Hooks (Short Story)

There was nothing romantic about body sweat coating skin like a fresh layer of rain, hair sticking to skin like a dirty mop trailing filth along the linoleum, and thighs chafing despite three layers of deodorant in globs like clay between them.

But Ally was a goddess that summer.

The overbearing Florida heat and squealing campers only served as a backlight, casting her in an unearthly glow as she forced Jimmy to spit the crayons out of his mouth and wiped the spittle dripping down his chin.

And while the pay was mediocre and probably only enough to get her a corolla from the previous decade, Lin accepted the application to come back next summer, folding it up and putting it away to mail in once she got home.

Ally slipped into the room, swinging her duffle bag from its place under her bed onto her mattress. “What a summer,” she said with a chuckle.

Lin smiled, sitting next to her own bag to get a better angle. “Are you coming back next year?”

Ally shook her head. “I’m going to Taiwan to visit family after graduation.”

“Oh.”

Ally’s tiny arms stretched to reach the string lights she’d draped over her bed. At barely five feet, it took a rickety chair and a miracle for her to get them up so high.

“Do you need help?” Lin asked.

“I got it.”

Ally’s shirt pulled up, the tan skin peeking out under the worn fabric.

“Here. My arms are longer.”

Lin crossed the room in three quick strides and reached up to tug at the plastic command hooks still glued against the wall. Like Ally, they were stronger than they looked, small and seemingly feeble but managing to hold up an entire summer. And Lin couldn’t help but feel like they’d been holding her up all summer too, and looking at the tiny plastic, all she could imagine was her body plummeting not so gracefully down once her support was cut.

The hook popped off the wall, the force knocking Lin back until she hit the floor. No, not the floor. Ally.

Ally groaned, and Lin shuffled to her knees, pulling away with a muted blush. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s fine,” Ally said. She giggled, pulling the tangled string lights out of Lin’s hair. “Thanks for falling for me.”

Lin flushed again. And then she was kissing Ally, her fingers entwining in her hair which was slick and oily after a day in the sun. And then Ally’s hands were brushing her cheeks, crisp and red from too many days without sunscreen. And the kiss felt like whatever adhesive had glued the command hook to the wall, gluing the two of them together despite the end of summer waiting to yank them apart and go home.

Ally pulled away first, her face held just a few inches from Lin’s. “What a summer, huh?”

Lin smiled. “I’ve had worse.”

Ally grinned. “Me too.”

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