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LAKESIDE movies town about every other


"Lakeside Fireworks" {Pendragon} (Mf rom pett)
IF YOU ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 18, or otherwise forbidden by law to
read electronically transmitted erotic material, please go do
something else.

This material is Copyright, 2002, Uther Pendragon. All
rights reserved. I specifically grant the right of downloading
and keeping ONE electronic copy for your personal reading so long
as this notice is included. Reposting requires previous

All persons here depicted, except public figures depicted as
public figures in the background, are figments of my imagination
and any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly
# # # #
Lakeside Fireworks
by Uther Pendragon

"You know, Crystal, I want you in both choirs," Mrs. Mitchell
said. "I think your voice is mature enough for the chancel
choir, but you'll still be a special case."

Crystal agreed to all the conditions. As the choirs started up
for the fall, she was the only sophomore in the chancel choir,
indeed, the only high school student.

"I'm trying to recruit more young singers," Mrs. Mitchell told
her. "There will be the Morgan boy, too. Craig is his name."

It turned out that she was talking about JG Morgan. He was a
college student, nowhere near her age. His father had moved to
town since Mrs. Morgan, JG's grandmother, thought she needed
companions due to her illness. Her house was huge, and JG and
his father had been fixing it up over the summer. It was the
sort of church, the sort of town, where everybody knew your

Crystal's dad sometimes quoted something about "If it weren't for
the honor, I'd as soon walk." It was supposed to have been said
by a man who was tarred, feathered, and carried out of town on a
rail. Adult choir was something like that. It was still
uncomfortably hot in the choir loft, especially in the robes.
She could get a ride home after Thursday-night rehearsals, but
only by staying for the socializing after. These weren't her
friends; they weren't bad people, for the most part, they were
just awfully old. Some of them were the parents of her friends.

On the other hand, they sang every week. The youth choir
rehearsed on Sundays after church and sang on special occasions.
And Mrs. Mitchell did give Crystal hints for developing her voice.

Then, too, belonging did give her something of the status as an
adult. She was too smart to join in the complaints about how the
minister acted, but she was not excluded from the audience
towards which those complaints were directed.

High school had begun soon before choir did. The high school and
university years were half the reason for the long summer break.
The other half was the unbearable stuffiness of the choir loft at
the height of summer. At first, seeing kids she hadn't seen all
summer was fun. Soon, however, class work became as boring as
ever. Then the high school dances started. At first she went
without a date, as she had the previous year. Then Dan asked

Her father thought she should wait another year before dating.
"We did say last year," her mom pointed out, "that you couldn't
date your freshman year. I'm not sure about this Dan, that's

"That's fine," Crystal said. "Dan's the one who asked me. First
you say 'not yet,' then you say 'not with him.' What's your next
excuse? Everybody else had dates last year."

She won that battle. One thing which her dad insisted on was
that she carry two quarters with her on all dates. "Any time you
feel that you want to come home, call. I won't hold it against

"Why should I want to call for a ride?"

"You might not," her mom said. "That's fine. And your father
isn't talking about just needing a ride. But any time you're
uncomfortable with how the date is going, any time you feel that
you'd rather call home than continue in the boy's presence, call
home. You don't even have to talk about it afterwards." As if
all her friends wouldn't be talking about it afterwards for weeks
if she chickened out on a date.

"Let's put it this way," her dad said. "If you have to call for
me, I have to come pick you up."

After their second date, Dan kissed her. To her surprise, he
stuck his tongue in her mouth. That led to a row and a breakup.
When Josh asked her out, her parents were much happier with him.

Crystal wasn't sure. Okay, Dan was a creep. He was only
interested in girls for one thing. But he had been interested in
her. Josh seemed to invite her to the dances because it was the
thing to do.

Besides, Josh was in the youth choir with her. And he could
barely hold the notes. Worse than that, he spoke about how he
looked forward to getting out of singing. He was such a contrast
to JG. The basses stood in the rear of the choir for the
anthems, and it was a treat to be standing right in front of that
deep, rich, voice.

One day after church her mom was in a meeting of the finance
committee. Her dad waited outside the meeting, reading a book.
Crystal decided to walk home rather than wait. She saw JG among
the kids in the parking lot. Mary Butler, a fourth grader, ran
up to JG, squeezed his nose, and ran away. JG said, "Ho, Ho, Ho"
slowly, his voice started deep and got deeper on every syllable.
Then he chased Mary. He had the legs. She dodged when he got
close, but his long arms got her. He turned her upside down in
his arms. She screamed. When he put her down, he slapped her
lightly on the backsides. She was laughing when she ran away.

Crystal was surprised to find herself jealous of little Mary.
What would it mean to have JG hold Crystal? (Not upside down,
thank you.) What would it mean to have him slap her backsides?

Not that JG noticed her. That was a problem; he didn't seem to
notice her. He wasn't rude, like some of the older kids in
school; he said hello when it was appropriate; he even commented
on her voice. He knew that she was a fellow church member and a
fellow choir member. What he didn't seem to notice was that she
was a female. Mrs. Mitchell, the pastor, many of their fellow
choir members, saw them as the same age. JG saw Crystal as a
little girl -- not even that -- as a little kid.

As the year went on, the choir loft stopped being too stuffy
because the air conditioning in the church didn't reach it. Soon,
it was too stuffy because the heat from the furnace did. Her dad
went out to the garage, turned on the car's heater, and drove the
car closer to the front door before Crystal got in to go to
school. Even so, she wore her heaviest coat. She went back to
wearing a pair of jeans under her dress to church. Nobody
thought it odd to see girls, even some women, removing a pair of
pants in the cloakroom.

Most of the dozen or so choir regulars weren't solo material, and
they knew it. Mrs. Driscoll and Mrs. Jenkins (Angela and
Melissa) were the best soprano and the best alto, respectively.
JG was the best bass, the best voicefor that matter, the best
male voice by far. The four tenors were, mostly, better than the
other bass, but not solo material. Crystal knew she hadn't
reached the level of the top three singers yet, but she wanted
to. And, to give the devil her due, Mrs. Mitchell was trying to
bring her along.

The cold really set in. Now the choir loft wasn't stuffy at all.
Now she didn't bother to change out of her jeans before church.
One Sunday, she was even tempted to keep her coat on. She knew,
of course, that this would have frozen her solid when she walked

"Did you know," her dad asked one night at dinner, "that there is
a major parcel of land between Lake Superior and the Arctic

She knew that, even knew that they called that "major parcel"
Canada. "Yes."

"Would you tell the weatherman that? Seems to me this weather
came directly from the North Pole."

Her mom suffered through this in silence. Something snapped in
Crystal, though. "Why should I? Why should the weatherman pay
me the slightest attention? Nobody else does."

"Who," her mom asked, "aside from your parents, isn't paying you
the slightest attention?"

Well, JG Morgan wasn't paying her the slightest attention. He
didn't know she was alive. She couldn't say that, though. Why
should he know that she was alive? "Aren't the two of you

"You might not believe it," said her dad, "but we think about you
all the time. We don't necessarily give you what you want," (they
never gave her what she wanted) "but we think about you." No,
she didn't believe it, but she saw no sense in saying that.

The choir was scheduled to do "I've Come From the Fountain" as
an anthem. "I want to see how it sounds with one response from a
soprano, one from an alto, and one from a bass," Mrs. Mitchell
said. "We could do it the last Sunday in Advent. Angela,
Melissa, Craig, what do you think?"

Mrs. Jenkins said, "I can't guarantee anything around that time."
She gestured towards her belly. "Crystal, do you think you could

"I could try."

"Well," Mrs. Mitchell said, "the baby is more important than the
anthem." It didn't sound too sincere, but nobody really believed
that Mrs. Mitchell thought anything more important than an
anthem. "Why don't we try it?"

Crystal privately thought that the song was hokey in the extreme.
On the other hand, she got a solo, if only five words; better,
the entire choir sang "Crystal, Crystal, do you love Jesus?" once
before the church and time and again in rehearsals. Best of all,
she stayed after the regular rehearsal times with just Mrs.
Mitchell, Mrs. Driscoll, and *JG*. Sometimes, when JG didn't
have use of his family van, Mrs. Mitchell drove the two of them
home. JG stuffed himself in the front of the Mitchell car after
Crystal had climbed into the back.

On the first such ride, Crystal had a suggestion for Mrs.
Mitchell. "You know," she said, "everybody calls Craig JG. That
would fit the rhythm better than, 'Cray yug, Cray yug, do you
love Jesus?'"

"They call you JayGee?" Mrs. Mitchell was surprised. "Why do
they do that?"

"It's because of my voice," he said. "Maybe my height as well.
My sister started it. You know Jenny? She called me the Jolly
Green Giant. That shortened to Jolly Green, and then to JG."

"You are so good with the smaller tykes. You too, Crystal."

Oh great! Mrs. Mitchell was equating her with a "tyke" -- and in
front of JG.

Still, she changed the choir's words at the next rehearsal. She
never told the others that it had been Crystal's suggestion,
never had any reason to do so. But JG knew.

The anthem was a great success. Then came Christmas, with all
its excitement. The following weeks were a letdown. School
resumed, and she didn't have any special role to rehearse. Mrs.
Jenkins had her baby, a boy named Jacob, and Crystal was
temporarily the lead alto.

There was a big snowstorm, and it got warmer. It wasn't warm
enough to melt the snow, but it was warm for the upper peninsula
in February.

Mrs. Jenkins rejoined the choir. She brought Jacob with her to
rehearsals, and occasionally nursed him there. This embarrassed
Crystal a little, although she would never have said so. She
felt worse when she caught JG sneaking a peek while Mrs. Jenkins
was nursing.

In the first place, adults -- especially amazingly masculine
adults of skyscraper height, athletic build, and fog-horn deep
voice -- should be beyond such childishness. In the second
place, if JG *did* want to peek at somebody, Crystal was
available. He would come after Jacob and Mr. Jenkins with Mrs.
Jenkins. And, so far as she could tell from remarkably close
observation, he wasn't interested in Crystal at all.

Crystal hid her disappointment while in rehearsals. Late at
night, in her own room, she brooded on the unfairness. JG held
small kids; he ogled old women. (Mrs. Jenkins must be twenty-
five if she were a day.) He didn't glance at Crystal. She
stopped undressing to look in the mirror. Were those breasts so
bad, so small? They were a lot smaller than Mrs. Jenkins's of
course, but Mrs. Jenkins was nursing.

She felt hers, rubbing the tips. What would it mean for him to
look at these? Would he stare? She would let him get a good
look, not some dirty peek. Her nipples stood farther out, and
she brushed them. She brushed them more gently.

She started to take off her panties in her usual style, hands at
her sides. She stopped suddenly. She pushed them down in back
and front, rubbing her hands over her body as she did so. Would
he like to see the view she saw in the mirror? One hand covered
her delta. She caressed the sparse hair there, raising her hand
and looking at what was revealed.

She shivered. The cold struck her, and she whipped her thick
nightie on. Turning off the lights with one click, she burrowed
under the covers and shivered there. The cold nightie was
covered by the cold sheets. Still, what would it mean to have
him want to look at her? She rubbed lightly over her chest.
Would he like to see her there? Would it make a difference if
her nipples stuck out like this?

She rubbed her nightie against the hair between her legs. She
knew that boys always wanted to see that, and that girls were
supposed to be very careful that they didn't. Would that
interest JG? Would it be better than Mrs. Jenkins's breasts in a
nursing bra? The feeling was good, even through the nightie.
She pulled that up and felt all over the triangle of hair there
with her bare fingers. It felt especially good at the bottom of
that triangle.

She pushed against that point, very gently, very carefully.
Would JG want to look, would she let him look. The picture of
him watching while she poked and pried excited her. She couldn't
quite see it herself at the best of times; she was completely
invisible under the bedclothes. Would he want to watch, would
she let him watch? Would she open herself like that? Would she
spread those lips like this? Between those lips, she was even
more sensitive. She rubbed there, very carefully. It felt even

Suddenly, in the midst of her exploration, she forgot her
imagined audience. Instead, she thought only of herself as she
stroked herself into greater excitement. It got more intense,
and she rubbed harder. Then she exploded.

Her hand dropped down; her legs dropped to the bed. She lay
there in inexplicable bliss. A moment later, there was a
knocking at the door. She shoved her nightie all the way down
and spread her arms to her sides. "Yes," she called.

"Darling." It was her mom's voice. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine. I'm asleep."

"I thought you called."


"Good night, then."


Everyone wanted to hold and play with Jacob. Mrs. Jenkins
had strict rules, but she did let church members have their
turns. Once, Crystal's mom held him. When she was done, she
kissed his forehead. "Look," she said, "this is probably
nothing. Still .... He seems awfully salty to me. That was a
warning symptom when Crystal was that age. I'm probably just
making this up, but could you mention it to the doctor on your
next visit."

Mr. Jenkins came by the house some days later. "You were right,"
he said to Crystal's mom. "It's cystic fibrosis."

"Oh dear!"

"It's not good, but it's better if they catch it in time. Thanks
to you, they did. Melissa and I owe you. Anything you want, ask

"What I really want is for Jacob to be all right. And you can't
deliver that. As far as you could, you'd do it anyway. Look,
it's a baby. Anybody would look out for a baby."

Life in the choir had an odd rhythm. Lent was spent rehearsing
Easter music. They had weeks of "Up From the Grave He Arose"
before there was any mention of the crucifixion. Mrs. Mitchell
recruited the little kids into a "Cherub Choir." Crystal felt
that not all the members had earned that name. Jennifer Morgan
was one extreme example. The brat had no good word for anybody.

Being in the youth choir and the chancel choir gave Crystal a
double loyalty. She was too old to run around like the little
kids, but not too old to occasionally want to. On the other
hand, she was one of the adults now, and the little kids in the
youth choir sure didn't treat her that way. (Not that they were
particularly obedient to adults other than Mrs. Mitchell, the
pastor, and their own parents.) Still, she knew that some of her
new friends expected her to at least tell the little kids not to
run in church. And some of her old friends were very sure she

Ashley Morgan was in the youth choir, but not one of the
problems. Indeed, it was hard to believe that such a small voice
belonged to JG's sister. Crystal tried to be civil with her. On
the one hand, a friendship with her would be likely to lead to an
acquaintance with her brother. On the other hand, she didn't
want JG thinking of her as one of the friends of his *little*
sister. He should think of her as one of his fellow adults in
chancel choir. And, after all, Ashley -- in junior high --
didn't have anything in common with Crystal.

Geometry class got rough. "I wish I had taken general math," she
said at home, "that's all you have to take, you know?"

"Oh?" said her dad. "And how did you plan on paying rent?"

"What rent?"

"You can't take general math and expect to live here."

"That's *my* room."

"It's my daughter's room. And *my* daughter wouldn't take
general math."

"Now that you have each made your points," said her mom, "are you
willing to help your daughter with plane geometry?"

"Of course. When would you like to have the lessons?" he asked

She didn't have a choice. They settled on Tuesday and Saturday

What her dad would not do was to teach her to drive. Her birthday
came too late for her to enroll in driver's ed that year, and all
he would do was say, "Well, you can take the course in school
come September." It was totally unfair, that she could be
sixteen and still not allowed to drive the car all summer. Many
of her friends had started well before their birthdays. He
emphasized, though, that if she ever distrusted the driver's
ability -- whether because he or she was drunk, or for some other
reason -- she should call home and he would pick her up. As if
Crystal would. And her friends didn't do drugs, which she was
sure was "some other reason," and then drive. They did far fewer
drugs than she thought he thought, really.

The cherub choir sang the Sunday after Easter. The youth choir
sang twice. JG and Mrs. Driscoll each got two solos. Mrs.
Jenkins begged off twice, but she sang a solo in June. Then the
choir broke for the year. If anybody remembered Crystal's
singing they didn't mention it.

There had been more than the usual amount of dissatisfaction with
the current pastor. Crystal heard fourth and fifth hand reports
that the staff-parish committee had asked that he be replaced.
That she did not hear directly from her own dad, who was on the
staff-parish committee, could have been a complaint of Crystal's.
Instead, it was one of those things which she tolerated in

In June, right after the end of school, he moved out and the new
pastor moved into the parsonage. It was Rev. George Powell, with
his wife Barbara. The chancel choir sang its last anthem the
first Sunday that Rev. Powell preached. People welcomed him and
said nice things about his first sermon; they complimented his
wife. The most enthusiastic comments, however were about his
young daughter. Shannon was terribly cute, and Crystal felt
herself succumb as fast as the other girls did.

Crystal had outgrown most of her summer clothes. Her mom took
her shopping. She bought new bras, B cups since the old ones
didn't fit any more. Her mom suggested that she get ones which
would snap at the closest point -- more growing room that way.

She found the cutest swim suit, but her mom wouldn't let her buy
it. "One piece. Your father would have a cat fit if he were
asked to pay that much for such little coverage."

Swim suits aren't priced according to the amount of material, but
still they left the shop with a one-piece suit. Compared with
what her friends would be wearing, it would qualify her as a nun.

Her final selection of jeans wasn't much better. They fit like
farmer's overalls.

Still, she had clothes for the summer. Josh started taking her
to movies in town about every other week. They sat down front
where they could see everything. Many of their friends sought
the back rows, but Josh didn't seem interested in her; he seemed
more interested in being seen with her.

The rest of the time, she started going with her friends to
Portage Lake. Despite the still-cold water, she swam -- one
thing which could be said for her mom's choice of swimsuit, you
could swim in it. Then they lay around on big towels working on
their tans. Josh wanted to be near her, but they had separate
towels. He helped her with her sunscreen, but otherwise kept his
hands to himself.

She noticed that some of the boys she knew from high school
watched her on the beach. At first, this made her a little
nervous; after the second day, she gloried in it. She didn't
flaunt anything -- what did she have to flaunt after her mom had
dressed her like a nun? But, when she had noticed some boy
looking her way, she sometimes spread her legs a little to get
more sun on the thighs.

There were a lot of holes in church during the summer. Faculty
and students took long vacations. She didn't get to go anywhere.
The farthest she had been in her life was Manitou Island. Her
father read physics journals and taught summer school, rather
than exploring the USA or the world like other faculty members
did. JG was away, working rather than sight-seeing. Still, she
missed him.

Some of her friends went to the beach on Sunday. The changing
rooms were closed, the lifeguards weren't there, but nobody tried
to prohibit swimming. "Crystal," Janice said, "you have to

"Why?" She couldn't leave the house before Sunday dinner was
over, anyway.

"Just come." It turned out that there were boys there, boys none
of them had ever seen before. They were men, really, students
from the university who all worked together at some mine through
the week. Sunday was their only day off, and they spent it at
the lakeshore.

What was more, and despite the competition from some of the other
girls -- Amanda wore a bikini which wouldn't have made a decent
handkerchief -- some of them were interested in Crystal. She
went back the next Sunday.

There was always a big celebration on the Fourth of July. Most
of the town was there. Families ate a picnic dinner, and then
watched the fireworks after dark. She went in her swimsuit
covered by blouse and jeans. She went swimming early, and then
decided not to cover up for the rest of the day.

Each family would claim a small patch of ground, but everybody
visited back and forth. Her friends would go to their parents
to raid the picnic basket, then visit somebody else's family,
then gather at the western end of the beach, which was their
place. Some would go in the lake again; some would wander off
with their special person. The nearby woods were full of

Crystal visited many of her friends and their parents. She
visited some choir members. Then she came upon the Morgan
family. "Hi, Ashley," she said. Ashley gave her the look of
recognition which was all the conversation Ashley ever offered.
She then resumed reading her book.

"Hi, Crystal," said JG. She had known he was off work that day.

"Young Crystal," said his grandmother. "You look a lot cooler
than I feel."

"Well," Crystal said, "any time I get too hot, I can always go
back in the lake."

"That's the real advantage of being so young. But isn't the
water awfully cold?"

"And any time I get too cold, I can come out again." Great, now
she was having a conversation with his grandmother, and a silly
one at that. Still, it beat hanging around in silence. And
*some* students at the university found her attractive in her
swimsuit -- fit for a nun, or not.

After a minute, JG wandered off. She got away not too long

Somehow, the fireworks were a letdown that year. Her dad and mom
talked about how nice hey were all through the drive back, but
she didn't contribute much to that conversation.

She continued to go to the beach, she met with a bunch of people
from the high school on weekdays, and her special friends and
their friends from the university Sunday afternoons. On most
weekdays, she could get a ride there from her dad; some Sundays,
Jan or Amy drove; some Sundays they got there by walking or
hitching. Usually, they all hung out together, swimming,
lounging around, swimming. Then the men would get back in their
powerboat to cross the lake to where they were parked. Her
friends would all go back in the woods to pull their jeans and
tops over their swimsuits.

As the summer went on, some of the more daring girls would take
walks with some of the boys on the paths in the woods. Other
girls, mostly those with special boyfriends, stopped coming on
Sunday afternoons.

Crystal didn't go off alone, partly because she had been warned
about Lyme disease. She had two special friends among the crowd
from the university, Bill and Chris, who each had asked her. She
let them understand that she hadn't decided *yet*.

One Sunday, when she and all her friends had hitched to get
there, Bill hadn't been able to come. Towards the end of the
afternoon, Chris asked her to walk in the woods with him. It was
about time; Crystal didn't want to be kissed in front of her
friends, who would tease her afterwards. One of the boys was off
with her frined Amy. As the boys didn't go off when a friend was
in the woods, Crystal delayed her acceptance until Amy would get

Suddenly, they heard a scream. Amy came back, all right. She
was holding the top of her swim suit in her hands. There was a
bit of shouting, some of the boys yelled at the guy who had gone
with Amy. Then they all piled in their boat. The girls were
left on the beach. Amy was sobbing and incoherent.

Somebody brought her clothes. She pulled on her top without
fastening the top of the swimsuit; the string on the back seemed
to be broken. "Now what?" asked Jan. "She can't walk back
dressed like that. It must be a mile and a half to her house.
Do we hitch?" Amy was incoherent, but plainly wasn't happy about
that choice.

Crystal saw what was needed. She pulled on her own jeans and
fished some coins out of her pocket. There was a pay phone near
the closed concession stand. "Dad, you said I could call you if
I needed to. I'm at the lake, and I desperately need a ride

Crystal had planned to put Amy in the front seat. Instead, Amy
headed for the back, and Nicole and Sarah got in with her.
Crystal rode in single glory in the front. Her dad let the back
seat off a block from Amy's back door. The girls had a plan to
get her in unseen. Without asking, her dad drove back to the
beach to pick up the others. He dropped them off at their homes,
making their house the last stop.

"I told you there would be no problems if you called, but could
you tell your mother what happened? You can be as explicit or as
discreet as you wish, but she'll be worried. As for me, my lips
are sealed."

Crystal explained as much as she understood about Amy to her mom.
She left her decision to walk in the woods with Chris out of it.
"Well," said her mom, "I think that this is the time to call in
your father. Ryan," she shouted. He came.

"Apparently," her mom said, "the need wasn't quite Crystal's.
Was it all right to call?"

"Well, I've been thinking about that. The rule is that if she
needs to call, I need to pick her up. She felt she needed to
call. I'm not going to second-guess her." He turned to Crystal.
"I think you did the right thing, kid."

And that was the last time that either of them brought that up.
Amy's dad wasn't quite so forgiving. Amy, naturally, tried to
keep the secret of what had happened in the woods from her
parents. And, naturally, it didn't work. Amy's dad learned what
had happened, probably a lot more than Crystal ever learned. And
her dad, who had been some sort of buddy with Crystal's, thought
Crystal's dad should have told him.

Nobody went back to the lake the next Sunday. Amy stopped going
until the next Fourth of July. When the more daring of Crystal's
friends did go back on a Sunday, the boys from the college had
stopped visiting.

Amy didn't tell Crystal what exactly had happened, and Crystal
didn't ask. She was not that naive, though. Amy had returned
not wearing her top. She thought about what had happened to Amy.
She thought about it happening to her, some boy holding her

As hot as it was, closing the door to her room tended to block
the flow of air conditioning. She closed the door, though. She
thought of the boy holding Amy's breasts. That thought increased
the sweat in her cleft. Then she thought of Chris holding her
breasts. What did it matter? She thought of JG holding her
breasts. That made her cleft run with sweat. She rubbed it
around until her excitement peaked. Now all of her was running
with sweat. She threw on a robe and ran for the bathroom. She
felt cool and comfortable after a shower.

- = -

When school began again, Crystal was in second year algebra and
in driver's ed. Algebra was easier for her than geometry had
been. Still, her dad continued the tutoring sessions. He
absolutely refused to do the assigned problems for her, though.
What help he thought she would get from the tutoring, Crystal
couldn't see.

Mrs. Mitchell gave her a special reminder of the first rehearsal
for he chancel choir. She didn't provide any solos, however. A
Betty Miller moved to town and joined the church. Crystal was no
longer the newest alto. Mrs. Miller needed a strong voice near
her to keep her on pitch. JG was back. His voice was as
interesting as ever. He didn't seem any more interested in

Driver's ed, after the first few weeks, was almost as boring as
the other classes. Still, she would be free to drive herself as
soon as the class was over.

She thought of ways to dress provocatively to make JG notice her.
There were two problems. Her parents controlled her clothes
purchases; the rehearsals were, after all, held in church. If
she wore what she wanted to wear, Mrs. Mitchell wouldn't hesitate
to send her home. She unbuttoned one more button on her blouse
at rehearsals than she ever did in the house; JG didn't seem to

One thing was on her side. She was growing. If she couldn't buy
clothes to show off her shape, some of her old clothes did that
already. One week, she took twenty minutes struggling into a
pair of jeans that hadn't fit for a year. Walking the half mile
to church in them was hard, sitting around afterwards socializing
was nearly painful, but -- luckily -- the choir rehearsed
standing up. And -- even better -- the altos stood in front of
the bass section.

The next week, her mom said, "Crystal, I know that choir
rehearsal is informal wear. On the other hand, I thought you had
thrown that pair of jeans away. Couldn't you wear something
else? There is a clean pair downstairs in the laundry I haven't
brought up yet."

"Come on, Crystal," said her dad. "Get those and change. I'll
drive you." It didn't seem like an argument she would win.
Anyway, JG hadn't noticed her the last rehearsal.

The weather went through an unbearably muggy spell of nearly a
week's duration. It changed abruptly during the church service.
When the junior choir came into the sanctuary, the rain was
coming down like buckets outside. The little kids, who normally
ran outside to play at the end of Sunday school, ran around the
church building instead. When the junior choir finally broke up
-- Crystal suspected that Mrs. Mitchell dragged things out rather
than get soaked running for her car -- the younger kids in the
choir ran out to organize the games in the hallways. Crystal was
too old for that, but she could sympathize with the feeling.

Some of the older ladies were coming from some meeting. Mrs.
Morgan was among them, as was Mrs. Baker, one of the bossiest
women in the church. "Children," she said, "don't run in church!
You should know better. Especially you should know better,

"What did I do?" She had, indeed, been walking demurely.

"You didn't do anything to stop them. Silence gives consent, you

Crystal felt so picked on by that statement, that she asked her
dad when he drove over to pick her up. "Not entirely," he said
when ate entire story had been given to him. "Silence gives
consent in some situations. If you see Smith sneak up on Jones
in preparation for picking his pocket, then your silence consents
to the pocket picking. (If you don't warn Jones.) If some kids
are running noisily through the church hallways, your silence
doesn't give your consent to their noise. Were you in charge?"

"No. They wouldn't have listened to me, anyway."

"Well, then leave Mrs. Baker to handle her own problems, which
she won't do, being too busy handling everybody else's."

A week later, Mrs. Morgan stopped Crystal in the hall of the
church. "You don't think silence gives consent? Do you?"

"No. My dad explained that."

"Then you know that my silence last week didn't give consent to
Mrs. Baker's nagging."

"Thank you, Mrs. Morgan. It would have been worse if you had
spoken. We all have to bear Mrs. Baker in silence."

"Cheer up. I'm in more meetings with her than you are."

Crystal felt better. Mrs. Morgan was nice; the whole family
seemed nice, Jennifer excepted.

The big day arrived. Crystal passed her driver's exam and came
back with a license. She took her friends out for drives for a
week before her dad cracked down. The state would let her drive
at any time; her dad severely limited her. Still, she was
officially an adult now.

For once, there was no practice for youth choir. So she was free
at the end of the service. She managed to walk out of the choir
loft with JG. "Sure got cold, didn't it?" he said. "Did your
dad have trouble getting his car started this morning?"

"Actually, I drove the family to church this morning," she said.
She wanted to talk to him; if he wanted to talk about cars, she
would. She'd talk to him about plane geometry if she had to.

Young Shannon, the pastor's first-grade daughter, ran up. She
was holding up her arms. When JG swooped her up, she reached for
his nose. JG held her up with one arm and held her hands back
with the other. "No, sweetheart, we don't play that game in
church. We'll play it outside later, if you want. This is
church, and we don't run and play in here."

Now, there was nothing wrong with his calling Shannon
"sweetheart," Crystal had done the same. Still, it was clear
who had his attention. She went off to find her family, leaving
JG and Shannon enjoying each other's company.

Crystal was with a bunch of her friends at Heather's house after
school. Heather's parents were still at work. Somehow, the
conversation turned to boys, as it always did when they weren't

"Did I see Bob peering down your blouse?" somebody asked

"Bob will peer down anybody's blouse," she replied. They all
knew that. "But there is no way that he is going to ask a
*junior* to a dance." Bob was a football star, and knew his own

"Still," Nicole said, "I wish he'd ask me." There were nods of

"Isn't he a dream?" Heather asked.

"And why aren't you dreaming about Eric?" somebody asked her.

"Let's leave Eric out of this," Heather said. "I want to dream
about the unattainable ones."

Crystal was willing. She sure didn't want to talk about Josh.
"Speaking of unattainable, what do you guys think about JG

"JG?" Sarah said. "JG plays with little kids."

"JG *picks up* little kids," Nicole said. "Muscles have to count
for something." Crystal's opinion exactly.

"Aw! You and Crystal just have a crush on him. There are muscles
used in sports, like Bob's. I think JG's muscles are all
developed from work. I don't want a guy who works with his

"I have a crush on that voice, that's for sure. Sometimes when
he sings, I feel tingles running up and down my spine."

"Down your spine I'll believe. They start in your ears, after
all. Where do they end up?"

"Who are you guys talking about?" Betty asked.

"A guy in my church," Crystal explained. A lot of the girls went
to another church, or didn't go at all.

"And he doesn't go to the high school?"

"He goes to the university."


"Well, Heather said 'unobtainable.'"

But, aside from Nicole, people either didn't know him or were
unimpressed by him.

Crystal's mom belonged to the United Methodist Women. She paid
her dues faithfully, but she didn't attend many meetings. She
went to the meeting before Christmas, however. By tradition, the
pastor was the speaker at that meeting, and it was Rev. Powell's
first time.

She came back grinning. "Was it a great event?" asked Crystal's

"Not in the way that the organizers intended. In the first
place, the pastor preached a sermon." His predecessor had always
read a nice story from a book on such occasions, a story which
could make everybody feel good.


"And in the second place, the sermon was about Advent. This is
the time for waiting for the Christ Child. It isn't yet time to
celebrate his birth."

"Ahhh." The December UMW meeting was, of course, the Christmas
celebration of woman's group.

"Well," said her mom, "he's right."

"Were the women persuaded?"

"I left them reminiscing over how well Rev. Oldwell did."

"Weren't people dissatisfied with Rev. Oldwell's preaching?"
asked Crystal. She knew they were, and with justification. UMW
Christmas celebrations weren't the only times when the man read
out a sweet story.

"Once a girl," her dad began, "went to her mother and said, 'Oh
how I wish I could combine the best parts of John and Bob.'

"'What are their good points?' asked her mother.

"'John is handsome, a great dancer, and to top it all off, he has
a great job which pays well.'

"'That is impressive,' said her mother. 'What does Bob have that
is better than that?'

"'Bob,' said the girl, 'wants to date me.'"

"That," Crystal shouted, "is not one bit funny!"

Her parents looked at her as if she'd gone crazy. "Ryan," her
mom said, "amscray." Her dad picked up his paper and went
upstairs. "Now, honey, what's wrong?"

"That joke isn't funny. None of his jokes are funny."

"So your father told a story which wasn't funny. Hardly headline
news. Now, what's wrong?"

"Everything. You wouldn't understand. If you thought that was

"Actually, I thought that it was appropriate for the situation.
I think I found it funny the first time I heard it. What I'm
concerned about is what's bothering you."

"You wouldn't understand." If they had their way, nobody would
be interested in Crystal at all.

"Probably not. I sure won't understand if you don't explain. On
the other hand, I do see that something is bothering you deeply.
C'mon, a trouble shared is a trouble halved."

"JG, you know, the bass singer at church...."

"The guy with the great voice you've had a crush on for more
than a year." Crystal had never said so to her mom.

"Well, yes. He doesn't know I'm alive."

"I know that this is a faint consolation right now, but you are
growing up. men will be noticing you more and more. Someday,
hard as this is to believe right now, you'll get annoyed about
the guys who look at you as a sex object." Crystal could believe
her, there were the Bobs around who would peek down any blouse.

"You mean someday JG will notice me." She'd been hoping that for
well over a year. It hadn't happened yet.

"Well, that isn't *impossible*.... What I really meant, though,
was that the boys of your own age, boys who have already noticed
you, are growing up, too. Some day soon, the boys that are
attracted to you will be men who are attracted to you. boys who,
since you want a man, look inadequate now... those boys will be
men who will appreciate you and whom you will appreciate."
Despite the "whom," her mom was trying to make her feel better.

It didn't work, though. She didn't want a Josh grown up sooner
or later, she wanted JG. And she wanted him now. She wasn't
going to get him now; she could see that. The closest she could
get was the choir. And that wasn't very close.

JG was scheduled for a duet with Mrs. Driscoll on "Are Ye Able."
Unlike the anthem in which Crystal had taken a solo part, this
was a true duet. Instead of a call-and-response, the two singers
sounded together. And they sounded beautiful.

Aside from her jealousy about all that time that those two spent
together, Crystal felt an artistic jealousy, too. She wasn't up
to that level of singing yet.

"Are you content with never having a solo?" Mrs. Jenkins asked
Crystal out of the blue one Thursday after rehearsal.

"Well.... I do see that you're a better singer than I am."

"Still, you were so nice to step in last year. It's not going to
happen again soon, and if it does, we'll sue Eli Lilly. I'll
speak to Mrs. Mitchell. Your doing it would sound like

Mrs. Mitchell asked Crystal about it. She offered her a ride
after youth-choir rehearsal. When she was in the car, Mrs.
Mitchell said, "I hear you'd like another solo."

"Look. Mrs. Jenkins sings better than I do. You know that, and
I want you to know that I realize it, too. I'm not complaining,
or threatening to quit. I *enjoy* being in the chancel choir. I
enjoyed my solo even more, it is true. So...."

"So, you'd go on like this, but you'd be happier in a more
prominent role. That makes sense. And you do keep up with youth
choir. I'll look for something."

"I'd be very grateful. And, it doesn't have to be soon. If you
think I need more practice than the regular rehearsals give, I
could practice at home. We have a piano, not that I got very far
with my lessons. Still, I could play the notes I'm supposed to
sing. mom plays it enough that dad makes sure that it is kept in

"Wise man. Nothing sounds worse than a piano out of tune."
Crystal's dad probably couldn't tell. What he cared about was
keeping her mom happy.

"Crystal," Mrs. Mitchell said after choir rehearsal not too long
after that discussion, "could you stay afterwards for a few
minutes? I'll drive you home."

"No need. I drove." Her dad was quite permissive about letting
the car go on Thursday afternoons. "Of course, I'll stay after."

When she did, Mrs. Mitchell showed her a hymn in the old hymnal,
"For some reason, they left 'I've Found a Friend' out of the new
hymnal. I really think it sounds best when sung by a young voice
like yours. We won't schedule it, yet. You see if you like it.
If you get on top of it, I'll rehearse with you after the regular
time. Take the book home; we have hundreds stored here."

Crystal could see why they'd left it out of the new hymnal. On
the other hand, she had lots to learn about singing the notes;
and Mrs. Mitchell had lots to teach her there. Mrs. Mitchell
wasn't going to ever learn about hokey words -- certainly not
learn from Crystal. And it was a solo.

What it wasn't was a duet with JG. But Crystal didn't think she
was musically ready for that yet. She was ready in other ways,
of course, And Mrs. Mitchell sure wouldn't think that Crystal
was ready for that. Being a soloist was one step forward.

Josh had been taking her to the movies about every two weeks.
She expected him to invite her to see "The Nutty Professor." She
knew he was a big fan of Eddie Murphy. When the theater in town
scheduled another movie to replace it, she figured that she
should go on her own. It was really selfish of her to depend on
Josh to pay her way in to movies. Since her dad had a meeting
that night, he wouldn't let her take the car to the later show.
They compromised on her attending the earlier one. She saw the
whole thing, and sat watching the fillers. Then she felt she
should get the car back to her dad before he got nervous.
Walking up the aisle on her way out, she saw somebody who looked
like Josh.

She went close, standing at the end of the last row. He was
sitting further in. It was Josh. Why hadn't he invited her to
see the show? Why was he sitting so far back? They never did.
And why was he sitting right nest to another person? The row
was nearly empty; you don't sit down next to a stranger when the
row is empty.

Josh, and it was Josh, was staring at the screen. Just in from
the bright outside, he didn't see her at all. The reason he was
sitting next to the person became clear. They were holding

Seeing her "boyfriend" hold hands with another girl would have
been a shock. Seeing him holding hands with another boy was far
worse. Crystal walked steadily out of the theater. She drove
home sedately. She went up to her room quietly.

Then she lay in bed and bawled her eyes out.

She didn't know what to do. Josh, inadequate as he might be as a
boyfriend, was a friend. Telling about this would ruin his life.
For that matter, it wouldn't give her reputation much help
either. "Crystal? She can't attract boys. The only one wanted
her around so he could pretend he liked girls."

She actually accepted Josh's invitation to the next dance,
although she made it a point to drive there by herself. She had
a new enough license so that nobody thought that odd. In the
middle of the dance, she staged a big fight with Josh. She
stormed out and drove home.

"Darling," called her mom from outside her door, "is something

"Come in." She didn't want to conduct this conversation at a
shout. "Nothing is really wrong. I had a fight with Josh. I
know you guys liked him, but this has been coming for a while. I
think that it's over between us."

"Oh dear! That's too bad. Do you feel awful?"

"I feel okay. I'd like to think it over by myself. But I feel
okay. It's just that I'm going to have to plan out my life
differently. Not long term," she could see the worry on her
mom's face. "I just need to know how I'm going to get to the
next dance."

Crystal decided not to go to the next dance. She concentrated on
rehearsing her solo. At first, terribly self-conscious about
inflicting the same song on others hundreds of times over, she
rehearsed when her parents weren't home. When her mom heard her,
however, she asked all about it. Crystal told her a little.

"Not your choice of words?" Crystal shook her head. "Well, your
father will be glad to know that. He can stand to hear them at
home, he hears a lot worse in church. Just not thinking they're
his daughter's favorite song."

"Mom!" They knew her favorite songs; they didn't approve, but
they knew. They even knew her favorite hymns.

"Well, I can play it for you if you want." So they did that.
Her mom playing the tune, sometimes just the alto part, and
Crystal singing. When her mom was satisfied that she knew it,
Crystal brought the subject up with Mrs. Mitchell again.

"Crystal!" She said after she'd gone through it once. "You know
it already." What she had expected, she didn't say. She
scheduled it as an anthem, with Crystal singing the first two
verses, and the entire choir singing the third, for the Sunday
before Palm Sunday.

The hymn came off without a hitch. Everybody was quite
complimentary. "You sounded much better than we did," JG said.
"Stick with me, kid, and you'll end up a star. Of course, you'll
end up a star if you don't; but stick with me, anyway." Crystal
would have been quite happy to stick with him, but he was only

There was more snow on Easter day than there had been on
Christmas. After that, however, the weather got warmer.

Crystal began going to the school dances by herself. Two couples
had fights over the boys' dancing too often with Crystal. Jim
asked her to the next dance, and she accepted. He was a nice
guy, if no JG, and she got along better with her friends if she
wasn't obviously available.

The problem was that Jim expected the situation to develop faster
than she wanted and -- she strongly suspected -- much farther.
On their second date, he drove her home and kissed her good night
on the front porch. On their third date, he stopped the car on
the way to her house. She liked the kiss well enough, his taste
was exciting. She pushed his hands away from her blouse. The
next time, she decided not to. He felt her breasts all over and
kissed her as if he wanted to devour her. It was exciting.
Then, he drove her home, kissed her sedately on her front porch,
and left her.

As the weather grew warmer, their parking time grew longer. She
refused to get in the back seat with him. She did, however,
allow him to open her blouse. Later, she would open it herself
and unhook the bra.

His kisses and the feel of his hands were exciting. She got in
the habit of dancing with him, feeling his hardness against her,
parking with him, kissing and letting him feel all over her top.
Then she would come home, tell her dad and mom she had arrived
safely, and go up to her room.

There, all alone, she would remember his touches. She would
touch her own breasts. She would touch herself where she didn't
allow his hands. Slowly, she would caress herself until she was
overtaken. She would lie there and rub her clitoris until she
came. Then she would drift gently off to sleep. Maybe Jim was
the man for her. Certainly, she seldom got off except on those

"It's too late to schedule anything for this year," Mrs Mitchell
said. "But you might look over the hymnal I gave you. See what
you like, and we might schedule it for the fall." She put that
off until vacation. She'd have plenty of time then.

Meanwhile, she lived for the choir rehearsals. JG didn't single
her out, but he always spoke politely when she could think of
something to say to him. JG, however, was planning to work out
of town again this summer. She'd see him on the Fourth, but that
was family time. Standing in front of him during the church
services and the choir rehearsals was little enough. Now she was
going to be deprived of even that for months.

The last Sunday before he was scheduled to leave, she saw JG
talking to little Shannon in the parking lot. She squeezed his
nose. "Ho, Ho, Ho," said JG in ever deeper tones. Shannon
scurried away. She had judged her direction wrong, though.
Instead of dodging between the cars, she ran straight away. She
offered no contest to JG's long legs. He caught her and turned
her upside down in his arms.

"No, don't," yelled Shannon, although she was laughing so hard
she had trouble getting the words out. He finally spanked her
lightly when he had set her back on her feet. She ran away.

Well, there seemed only one way to get this guy's attention.
Crystal walked over. "Hi, JG," she said.

"Hi Crystal."

She grabbed his nose.

"You are *much* too old for that foolery," he said. "Big girls
get another response. If you do it again, you'll be sorry."
Well, she had his attention. So she did it again.

Without so much as a "Ho, Ho, Ho," he grabbed her arm. He pulled
her into a hug. His hands were on her backsides, but not in a
spank. They were holding her against him. His leg, pressed
between hers, was hard against her mound. One hand came up to
hold her head. He leaned down and kissed her.

JG used his tongue, and she felt his hardness against her. All
this felt different from anything she'd experienced with Jim,
though. He licked her lips. She felt much funnier inside than
she ever had before. Her nipples were burning hot and painful
where they were pressed against his stomach. Something was
churning in her belly. Her knees were weak. The kiss seemed to
go on forever.

She had an orgasm stronger than anything she'd ever brought
herself. She staggered when he let her go.

"That's what big girls get when they don't act their age," he
said. "Now don't do that again."

She was ready to do it again. Just let her catch her breath.
But JG set out in his loping stride. He would have been hard to
catch even if her knees had been working.

That was Sunday. On Tuesday, Jim took her to the movies. They
sat in the back row. She couldn't see much from there, but she
could feel a lot. They left the movie much earlier than they
ever did during the school year. Even though Jim drove a long
distance, it was still light when they parked.

She couldn't help comparing his kiss to JG's. Even though he
claimed that it was punishment, JG gave more and took less than
Jim did. Still, JG -- as she well knew -- was far away. She
cooperated with Jim, taking off her blouse and -- although the
light of day bothered her -- her bra when they got to the time
that this was appropriate.

Jim kissed her again, his hands busy on her breasts. Her nipples
hardened, and her tongue chased his. She was excited, and she
could see that he was too. His erection tented his jeans.

"Let's get out of the car," Jim said. Get out? Even though
there was nobody around, she was naked above the waist. Besides,
she was excited. Now was the time for him to drive her home so
she could get the privacy of her own room and finish herself off.

"Why not stay here?" Why not, indeed, go home?

"I have a blanket in the trunk." He wanted to get out and have
her lie on a blanket. While he did what?

"I don't think so. Why don't we stop here? I'll get dressed
again while you drive me home. I don't want the neighbors to see
me get out of your car all mussed up." It was *still* after all,
light out.

"Come on, Crystal. I know you don't like the back seat, but the
blanket will be fine. It will protect you from any grass stain."
The blanket wouldn't protect her from the hard ground.

"And what will protect me from you?"


"Look, I think this date is over. Drive me home, please." She
still carried some coins. What good they would do her in this
wilderness was another question.

Jim, however, did drive her home. "Thanks for the lovely date,"
she said.

"Thanks for coming with me," he said, sounding just as insincere
as she did.
Crystal's summer was just like her friends' on the surface. She
went to the lake and swam and got a tan. She didn't quite break
up with Jim. He applied the sunscreen at the beach; they even
went on a few movie dates. When they did, they parked on their
way home.

She went to see some other movies by herself. She sat down in
front where she could see all the action on the screen and ignore
the action at the back of the theater.

Jim never drove such a long distance after their date, though.
And, after he brought her home, she thought of JG's kiss. The
hands on her breasts which brought her excitement were still
Jim's; the hands which brought her satisfaction were -- as
always -- her own. But the imagined presence, the imagined eyes,
were JG's.

The real JG, however, was miles away and unaware of her

Which made the Fourth even more of an event. Again, she went
with her family to the beach. Again, she stripped down to her
swimsuit in the car and took a dip. Again, she wandered among
the family areas. The Morgans were in about the same place as
the year before.

She could hear JG long before she could see him.
"Dance, then, wherever you may be," he was singing.
"For I am the Lord of the dance, said he."

She expected to listen till the end of the song, but he broke off
when he saw her. "Hi, Crystal," he said. As he was reading the
song from a single sheet of paper, he had his glasses on.

"Hi JG. Hi Ashley. Hi everybody. I was enjoying the song."

"That," said JG's grandmother, "is my favorite hymn. JG was kind
enough to sing it for me."

"Aren't you lucky. Such a fine voice to sing for you when you
want it." Lucky? Crystal would cheerfully kill to have that a
claim on that voice to sing for her.

"Not every time I want it. He would sing himself hoarse if I did

JG might have blushed at that. He was too deeply tanned to tell.
Anyway, he changed the subject. "It's a great song, in the
hymnal, too. Not that you are ever going to hear it while Mrs.
Mitchell chooses the hymns."

"That's for sure." Crystal loved Mrs. Mitchell. It was the only
way she could put up with her taste in words. Laughing at her
hokey selections was something the two of them, along with most
of the choir, had in common.

"Look," she continued, "I didn't mean to interrupt. I'd hoped to
hear the song."

"Yes, JG," said his grandmother. "Why don't you start at the top
again?" Crystal had always liked Mrs. Morgan. For that request,
she could have kissed her. JG did sing the whole song through.

After a bit, Crystal felt she was intruding. Certainly, JG
wasn't about to walk away from his family. She excused herself
and thanked him again for the song. Still, when she got back to
her parents, she felt better about the day than she had the year
before. The fireworks made a grand show above the lake that

- = -

When high school started up again, they were *seniors*. Somehow,
this didn't look so important as it had a few years before.
Still, there was nobody but teachers to rank over them. "I'm
sorry, Crystal," Heather said to her as they walked out of the
school and towards Heather's car.


"Jim asked me for a date, and I said 'yes.'"

That was no real shock. Jim wanted more than he would get from
Crystal, and she wanted more than there was in Jim. Jim had
waited until the start of the school year gave him a larger
selection. Still, Crystal knew what was expected of her; she
walked home. She was going to have to persuade her dad to let
her drive the car to school; it was nearly a mile, after all.

Chancel and youth choirs started up. The first rehearsal for
youth choir was on Sunday, and Crystal skipped it. Mrs. Mitchell
said nothing that Thursday at the rehearsal for chancel choir.
The next week, however, she did.

"Crystal, you are really needed in the youth choir. Not only is
your voice the best in the group now, but a the other girls note
your absence and figure that they are old enough to cut out,

"I've been meaning to talk with you about something," Crystal
replied. She hoped this would work. "You know, you said I
should look for a hymn for a solo. Well, I've found one, but
it's not in the old hymnal."

"What is it?"

"It's called 'Lord of the Dance.' It's in the new hymnal, number
two sixty-one." And a bit hard to find, it had been, too.

"I'll look at it."

The next Sunday was, luckily, fine. She told her dad she would
walk home. Mrs. Mitchell was gathering the youth choir for their
rehearsal. "Coming to choir today, Crystal?"

"I meant to ask you. Have you looked at that solo I suggested?"

"Yes. And it's not really suitable, do you think? I'll find
something else for you."

"Well, I think it's very suitable. Well, that's your decision.
I'll be seeing you."

"What would you have done if I had said you could sing it?" Now
the woman was starting to catch on.

"Come to youth choir, of course."

"Well, that hymn would take a great deal of practice." Mrs.
Mitchell might have meant practice on the hymn, but it was really
simpler than they usually chose for anthems. She probably meant
practice at youth choir.

"I'm not in a hurry. Why don't I practice it at home until I
think it's ready?"

"And you'll come to youth choir?"

"Of course." As she did that day.

Her mom, whose opinion of music differed from Mrs. Mitchell's,
was happy to help her with the hymn. She rehearsed with her mom
two nights a week, she sang and practiced with the chancel choir,
and she rehearsed with the youth choir. She was actually doing
as much singing as was good for her voice.

Aside from the unofficial promise of a solo for Crystal later,
choir rehearsals went as always. As it was the start of the
year, they struggled to get up to speed on a good many anthems.
Later, they would be polishing one while they learned another.

JG was in fine voice. He always was, and not just in Crystal's
opinion either. He appeared to have forgotten the kiss, and she
was afraid to mention it to him. He was perfectly polite to her,
as he was to all the members of the choir. It wasn't quite what
she wanted from him, but she had no grounds for complaint.

As for Crystal, she hadn't forgotten the kiss at all. Thursday
nights in bed, she would play back all her memories of the
immediate past. Then she would recall everything which had
happened that Sunday in the previous spring. She would remember
his mouth on her, his hands on her backsides, his stomach against
her hard breasts. She would caress everywhere he had touched
then, saving the best for last. Then she would remember his leg
between hers. She would remember it pressing against her mound.
And she would press her hand against her mound, and rub there.
She would come remembering his mouth and on hers, his voice, and
his leg.

The altos always stood in front of the basses. More often than
not, Crystal was right in front of JG. Always when she chose her
seat, of course. Usually when he chose his. At one rehearsal,
Mrs. Jenkins moved aside when Crystal got there to allow Crystal
into her accustomed place.

Then, one Thursday, JG didn't show up. Crystal wondered where he
was. Wondered? It had ruined her day. She went to church
Sunday with questions. Would he be there? Would he tell them
what had happened.

He wasn't there, and the news was all over the church. She heard
it when she was putting on her robe. old Mrs. Morgan had had her
foot amputated. People were shocked. The pastor mentioned the
news so that the few people who hadn't heard it earlier learned
at the service. He led a prayer for her, and asked people to
continue that in their private devotions. She had type A blood,
and blood donors would be helpful.

Crystal was an O, but a little too young. Her dad, however,
gave. When visitors were permitted, he drove her to the
hospital. He came with her to the room, but held back. The
bottom of the hospital bed didn't really show the lack of a foot.
The woman's face, however, had aged remarkably. It had been hard
to believe she was over seventy; now, eighty or ninety would have
been Crystal's first guess.

"I'm Crystal Cameron," she said.

"The song bird. Why the long face? If I can smile, you ought to
be able to smile, too." She looked over at Crystal's dad.

"I'm Ryan Cameron," he said, "her father. I drove her here. But
I've seen you in church." She didn't even pretend to recognize

The rest of the Morgan family were all together in church the
next Sunday. JG's dad got up to thank everyone. JG was out of
choir for a while. Everyone greeted him with open sympathy and
covert curiosity when he returned.

"This was terrible in all sorts of ways," he said. "You know
that she managed the farm for herself for years. Finally, the
diabetes caught up with her, and we moved to town to be with her.
Anyway, she has been seeing this doctor for years. She wasn't
doing too badly, at least we thought so. Now she's being treated
by an endocrinologist. And all sorts of things we'd been doing
were wrong."

JG sat with his family in church, but came to the rehearsals for
a few weeks. When he had caught up, he sang with them. One
Thursday, he said he had a request. "My grandmother has a
favorite hymn. She'd like to hear me sing it as a solo in
church. I know that isn't how we choose anthems, but, as a
special case...."

The choir was on his side. The church would be, also. Mrs.
Mitchell asked, "What is this favorite hymn?"

"It's called 'Lord of the Dance.' I know it isn't exactly your

"That isn't the problem. Crystal has been rehearsing that piece.
I promised her."

"No problem," Crystal said. Which was the least accurate words
she'd ever spoken. There was a problem; there was going to be a
problem. She didn't want to make trouble for JG's grandmother,
who was a nice woman and having enough problems right then. A
million times worse was making trouble for JG himself Worse, if
anything could be worse than that, was making trouble for JG when
he was trying to please his grandmother. "If Mrs. Morgan wants
to hear JG sing it, then I'll step aside."

"Well, really," said JG, "I think she wanted to hear it in church
once more. I'm sure that a solo by Crystal would suit her just

Crystal was trying to find a firmer way to step aside when Mrs.
Jenkins spoke up. "Or," she said, "the two of you could do a
duet. Would that be okay with you, Crystal?"

"It would be fine." It would be better than fine, it would be

"That would be great!" said JG. "And I know that my grandmother
enjoys Crystal's voice."

"I'll think about it," said Mrs. Mitchell.

After youth choir practice on Sunday, she spoke to Crystal.
"Would this duet with JG meet your conditions?"

"A duet with JG would be great." She had gone to youth choir
practice every week since she had made the deal with Mrs.
Mitchell. What more did the woman want? Should she promise to
stay in youth choir after she graduated?

"Well, so long as you're happy."

"I'm happy." Happy? she was delirious?

"Then everybody's happy."

She got her mom's approval to invite JG home to do the
practicing. When Mrs. Mitchell announced that she would schedule
the duet, she invited him.

"That would be great!" he told her. "I hope you don't schedule
it too soon," he said to Mrs. Mitchell, "I don't know how soon my
grandmother will feel up to the trip to church."

They settled on Tuesday for their rehearsals. She had to cancel
her dad's algebra tutoring for that time, but all he said was:
"Well, you'll have to really listen Saturdays, then."

Crystal needed to really work on algebra for her dad, she had to
be in -- and be an asset in -- youth choir for Mrs. Mitchell.
She had to practice the piece itself. That was a long list of
places to be extra good, but it was worth it.

She remembered to thank Mrs. Jenkins, too. "That was a brilliant
idea on your part. I don't know how to thank you."

"I didn't do anything. The person who is putting extra work in
on this is your mother." Crystal could see that this was true.
"You and JG, of course, but both of you seem to enjoy it. Now I
don't know what you can do to make life easier for your mother,
but you do." So Crystal found herself doing her chores much more
willingly than she had in previous months.

Her mom invited JG to dinner before the rehearsals. All her dad
did was check that JG wasn't planning to take any physics courses
that year -- he didn't want him at the dinner table and in his
class at the same time. Crystal marveled. After all the blocks
they had put in her way, they went out to a lot of effort to help
make JG's visits comfortable. JG ate without his glasses but
slipped them on when it came time to look at the music. "I'm
far-sighted," he said. "The opposite of so many who have to wear
glasses to drive."

JG ate less than her mom added to their meals, but one exception
was his inroads into her spinach souffle. "I never before saw a
kid your age who really liked spinach," she said. Oh great! JG
was no kid.

"It is one of the healthy foods I've taken up," he said. "They
praise all the green leafy vegetables, and you can't get much
greener or leafier than spinach."

They'd both sung the hymn before, of course. The second or third
rehearsal sounded good enough that Crystal was afraid the anthem
would be scheduled. Nobody mentioned that possibility, though.
Indeed, JG said, "I want to make the music schedule a function of
grandma's return to church, not the other way around." And, of
course, Crystal could just see them cutting back on rehearsal
times since they didn't know how eager Mrs. Morgan would be to
return. Nobody suggested that, either, and Crystal certainly did

Finally, however, Mrs. Morgan did attend church again. Crystal
thought she looked better, half dead instead of wholly so. The
people who hadn't seen her since the amputation, however, were
visibly disturbed by her newly-evident age. They tried to hide
it, but many of them didn't do a good job.

That Thursday, Mrs. Mitchell asked them to perform their duet
after the main rehearsal was finished. She nodded her approval.
Indeed, the only problems had been a little stumbling of her
fingers when she was sight-reading the piece.

"This sounds great!" The musician in Mrs. Mitchell conquered her
preference for sloppy lyrics.

"Thanks," said JG. "But I don't want to guarantee that my
grandmother will be coming back regularly."

"That's understood. We already have a schedule, anyway.
However, we'll do this the first Sunday in November. If your
grandmother can't make it, we'll make plans."

They rehearsed on Tuesdays and also stayed after on Thursdays.
The performance was a great success, and Mrs. Morgan was visibly
pleased. The other Mrs. Morgan, JG's mother, invited Crystal to
Sunday dinner a week later -- partly to celebrate, partly to
thank her. Crystal didn't need thanks, but she wasn't about to
turn down another dinner with JG.

And then reality sank in. She wouldn't be eating with JG any
more. He wouldn't be coming to her house for rehearsals. She
did see him at choir rehearsals and on Sundays. But that was no
longer enough.

Two weeks after this realization set in, she was at the end of
youth choir. It was too cold to walk home, and her dad was late
picking her up. Some younger kids were running around. Somehow,
that got on her nerves. "Stop it!" she shouted. "You shouldn't
be running in church."

There were ten seconds of near-silence. Then Jenny spoke.
"Don't mind her," she said. "She's not anybody, just the girl my
brother's silly about." The kids ran off together.

Crystal was, too. somebody. What struck her, though, was the
idea of being the girl JG was silly about. That probably was
nothing; what did Jenny know? On the other hand, it was an
intriguing idea.

JG showed up in the van for Jenny and Ashley. Her dad pulled
into the parking lot soon afterwards. "Professor Cameron," said
JG, "may I have a word with you?"

Her dad gestured that he was listening.

"I'd like to ask your daughter out. Would you object?"

"She's a free agent," her dad said. How free an agent had she
been when she was thinking of taking general math?

"And," JG said, "her word is law. If she refuses an invitation,
that's it. I won't complain. What I want is your permission to
*ask* her out to a movie."

"Take him up on it, Ryan," Mrs. Mitchell suddenly said -- was the
entire church hearing this? "You can't set conditions if you

"I'll talk to Crystal and to her mother. We'll get back to you."

"Well," he said in the car, "what's your choice? You know, I
could refuse. I would be blamed."

"I'd blame you. I'd run away."

"That's not what I'm talking about. If you want me to, I'll say
a simple 'no.' I'll be blamed. You'll be innocent."

"I don't want you to. What do you think I am?"

"My daughter. I'll talk to your mother." It really bothered her
that they would exclude her from decisions where it was her
future being decided. Still, this was more important than that
issue. They invited JG back to hear their decision.

"First," her dad said, "no university events. Second, we have
veto over the particulars. Third, I want a limit on your

"My oath. I'll never do anything which Crystal objects to."

"That's not good enough," her dad said. "Crystal's a minor.
You're not supposed to do anything *I* would object to." Great!
Crystal could just picture her dad's idea of a movie date; JG
attending one night, her attending another. But he was going on.
"All your intimacies will occur in this house, or out on the
porch. They'll be limited to when you bring her home. You won't
kiss her or touch her otherwise. And you won't do *anything* to
which Crystal objects."

"I've already promised that."

"Do you promise the rest?"



"Yes." Some "intimacies" were better than none.

"Crystal," JG began, "would you do me the honor of coming with me
to the movies Friday night?"


"Does either of you know what is playing?" her dad asked. Silly
question -- a date with JG was playing.

She had the same intentions when JG ushered her into the theater.
She wasn't there to see the show, after all. He stepped back,
allowing her to choose the location; she headed towards the back.

Once seated, however, JG didn't touch her. The person to her
right actually pressed against her more fully, and he was so
involved with the girl on his other side, he probably didn't
notice Crystal. Puzzled, she tried to follow the plot of the
movie. The sound track told her most of it, and she found that
watching JG's face told her much of what was happening. Indeed,
JG's response to the action on the screen was fascinating.

JG called her on Saturday to thank her, *he was thanking her*,
and invite her to a movie the next week. Again, he ushered her
to the back row; again, he watched the movie without touching
her; again, he drove her back. This time, however, he touched
her shoulder when she was at the top step outside her house. The
two steps up put her nearly on his level. When she turned, he
kissed her.

The next week, she opened her mouth for the kiss. Their tongues
met. For an endless time, he held her while his tongue explored
her mouth. By the time he let her go, she knew what "creamed her
jeans" meant. She was also sweating in her warm coat. She took
enough new reality upstairs with her to supplement the images
she'd kept from his first kiss so long ago.

The next date, they were in the absolutely last row in the
theater, with nobody on either side for some reason. JG, deeply
into the movie, stretched out. He put his arm across the backs
of the two seats beside him. So his arm was behind her without
touching her. She reached a hand up to clasp his.

"Sorry," he said sheepishly. And he *should* have been sorry.
She pulled the arm down until it was across her shoulders. She
snuggled a bit against his side. That was much better.

She watched his face as he watched the movie. His arm was long
enough to reach her breast around her neck. Should she put his
hand there? She decided not to. He was working hard to meet her
dad's rules.

On the way back, he asked her if she wanted to stop for a
hamburger or pizza. "Haven't you cut out all that fast food?"
she asked.

"I've cut way back. It's all a matter of grandma's diabetes."
Then his story poured out.

"Anyway, long ago she had been told to avoid sugar. mom cooked
for her using fructose. Do you know fructose, fruit sugar?
Anyway, we thought it was safe for her. Now the endo tells us
that fructose is a bad as sucrose, table sugar. mother feels

"Your grandmother doesn't blame her, does she?" Crystal asked.
She hadn't looked like the kind of person to blame others for an
honest mistake.

"How can she? She's the one who told her to use that. Now she
has a meter and is testing herself. She's on all kinds of
medicine, aside from the foot. Anyway...."

JG told her more about it. Type 2 diabetes is almost certainly
hreditary. JG's father was at risk; JG was at risk. And in his
case the risk could easily take more than forty years to show up.
Members of his family were reconsidering their lifestyles. JG
was going to walk more. He was certainly cutting out junk food.

"Well," Crystal said, "I don't want to tempt you away from those
rules. You don't have to feed me."

"Well, I wasn't planning on eating there. I was just going to
sit and watch you. Watching you is always a pleasure." It was
the nicest thing he'd ever said about her.

Then Christmas intervened in their schedule. Once it had been
her favorite night of the whole year; now it was just a week that
she and JG -- aside from church services -- had to spend apart.

"Titanic" opened simultaneously over the entire civilized world
in early December. It reached the Upper Peninsula in mid
January. Her parents, not great movie buffs, saw it immediately.
Legally, she was old enough to see it; her dad's rules, however,
barred movies with that rating.

"So," she said, "do I get to see it?" Really, what she wanted
was a date with JG. She didn't actually see much of those movies
anyway. Maybe they would invite him to dinner instead. That
would put two chaperones at the table with them, not that any
chaperones were needed, but it still would be time with JG.

"There really are three questions," her dad said. "Do you see
movies with JG? Do you see this movie? Do you see this movie
with JG?"


"All right. The first question is settled."

"I really think they should be allowed to see it," her mom said
unexpectedly. "Look, he's thinking about sex; you aren't going
to stop that." If that was true, *Crystal* hadn't seen any
evidence. "The question is whether he's thinking about romance
at the same time. Now I wouldn't want her watching 'Debbie Does
Dallas' with JG. This, however, is romance,"

Her dad shrugged. They disagreed often enough, but Crystal
seldom saw their arguments about rules for her.

So, she told JG that she was permitted to go with him if he
wanted. They went that Saturday. The plot was too complicated
to follow; the screen too filled with blurs to distinguish. But
the soundtrack was luscious and she loved watching JG's
expression through the film. Once, his arm around her shoulders
even tightened in a hug. That night, she turned her face up to
his from the top step. They kissed longer than usual. He
straightened and walked back to the van. She let herself in and
went upstairs to remember the evening.

"Well," her mom asked the next morning at breakfast, "how did you
like the car scene?"


"Crystal, and we trusted you? Where did you go? What did you

"We went to the movie. We watched a movie -- a movie about a
boat, not about a car."

For some reason, though, they didn't believe her at all. By the
time they got to church, she had sworn dozens of times that they
went to the movie. After church, they cornered JG. "We'll drive
him home, Mr. Morgan," her dad said. The four of them got off in
a corner.

"Where did you take Crystal when I thought you were going to a
movie?" her dad began.

"To a movie. To see 'Titanic.'"

"Describe the car scene."

JG described a hot scene involving the two stars in great detail.
Suddenly Crystal suspected something. "What music was playing
then?" JG sang a good imitation of it. The point where he'd
hugged her was the hot scene. It was Kate Winslet who had
attracted him, not Crystal.

Mrs. Mitchell called her to come to youth choir.

"Go on," her dad said. "I'll talk to JG and pick you up here in
an hour. When he did, he asked her about scenes outside the car
window. He didn't retract any of his accusations, but he didn't
repeat any either. When they got home, her mom asked her about
the soundtrack of the movie. She was able to describe it fairly

They later made an appointment for her with an optometrist. She
came away with a prescription for glasses.

These made her self-conscious, and she tried to wear them as
little as possible. JG was having none of that. "If I take a
girl to the movies, I expect her to see the show." She didn't
mention how he carried his glasses in his pocket most of the

With all of the talk she'd heard about "Titanic," she was tempted
to see it for herself. She also wouldn't mind hearing all that
music again. By the time she had her glasses, however, the show
had moved on. JG took her to another movie, and it was amazing
the details you could see from way back where they sat. He drove
her home and kissed her on the front porch again. The feeling on
her mouth was wonderful, but the feeling on her nose was not. JG
pressed against her glasses when he kissed.

Her vision was misty in a different way the next morning. Her
mom laughed. "Clean those glasses. I think that is JG's cheek
print I see on your left lens." It was her right lens, but
otherwise her mom was probably right. After everybody got home
from church and they had had Sunday dinner, her mom knocked on
her door.

"You know that business of getting your glasses dirty?" she said.
"There is a way to avoid that." Crystal was sure she was going
to get a suggestion to stop the kisses. Fat chance! If total
blindness -- and not simply getting the glasses fogged up -- were
the consequence, she would still want JG to kiss her. "You
received a carrying case with the glasses. A smart girl carries
the case with her in an outer pocket. When you're about to be
kissed, slip the glasses in the case. Now, it's not smart to
avoid wearing the glasses at all, but taking them off for a kiss
isn't a bad idea."

Crystal was shocked, less that her mom knew techniques for
kissing when you were wearing glasses than that she would suggest
ways for Crystal's doing it. She knew her mom wore contacts,
after all. And she'd been around for enough kisses between her
parents. "Thanks."

Nobody had quite said, "We're sorry we mistrusted you." They
hadn't said that to Crystal, who would -- now that the thought
had been brought to her attention -- have been perfectly happy to
go off with JG anywhere he wanted. They hadn't even said it to
JG, who had been pure as the driven snow. On the other hand,
they were being rather nice to her these days, and they weren't
restricting her dates.

The weather broke in March. Anybody in Houghton would have told
you that you hadn't seen the last of the snow, but that night it
was pouring rain. "Get inside," her father greeted them when
they got near the door after the movie. Her mom had made cocoa.
She and her dad took theirs upstairs. "I don't want Crystal
going back out in that," her dad said. Nobody mentioned the
kisses good night. On the other hand, they were all alone
downstairs with Crystal's coat hanging in the entryway and JG's
draped over a chair.

He wrapped her in his long arms when she turned her face upwards.
The difference in height made the kiss a little awkward. On the
other hand, all of her was pressed against all of him. She could
feel the hard tips of her breasts pushed against his stomach; she
could feel his erection pressed against her. JG might be playing
by the rules, but he too wanted more. She sank against him and
let him support her weight as his tongue invaded her mouth. His
hands smoothed down her back again and again. She lost herself
in the sensations.

When they broke apart, they discussed her college plans. "I'm
very happy," he told her, "that we'll see each other next year.
Still, I wouldn't want you choosing a college because of me."
She told him she could get a discount at MTU because her father
taught there; she could live at home and attend. She was
completely honest. At no time did she actually say that spending
the time with him wasn't the deciding reason.

Much later, he led her over to the stairs. She climbed up two
steps, and he kissed her again. Later yet, she heard a sound
from upstairs. Her father cleared his throat. It was remarkably
loud. JG broke from her and got his coat. He grabbed her hand
for a quick kiss, and then he was gone out the door. Crystal
shot the bolt and watched his van drive off into the dark.

About a month before her birthday, Crystal told her dad, "I know
what I really want for my birthday."

"It has to be something we can afford," he said.

"You have to remember the Fourteenth Amendment as well," her mom
said. This was totally beside the point, but Crystal wasn't
going to chase that rabbit; this was too important.

"You can afford it," she said. "My senior prom is coming up. I
want to be able to invite who I want to be my date." She'd
stopped going to dances. JG was her boyfriend, and she didn't
want to dance with anybody else. He could have taken her to
university dances, but that had been her dad's first rule.

"'Whom,' darling," said her mom -- to be ignored again.

"I don't know that JG would be terribly interested in a high-
school prom," her dad said.

"That's my problem, and his. I want your permission. You can
afford that."

It took longer than that, and they went off to discuss her future
again without her participation. Finally, though, her dad said,
"If the school allows it, I won't object." The school did allow
it, Crystal had checked *that* first.

JG offered to buy the ticket, but she didn't think that would
even be legal.

JG showed up in a tux with corsage in hand and drove her to the
dance. He really was good on the fast dances; she couldn't
believe she'd never seen him dance before. They fit a little
awkwardly on slow dances, but they were pressed against each
other. For hours, he held her in his arms.

The senior boys were of all sorts. Some of them looked like they
still belonged in grade school, some of them looked like they
were adults. Still, her date was uniquely the real adult there.
And JG looked great in a tux. Her friends were envious. Just
when it didn't matter any more, Crystal was a social success.

Many of her friends went to parties after the prom. She didn't
dare even ask for that. Her mom had, however, fixed a snack and
left it in the refrigerator. He kissed her on the porch, a
lovely kiss even if their bodies were separated. He followed her
in, however. Her parents were, for once, upstairs and out of
their way. He kissed her again, very briefly, in the kitchen.

Her mom had put a tablecloth on the dining-room table for the
event, but Crystal would rather have the privacy of the kitchen.
Anyway, the chairs were closer together there.

They kissed and ate, and kissed again. JG talked about his
major. "Electrical engineering is great. The only thing is,
I'll have to find a way of getting exercise. They talk about the
'sedentary life style' being one of the causes of diabetes. We
picture people lolling around on couches. Actually, it is people
working hard with their brains. They just don't use their

"That's what is so great about my summer job following the
harvest. The only thing that is great about it. I won't enjoy
leaving you when school gets out. The hourly pay isn't that hot,
either. It's just that you get a lot of hours. But it does burn
energy. I come back from one of those summers weighing fifteen
pounds more than when I leave. And *none* of it is fat."

Finally, a noise startled them both. It was only the toilet
flushing upstairs, but he looked at the clock. "I have to go,"
he said.

"Do you really?" But she knew he did.

When she had watched the van drive off and bolted the door, she
climbed the stairs towards her room. "Did you have a nice time,
dear?" called her mom's voice from the darkened bedroom.

"A great time," she said. And it had been a great time -- the
greatest time she could have as a minor.

- = -

JG came to her birthday party. He gave her a nice pendant. That
wasn't what she wanted from him for her eighteenth birthday, but
she wasn't about to say that in public.

He asked her out to a movie again. As always, he came to the
door to meet her. "Good night," she called to her folks as she
left. "Don't wait up for me. I don't know when I'll be back.
I'm not a minor any more."

In the theater, she snuggled next to JG and watched the movie.
The picture was nice and sharp still. She couldn't concentrate
on it, though; she was too busy imagining the night to come.
"Can we go somewhere?" she said when they were in the van

"Eat?" JG asked. "Or park?"

"Just park."

"I'll find some place; I'm the wrong man to know all the spots."
When he turned into a dirt track, she took off her glasses and put
them on the dashboard in their case.

JG leaned over and kissed her. Soon, his hands were traveling
all over her breasts. He broke the kiss to speak. "Sweet," he
said, "soft. I knew you'd be soft. I just didn't know how soft."

His tongue explored her mouth while his hand explored her chest.
She became more and more excited by his presence and the feeling
of her body. Suddenly, she twisted in the bucket seat and pushed
up against the seat belt. A moment later, she relaxed.

"Darling," he said. He kissed her forehead which was somehow
damp with sweat. "Darling, darling, sweet Crystal!" He handed
her the case with her glasses after he'd started the van. She
waited on her side while he crossed in front of the van to let
her out. Then he walked her to the front steps and kissed her.

She glanced at her watch; it wasn't eleven yet. Upstairs, she
stopped outside her parents' room. No light was coming under the
door. Quietly, in case they were asleep, she said, "I'm home. I
bolted the door."

"Thank you for telling us, darling," said her mom. She said it
loud enough that her dad couldn't have been asleep. Crystal went
into her own room and stripped. She put all those clothes in the
wash; they were damp with sweat, or worse. She didn't quite know
what to do; she always brought herself off after a date, but JG
had taken care of that for her. There were so many new memories
to review that she took a long time falling asleep.

The next time that JG took her out, he parked in the same place
without needing any suggestion from her. "Would you like to get
in the back?" he asked. They sat on a seat which went the whole
width of the van. She half expected him to stretch her out, but
he didn't. There was no way that JG himself would stretch out,
not in that van, not in anything smaller than a Greyhound bus.

"I want you to promise me something," JG said.

"I'll do whatever you want."

"That's not the promise I want. Promise that whenever something
bothers you, you'll tell me."


"I'll never do anything you don't want. Just tell me you don't
want it."

"Okay." Now get to something I might not want! But she didn't
say that out loud.

At least he quickly got to something she did want. He kissed
her, and caressed her breasts. He kissed her all over her face
before going back to her mouth for a deep kiss. While their
tongues wrestled, he unbuttoned her blouse. When his fingers
trailed over her belly, little shivers ran up and down her spine.
He held her left breast in his hand, his fingers teasing her
nipple through the bra. She stiffened under his hand and gasped
into his mouth.

"Darling," he said, "darling, darling, Crystal!" He kissed her
cheek. His hand had stopped teasing her, but it was still
holding her breast. Well, she'd had hers, but she wasn't about
to object to his holding her quietly. Everybody called her
Crystal; nobody else called her darling. (Her mom didn't count.
Anyway, she didn't say the word in the same way.) Still, she
really liked the way he used her name as the culmination of his

"JG," she said.


"Just JG. I like your name."

"Whatever you think of Jenny, who gave it to me."

"I've decided to forgive her. She said something bratty about
me, then she said I was only the girl you were silly about."

"I don't think that I'm silly about you." That was the wrong
answer. "I just think you are a lovely girl with a lovely
voice." Well, that was a much better answer. "I may have
mentioned that where she could hear. Everywhere is where Jenny
can hear."

He kissed her again. Then he lifted her shoulders from the back
of the car seat. He was dealing with her bra snaps. She pressed
her arms back to help him. When he'd unsnapped it, she
straightened up to remove her blouse and the bra. He put them
over the back of the next seat. He kissed her mouth lightly and
then trailed kisses down her neck and shoulder. Knowing where
he was heading, she straightened to give him better access. He
kissed all over her breasts, and then lightly kissed her left
nipple. Her straightening this time as involuntary. He sucked
in the entire top of her right breast.

When his tongue touched that nipple, a fire burned from it deep
into her belly. She writhed in his arms.

When she collapsed, he held her gently. "My darling," he
crooned, "my darling, darling, Crystal." She finally recaptured
her breath and struggled upright. He kissed her belly once
before handing her the bra. She put it on, and then the blouse.

"I think we should get you home," he said. He went forward, bent
over to fit the roof of the van. His family had got the van
partly because of the room that JG needed. Not that his parents
were midgets, either. And, of course, there were six in the
family. The headroom made it possible for JG to move around
inside; it didn't make it easy.

As for her, she didn't try to get back to the bucket seat in
front. She had enough difficulty getting out when JG opened the
side door in front of her house. He handed her her glasses, and
walked her to the front door. Thankfully, her parents weren't
downstairs; she didn't have to make conversation. She staggered
upstairs and managed to get undressed for bed.

When she woke up, however, she felt great. She showered before
breakfast, and was dressed and ready to go to church before her
parents. When she entered the choir loft, the other altos were
there, but not the basses. She sat down in the free chair. A
moment later Mr. Dresser sat down behind her. When JG came in,
however, he said "Sorry, George." Mr. Dresser moved over a seat
and JG sat down directly behind her. When she leaned back, her
shoulders touched his knees. That was her place. Apparently the
other members of the choir could see that.

She gave JG a ticket to her graduation. He gave her a public
kiss of congratulation when the ceremony was over. She was no
longer a high school girl longing for an unattainable man. The
world, her narrow world at least, saw them as a couple. Then, as
she knew he would have to, JG went away for his summer work.

He wrote her letters. She wished he could keep the same
address long enough to write to him. Anything in his letters
could have been shown to the church. Indeed, it was so tame it
could have been shown to her parents.

She hadn't outgrown her summer clothes, but many of them were
worn out. This was a first for her; in the past, she had grown
out of clothes before she wore them out. Her mom scheduled a
shopping trip for the two of them. "Why are we paying for them?"
asked her dad. "She's no longer a minor. She told us so."

"Look," Crystal pointed out, "I took AP calculus; I applied to
your school. *Most* of what you wanted, you're getting. Why
play so hard-nosed?"

"You enrolled in MTU. I get a faculty discount on your tuition.
Are you going to claim that is the reason that you enrolled
there?" Of course she wasn't. "If JG gets a job somewhere else
next year, are you planning to stay at MTU? So why should *I*
be pleased."

"At least he is a hard scientist."

"In the first place, electrical engineering isn't a hard
science." It was plenty hard from her perspective. Her dad was
just a snob. "In the second place, I'm not objecting to JG as
your choice. I just want you to have options. I'd hate to see
you trapped in that relationship so early in your life."

"And what if I want him trapped into a relationship? You can't
have one without the other."

"Just for a hypothesis, posit that JG wants out of his
relationship with you in two years." She hadn't enjoyed
hypotheses even when they were about lines and points. She liked
this one considerably less. He could probably see that on her

"It's just a hypothesis, sweetheart. It's something that you
have to consider. If he *does* want to get out, do you really
want him trapped? Do you want a *captive* JG? That's all I'm
pushing for, all both of us are pushing for. Your mother and I
agree about much more than you think. We don't mind JG and you
as a choice of you both. We do mind this rush to judgment."

Rush? She'd wanted JG for years.

"Anyway," said her mom, "this isn't going to be decided this
morning. What we are about now is getting you some new clothes.
Don't credit everything your father says. If he really didn't
want me to pay for your clothes from money he earns, I wouldn't."
Crystal knew that. When they disagreed about her, they hid away
and argued it out in private.

In the store though, she did tell her mom, "I'm paying for my
swimsuit myself." It was a daring two-piece suit.

"Well," her mom said, "I'll be interested in JG's opinion of
that." JG liked to see her. Crystal would bet his opinion would
surprise her mom.

Lots of boys liked her suit that summer. She thought it was more
important that she was working on the tan for when JG saw her

And on July Fourth, he would. She went with her parents to the
beach. She wore jeans and blouse over her suit, but she took
panties and bra in a bag in her purse. If she needed to change,
she'd find a place. She helped her parents set up their picnic
spot. They were going to start eating, but she wouldn't eat
until after her swim.

"Go on," her dad said. "I know I won't have your attention
today. " So she left her purse and went to see where the Morgan
family had set up.

She heard JG before she saw him. "Ho, ho, ho," he was saying.
Then she saw the top of his head going rapidly away. A minute
later she saw him holding a small kid upside down. The kid
probably was in a swimsuit, but all she could see from her vantage
point was JG's broad bare back with two bare feet kicking above
his head. As she came closer, she could see him set the kid down.
The boy -- you could tell his sex from the swimsuit -- ran away.
JG turned around.

"Crystal!" JG greeted her.

"JG's songbird," his grandmother said. "My, you're looking fine

"Hi, Mrs. Morgan. Hi, folks," she said. She and JG walked
towards each other until they could exchange kisses.

They offered her food; JG was especially insistent about the
hamburger. They served them without buns and cooked them with
the onions already kneaded into the meat. Actually, they tasted
good and one wasn't going to kill her. Besides, JG would be
self-conscious about his kisses until she ate some onion.

JG left his jeans with his family. His legs were much lighter
than his back. Clearly, *he* hadn't got that tan lying on a
beach. She left her glasses-case and clothes with his family,

"Wow!" JG said when he saw her in just her suit. They walked
over to the lake.

They swam for a bit, and talked, and swam. The water was still
cold; the sun was hot. They dressed back at his family's place.
This time JG put on a shirt as well. The woods were not on the
direct path to her folks' place, but that was the path they took.

Once they were in the privacy of the trees, he kissed her again.
They found a soft spot where there weren't any roots. Lying down
next to JG made the kisses less awkward. He held her breast
through the blouse and suit top. He opened the blouse to kiss
her belly button; she shivered.

"I shouldn't have dressed again," she said.

"You did right. I can take it off, I'm not very happy having
all those boys and men staring at your cute belly button." Her
mom hadn't been all wrong.

He loosened her top. "Tell me if I go too far," he said. She
knew this refrain showed his concern, and she was grateful. On
the other hand, she was getting tired of it. Then, though, he
kissed her right between her breasts. She lay back and gloried
in her feelings.

He kissed her, and petted her, and kissed her again. He kissed
all over her stomach, then higher, then higher yet. His kisses
on her breasts just missed her nipples until she took his face in
her hands and guided it to one nipple. When he sucked, she

He held her in his arms and kissed her forehead until she came
back. "I love you," he said. She lay there enjoying the kisses.
It was the first time he'd actually said that -- "darling" sure,
but he hadn't said those words.

When they heard people talking close to them, she said, "We
really should be going." He helped her up and they dusted the
pine needles off each other. She fastened her suit top, and then
her blouse.

"You're beautiful," he said. "Your face, of course. But I'd
only seen your breasts in the dark van before. I love the way
they look in the light." Blood rushed to her face. "I love to
see you blush, too. Come on, we need to check in with your

She left her clothes with her own parents this time. JG wore his
down to the lakefront. He left his pants and shirt under his
sandals and waded in. "You could have left your clothes with my
folks," she said when he'd stopped in waist deep -- for him, she
had to hold on to keep from floating away -- water. "They
wouldn't have minded." Nobody was likely to steal his pants or
shirt. Imagine the embarrassment of wearing them later. Besides,
who could fit his clothes? Still, having somebody watch stuff
like that was customary.

"I'm not sure I wanted your folks to see me like this," he said.

She guessed what he meant. She reached to the front of his
swimsuit. "Like this?"

"Crystal!" He'd seen her excited plenty of times. It might not
be so obvious, but taking off her suit top sure made it clear.
JG was just a prude.

She stroked the hardness through his trunks. "Crystal!" he said
again. He turned away to face the opposite shore. She floated
behind him with both arms reaching around him. Her left hand was
on the front of his thigh -- it felt like a tree trunk -- the
other hand rubbed him through his suit. When she pulled herself
forward so that her breast rubbed against his back, he stiffened.
"Crystal!" he said once more. Then he relaxed a bit. He was
breathing as if he'd run a mile.

"Yes, Crystal. Who did you think it would be?"

"Jeez, woman, do you know what you did to me?"

"Do you know what you did to me in the woods? I'd think you'd
like it."

"On the lakefront with everybody we know to see."

"There aren't that many swimmers." Some of the kids were still
in the water, but most of the grownups were back on shore. "And
those aren't close enough to see." Nobody was paying them the
slightest attention. "'Sides, you were worried about your
condition. I bet it goes down now."

"If you let go. I will say the wet won't be so noticeable."

"Spoilsport." But she did let go. He dropped in and swam
parallel to the shore. She swam after him. This time, he was
going for distance. She had much more swimming than he had, but
he had the muscles. Finally, she called, "I give up." He turned
and swam back to where she lay floating. He found his footing
and stood up. His shoulders were out of the water.

"Sorry," he said. "I wasn't trying to lose you." He held out a
hand to her, and she took it. He waded towards the beach until
his nipples were barely covered by the water.

They faced away from the beach, and she tried to find her
footing. He held her. Her breasts, and his hands on her
breasts, were underwater. "I like you," he said. His skin was
warm against her back.

"Mmm," she said. She held his hands over her breasts for an
instant. He shifted his grip. One arm held her tight, just
under her breasts; the hand of the other arm was cupping her
right breast. Her feet lost their footing. She let her legs
rise. It was peaceful for a few minutes. Then, despite his
warmth against her back, it got cold.

"Let's go back," she said. He walked backwards, lifting her more
as the lake floor rose. When the water broke over his hand, he
moved it from her breast to between her legs. Under her hips,
despite her actions earlier, he was getting harder. Then they
heard kids shouting near them. He let her down in the water.

They both turned and started wading more rapidly towards shore.
Ten feet from shore, it was very shallow. Where it deepened to
knee-height closer in, they turned. They walked back to his
clothes and her sandals. By the time they got there, most of
their skin was dry. Their suits, of course were still wet.

He pulled his pants and shirt on. They both donned their
sandals. A young boy came up and grabbed JG's nose. "Ho, ho,
ho," he called. In his chase, he ran out of his sandals. She
picked them up while following him at a walk. When he'd put the
kid down, she handed him his sandals.

After taking separate john breaks, they returned to his family's
location. "JG and Crystal are here," called JG's grandmother.
"Put on two more roasting ears." Crystal tried to beg off; she
had more than enough food waiting for her with her parents. They
insisted, however. "I can't eat corn," the grandmother said, "I
don't want them eating more than one apiece. So you have to eat
this one." The food was a little strange; they had two fish
dishes. But all of it was tasty.

They stayed with his family a little bit, and then they headed
towards the woods.

There, they shared a sweet kiss before he stripped off his shirt
and lay it on another soft patch. She sat on the tails and
leaned back. He kissed her with closed lips. Instead of going
on, he kissed over her face, then down her neck. She reached
back to undo the top. He continued on, over her left breast,
down to her stomach. His kiss on her belly button tickled.

She lay on his shirt while he kissed slowly upward. The bottom
of her left breast, the bottom of her right breast. He suddenly
buried his face between her breasts and kissed there. He
returned to her mouth. His hand held her right breast while his
tongue explored her mouth.

He pulled away to look at her. "So pale," he said and kissed
her right breast. "So white." And he kissed the valley between
her breasts. "And so pink." With that, he kissed the peak of
the left breast. She could feel fire in that nipple. He sucked
and licked it while that fire burned from there down into her
belly. When he held her other breast and stroked that nipple,
the fire spread all through her. She went somewhere else,
somewhere filled with fire and heat and gold all around her.

When she got back, he was kneeling between her legs kissing her
stomach and rib cage.

"I love you, Crystal."

"And I love you, too." She figured she could admit it now.

His kisses got lower on her stomach, and sexier, and more
teasing. He moved up to kiss her mouth again. His tongue
touched hers and drew back, licked her lips, returned to her

He drew back on his knees. His hands were on the sides of her
swimsuit bottom. She raised her hips so he could pull it down.
The slight breeze in the clearing cooled her between her legs.

"So beautiful," he said. "You are so beautiful. May I kiss
you?" He'd never asked before. She nodded and started to pucker

Instead of her mouth, however, he kissed her lower belly. First,
his mouth touched her mound at the center of the triangle of
hair. Then he kissed the inside of each thigh. Then he licked
her *there*. A thrill ran through her. His tongue parted her
lower lips. It touched her most sensitive point. His entire
mouth was there when she exploded.

When she came back this time, he was lying with his face against
her thigh. "You are wonderful," he said. She felt as if she'd
been to heaven. She felt as if she'd walked back from heaven.
It was glorious, really it was, but she was also out of breath,
tired and sleepy.

"Do you mind if I get dressed again?" she asked.

"I'll never stop you," JG said. "I'll never stop you from

She struggled into her swimsuit. It felt clammy. The rest of
her clothes were back with her parents. She leaned against JG.
He got up and sat on his shirt, wrapping her in his arms.

"That's nice," she said. He was going back Sunday afternoon.
She wouldn't see him until September. But for this day he was
hers. And this was much better than sitting in the choir loft
touching him with nothing but her shoulders.

"Do you have your freshman year all planned out?" he asked.

"The school part of it. There aren't all that many choices for
freshmen, and dad helped with them. I have to pass the
prerequisites each quarter is all."

"I think you will."

"They're harder than high school."

"Harder to get good grades in, easier to keep awake. I don't
think you'll have problems, and I'll be there if you do." That
was a much more comforting idea than almost the same words from
her dad.

"Will you be there if I don't have problems?"

"Lady, I plan to be one of your problems. It's just that if
you're doing great in freshman economics, we'll discuss more
important things."

"Like what?"

"More important than freshman economics? How about how many
angels can dance on the head of a pin? No! Honestly, you should
put real effort into economics. But, for us to discuss, I was
thinking more about how beautiful you are, whether your face is
prettier than your voice, what a glorious contrast there is
between your tan belly and your white breasts.

"For a break, we might see if we want to sing another duet for
the church."

"Well, Mrs. Mitchell was nice about the last one. Still, we'd
better find one she'll like more."

"Finding one she'll like more shouldn't be hard. Do you want to
look? After all, I don't have much access to the hymnal this

"I have the old hymnal at home. Mrs. Mitchell gave it to me, in
fact. I'll get one that's in it and not in the new one. Just
can't sing it when dad's home."

"Did he mind the last one?"

"No! He loved your voice. He just doesn't share Mrs. Mitchell's
taste in music."

"You'd be surprised how many people do. Want to go back now?"

Her strength was back. Indeed, she could eat something more now.
When he got up, she took his hand. He pulled her up and kissed
her. When they tried to brush off his shirt, they found that it
was wet where she'd sat on it.

When they got back to her parents, little Shannon Powell was
there. While Crystal pulled her blouse and jeans back on, her
dad explained the situation. They were minding Shannon for Rev.
Powell, and would return her to the parsonage at the end of he
evening. Crystal got a corn-on-the-cob while JG took a large
helping of her mom's salad.

"I could go back with my parents," said JG. He didn't sound like
he wanted to.

"Your choice," said her mom. "The front seat won't be crowded
after all."

"Think you could fit? I think you could," Crystal said.

Her dad contributed some platitude about behaving in front of
Shannon. They always behaved with the utmost propriety, all they
wanted was a little privacy after all.

Before JG made a real response to him, Shannon squeezed his nose.
She must have had her escape route planned. But she was
squealing so loud that JG would have been able to track her by
the sound alone. When he'd caught her, he carried her upside
down over to Crystal's dad. One man's hands were gripping
Shannon's shoulders before the other man let go of her legs.

In the last light, she recovered the case with her glasses. Then
she and JG found their way back into the forest.

Once they were hidden from the crowd, JG pulled her into a tight
hug. He bent down to kiss her thoroughly. Then he let go and
led her along one of the trails. He stopped at a point where
they could see the sky through a break in the trees. He removed
and spread his shirt. He sat down on it with his back against a
tree. "Sit here," he invited, spreading his legs.

She sat down between them, and leaned back against him. She
shivered when he kissed the back of her ear. He began
unbuttoning her blouse. "Oh, how I've dreamed of this!" he said.
He kissed the sides of her neck, moving his head from one side of
hers to the other. His face felt rough against hers, prickly,

"May I?" he said with his hands on the tie of her swimsuit top.
Her only objection was the position. Why was her back to him?
And why, if it had to be, didn't she remove her blouse and feel
his skin against hers?

Still, she made no objection. She'd chased him often enough in
the beginning that she rather enjoyed his taking the lead now.
Besides, his hands on her breasts were fun. Even so, she didn't
see why they were sitting like this.

And then the sky lit up with the fireworks and she did. The
position did interfere with his getting her jeans down. But she
took care of that, pushing the swimsuit bottom along with it.
She pushed them off her ankles with her feet. His hands felt too
good on her body for her to get up.

For the flight of three rockets, he stroked the insides of her
thighs. When his hand moved up to her mound, she spread her legs
to give him room. "Oh, Crystal," he whispered when his finger
had parted her lips. She knew she must be sopping down there,
but he didn't complain.

A rocket flew upwards, and he stroked fluid towards her most
sensitive point. The rocket burst into stars just before he
touched her there. "Ah," she said and leaned back against him.

She could say anything she wanted, people were saying "ah," and
"oh," and "oooh" all over the lakefront.

His arm rested gently under her left breast while that hand
cupped and caressed her right breast. The other hand was between
her legs and at the seat of her sensitivity. A rocket spread red
sparklers all over the sky; he pinched her nipple and the rockets
entered her.

"Oh darling," he whispered. He held her gently while she
writhed. "Darling Crystal," he whispered when she collapsed
back against him. He almost surrounded her. She was safe, there
was no place she could fall. They watched another rocket in

At the next, his hands moved again. She knew that she couldn't
respond, but the sensations were still nice. Then they were
exciting. A rocket burst into a blaze of fire above her, and a
fire burned within her. Another and another burst; they were
blazing above her and blazing within her. It went on and on.

Finally, the sky grew quiet and JG moved his hands to her waist.
"Oh, how I've dreamed of that," he said.

"How long?" She had wanted him forever, not the last ten minutes
exactly, but that was ignorance. She had dreamed of being held
in his arms like this since she had first met him.

"This? Only since I left you. I had more immediate pleasures to
imagine when I wasn't following the harvest. Dreamed of you?
Forever. I can remember coming into the choir, and there was
this girl there. She was beautiful; her face was beautiful; her
voice was beautiful; her shape was starting to be beautiful. And
she was too young. I kept my hands off. I worked very seriously
at keeping my hands off. I only touched her with my knees. And
that was the architects' fault.

"And then, you tweaked my nose. I almost lost control. You're
lucky I regained it. Do you think I could see you again without
remembering your breasts pressed against me? The taste of your

"You noticed?" Considering that she'd been obsessing over him
for so long, it was nice to know that he'd noticed her too.

"Noticed? I spent weeks imagining your father calling on me with
a horsewhip. And then Mrs. Mitchell assigned us a duet together.
My grandmother really wanted to come back to church; I feared for
her life and couldn't ask her to delay that any longer. Besides,
Mrs. Mitchell might have canceled the duet at any time. And all
that time, I wasn't sure that you would go out with me; did you
think of me as too old?

"That had a cure, after all. We were getting closer in age
every day. Look! You'll be in the same school I will be in
September. And, of course, I didn't know that then, and we
didn't have the rehearsals any more. And I couldn't think of any
way to schedule another duet. So, no roundabout route being
possible, I took the direct one."

"You're cute." Cute? He was adorable. He'd noticed her all

"Speaking of your father's rules, hadn't we better get back

She guessed so. She pulled on her swimsuit bottom. She was
sopping down there; she hoped it wouldn't be detectable in the car.
She pulled on her jeans. Then she took her blouse off. He
kissed her nipples -- not sensuously as he had that afternoon,
just a friendly peck. She put on the top of the swimsuit and
then her blouse.

She staggered a little on her first steps on the path. JG took
her arm solicitously. When they reached her dad and mom, they
were ready to walk back to the car. JG took a sleeping Shannon
and followed them. When they got to the car, they stood outside
while the interior cooled down. She put Shannon on the right
side of the back seat. There would be plenty of room on the
left, just not enough room to give her dad grounds for complaint
when she and JG sat close together.

While they stood, JG wasn't touching anything but her arm. He
removed that hand to wave when the van beeped a greeting. Then
it was their turn to join the line of cars. She slammed the door
and crossed to the other side. She got in, scrunching up close
to the sleeping Shannon. When JG was properly seated and had his
door closed, she snuggled against him. She rested her head on
his shoulder, and he lay his against the top of hers.

She had had a big day and, despite all the time that she and JG
had spent in the shade, a bit too much sun. JG had his arm
across her shoulders. She drifted off into a doze. When JG got
out, all her comfort was gone. She woke. "Do you want to say
goodbye while we're taking Shannon home?" her mom asked.

They had only one quick kiss when the car had turned out of
sight, however. "Do you think I could use your washroom?" she
asked JG. He took her in, and she cut her greetings a little
short. Once in the john, she did use the facilities. Her big
hurry, however, involved her swimsuit.

She stripped off the jeans and swimsuit bottom. She wiped
herself thoroughly and slipped on her panties from the purse.
She changed from the swimsuit top to her bra as well. Then she
put on the blouse and jeans. Checking in the mirror, she found
she looked just like usual. Her face was a little redder, but
that might be the sun. She rinsed out the swimsuit bottoms in
the sink, flushing to cover the sound. Then she wrung them out
and put them and the top in the plastic bag which had held her

When she came out, she socialized with JG's family until her
dad's car pulled in the drive. She had the back seat all to
herself on the way home. Her parents were, thankfully, involved
with each other.

She would sleep deeply that night. And even though the next day
would be JG's last day in town for months, her dreams would be

The end
Lakeside Fireworks
Uther Pendragon

This story parallels one told from the point of view of Crystal's
father. That is to be found at:
dream.txt "Perchance to Dream"

This story is indexed in the subdirectory:
yl.txt young Love

The list of all my stories is at:


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