“I’m going to tell you the truth about girls,” said Petie McKay, one sweltering afternoon in September after our fourth quarter in the game against the Tigers.
“I know about girls,” I insisted confidently.
“No you don’t,” said Petie. “Not really.”
I felt I had to listen to him. He was the team captain, and two feet taller than me. He twirled the ball expertly between his fingers, but I could tell his heart wasn’t in the game anymore. Truth was, Petie had gotten soft. The team would be playing strong when he’d suddenly get all starry-eyed and drift away.
“Well?” I demanded.
“Well,” he said. “The thing is, girls are pretty bad.”
I was surprised, and a little embarrassed. Truth was, I’d started thinking maybe girls weren’t so bad.
But I said, “I know that. Everybody knows that.”
“No, I mean a different kind of bad.”
“What kind then?” I fiddled with a strip of dull mud clinging to my jersey.
Petie sort of smiled. “I think girls can be mean, just like guys, but worse. I think they’re tougher than we are.”
“Girls? No way,” I scoffed.
“Yeah way. You know why? Because life’s sucked for them even more than for us. “
“What about wars? Huh? Girls didn’t have to fight in wars.”
“But they watched all the guys die. And they don’t get stuff like we do. The world tells them they’re crap. Tells them they’re not beautiful. That they’re stupid. You know?”
“I don’t know,” I hesitated. “Maybe.”
“I think that’s why they’re so mean. Squirt, the truth about girls is, they need somebody to need them. Tell them they matter. Then they stop being gross and start making life worth it.”
“What, did you meet a girl?” I asked, rolling my eyes.
“No, but I’m about to. My baby sister’s coming home tomorrow,” he smiled.
Laura Stewart is a student at the University of Tampa, where she is double majoring in Writing and Psychology. In the past, she has been published by Creative Communication and The Fort Vancouver Regional Library.