared, my crook smile eyed what’s lately become her growing disgust, I assumed of me. Never more mysterious.

‘You done with me, Miss Sassy?” I grinned, reminded of our kid games at twilight. The campfires, flashlight tag, simple games of ‘not it’, that she missed. In corn stalks one night, while her mom called from the back porch, she bussed me with that mouth. Her 'daddy did it to mommy', making her melt like she’d eaten a chocolate bar. She didn’t get the fuss. Flustered, I felt color deeper than roses. She just slapped me in the head that day and took off. It was nothing she said, but felt like her curiosity linked us forever.


Every summer, barely a day missed, we played at her house or mine. Never a dull moment in all the old fortresses. We hid from the world, played house, staved off rain, found shade from heat, and my favorite, nestled in cold like two penguins on a berg. In comfort of white fortresses, she laid her legs over mine whenever we stared up at a black canopy. Our thick coat skins shared heat in crisp snow drifts, clean watching stars hang and drop one by one before our naked eyes, year after year. She counted 13. I found 14. We saw ten together.

During our 'white whale' watching one night this past winter, I started in on another piece of knowledge I learned: "Do you know what we've been looking at?" Without pausing for a response, "'Shooting star' is inaccurate. Those flashes of light..."

"Shh-uusssh," she firmly interrupted in a soft tone, "I'm trying to watch."

Taking the cue I was too loud, thoughts reloaded. I settled into our bodies-made trench. Just above a whisper, "simply, our sightings might be space rock or dust entering Earth's atmosphere."

Her voice was hard as metal, "Now, why? Why would you tell me that?" Skye got so quiet, I had to check if she was still there.

I had offered: "Well, the material might be from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter." I stopped trying to 'ruin it' for her, aware how blunt these (her words) 'Big Brain' intrusions could be. Like an aura of Northern Lights glowing, I felt the 'Aurora Borealis of Skye's Soul'. Recalling how her face looked, unable to sleep that night, I scribbled a poem about the strength of a goddess 'more powerful than all the constellations'.

After a few nights alone in our fortress, she had punished me enough. Skye hunkered into a fresh quilt of snowfall. We shared our last 'cosmic' sighting. As the dusty tail became a white wisp, I shook, and not from the sub-freeze, hypothetically asking, “do you think we exist?”

She snuggled closer, “we’re here, aren’t we?”

“Well…yes? But how are we here when there’s nothing out there for billions of miles?” I heard the hard crinkle of her Parka hood turn toward me. Sidelong, I looked toward her. Her lashes were wet and frosty — eyes miraculous purple-blue under that veiled vault. I began to leave my body, but knew she waited for more. That’s when I knew it. I loved her.

Staring back toward that canvas, “Even if we’re just a part of something larger, do you wonder if we are like inside someone else’s dream? Maybe, because of the distance, or, I don’t know, Earth’s gravitational pull, those dreams slow just long enough to unfreeze us, make believe we're actually real? It’s like," I leaned up, one by one on elbows, to squint at space, "nothing exists between two atoms, you know? Space futilely keeps expanding like it could touch something, but won't ever get close to any wall.”

Her head turned more, she clutched my arm. “You’re scaring me, Liam.” I turned to view Skye, not with consoling eyes, but in a hollow trance. I'm barely aware of it, whenever I stand frozen in thought. But, not like playing Statues, she said. I told her I leave my body sometimes. I’d return if she lightly rubs my back and whispers in my ear, ‘Come home. We’re waiting,’ but then would add, ‘silly,’ and hard punch my arm. I'd thaw, she starts to run, and the tagging game ensues.


It had happened again just 15 minutes ago, and it was sending us both to Earth.

Math. Square roots. Negative square roots. Some stuff is inexplicable, I heard a professor say. Just like Skye and me, and all the days and nights we’d been together, never wanting another friend to play our games. It got weird this summer. She made me brush her long, golden hair. I hid the goosebumps it gave me. The way her shoulders arched, leaning into my legs where I sat on the back of her family couch, I felt funny. I could no longer calculate our unknown continuum, or know if we could ever bend back. Could I be with Skye eternally, or would our bodies decay and be incinerated like Grandpa last summer?

The Skye I knew changed…new outfits, doodling on eyeliner, wearing her mom’s earrings, or dancing awfully to inane, pop songs. I grew, now six feet tall. She didn't notice? I'm nearly a foot taller. Still small as the snowbird kid – Skye was different. It left me frozen.

“I’m going back to my house,” she resigned, coolly. Her head turned, but body seemed to hover in slow motion. A thousand memories of lifetimes spent passed through us in that moment.

I interrupted. “Remember that last star in January?” She held, motionless, but didn’t turn.

“Yeah,” like a door slowly opening.

“I was worried.” I turned and sat cross-legged. My head lowered, I pondered black ants carrying small morsels in crazy patterns below. “Stuff didn’t make sense any more. Like — you — and me.” I looked up. She turned and then glanced about this waste of a backyard. “I-I thought… I thought…“ I was choking on words. Nothing more wanted to come out, but tears. Suddenly, her soft hand was making circles again, between my shoulder blades. She didn’t have to say the words. More tears flowed from my big head into a brittle scene.

Unable to move or think what to do next, she hammered the silence, “Mr. Big Brain broke,” mocking in her cute, pouty voice. I laughed a little; tears slowed. I looked at her, sniffled, when she offered, “I’m scared too, dummy. Yeah, I’m calling you dumb now.” She grinned, nodded, but didn’t crow as much as usual. “Let’s try this one more time.”


“Remember?” Skye crawled into my lap, and hung an arm around my shoulder. Her face paused in front of mine. Two calm oceans became one sea. Her soft lips pressed against the yielding, pliable epidermis on my mouth. It was surreal. Hot, sweet breath melted right into my essence. The colors. I saw those warm colors and sensed spears in my body entering a cold heart.

Skye's angle changed, lips moving from one side of my face to the other. It was beyond heaven. Had we finally spanned all dimensions of time to touch that wall? A lip smack unsealed our craniums. I realized both her hands clasped my neck. “Okay, I’m definitely on board with this,” she conceded. My eyes brightened before the no take backs pact, “We’re always going to be best friends — number one!” I grinned and nodded. Heaven on this planet would be enough.

Skye stood, as I woozily clambered to my feet. She clutched my hand, just when we turned to witness the biggest, fullest rose bloom tumble from its perch to the ground. “Eleven!” was shouted simultaneously, before a spark of laughter.

1601 words
9.8.22 incepted (originally as a poem, and then it got looong)


For September, 2022 Quotation Inspiration --
"I've always loved the first day of school better than the last day of school.
Firsts are best because they are beginnings."
-- Jenny Han

Story emphasis on becoming freshman and becoming more than friends as new beginnings.
© Copyright 2022 Brian Kringle Compton (ripglaedr3 at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
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