A red brick church with a white cross on top, in front of a blue sky.

We sat on the metal steps behind Belinda’s house and smoked hollow twigs. We used a whole box of matches because they kept going out and probably gave us cancer. A blue jay stilt-walked through the grass on ridiculous purple legs. 

Two days, said Belinda, and it’s off to God Fucker school. Belinda said they loved God so much down there they wanted to fuck him, every day.

Why go? I answered. Though I knew. Her best friend from church—Anne—was already there and wrote Belinda how awesome it was. How all the kids would watch hillbillies ride through campus on their moonshine donkeys. I doubted Anne called it God Fucker though. She wore pink barrettes that said PTL.

You can come too, Belinda said, waiting for me to give her one in the shoulder. She knew I hated God more than she did.

Nah, I said, not taking the bait. It’s off to Shitzville Middle for me. We lived in the north, snow as normal as anything, and Belinda’s new school was in Kentucky. It scared me, thinking of dark mountains, kudzu, weird children and their pigs. 

So, I asked. One more game?

She shook her head. I don’t do that anymore.

So you say.

So I know. She stretched out her legs, the dirty red jeans she always wore, put her hand on her crotch. God wants me to save it for my husband.

I never got how serious she was being. Not even in second grade when she said to put my hand in her underwear. I did, she let me keep it there like 10 seconds, then ran off laughing, shouting that a naughty boy had molested her.

C’mon, I said. One more. You know they aren’t going to let you play down there. Though I wondered, would they? They might play Truth or Dare at Christian school. If they let Belinda go there, they’d let anyone. 

Never again, she said. She kissed her palm—a thing she’d just started doing—and pressed it up against the sky. She said, Stop being so horny anyhow. I see your pants. 

I rolled my eyes. Stop looking then.

No, she said. Stop bulging then.

You like it, I said.

She stuck out her tongue, screwed her eyeballs around in a ridiculous way. What if I do? Is it a G-D crime? 

I got up from the steps, went into the yard. I kicked the deflated Barbie football into the bushes. I don’t want to see you again, I said at her, over my shoulder. I just don’t want ever to see you. I went to the bushes, got to my knees. I was sorry about the Barbie football. I couldn’t see, wiping my eyes. I can’t find it, I said. It’s not even here.

Photo by bertknot, used and adapted under CC.