As Melina ran after the boys, she brushed her hand across her face to remove the long hair that constantly seemed to be in the way. They were getting further from her. Her little legs could only carry her so fast. She wanted to yell for them to wait, but she knew it would do no good. They turned a corner and a twinge of fear coursed through her. These woods were deep, if she lost them, could she get herself out? She pushed her legs a little bit harder. Her feet hitting the ground and causing little puffs of dirt to trail behind. She made it to the turn and ran straight into a solid mass. She fell back onto her rear end and looked up at the thing.
“You were falling behind.” He said in a matter-of-fact tone. She scowled at him.
“I would have caught up.” He laughed and reached out his hand to help her up. She slapped it away and stood on her own. They started to walk in unison, both breathing hard from their long run. “Why did you wait?” The boy shrugged.
“Because I saw how hard you were trying.” Melina straightened her shoulders and pushed her chin up.
“I can run just as fast as any of you. You just had a head start.” She stated, folding her arms across her chest, in spite of her obvious lag a moment ago.
“Prove it.” Hector prodded her arm with his elbow. Her arms dropped and, before he got a chance to take it back, she bolted into a dead run. She heard him laugh behind her, but she wasn’t about to let him win.
Hector waited a moment for her to get a headstart and then he moved into a fast jog. She would get to win this. He wasn’t sure why, but he liked when Melina tagged along. She was determined that she would do anything a boy could do. She was also determined to do it better. She was three years younger than him and two years younger than the youngest in the group, but she still found a way to tag along.
He wasn’t even sure if she knew where she was going, but he stayed a pace or two behind to let her have her moment. He watched her legs pump hard. It reminded him of the tracks on the wheels of a steam train, pumping over and over, pushing the wheels faster and faster. He admired her tenacity. The other boys weren’t so amused. He was the oldest of their four man crew and so they were usually nice to her because he told them to be.
Laughter and splashing could be heard ahead. He increased his speed just enough to be right behind Melina. She must have heard him because her legs seemed to pump faster. They reached the clearing and she turned around, breathless. Hector couldn’t help but smile. Melina stuck her tongue out at him.
“I told you I could beat you.” Hector shrugged.
“I guess you were right.” She turned back around to look at the lake, satisfied with her win. The other three boys already had their shirts off and were chest deep in the water. Melina stood at the edge of the bank, water lapping softly against the grass. She heard Hector take his shirt off and then his shoes. She felt a little unsure, but then decided if they could do it so could she. She kicked her shoes off.
“How deep is it?” She asked with a hand shielding her eyes from the glare of the sun.
“Why don’t you find out?” Hector laugher as and she felt his arm nudged her shoulder just enough for her to lose her balance. She twisted and tried to grab him, but she wasn’t quick enough. She fell backwards off the bank and into the waist deep water. After rising and standing, she immediately wiped the hair out of her face and then planted her hands solidly on her hips.
“Hector! You’ll pay for that!” Hector just laughed again And walked down into the water. She tried to run toward him, but she was just too small to fight the mud and water. Here it only reached Hector’s thighs and he moved quickly into deeper water. She came out only until the water was up to her stomach and then stopped. She growled as she decided she didn’t want to chase after him. He turned around when he heard the splashing die and saw she was closer to the bank. Maybe looking for crawfish? He shrugged and went to meet his friends.
Someone asked that I expand the story I started in “Skin to Skin“. I decided to give it a shot. This is the first part of it and we’ll see where it takes us.