Number One

“He’s alright, I guess. I don’t talk to him. He’s always hanging out with girls or whatever,” Andrew said, colliding into virtual guard rails. “Son of a bitch!”

“Well, he ran over my laces and tripped me in front of Lisa,” Cole said, at which point Andrew came in dead last and had to insert coin(s) to continue. Ricky climbed out of the red plastic seat and struggled to his feet.

“Man, forget her, man. Lisa is never going to date you or anyone you know. She’s stuck up and lives all the way in Fall Lake!” Andrew said dismissively. It was a small incorporated town outside of Briarton, on the opposite side of Skateland. Fall Lake, Illinois was north of town, on top of the bluff that overlooked the Mississippi River. It was a popular claim in Briarton that every one of those big houses in Fall Lake has a view of the Mississippi river, stretching further into Iowa and Missouri on clear days. It was patently untrue, of course. A simple drive through the wooded subdivision would disprove this urban legend. Some of the houses are fairly affordable, but the rumor made for excellent resentment fodder.

“I’m going to ask her on the moonlight skate,” Cole said with newly-found teenage defiance. Andrew stopped dead in his tracks.

“Man,” Andrew said, the weight of the world on his shoulders, “do not ask Lisa on the moonlight skate. She will probably be making out with Ricky outside during the moonlight anyway so don’t bother.” Cole shook his head. No, not this time.

“I’m gonna do it.”

“The moonlight skate!?” Andrew exclaimed. “You fool! Listen to yourself! You are going to throw your entire life way. You are going to ask the hottest girl in 8th grade on the moonlight skate? You might as well get a mood-ring from the prize counter and ask for her hand in marriage! She’s going to laugh right in your face, and then Jane Halloway is going to laugh in your face, and Scott Foreman, and Mark Danielson, and Mercedes Grier, and Trevor Grier, and then Ricky Bierbaum. Ricky will kick your ass without even thinking about it. Jesus, Cole, you dumbshit.”

“I’m gonna do it, Andrew. I don’t care what happens.”

———

Was (Not Was)’s epic “Everybody Walk the Dinosaur” thumped as Lisa glided around the oval-shaped track, her shirt tail fluttering behind her and the wind shaking out the curls in her hair. Ricky skated up beside her sticking his tongue through his index and middle finger.

“Gross, Ricky,” Lisa said, giving him a slight shove.

“Whatever, you like it,” Ricky said, as he skated off. Lisa’s face scrunched up in frustration. Why are boys so immature? What makes them think they are so funny when they are not!? So frustrating. Why do I have to like you, Ricky? You are a jerk, but you are cute and fun, but you are such a jerk. Lisa fluttered around the curve and into a dazzling straightaway. She got lost in the flashing strobe lights, the swirling spotlights, and the glittery reflections of the giant mirror ball. Loud, thumping, and confusing. I do not like moving this fast, she thought, I’m not even in high school. I don’t like the way he talks about me, or touches me, or pressures me, but I like him. I don’t want him to think that I am a nerd or anything. I don’t want him to hate me. I’ve gone further with him than anyone else. I don’t like it. I don’t like how it feels. I don’t like how anything feels. I just want to make it to high school.

Woken from her deep reflection by a hard swat on her backside, Lisa jumped and turned her head to face her assailant. Ricky, again, and he was licking between his fingers again. Lisa growled and shoved Ricky as hard as she could. Ricky was caught off guard and sent careening out of control.

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Moonlight Skate

Adam Bozarth