He was so, so happy when Chip came over to his house the first time. To Leaf, that was like planting a friendship seed in good, healthy soil.
He liked plant comparisons. They made sense.
What didn't make sense was how he felt about Chip. They had met at the bee that spring, and now it was July. The past few months, when they had hung out at the Putnam County Fair and at the park and what felt like million other times, he had begun feeling this sort of lightness in his chest whenever he saw Chip. He wanted to hang around Chip all the time and just be near him. Leaf was pretty sure that this was what like-liking someone felt like. But Chip, he was pretty sure, had a crush on his sister Marigold. Although, weirdly enough, he never talked to her or asked about her, even though Leaf talked a lot about his family.
Leaf was twelve, and thinking hard like this wasn't fun. So, instead, he showed Chip around the Coneybear residence and led him through the trail he had forged in the nearby woods. All the while he felt this swell of lightness bubble up in his chest, threatening to spill out of his hyperactive chatty mouth.
"There's a lot of good climbin trees here! I like hangin out in that little one over there, specially when mom tells me to go outside. And that REALLY big one over there," he said, "is the tallest tree in the forest. Mom and dad won't let me climb it yet, but," he brought his voice down to a whisper as if telling some big secret, "sometimes when I'm feeling really super brave, I try."
Chip laughed at his tone. "Awesome. You get a whole forest to yourself. We don't have any trees at home. Just bushes and flowers."
"You should see it in spring! There's dandy-lions everywhere and Mari taught me how to make them into crowns! There's still a lot of flowers now, but it's so much prettier in spring when everything's blooming and new."
"Flower crowns?" Chip asked.
Leaf lit up. "Yeah! Here, this way, there's a flower patch! I can show you!!" He ushered Chip off the path. They ended up in a small break in the center of the forest decorated sporadically with bunches of tall, colorful wild flowers. Leaf plopped down next to a patch and started picking flowers. Chip hesitantly sat down next to him and watched as he wove the flowers into a crown. After using about twelve flowers, Leaf measured it around Chip's head. A few more flowers, he decided, and he went back to weaving. His hands moved but his mind wandered. He liked having Chip's attention on him even though it made him kinda nervous. He knew he was smart, but not as smart as Chip, and he liked being able to show him new stuff. He measured it again and, deeming it long enough, tied it and carefully set it on Chip's head. "Tada!"
"That's so cool!" He said. "We don't get to do stuff like that in scouts. We tie knots and we can learn botany stuff, but this is cooler."
Leaf grinned. "Really?" When Chip nodded, he beamed. The happy light feeling in his chest swelled. "Just a minute, I gotta make myself one!" He made one as quickly as he could, though his fingers felt clumsy and nervous knowing that Chip was watching. He managed to tie it closed and set it on his head. "Now we match!"
Chip smiled again. Leaf was beginning to realize what a nice smile it was. It was slightly asymmetrical, making it so much more natural. The skin around his eyes crinkled up. Leaf wanted to reach his hand out and touch Chip's face, but he knew that would weird Chip out so he didn't. Instead, he grabbed a handful of flowers and offered them to Chip.
"Wanna try?" He saw Chip blush a bit but he figured it was because he was putting him on the spot. "I can help you through it, don't worry!"
"Sure!" He took the flowers and let them fall into a pile on his lap. He grabbed two like he had seen Leaf do, but he paused, unsure of what to do next.
Leaf decided the best way to help was to show him. He grabbed some flowers from Chip's pile and crossed them in a T shape. "Like this. Then cross this one under, over, and across." He wove the first two together and showed it to Chip, who nodded and copied it.
"Like this?" He asked.
"Yep! Then you hold the stems together and add another flower and do the same thing." He grabbed another flower and wove it in. Chip followed along carefully. He glanced up at Leaf questioningly. Leaf nodded. Chip grinned and looked back down at the small chain in his hands. He added more flowers on his own, slowly gaining more confidence in his actions.
"How big should I make it?" He asked.
Leaf thought hard, his tongue poking out between his teeth. "Well, we both have crowns," he thought aloud, "you could make it a bracelet! Or a necklace! Bracelets are small, but necklaces can be real long!"
"A necklace," he decided. He continued weaving flowers. Leaf let the example chain in his fall into his lap. He watched Chip, a little lost in the way his fingers moved so precisely as he knotted them together. He was pulled out of his trance when Chip put the necklace on. He held it up, looking at his handiwork. "Well?" He asked. "How did I do?"
"Ab-solutely fantastic," Leaf said with a small grin. He really did. It hit him suddenly that all he could think about now was how much he liked Chip and how cute he was. Uh... that would fade away, right?