by Stefanie Allison
I relished the sound creaking of wood as I ascended the bookcase; this was a princess who had no qualms about saving her prince in peril. I had made sixty-eight previous attempts—some with my dad yelling about “don’t throw my beer pong trophy away!” but most ended with losing my—
“I got you Smurf!”
Don’t tell anyone I said this: but I realized the meaning of “strong, yet soft” when I landed in Eric’s arms. I rubbed my chest to quell the tickling sensation.
“Don’t die of a heart attack now, my little Smurf!”
Eric loved rubbing in the fact he was over six foot—and six feet wouldn’t be enough feet to kick him in the ass for it.
“Put me down!”
“What do we say?”
“Good to have helpful neighbors,” my dad said, raising an eyebrow.
“My pleasure, Mr. Roberts,” Eric said, blushing.
“Well, son,” my dad said (Wait, he’s never called Eric that), could you get that box labeled ‘For Goodwill’ off the shelf for Sarah?”
“Sure thing,” Eric said, watching my father walk away.
“…Uh, put me down.”
“Huh? Oh, sure.” Gently, he made sure my feet made contact with the ground before climbing the bookshelf with the precision of a rock climber (Show off).
“Got it!” Eric cried, tilting the box down to look at the contents. He froze.
“What, is a black widow asking you on a date?” I asked, taunting him for his fear of spiders.
“Why is this in here,” Eric said.
Eric held up the book in question. My heart stopped along with the ticklish sensation.
“I wrote this for your sixteenth birthday,” he said as a page fell loose.
“You didn’t even read it, did you?”
He brushed past and I grabbed his arm.
“Don’t leave. Please.” He leaned down and I felt my pulse in every strand of my hair.
“Get the box yourself.”
That night, I read his homemade story of a knight rescuing his princess, just for a chance to feel the rush in my veins again.