He looked back, through the rain, really coming down down. Raining cats and dogs–he’d once heard his mother say. He wondered what it would be like if it really rained cats and dogs. Probably a great big mess. But luckily it was just an expression, like his dad would say, even though he still wasn’t quite sure what that meant. Usually expressions were something people wore on their faces, they weren’t spoken with their lips.

“Uh, Earth to Brian,” said Brandy Miller.

“No,” he said.


All the girls in the circle were looking at him. How could he have ever thought this could be his group. He was always an outsider. An alien. Like the the Thunder Cats. They were like aliens, but they were cats.

“I don’t want it to be my turn,” he said.

“But that’s how the game works,” said Suse, a blond haired, dimpled girl who was really good at drawing sunsets. Brian often wondered how she’d learned to use colors like that when in art class.

Brian looked back at his soggy sing. He heard the boys shoes on the covered floor of the basketball court. He wouldn’t play that game. He’d never been any good at those athletic things. They were too daring. Just like this game. That was why nobody ever picked dare. Because nobody knew what they would have to do. He didn’t know what he had to do right then either.

“Dare,” he said and he was surprised how unafraid his voice was.

The circle of girls gasped. Suse was looking with amazement at Brian. He liked that look, it was deep and confused, and even a little scared. He was taller than he felt.

“Dare it is,” said Brandy, without much surprise. That girl always played it cool. That was just Brandy’s MO. But Brian didn’t know what an MO was–but he thought he used it right.

“Dare me,” he said. Again it was in a brave voice.

The other girls cast around for something for him to do. They looked off into the playground and at the parking lot, but apparently nothing seemed good enough.

Brandy held up a finger. “Hang on,” he said.

The circle of girls closed it about her. There was some hushed whispers followed by a trickle of giggles and Suse even threw back her head and laughed a roar. Brian fidgeted. He suspected that this was going to be no good at all. The delegation of girls broke apart. Brian’s heart began to beat very quickly. He didn’t want to to have to play basketball or tackle another boy. He didn’t want to spit in someone’s lunch or climb up onto the roof. But he also knew that if that was what they dared him to do he would do it.

“We,” said Brandy, with a smirk. “We dare you to show us your thingy.”

Brian stared. “My what?”

“Your dick,” said Brandy, and he was surprised how easily she said the word. He’d never heard a girl say something like that.




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”