Cherry Hill Magic

Becky gripped the handles of her ten speed, waiting. The late summer sun was starting to set and she should have been half way home by now but instead she was perched atop the steepest hill in Urbania, waiting.

She twisted the rubber grips on the handles impatient. She hated waiting for him. At least it was nice out, a soft warm breeze was washing over her, calming her jumping nerves and rustling the leaves in the trees all around her.

Cherry hill was probably her favourite spot in the entire town, waiting on the crest of the hill felt like being on top of the world. She could see over the tops of the oak trees at the bottom, she could see the lake off to the left partly hidden behind the jagged teeth of the roofs.

The sun was getting low and the sky behind her was starting to purple working its way slowly to a beautiful navy colour, streaks of orange sliced through the trees sending large shadows across the slopped asphalt.

Where was he. She tapped the peddle of her bike with one sneaker and sighed heavily. She slumped over resting her chin on her folded arms, rocking the bike back and forth. Almost rocking the bike over the crest of the hill. She hated waiting but winning was worth it. She beat him down the hill almost every time. Probably a good 80% of the time she would skid around that last corner and let her bike swing out from under her so she could watch his face fall and his eyes narrow when he saw that he had lost again.

They had raced down the hill the first time neither realizing they were racing each other until they were half way down the hill. He hadn't been going home, his house was on the other side of Cherry Hill. There was no reason for him to take this round a bout route home everyday since. But he did and she loved it.

She loved the rush of the wind through her hair as she sped down the hill there handlebars almost tangling with the closeness of the race. He would laugh and it was honest and no were near the cruel brutal laugh she usual heard, his laugh and his words would get thrown around in the wind and even the thought of the sincere beautiful laughter dancing around her in the wind brought a smile to her face.

Sometimes if he was in a really good mood, when the race had been especially close or when he won he would treat her to a soda on the way home. So as much as she loved winning and the rush of satisfaction it brought she always had a good time. It was hard to say out loud but she thought that she probably liked him.

Maybe just a little.

But maybe it was the magic of how the light hit him when he rolled his bike next to hers. Maybe the expanding feeling in her chest was just the magic of Cherry Hill.

She could hear the distinct sound of bike tires turn the corner behind her quickly.

Becky stretched and yawned making a show of how long he had made her wait as she turned to look at him.

"Took you long enough." She smirked as Spike slid his bike up next to hers. Inches away, their legs almost touching.

"I thought I told you I had detention with Halmen?" His voice was low for their age. Low enough to be dark and subtle not low enough to be silly. It was pleasing to her ears. At least it was when they were alone like this. When the low words held some sort of secret comradery.

"You didn't." she smirked and pushed her hair back behind her ears.

Spike loved this hill. Cherry Hill was probably his favourite place in the whole town, possibly the whole world. There was something just so perfect about this particular slope. How if you were standing at the top at the right time the setting sun sliced through the trees in a breathtaking way.

What he liked most about turning the corner and seeing the crest of the hill was that she was always waiting. Always no matter how long he was held after class or what she had to do after school, she was always there. Waiting for him, rather impatiently but that wasn't really the point.

He loved making her wait. Sometimes he stopped just around the corner where he could still see her through the trees and watch her. The way the dieing sun stained her skin, the way she would shift around impatient but wouldn't leave. He could hear her talk quietly to herself sometimes, never about anything really important but her voice had a calming softness to it that he never heard in her voice anywhere else.

He didn't have detention with Halmen. He had sat on his bike around the corner watching her wait for him. There was something so wonderful about how she waited. It proved something. What they did together was important enough to her not to throw away. She didn't race home, she wouldn't race anyone else, this was something they alone shared.

The Cherry Hill magic, she was only willing to share with him.

He smiled and watched her shift on her bike getting ready to throw herself down the hill. He laughed quietly judging the distance and the speed he would need to hit in order to win. He loved when he won, when he won he got to spend more time enveloped in the magic of Cherry Hill. On those days the magic of the hill would stretch to the dinner and would blanket them in a friendship they usually didn't share as they drank soda's and talked about nothing.

He loved the ring of the bells above the door of the dinner. How on those days the bells sang out his victory and Becky would smiled and laugh at all his stupid victory jokes. They would walk into the dinner together and Wilbur and Orville would greet them with a comment about how Spike must have won today and Becky would laugh and clap Spike on the back and promise that she would win next time.

He loved winning, he just wished it happened more often. As much as he hated to say it she distracted him, sure she was good but she wasn't that good, to beat him almost every day. They would get half way down the hill and the sun would play in her hair and something would tighten in his chest.

He liked her.

A lot.

And he knew it wasn't the magic of Cherry Hill because in school sometimes he found himself looking at her for no reason and wondering what she was talking about, or writing. He hoped that maybe the magic was working on her.

"You ready?" He asked her quirking an eyebrow taking in her determined focus.

"Always." she smiled brightly not taking her eyes off the hill, "On three?"

"One." Spike gripped the handlebars tightly praying to whatever was listening to let him win today.

"Two." Becky firmly planted her foot on the peddle closest to Spike.

"Three!" They yelled together and pushed off, propelling as fast as they could down the steep hill.

The tree lined street of Cherry Hill flew past them a blur of sun stained trees and deep blue shadow. The corner was coming up, this was where Becky almost always pulled out in front, maybe because she was lighter maybe because she always took the inside leaving him the longer outside turn.

Somewhere in Becky the adrenaline and endorphins kicked her into overdrive and she sped around the inside corner. Laughing happily she skidded to a stop turning to watch Spike glide around the corner already knowing that he had lost.

"That was great!" Becky smiled stretching out her face flushed, her body hot.

"Yeah." Spike's voice was quiet and perhaps sad. He let his bike roll up and smash into hers, locking them temporarily together. He leaned forward on her handlebars, incredibly close to her. They had never been this close without football pads on and one of them covered in mud. It felt electric.

"So..." Becky looked at her watch and Spike sat back, leaning on the back of his seat. This was where they would say goodbye. This was where his, you won this time comment would go. But something was off. He could feel it in the sudden coolness of the air.

"So?"

"Soda? On me this time?" She was looking everywhere but at him. She didn't think she could continue to breath if he said no.

He leaned down and untangled their bikes, "Sure." he willed his voice to stay steady to not seem happy or excited by the prospect. He wanted to be cool, aloof even but maybe above all he wanted to hold her hand.

He dismounted and started to walk his bike toward the dinner. Becky dismounted and followed close behind watching as his free hand swung slightly mimicking the uneven path of the bike.

They leaned their bikes up against the window and went in. The bells sang out above his head and he couldn't help but look up at them.

"Win again Spike?" Wilbur asked happily from the booth he and Orville always shared.

Spike kept looking forward, "Not this time." He wondered if he was blushing as he walked past the old men.

"You won Icebox?" Orville laughed, "We barely ever see you when you win."

Becky cleared her throat knowing very well that she was blushing, "Umm yeah." she followed Spike to the back of the dinner, stopping briefly to order their drinks.

She sat down across from him and wondered what they talked about last time they had soda's together. Now that this was perhaps something more than a victory drink with an almost friend she had no idea what to say or even what to do with her hands. Out of nervous habit she began to rip up pieces of napkin and using the spoon on the table began to launch them into the water.

"You're really good at that."

Becky shrugged, "I'm an O'Shea." She said no more as if that was all she needed to say to explain and after living in Urbania a couple of years it really was. It seemed that Danny was the only true O'Shea that wasn't athleticly talented, even Debbie, Kevin's daughter was a cheerleader and Priscilla ran track when she wasn't doing something for the audio visual club.

"Is that how you win all the time? You're just a genetic masterpiece?"

"I wouldn't say masterpiece." she smiled slightly hitting the spoon and watching another piece of napkin plop into the water, "Then again."

He laughed, it was that sincere honest laugh she liked so much. She looked up and their eyes locked.

"I like when you laugh." The words where out before she could think of the consequences.

"I like when you wait for me." was his response. He didn't like being soft but if there was anyone who was allowed to see him blush or hear his slightly girly words it was her. The girl who waited.

"What do you mean?"

"You wait for me on the hill every day. I like that you don't go rushing off and forget about me." He didn't say it but he thought that if he turned that corner and she wasn't there he would die.

"I like when you win." she blurted it out hitting the spoon and sending another piece of napkin into the glass.

"What?"

"I like when we come here after and we talk about nothing. Sometimes I wish you'd walk me home." She was thankful when the soda's finally came and she could stick the straw in her mouth and not have to talk.

"Okay." he told her, his low voice wavering with a nervousness that he loathed, his face was probably red and he hated that too.

They drank their sodas in silence breaking it every once and a while to fill the silence with a rumour or funny story that had nothing to do with either of them.

Becky left the money on the table and they left the dinner, quiet in the dusk.

Spike started rolling his bike in the direction of her house.

"Where are you going?"

"I'm walking you home Ice Chest, or are you so unfamiliar with the concept-" She punched him in the arm.

"Shut up, you jerk." Her words held none of the sharpness that they usually did when she called him names. He was smiling and they laughed quietly together making fun of each other like they always did. The magic of Cherry Hill followed them taking out the bite in their words and replacing it with what may have been affection.

Spike stood with his bike on the street in front of Becky's house and watched as she dropped her bike on the front lawn next to Juniors.

"See you tomorrow." she smiled watching him mount his bike.

"I'll win tomorrow."

"We'll see about that."

"Wait for me?"

"Always do." she turned embarrassed by her words even if they were true.