Down by the bank of the river, on the far side of the lane, were the old overgrown remains of what used to be a cherry grove. Most of them had gone feral, putting out only a few bitter fruits each year, but there were still a few trees that each spring blossomed in profusions of white drifts, and each summer put out clusters of fat juicy cherries.
In the spring the brothers played under the trees, romping through the drifts of fallen flower petals and throwing them at each other in handfuls. In the summer they competed at climbing through the twisting branches, risking life and bruises to collect baskets of fruit and bring them back home.
"Niichan!" Al called up at him, stamping his foot impatiently. "No fair! Those are the last ones!"
"Too slow, Al!" Ed crowed, wriggling along the branch towards the last remaining cluster of cherries. "These are all mine!"
"Hey! No fair!" Al repeated, fuming. "I gave all mine to Mother!"
Ed just laughed, hanging from the branch for a moment before dropping to the ground. "I gave her as much as you did; these are all mine!"
"Niichan—" Al growled in frustration, then ran towards his brother and tackled him to the ground. They tumbled over and over in the short grass underneath the cherry groves, Al trying to wrestle the cherries away from Ed, Ed stuffing them in his mouth before Al could get them.
At last they rolled to a stop, gasping for breath, with Al sitting on top of Ed's chest, straddling him and pinning his fists to the ground. It was too late; Ed grinned and stuck his red-stained tongue out at his little brother. "If you want them," he taunted, "come and get them!"
"Fine, I will!" Al huffed, glaring down at his brother. Before Ed had a chance to shut his mouth, Al dove down, and closed his own mouth over Ed's, tongue aggressively seeking the taste of the cherries.
Time passed, the wind rustling the leaves of the cherry trees overhead; and before long Al's hands let up on Ed's, and Ed grabbed his little brother's shoulder, pulling himself up to meet Al halfway through the kiss. It was something new, but nothing bad; not with the taste of cherries on their tongue and the sun in their hair.
It was the last summer for cherries.