It was just before midterms during fall semester of my senior year when I sat for lunch at a rare empty table in the crowded student union snack bar. I could have used my meal card, but I craved something other than the bland, tasteless, over-cooked fodder that passed for food in the cafeteria. So, I spent my last dollars on a cheeseburger, fries, and a cola. Fortunately, I’d get my meager pay check the next day and I’d have a few, too few, dollars in my pocket again. The cacophony of the snack bar faded away when I buried my nose in an engineering text while distractedly eating the fries before they got cold.

Two students sat down across from me. Their conversation quickly blended into the background noise. I had no reason to look up at them and I’m sure they expected me to pay them no heed. I read until a loud crash caused me to look up in the direction of the noise. Two students had collided, launching the contents of their trays in several directions. A coed sitting nearby let loose a stream of obscenities when she got a bath in soda.

I returned to my fries and my reading until I heard a gasp followed by ‘Sam? Is that you, Stammy?’

My head snapped up when I heard my old nickname. A nickname no one at school had ever heard. One which I only heard on those rare occasions when I saw kids I grew up with. I had a pronounced stutter whenever I talked to a girl. It was less pronounced when speaking with adults, non-existent when I was with male friends. Tommy Clement, in a rare moment of brilliance, had come up with Stammy, combining Sam and Stammer, to tease me after I faltered through a conversation with Paula Buttina, a pretty girl that made me exceptionally nervous. Stammy became what close friends called me.

Two women were looking at me. I didn’t know the blonde. The other girl looked very familiar. But her familiarity didn’t fit the setting. Everything about her presence was out of context. I couldn’t make an immediate connection. She had wavy, shoulder length auburn hair that framed a pretty face. Her sapphire blue eyes were so bright it almost hurt to look at them. Her wide smile said she was clearly happy to see me. I remained clueless.

‘Sam!’ she repeated. ‘It’s me, Kerry Lucas!’

Hearing her name caused a flood of memories to assail me. Both lunch and the engineering text were no longer of interest. I hadn’t seen Kerry since her family had moved away just before we began sophomore year in high school.

We met the first day of seventh grade. I followed her with my eyes from the moment she entered homeroom right up to when she sat at the desk to my left. Her mass of red hair was unique in a roomful of blondes and brunettes. She had bright blue eyes. She was exceptionally tall, taller than me, and very thin. She had big feet that made her a bit clumsy, traits we shared. She smiled readily when she saw me looking at her. She introduced herself and asked my name. I muttered out an answer which she got me to repeat, loud enough for her to hear the second time. The homeroom teacher arrived just then, ending our initial introductions.

I snapped back to the present when I realized Kerry was talking.

‘How are you? What are you doing here? When did you get here?’ she asked in rapid succession. After a moments’ hesitation, her expression darkened, ‘Why didn’t you answer any of my letters?’ The hurt in her voice was palpable.

I answered the last question first. ‘I answered every letter you sent,’ I responded defensively. ‘Why did you stop writing?’

‘You did? I stopped writing after a few months because I never got a letter from you. Not one.’ Her face clouded in anger for a moment. ‘I’m sorry, Sam. My father must have intercepted your letters.’

That would explain it. Kerry’s father, Master Sergeant Lucas didn’t like me. No, that wasn’t fair. Master Sergeant Lucas hated me. My having no interest in military service didn’t help. Kerry and I became friends only because her mother, Dr. Lucas, liked me and ran interference. The big, hard-ass Marine was defenseless when his wife got after him. The fact that Kerry’s father traveled extensively, keeping him away from home, didn’t hurt.

It turned out Kerry and I had matriculated the same semester. But with over twelve thousand incoming freshmen, never running into each other was only a little surprising. She was premed. I was engineering. Core requirements often meant hundreds of students in large lecture halls.

Kerry took my unused napkin and wrote on it. It had a phone number and an off-campus address when she gave It back. ‘I have to run to class. Call me, Sam. Call me tonight.’

‘Wait a second!’ I called to her before she got away. I tore a piece of the napkin off and wrote down the number of the phone on my floor, my dorm and room number. She stuffed it in her shirt pocket, kissed me on the cheek and hurried off. She never introduced her friend, who just waited impatiently. I put the napkin fragment in my wallet.

I returned to my lunch and textbook, then went to class. After class, I went to my room. I stretched out on my bunk to do some reading but drifted off to sleep. When I woke up the sun was low. If I didn’t hustle, breakfast would be my next meal. There was a knock on the door just as I got out of my bunk.

‘Phone call, Sam,’ the voice yelled through the door. I opened it and followed Rob down the hall to the phone next to his room. By the time I got to the phone, I had convinced myself seeing Kerry had been a dream.

‘Hello,’ I said into the phone, expecting to hear my mother, who tried to call a couple times a week.

‘Weren’t you supposed to call me tonight?’ the feminine voice on the phone asked.

‘Kerry?’ I asked, doubting my own ears.

‘Of course,’ she said.

I reached into my back pocket and took out my wallet. The napkin was right where I had put it. ‘I was going to call after I had dinner,’ I lied, though I’m sure I would have called eventually. ‘I was just headed to the cafeteria’.

‘You actually eat that stuff?’ she laughed.

‘Only when absolutely necessary, like when desperate to stave off starvation,’ I joked.

‘Why don’t you come over here for dinner. It won’t be anything special. But it’s gotta be better than the cafeteria. I think we’ve still got some beers in the fridge.’

It was a long walk to the address on the napkin. I could have covered the distance on my bike in about fifteen minutes. But it was gone, stolen the first week of the semester. I had no money for a cab or even the bus.

‘I’m not sure I can get there in time for dinner, Kerry. Someone stole my bike in September, so I’m on foot.’ I said. ‘Can I get a rain check for a time when I can leave earlier?’

‘Still riding a bicycle?’ she asked rhetorically. ‘I’ll pick you up in your dorm parking lot. Twenty minutes?’ she said.

‘Okay. See you then,’ I said to a dial tone.

I went back to my room, changed out of my rumpled clothes, brushed my teeth and hair. I was pacing the parking lot with ten minutes to spare.

A faded red VW bug pulled up and beeped at me. A dented right rear fender hung loosely and flopped around when the car braked to a stop. Kerry was driving. The car was already moving when I closed the door.

‘Are you excited about something or just in a hurry?’ I laughed.

Kerry looked at me like I was insane. ‘Aren’t you excited?’ she asked.

I just smiled and shook my head.

‘How are your folks?’ I asked to start the conversation.

‘They’re good. They live up the coast about four hours. Mom’s on staff at the little hospital there. Dad is completing a tour at his last duty station, another four hours away farther north. He stays there during the week and goes home most weekends. He’s retiring early next year. How’s everybody in your family?

‘The usual. Mom’s always sounds ready to tear her hair out, especially with me out here unable to get home for two years. Don’t know about my father. He disappeared just before Christmas last year. My sisters and brothers are all okay. Mike quit school and got a job when he turned sixteen. He moved out as soon as he found a roommate. Dana quit school, too. She has a part time job but still lives at home. Mom says the younger kids are good but I’m sure they’re almost unmanageable.’

‘I talked to my father this afternoon. He was not happy to hear your name. He eventually admitted he threw away your letters. I think he already knows he’s in deep shit when I go home for Thanksgiving. I was pissed at you for a long time, Sam. I got into med school at Yale next year. I planned to find you as soon as I had a chance and pound you into dust for not writing to me,’ she told me.

‘I wouldn’t have blamed you. But I did write. I wrote six or seven letters after I stopped getting your letters.’

‘I talked to Mom, too. She said to say ‘Hi’ by the way. She’s not happy with Dad. I’d bet anything he catches hell again when she talks to him tonight.’

Kerry pulled into the driveway of a small house. Her friend from the snack bar had books and a notebook spread out on the kitchen table. She looked up long enough to say hello, then gathered her books and left the kitchen.

‘That’s Cassie. Melissa’s out with her boyfriend.’

I could smell baked beans as soon as I entered the kitchen. Kerry opened the fridge, took out a salad and put it on the table. I caught the beer she tossed to me.

‘I don’t drink, Kerry,’ I said, handing it back to her and getting a look of surprise. She took it and put it back in the fridge.

‘We’ve got root beer, orange juice and cranberry juice,’ she told me.

‘I’m good for now. Anything will be okay with dinner.’

Cassie came back into the kitchen to set the table for dinner. The three of us made small talk while I sat at the table. Cassie was short, with straight blonde hair cut in a Dutch-boy style, gray eyes, a small waist, and a massive chest. She had a pleasant, laid-back demeanor that made her easy to talk with.

The longer I was there, the more the Kerry I knew reappeared. When she had moved away, she still had a girlish figure that had begun to mature. The end-result was alluring. Her auburn hair was shorter than I remembered, more stylish. Her blue eyes held your attention. She had continued to grow in height and was now just over six feet tall. Her breasts, though mostly hidden under an over-sized Celtics sweatshirt, were ample enough to warrant admiration and moved enticingly telling me she wore no bra. Her slim waist curved smoothly into her hips. Her legs were long, their perfect shape accentuated by the tight jeans she wore.

As we talked, it began to feel like we’d never lost touch. I wondered if we’d ever be as close as we had been. But being with her was easy. I also felt myself getting slightly aroused, though Kerry wasn’t acting seductively.

Cassie excused herself and went to her room to study shortly after dinner. Kerry and I spent the evening just talking. When I caught a glimpse of the kitchen clock, I was amazed that it was after midnight. I had an early class in the morning that I would be mostly unprepared for.

I didn’t want the night to end but knew it had to. ‘I have to get some sleep Kerry. I have an early class,’ I finally admitted.

Kerry smiled, ‘Of course. I’ll drive you back.’

The drive back to my dorm passed in a blink on nearly empty streets. We sat and dragged out our visit in the deserted parking lot. Neither wanted our visit to end. When we finally resolved to part, Kerry leaned toward me. I leaned in her direction, expecting her usual kiss on the cheek.

But Kerry had something else in mind. Her hand reached behind my head and pulled me into a passionate kiss that held the kind of promise I’d dreamed of but never dared hope. I went from slightly aroused to fully erect instantly. She ran her other hand up the inside of my thigh and under leg of my shorts. My groin exploded in ecstasy before she broke the kiss. I tried to hide my response, but I was trembling too hard to hide my reaction. I felt myself flush in embarrassment.

Kerry didn’t remove her hand but instead ran it up into my groin. I exhaled hard at her touch. There was going to be no hiding the massive wet spot.

When I found the courage to look at her, she was smiling. ‘I wanted to kiss you like that too many times to count,’ she whispered. ‘I hoped for a positive response but never expected you to get quite that excited,’ she giggled.

‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for that to happen,’ I managed to mutter.

Kerry laughed light-heartedly and caressed my cheek softly. ‘Sam, I waited a long time to kiss you. I wish I’d kissed you like that before we moved away.’

‘Why didn’t you?’ I asked.

‘I was fifteen. I wanted to. But my folks drilled into me that I was too young to be kissing anyone like that. I’m ready now. For that and more,’ she said as she pulled me into another kiss.

‘You’ve never had sex?’ I asked, trying not to sound incredulous.

‘Don’t be silly,’ she laughed. ‘I’ve been involved with a guy or two since I’ve been here. But no one at the moment. That might change, though.’

I breathed a sigh of relief. I wasn’t involved with anyone then, either.

‘I’m really busy tomorrow and Friday,’ she told me. ‘I’ll be too tired to go out Friday night. Can we get together Saturday morning? We can spend the weekend together.’

‘I’m up for that,’ I assured her. ‘But I do have studying to get done over the weekend.’

‘I have to make time to study, too,’ she smiled before pulling me into another kiss before we parted.

Fortunately, it was late enough on a weeknight that I didn’t run into anyone between the parking lot and my room. I stared at the ceiling above my bed, unable to sleep.

Kerry’s family had moved into my home town when her father was assigned to oversee Marine Corps recruiting in the region. Her mother was an ER physician. Kerry also had a younger sister.

I was a poor kid from the public housing projects. My mother was a stressed-out, no-nonsense, stay-at-home mom raising eight kids. My father was unreliable, with a habit of periodic drinking binges, a mean streak when he was drinking, and trouble holding a job. I was the oldest. My sisters were mostly noisy and annoying. I didn’t get along with the older of my two younger brothers. The youngest brother was still in diapers.

Over the next few months, Kerry and I became friends despite very different backgrounds. We had common interests. We liked doing anything outdoors, riding our bikes, fishing, swimming. We both liked and exceled in school.

Eventually. I drifted off to sleep. My morning class was a disaster. I’ll just say I was asleep at a most inopportune moment.

Kerry and I talked on the phone a couple of times before the weekend. Saturday morning, we met for breakfast in the cafeteria. The breakfast offerings were usually good. While we ate, several of my friends joined us. Everyone seemed to take an immediate liking to Kerry. My friend Jon joined us late, and not fully aware of the dynamics at the table, was soon working on getting a date with Kerry. Bonnie leaned into him and whispered something in his ear. I don’t know what she said, but he backed off before it got awkward.

Kerry and I left in her beat-up Bug and went back to her place. We hadn’t made specific plans for the day other than spending time together. We opted to tackle our school work first and then figure out how to spend the rest of the day. We spread out in the living room and got to work. About ten minutes later, Cassie, fresh out of the shower, came into the living room wearing only the towel wrapped around her hair.

‘Oh, shit!’ she cursed, hastily retreating the way she came.

My jaw dropped but Kerry didn’t even blink. ‘A show after breakfast!’ she said matter-of-factly.

I grinned at her and returned to my book.

When Cassie came back out, she was dressed, expressing apologies and embarrassment. ‘I didn’t know you were home again, Kerry.’ Kerry just waved a hand dismissively.

Cassie went into the kitchen, fixed some breakfast and then left, offering a quick goodbye and a wave.

After she was gone, Kerry looked up from her text. ‘She’s done that before,’ she said to me.

‘What?’ I asked, not entirely sure what she meant.

‘Paraded into the room naked when she knew there was a guy here. She’s a bit of an exhibitionist though she’d never admit it.’ Kerry told me. ‘One time, she gave her boyfriend a blowjob in her bedroom while we had a house full of company people for a party.’

‘What’s so odd about that? Seems like something that might happen at a college party,’ I asked with a smile.

‘She left the bedroom door open. You have to go past her room to get to the bathroom,’ Kerry laughed. ‘It didn’t slow her down when a couple of guests stopped to watch and began a play-by-play of the action.’

That ended our conversation for a while. We both returned to our studies, though I found it difficult to focus. I wasn’t too concerned, I’d stayed in Friday night to get ahead, just in case we slacked off.

While I stared at my textbook, I daydreamed about a late September afternoon. School was unexpectedly canceled that day. The water main into the high school building broke. With the rest of my siblings at school, I got dragooned into helping my mother with household chores. She thanked me for the help after lunch and told me to go have some fun.

I called Kerry and hastily arranged an afternoon of fishing. We rode our bikes and met at Mercale’s Pond, a small lake that offered good fishing and a secluded area with a sandy bottom for swimming that few people knew about. It was a hot day. We were both overheated and sweaty when we met up. After chaining our bikes together on a tree, Kerry led the way, skipping over several good fishing spots, going directly to the swimming area of a long-abandoned summer camp, where we also fished sometimes.

I was busy digging through my tackle box when I heard a splash behind me. I turned around, expecting to see ripples where a big fish had jumped. Kerry’s clothes were in a pile, including her bra and panties, and Kerry in water up to her neck. I couldn’t see any of her naked form but knowing there was a naked girl thirty feet away was enough to cause an immediate erection.

‘Are you coming in?’ she asked. ‘The water feels great!’

I was hesitant to strip down while she watched. ‘Don’t look, Kerry.’

She laughed. ‘Relax, you don’t have anything I haven’t already seen.’

‘What?’ I asked in surprise.

‘You, goof. My mother’s a doctor. She has books full of pictures in her library. You don’t think I’ve looked at them?’

I hesitated for a moment, then gave in. I stood with my back to her and stripped off my clothes. I could feel her watching me. To join her in the water, I had to turn toward her. There’d be no hiding my erection. I took a deep breath and ran into the water, not stopping until I was in chest deep water. She was right. The water felt great.

When I started to swim toward Kerry, she objected. ‘Not too close, Sam.’

We stayed in the water for about an hour, swimming around, staying cool but keeping at a distance from each other. The water cooled my erection. We knew we’d couldn’t stay in the water forever. But it remained an unspoken topic. When the time came, Kerry strolled out of the water without hesitation. I figured if she could, I could, so I followed close behind, acting much more confident than I actually felt.

We sat at opposite ends of a fallen log while the sun dried us, trying not to be too obvious about our respective curiosity. Kerry sat covering herself as best she could. I was more successful, having less to hide. As the sun warmed me and I watched Kerry closely, blood flow to my penis increased. Before long, I was fully erect again and completely embarrassed.