That Sixth Rung

I think it was in fourth grade that I broke my arm. It was a dare actually, based on the lesser of two evils. Either jump to the sixth rung of the monkey bars or kiss Billy Riser. Well you don’t break your arm kissing someone now do you?

The whole class was watching. Billy licking his lips with his fat tongue. Allison with her fingers crossed for me like a best friend should. I spat on my palms and rubbed them together like a real fighter. Now I’d made it to the fifth rung plenty of times. It was the sixth that was the playground holy grail. Only Bethany had ever achieved that lofty goal and she let everyone know about it who hadn’t been there to witness it for themselves. Now I was standing on the edge.

My knees bent building muscle tension as the crowd hushed. Like two loaded springs my legs released and catapulted me into the air. But as I rose I already knew that I would come up short. And in the knowledge that I would now have to kiss Billy Riser I turned to him and stuck out my tongue, my eyes squinted shut.

This really messes up one’s landing.

Later at the hospital mother leaned over and asked as she swept my bangs from my forehead, “What were you thinking?”

All I could picture was Billy’s lips in a fish pucker. It’s best to leave some things unsaid.


8 responses

  1. It has a “Stand By Me” type of narrative and brought me right back to my childhood-playground-fears… totally relatable and I want to read more!

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