August 6, 2017
"I just saw a shooting star."
"I saw it, too."
Every day, after dark, when her family thought she was asleep, Nellie would sneak out of her house and meet her friend, Aleisha, in the cave beneath the mountain. A few hundred yards down the road was the town border, where the huge, faded, peeling sign stood greeting visitors: a cartoon mountain man wrapped in layers of furs, smiling underneath a speech bubble proclaiming, “Welcome to COONSWATER!” Beneath this, in smaller letters: “Home of Ol’ Bob Coon!” Coonswater had no tourist attractions, no history to speak of, and no jobs, but it had a mascot.
Nellie was thirteen years old – two months older than Aleisha – and these nights spent in front of the cave were the only time that the two of them were able to see each other. Nellie was from Mountainside, and Aleisha was from Riverside, and everyone knew that Riversiders and Mountainsiders didn’t get along. Th