One year, both younger, we had sat peeling scuppernongs and muscadines in the parking lot behind the high school football field. A man named Gus had a truck-full and we'd grabbed about a pound and a half and brought them with us in a shopping bag down from the other side of the river. This guy Gus was always selling fruits and vegetables off the edge of the road from Augusta to Aiken. Overturned boxes on the grass were watermelon stands and the open truck bed was an island of peaches or green beans or pecans. He called us the biker girls. We'd always pedal across the bridge to ride northeast until South Carolina got the better of us with its nothingness and we'd turn around again. It was Friday. We had thrown our bikes down and watched the sun dial shadows under the wheels spin. The last teacher had left the school. He would most likely be making a pit stop at the Bojangles on the way home and eat a chicken box in the car or maybe hit the movie rental store and bump into a few students with their younger siblings and moms and remember that they hadn't yet been able to fly far from their nests and that they had wants and needs that were as simple as being taller or getting a driver's license or being able to go back and say goodbye to their grandma when she was still around. That last teacher would think about how the videos were now DVDs. He would choose two movies and an old-school brown and yellow box of candy.
We spat out the pits in the empty lot and decided that we had to sneak into the private airstrip across from the high school to watch the occasional plane land over us. Something about the flesh of these southern grapes was wild and added to the intensity of the droning insect sound all around. We must have looked as in tune with each other as the rest of the noise makers, sensing each other. Down there on the ground we moved as if without eyes. When she looked at me, my back to her, I pushed her face away with my muscadine hand. Instinct. When I spat, she hung her arm over my shoulder and spat farther.
The football team was playing an away game that night, the sun was on its way down, no one was around but us. This was the night to do it. We started to tear into the tough flesh of the grapes with our teeth and spit it out, too, along with the seeds. The skins warranted a gesture as rude as they tasted. Birds squawked. I felt like I was being rushed down the river with the rest of the tree branches and debris caught off guard late summer. Jenny grinned at me. My hair was in my face, and I felt among it and my sweat. We were both desperately eager for the dusk to engulf us and drown out the clarity of sight. A few street lights jumped the gun and flickered on before the sky was even remotely pink. A few blocks away a group of older men and women got up all at once deciding it was “night enough” to be heading home. Two of the old women collected their folding chairs and waited for the others to ease up off of the park bench. They walked off towards dusk. One of the men, who was wearing an army green fishing hat, walked behind the rest of the group, ghosts in the distance.
The sun was gone. We crossed the road and met the barbed wire fence that surrounded the airfield. We dug for about half an hour, Jenny shoveling with her boxing hands and me breaking the ground with a stick. We propped the fence up so we could slide under, but when she was pulling herself through the dirt her back got scraped by one of the metal ends at the bottom. She said she was all good, and we ran to the middle of the field's only landing strip and laid down, waiting for a plane to fly over our sprawled bodies.
Our fingers were sticky and bittersweet from peeling scuppernongs and muscadines and digging in the red dirt. Jenny's back was crusted with a small blotch of blood. Every last vestige of my coy demeanor at school was forgotten, lost in the wilderness of night. I bellowed my elation into the dimly lit space of the airfield. We exalted each other's momentary bravery, laughing. We laughed through our teeth, which, bearing down, tried to hold all the excitement in. We laughed together, drawn closer by our trespassing, and we laughed in awe of our connection. A fence could not stop us. Here we were. Things were mostly still but very loud. We wanted that. Though it would now, at the time it didn't matter if the planes came or not.