And the Blackbirds Sang
“Hey, David, wait up a sec.” Long golden-blonde hair hid Jillian’s face as she bent over to tie a shoe. “Okay, two more miles before we turn around.” She wiped the sweat off her forehead, took a deep breath, and they resumed the long, seemingly effortless strides of distance runners. The dirt road curved up a hill, and Jillian looked forward to the view from the top. Dust spurted from their footsteps, and their breathing became harder as the road became steeper, but Jillian didn’t notice because she was thinking back to the day, three years ago, when she had first discovered the other side of the hill. Leaving the Bennington City limits behind, Jillian had pedaled her bike as far as she could up the country road, then pushed it slowly, slowly up the steep incline, stopping twice to rest while wondering what lay ahead. Finally, the view from the top had enchanted her. Aspen leaves whirred in the warm breeze, and an old pine shaded her as she settled back against a nearby log. Wild roses and purple lupines filled the air with a sweet scent, and tiny white flowers carpeted the ground where she sat. The Blue Mountains, whose peaks she could glimpse from her bedroom window, were a backdrop for a white cottage nestling near the banks of a stream far below. “Jill, are you in there?” David grinned at her startled expression. “I thought you must be at least on Mars.” “Oh, I’m sorry, David. I guess maybe I was lost in space. Actually, I was thinking about our run. I love going up this road and down the valley.” “Same here, but I’d rather think about winning at the state meet. Seriously, Jill, you have a great chance. I just hope to be in the top ten.” Jillian wrinkled her nose but said nothing as they breasted the hill, and she drank in the familiar scene as they descended the gravelly road and picked up the pace. The stream tumbled and gurgled and muffled their footsteps as they neared the cottage. Mrs. Sheldon, watering chrysanthemums in window boxes, waved hesitantly across to them as they ran by. A blackbird sang among the reeds along the creek, and Jillian sighed. “Do you know you always do that?” David asked. “Do what?”
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