Jessica Hollar

Maggie had been sitting on the trampoline in the backyard for so long her butt was starting to feel numb and itchy all at once. This was the first time she had even touched the trampoline in almost three summers. She didn’t like the way it made her think about her boobs while she jumped or the way it made her think about other people thinking about her boobs while she jumped. But here she was, sitting on the trampoline like she had never gotten boobs in the first place. In a couple of hours the fireflies would be out and the sounds of the neighborhood kids will begin to get softer and softer until they are gone completely.

“I’m sorry about your dad.” Jack appeared in front of her the way kids sometimes do when you close your locker and there they are.

“I’m sorry about your dad, too.”

“My dad’s not dead.”

“I know. But he’s never around so it’s kind of like he is.” Maggie winced and took it back in her head.

He didn’t say anything. She thought that if she looked up at him his face would be droopy the way it always used to get when he was sad. Back when they were just kids.

“Can I sit with you?” Jack took one step and then stopped, like he suddenly remembered he didn’t have a ticket for the ride.

“Free country.”

Her body leaned to the right and threatened to topple over as he wiggled into a spot next to her. He didn’t look at her and she was okay with that, but he put his hand on the top of her shoulder and she shrugged it off immediately. She thought about saying sorry but decided not to.

“How come we never jump on this trampoline anymore?” He lay back with his fingers locked behind his head. His legs were still crossed and he sort of looked like the frog they cut apart in science class, all pinned down and still.

“I guess because you don’t come over anymore.”

She lay down next to him and clasped her hands over the small of her belly and stretched out her legs. The sky looked really far away and she wondered how high up she would have to go before she couldn’t see the trampoline or even her house anymore. Her mom would probably miss her after a while, seeing as how she was all alone now. She stopped thinking about floating away.

“Is that why you don’t talk to me anymore?” He shifted his body and the trampoline dipped, sliding her a bit closer to him.

“I don’t talk to you anymore because you don’t talk to me anymore. You started it.” The breeze picked up and pushed the hot summer air through her hair and the wisps tickled the skin on her neck.

It was quiet for a long time and she thought that was just fine since there were all types of mourning going on today. A lot of things had died recently. Some big and some small, but most everything that was good had died and she thought that maybe the only way you could do anything about it was to just be quiet for a bit. Dad: dead. A BFF till the end of time: dead. Childhood: dead.

“Is what they said at school true, Maggie? The stuff about you?”

“I don’t know. What did they say?”

“You know.”

“I want to hear you say it.” She didn’t really want to hear anyone say it. She only wanted to forget that it ever happened, but it was middle school and she knew there was no way she could ever forget about the things she did in eighth grade.

“I don’t want to.” Jack’s voice was almost a whisper and she thought he was being honest, that he really didn’t want to say it. Courage: dead.

“Then I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

His mother had come out a couple of times and called for him. Of course his mother could see him, unless she was blind as a bat, but she called for him anyway and didn’t walk over to the trampoline when he didn’t answer. Both times he put his hand up in the air like he was saying “hi” to her, but he was probably only saying that he knew she was checking on him but there wasn’t anything she could do about him or the way he was feeling so it’d just be better if she went away. Watching him wave to his mother made her a little sad that she couldn’t wave her own away, but her mother hadn't come out the back door to check on her once this whole time.

“Did you really let Finn Mathews put his fingers in you?” He said it quickly, like he was asking the school nurse about boners or jerking off. She still didn’t look at him, not even for something big like this, but she knew that his face was probably red and not droopy anymore. She could feel her ears get hot and took a few little breaths before she decided what to say.

“I don’t know. I guess so.”

“Why did you do that?” His voice broke a little at the end and when he got done talking he gulped real loud

“I don’t know. I guess because I was sad.”

“Why were you sad?”

“You left assembly and didn’t say anything to me.” She cleared her throat and wished she could stop talking.

“So you let Finn Mathews do that to you because I left assembly? That’s dumb. Why would you do that?”

“Why did you stop being my friend? Maybe if you answer that you’ll know why I did it.”

“That’s not a fair thing to say.”

“I know it.” Being fair: dead.

Maggie had played with Jack since she could remember and even - because their mothers say so - back in those times that she couldn’t remember. In sixth grade she got boobs and a period but he still came over and watched TV with her after school. In seventh grade he kissed a girl from down the street but still rode bikes with her on the weekends. In eighth grade he grew three inches taller and she grew two cup sizes larger. He held her hand during the last assembly before school let out and tried to kiss her. She turned her head but then changed her mind and tried to kiss him back. His breath had smelled like the peppermint candies he always had in his pocket from the restaurant his mom worked at. He leaned into her and when he put his lips on hers she didn’t know what to do so she opened her mouth and waited for him to do something, but he just opened his mouth back and then closed it real fast. She hadn’t thought about it until then, but she had no idea how to kiss a boy with her mouth open, and maybe he’d never opened his mouth when he kissed the girl down the street. She laughed while she thought about not knowing how to kiss and he got up and walked away without saying anything to her.

Maggie stayed in her seat until assembly was over and then walked to the girls’ bathroom. She wanted to cry but the pretty girls from choir were putting on lip gloss and adjusting their bras in front of the mirrors, so she left and walked to the courtyard near the teacher parking lot. The benches were empty and no one seemed to be on patrol for students skipping, so she sat down, put her hands in her lap and cried a little. Finn Mathews walked around the corner and stopped. He must have seen her crying and felt like he should do something about it because he came over and sat down next to her.

They rode the bus together and sometimes he would call her “pretty girl” and tell her she had hair like the beach. She didn’t really know what that meant but she liked being called pretty and Finn Mathews was the cutest boy in eighth grade, so how dumb would she be not to like him? He put his hand on her shoulder, then her leg, then under her skirt and when she turned to kiss him his breath smelled rotten like milk left out too long. He put his mouth over hers and when his tongue touched her lips she turned her face away and wished she hadn’t let him do that. She didn’t mind so much where his hand was or what it was doing, but her mouth wanted no part in entertaining Finn Mathews’ tongue. She looked around one more time at the empty courtyard and then spread her legs a little so that and he could stick his fingers inside of her. Virginity: dead.

She wasn’t sure how Jack knew what had happened in the courtyard, but he stopped coming to her house after that day. Finn Mathews had promised her that he wouldn’t tell anyone, but she thought that maybe he was a liar. She probably didn’t even have hair like the beach.

“Do you want to jump on the trampoline?” Jack said it loudly, more like a statement than a question. He looked at her and she looked at him, and maybe he was smiling at her but it was hard for her to see through the chunks of hair the wind was blowing over her eyes.

In a few hours the voices of the neighborhood children would be gone and her house will be empty of the mourners. Jack’s mother will take him home after everyone else leaves. These hours between daylight and dark will probably be the only time they will get to jump on the trampoline like they used to because when the sun comes up tomorrow he’ll still have run away from kissing her at assembly and she’ll still have let Finn Mathews stick his fingers inside of her in the courtyard.

She got up and started to jump. Seconds later Jack was beside her, jumping and laughing like he did in fifth grade. Her hair was in her face and she knew he was looking at her boobs but she didn’t care.

Jessica Hollar lives in Austin, Texas and has a very ordinary life as a mom, wife, student, and project manager. Trampoline is her first published work and was written for an undergrad creative writing course.

  fiction    poetry    "fact"    photography
masthead      guidelines