I invite her into the circle of my arms. She leans against me and rests her head on my shoulder. Above us, the moon is nearly full, casting bluish light across the river. The sky is a starry mess.
“Look.” I point to the sky. “There’s Ursa Major.”
“What?” she asks.
“The bear constellation.”
“Where is it? Show me.”
I raise her hand and trace the starry image like I’m doing a dot-to-dot picture.
“There’s the head.” I swoop her hand left. “And there’s the tail.” I finish by pointing out the bear’s front and rear legs.
“The way you do it makes it look like a skinny, headless dog,” she says.
I laugh. “Where’s your imagination?”
“Let me try.” She lifts my hand and traces a detailed shape of a bear, describing the air-drawing from ear to toe. “Is that better?”
“Perfect,” I say. “Like you.”
She laces her fingers through mine.
I rub tiny circles on her palm with my thumb as I speak. “When I was a kid, I used to fear the bear would swoop down from the sky and eat me alive.”
“That’s horrible.” She presses her lips together, and her ribs shake in suppressed mirth.
“I wouldn’t laugh if I were you,” I say. “Elisi says that bear is pretty bad.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll protect you from Star Bear.” She makes a muscle, flexing and releasing her cute bicep.
“You will, huh?” I tickle her side.
She squeals, wiggles around, and digs her fingers into my ribs. We engage in a full out tickle-war. In the middle of our battle, the wind shifts and the earth rotates, and soon we’re on the ground with her straddling me, both of us panting.
Our eyes lock, and I brush a strand of hair behind her ear. She leans over an inch at a time until her nose touches mine. She kisses me, only a peck, then runs the tip of her tongue around lightly around my lips. Unable to resist any longer, I pull her to me and crush my mouth into hers…