Iris and Max sat in the overgrown grass on the hillside that dipped down to become their soccer field. They spoke slowly: about her coach and his, about the same old uniforms, about the sun in the sky and the humidity in the air. Iris tried to fill the space between them with her words, but there was a long, and by some means awkward, lull of silence that hung there instead. Neither she nor Max were willing to speak up, to admit what they would one day know—that she got reprimanded for watching him too intently across the field when she should have been goaltending, and he had stayed on a team for which his biggest responsibility was keeping the bench warm just to keep seeing her.
Her gaze drifted to the dry grass underneath and beside and around them and fixated on Max’s fingers, twirling around and around a single blade of grass, tugging gently, daring to pull it from the earth and drop it down again to rest beside the lucky blades that had the chance to keep stretching to the sky. His fingers crawled, searching for another thin, flat blade to uproot, but found instead a stalk of smooth, cylindrical green, which he yanked up from the ground before looking to see its bright yellow center and smooth white petals. Color rushed to his cheeks as his eyes met hers, and he lifted the daisy ever-so-slightly away from the earth, and tucked it right behind Iris’s ear, where her hair cascaded into a braid that fell over her shoulder. Finally, they were face to face, and she wasn’t afraid, in fact, she was so unafraid that she held his gaze for years, or minutes, or maybe only seconds—neither one was counting—only breaking it to drink in the details of his face, the dark eyebrows, the eyelashes that curled upward, the brown eyes flecked with gold and hope, the freckles smattered across the straight nose, and the pink lips, the bottom of which was being bitten by the front teeth.
Iris’ fingers danced in the grass and quickly, they found a stem of their own to wrap around and tug, separating another determined flower from the sea of itchy green. She reached for Max, brushing a dark curl from the top of his ear as she tucked the stem behind it, her hand lingering on his face many moments longer.
“Daisies are my favorite flower,” she said.
“You are mine,” he whispered.