Lovers Lava started off innocent enough. Cross the bridge. Don’t fall into the leaf pile. If you make it across safely with no mistakes, you are the mistress. Choose a boy to cross to become the master. Again and again and again. It would’ve been boring if the bridge weren’t a fallen tree across a shallow chasm filled with small sand dunes and leaves that weren’t as soft as they looked when you fell four feet and landed on them.
Who knows who made it up, how it started, why we thought it was a fun game. Who knows.
There were eight of us, Caelum, Nico, Celeste, Regina, Aiden, Troy, Shea, and Mio. I think Mio came up with the game. I really do. Back then, in the first grade, he had the biggest crush on Regina. Huge. To the point where he gave her full sized 3 Musketeers candy bars, his favorite kind.
When we got older, the game got less innocent. In the seventh grade, Regina started looking like she was in the tenth grade, and Caelum started telling us vivid details of their makeout sessions behind the bleachers during football games. This influenced Lovers Lava.
Whoever made it to the mistress/master got a kiss, regardless of gender. In the eighth grade, whoever made got a hug and kiss. Sometimes they were innocent, friendly, sibling-like. Other times, they were lustful,intimate, and made the rest of us cast our eyes away in embarrassment, as Regina and Caelum clung to each other.
In the ninth grade, we were awkward. Nico got awful acne, and Celeste towered over all of us. We stopped. It did not start up again. The bridge became a place to smoke and hook up with guys and start bonfires and sneak out when our parents were being unfair.
Then, life began to affect us.
Regina got pregnant when we were seniors. Shea moved to California, Aiden came out as gay, Mio jumped off a bridge when his dad when MIA. Caelum got put into jail for stealing diapers, and Troy and Celeste got married to each other when they were twenty. Nico moved in with his grandma, in China.
We drifted away, lost contact with each other, hummed in sorrow or happiness when we received the news of the others, told our children, don’t go behind houses at night, don't make out with girls till your older, don't act like you're unstoppable. Advice we needed when we were younger.
Sometimes I go out to the bridge with my kids. I can hear our shouts of laughter, cries of pain, hushed voices as we told secrets. I teach them how to play Lovers Lava, tell them to invite their friends, be careful, don’t be reckless. A part of me hopes that they will turn this place into the magical place it was for me.
Another part of me wishes that I kept the bridge a secret.
Author Notes: we used to play this in Alpokalja.