We Told Six Lies(7)

I’m not sure you wanted me to.

You dropped on the other side and said, “I saw you look.”

And I said, “Yep.”

And you threw your head back and laughed so hard it made me ache all over just to hear it.

“Come on, Cobain,” you said, like you were suddenly running this show.

I followed you.

At General Wayne Park, I pushed you on the merry-go-round. You laid on your back, letting your head hang off the side. Your hair brushed the ground as you swept by.

“That guy is scared of you now,” you said as I stepped back to avoid decapitating you.


“Whatever his name is.”

“You knew what my name was.”

You smiled up at the sky. “I asked around.”


“Because I chose you.”

A chill rushed across my back. You chose me. You could have picked anyone, but it was me that captured your attention.

“What did you choose me for?” I asked.

“That doesn’t matter,” you replied. “What matters is you protected my honor.”

“I don’t think you have much honor.”

You spun around and shoved your feet into the dirt, stopping yourself from going around again. “I have loads of honor.”

I smiled and shook my head.

You frowned. “What makes you so sure I’m honor-free?”

“I don’t think you’re a bad person or whatever. But you’re not a saint, that’s for sure.” I pulled you up. “You made me shove Jet.”

“Excuse me. I didn’t make you do anything.”

I walked toward the swings, and you walked after me. I could hear your feet shuffling from over my shoulder. I heard because I was listening for the sound of you.

I plopped down on the swing, and the chains groaned from my weight. “Yeah, but you set it up. You set up a lot of stuff. I see how you are with your friends.”

You narrowed your eyes and sat in the swing two down from me. “How am I with my friends?”

I rocked back and forth, breathing in the tang of rusted metal. “You manipulate them. I saw you do it to Ms. Kimball, too. You put on an act in order to get what you want, and you leave people thinking they’re doing themselves a favor by helping you.”

You smiled like me seeing through your charade pleased you to no end. “You think I’m manipulative?”

“And without honor.”

“Well,” you said, leaning your head against the chain. “I think you’ve got demons. A decent guy, with demons.” You hesitated. “I saw you pick up that kid’s books when you bumped into him.”

I felt the smile on my face flicker, and I stood up. Watched as a mother packed up her two children into a stroller and headed for their car.

“Don’t act like I discovered some secret. You’re announcing to the world that you have demons with your silence and your black clothes and that weird crow tattoo you’ve got on your forearm.” You smiled to tell me you’d noticed it. “You want people to think you’re this scary dude. The real secret is you’re not.”

“Who are you?” I asked suddenly, and I heard the defensiveness in my voice. “You’re so weird.”

“And you’re fucking broken, man.” You shrugged. “I like broken people. I’m attracted to them. If you wore polo shirts and played varsity basketball and had a bunch of jerk-off friends, I wouldn’t be out here swinging with you.”

“Yeah, because swinging together is a pretty big deal,” I muttered.

You laughed, and I glanced over at you, pleased that I’d made you laugh again. And that I was somehow keeping up with you. You made it easier to talk. Maybe because you seemed to expect me to be exactly as I was.

You pulled a pack of peanut M&Ms from your pocket and ripped the top off. Stuck the trash into your back pocket and then poured candy into your open palm. You held the bag out to me in an offering, but I shook my head.

“We might not hang out after this,” you said around the candy, and my heart clenched a little. Because you could say something like that. Because you were the kind of girl people were drawn to, and you didn’t need me. But you know what? I didn’t need you, either. I’d grown accustomed to doing things alone, and maybe I didn’t want you getting all clingy and calling me and making me shove dudes just to see if I would.

“But I thought you looked interesting,” you finished.

You had nothing else to say, it seemed. So you stood up and lay down in the grass. I chewed the inside of my cheek and then went to lie down beside you. We didn’t say anything as you popped more chocolates into your mouth and then stuffed the bag inside your jacket.

My eyes darted to where your hands were, fingers interlocked on your stomach. I thought about what you said— We might not hang out after this.

So I thought to myself, Fuck it. And I reached out and took your hand as if I knew you’d accept it. But I couldn’t have known, and so my heart pounded so damn hard, and it seemed the earth made three full rotations around the sun before you squeezed my fingers in return.

As my breathing returned to normal, and the chill of the ground seeped through my clothing, I thought, we should probably go back. You probably had a mom and dad at home who would be worried.

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