best friend
Poetry & Art

Orange Slice Smile

The year we met
And on your birthday, you, her, and I gathered on a playground by the lake and our moms dressed us in printed bathings suits and we swam and listened to boy bands and sipped Hi-C orange and it was happiness and sunshine our small hearts couldn’t rationalize–those years of cheap presents and new friends coloring cheeks pink and making smiles wide

The year a boy broke us up
When all we wanted was his braces connecting to our braces in a metal death-match–winner take most embarrassing kiss story and a new beau to high school

And on your birthday, I told you I’d buy you a skate board so we could flirt with him and them (they had long, shaggy hair and crooked noses)

By the end of the summer–when sunshine was locked out of a new school building and all we had left of the warm were bruises and memories of stolen moments with floppy-haired, raven-eyed boys–we found it was still our long talks and sleepovers spent drinking Hi-C orange that made our smiles wide.

Instead of fighting over who would take him to a dance (it was always a giggly death-match) we went to dances together. And we sang to new boy bands with older lead singers who played guitar solos instead of busting out dance moves; our smiles wide and fights forgotten

The year we moved away
When your birthday celebration kicked off with a fire and a ceremonial throwing of white caps into the air

The sunshine hid behind trees as firelight flickered in your eyes and we roasted marshmallows and talked about college plans and “never forgetting.”

We roared; recounting favorite memories over warm teas with orange slices while tinny bands played on an old boom box

“Remember that song we made up,” you began,

“To tell that boy you loved him?” I finished.

Other mouths around the fire laughed, “How can you love someone in 8th grade?” they said while shaking their heads.

We don’t think we know what love is at such a young age.
But now I know that we did,
Because we had wide smiles and shared birthdays and mementos of friendship pasted into scrapbooks and scribbled onto the front of burned CDs
We had memories that can be shared like a story beginning with the phrase “do you remember how Hi-C Orange tasted,” but containing so much more

a history, a love story of two girls growing up together, best friends with pinkies locked orange tongues sharing secrets as the hazy summer came to a close
flickering to a finite end like the light of a firefly settling into the grass for the night
or an empty container of Hi-C orange being crumpled in a small, sweaty hand; the straw still dangling from a wide-smiled mouth

Author: Michaela Nardo
Email: [email protected]
Author Bio: Michaela is a lover of words, female friendships, small towns, and sentimental music. Find her managing a box office or slumped over a cup of coffee, deliriously writing in Columbus, Ohio.
Link to social media or website: http://instagram.com/michaelanardo


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