Chickens, Geese, Doves, and Swans. Skipping Stones by the Pond.

That was the rhyme we used to say whenever we went down to her uncles little pond. It looked a bit like a miniature beach. Neither of us cared what it was. It was too much fun. The barn animals would always look at us funny, but we didn't mind that.

I smiled at the memory. She was cute. We would always pick up the farm cats, and they would scratch her on the wrist. She would cry, and I would comfort her and give her hugs. She would kiss me on the cheek and I would blush. That's how it went.

When she would ask her uncle to give us a ride in the boat, we would gather as many stones as possible. That way we could skip stones while we were floating in the center of the pond. I remember her smile like I remember the shining sun.

The teacher is rambling on about some war. People fight too much. We never fought at all. She was like the sun and I was the moon. We coexisted. We could go on without each other. She could shine without the earth's moon, and I could still rotate on my axis around this planet. Without her, I can't be seen, though.

I ponder this. Actually, without her, the sun, my Apollo, I wouldn't exist at all. The sun is gravity. It pulls me in. Without the sun, there would be no earth; no me. Funny how I'm still here.

It's clear in my mind. She'd invited me to come with her to her uncle's farm. There was a thunder storm. Her uncle wouldn't take us out into the water on his boat. We worked together and pushed it out into the center. She was in the boat, and I was watching from the side. Her uncle didn't know.

She skipped a stone and we both laughed. It bounced four times. It was her new record. I should've at least given her an oar. That wouldn't have helped her, anyway. The boat shook. She fell into the pond. I was about to jump in, but then she bobbed to the top.

"I'm okay," she chattered. "I took swimming lessons." I grinned at her. The sky turned white. It happened in less than a second. A bolt came down and hit the little beach/pond.

I saw it. Her body was floating in the middle. It had turned pale white. I screamed. I ran as fast as I could into her uncle's house. When we finally got back to the pond, her body had washed up on the shore.

Tears began to fall from my face. "What's wrong, Jake?" My friend asked in a soft voice. It's not very manly for a twelfth grader to cry, but I don't care. I stand up and walk out the door. Nobody questions me. They see my tears.

Ally was smart, beautiful, and kind. She had so many talents. No one could match her in skill or wit. It's hard to believe we were only seven. Actually, it's hard to believe she was only seven.

I think I'm the only one who hasn't forgotten her. No one talks about the little first grader who fell in a pond and was struck by lightning.

We had a fake wedding when we were six. It was fun. She had worn a white gown and I wore a vest over one of my T-shirts. We wore plastic rings.

I twisted the ring on my left hand. I kept it all of this time. It was a cheap one. I look up to see a girl running toward me. "Jake," she yells across the hall. She reaches me shortly. "I heard about you crying in class."

I stare down at my girlfriend. "I'm fine, Mandy," I say. She smiles at me. We are getting married after we graduate. I lost Ally. Now I have to settle for second best.