When he was young, which was a long time ago, the girls under the bridge would snicker and whisper to each other while he was on the swings. When he was on the swings the other boys were out in the field playing football or soccer or at the hoops playing basket ball. He’d played with the boys once or twice but, really, he wasn’t any good so then he’d stopped.

The girls didn’t play games but–or at least not the kings boys played–so he thought maybe that was where he fit in. The games they played didn’t have any names, but if they had he thought they would have been Guess what he’s thinking, and What if. . . At first the girls seemed pleased he wanted to answer the questions because most of what they talked about–these games that had no names–were about boys.

“Like, so, when you ride a bike, like, where does,” Brandy Miller grew furiously red and all the other girls began to giggle because they had all discussed this in depth so many times before they knew what came next. “You know,” said Brandy in a whisper. “Where does your thingy go.”

When he’d told them it just wasn’t an issue they’d all looked a little put out. He realized they wanted him to talk about thingys in a knowing way. A way that would give them a visual of what it might be like to have something hanging down in front of their crotches.

He asked them about not having boobs. Why did some of the 8th grade girls have them but the sixth grade girls–except for Whitney–didn’t? They’d all glared at him as though he’d said something horribly offensive. They walked away continuing to glance back and glare. He thought it had been a fair trade when it came to question swap which he called the game when the girls asked him questions about boys.

The next day they didn’t stand under the bridge because it was raining and the water seeped through the cracks and dripped down. Instead they stood under the eaves of the school, leaning against the brick wall. From what he’d seen of movies he thought the girls should have had cigarettes if they’d wanted to look cool. But he also doubted anyone spoked when they were just in sixth grade, so it wasn’t surprising that they didn’t.

They motioned him over and he came, hopping off the swing and slouching over to them, his hair wet from the rain, his butt wet from the water that had been on the swing. They were playing a game with a name finally. It was a game the boys played also. Or a game he’d played with the boys a long time before–when Tommy Scruggs had invited him to his birthday party. The game was called Truth or Dare, which was silly because nobody ever chose dare. Nobody wanted to have to do something stupid in front of everyone else.

“Brian–truth or dare?” asked Brandy Miller. She was always the one to talk to him.

“Why’s it my turn?”

“Because it’s your turn.”

“I just got here.”

“That’s why it’s your turn”



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