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By Edward Ashton

So it was mid January, ten o'clock at night, and I was out on the town golf course, at the top of the hill over the seventeenth hole. We'd had a foot of snow the day before, but the sky was clear and the moon was high and bright and cold. Terry Dugan and Tommy Berg were taking turns riding an old truck inner tube down the hill, hitting the green and flying off the dropoff at the far side. I wasn't riding because I had a game the next day. Christy wasn't riding because she'd broken her ankle there the year before. We had a fire going on a patch of cart path. We were sitting almost together on the upwind side.

"Bruce Haley just asked me to prom," she said, "but he took Jeannie to Homecoming, and she said when he kissed her he tasted like tuna."

I shrugged. "That's probably better than what the caterers were serving."

She laughed and leaned into me. I slid my arm around her shoulder.

"So what about you?" she asked, and pulled back a bit. I let my arm drop. "Who're you taking?"

I shook my head. "I'm probably not going."

"Oh come on," she said. "There has to be somebody."

The fire was pretty small by then, and I was starting to feel the cold. My belly was churning. I could hear Tommy howling as he started a run.

"Look," I said. "Do you want to take a ride? Let's take one double ride down, and then go home and get warm."

"A ride? I dont know, Doug." Tommy was just hitting the green. "You remember what happened last year."

"There's more snow now. It'll be softer."

"I don't know," she said again, but I was already on my feet. Tommy was coming back up the hill, dragging the tube behind him.

"Come on," I said. "It'll be fun." She sighed, took my hand and let me pull her to her feet.

The tube wasn't really big enough for two, but with my arm across her back we just fit. I asked if she was ready. She dug her fingers into the top of the tube and nodded. I lifted my feet up. We started to slide.

Thirty or forty runs had packed the snow down almost into ice, and halfway down Christy shouted in my ear that we were going too fast. The wind was a rising roar. The snow was smooth as glass. Just before the green we started to spin. Christy reached over and covered my eyes.

The next few seconds are hard to describe. Christy was screaming and the wind was howling and I think we'd turned so that our feet were pointing toward the dropoff. At the same time, though, I could feel her breath and hear my own heartbeat, and I wasn't entirely sure we were moving. Then the tube was gone and Christy's hand came away. We were airborne.

The wind was suddenly silent. Christy's arms were wrapped tight around my chest and I had one arm around her and one reaching back and down for the snow. My mouth and nose were full of strawberry-scented hair. My eyes were full of stars. Christy's face was buried in my shoulder and her legs were wrapped around mine and we fell together like mating eagles, in love only until we hit the ground.

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