I waved my hands up in the air staring at Russell, “pass, I’m open,” I shouted. I prayed that Russell would throw the old, dark orange basketball at me before someone on the other team ran over to cover me.
Russell looked away but threw the ball at me anyways. Snake eyes, clever, I thought. Before anyone could stop me, I ran over to the hoop and made an easy layup.
As the ball went through the net, my team whopped and cheered, I gave Russell and Kevin high fives. “Five to three, we are winning,” I yelled.
I walked over, grabbed the ball from where it had fallen in the grass, and passed it to Jimmy on the other team. As he caught the ball, I caught Melissa’s eye. She looked pretty disgruntled given her team was losing. She had her hands on her hips and her hair was falling over her eyes. It took everything in me not to walk up to her and push it back.
She has a childish look about her. She’s sixteen but looks more my age than anything, she could pass for an eight grader anyday. But that's what I like most about her. Not the fact that she looks twelve, but her inner child. Most of the kids her age living on our street are holed up in their rooms all day and you only ever see them at block parties and such. Melissa, on the other hand, loves playing with us. She is the calm in the chaos. She patches up the injured and comforts the crying. That is what I like most about her.
I’ve had a crush on Melissa for a few years now, I haven’t acted on it because she's like 3 years older than me. Now that wouldn’t work. She would probably reject me anyways. It's like an eleven year old boy who’s falling for his hot, older babysitter. It just doesn’t work.
The game continued. I’ve noticed recently that Melissa has been playing a defensive basketball game. She never takes offense. She used to be the best, she was older than everyone and had the most experience and could make shots off of the pavement. But now, it's almost like she just watches. She tries to involve everyone in the game, even at her own expense. If only I was three years older.
My team ended up winning, it was a pretty close match though. We all sat down in a circle on my driveway to begin a game of truth or dare.
Tiffany went first. She was in the same grade as me, and I have to say, maybe even more obsessed with Melissa than me: namely her love life. “Hey Melissa,” she said. Melissa looked over and rolled her eyes. “Truth or dare?”
“Truth,” we all knew what Tiffany was going to ask Melissa.
“How is Ronny doing,” she said emphasizing Ronny’s name. Ronny was the guy Melissa apparently liked.
“What about Ronny,” she said.
“You’re in love with him, right?” Tiffany replied.
“No, I’m not in love with him. He’s just a friend,” she replied, as she always does when asked that question by Tiffany. And every time she says there is nothing going on there, I always feel a tingle of hope. As if she is holding herself back because she likes someone else: me.
Because Tiffany had given Melissa a truth, it was her turn to ask. She looked around the circle and her gaze fell on me. “John,” she dragged out my name thinking about what she would ask me if I said truth or what she would ask if I said dare. Her dares were always the best. The other kids either gave repetitious dares or dangerous dares. There was literally no in between with them.
“Truth or dare, John,” she said looking right at me.
“Dare,” I couldn’t wait to see what she came up with.
“Give Jimmy a piggy back ride.” That's a new one. I thought.
“Get over here Jimmy.” Jimmy was two years younger than me
but was my size, he probably weighed more than me too.
I bent down, Melissa snickered and I started laughing too. “You are laughing too much, I can’t get on,” Jimmy whined.
“Okay, okay,” I said between laughs, “let's do this.” Jimmy jumped on my back and we both collapsed on top of each other.
At this point, everyone was laughing at us, Melissa looked down at me, “that's good enough,” she said.
“I ship it,” Kevin shouted. I got up, gave him a light punch, and sat back down.
The game went on for a few rounds, but then it was Dave’s turn to ask Melissa. The thing about Dave is that he is eight, and gives the worst dares. But Melissa being Melissa puts up with them anyways.
“Melissa,” he said looking at her.
“Yes Dave,” Melissa said sweetly, smiling at him.
“Truth or dare?” Dave said.
“Dare of course,” Melissa said, she knew that Dave wouldn’t have any truths to ask her because he hardly knew what to ask anyone.
“I dare you to run from here around your house and back.” I sighed, that was the worst, Dave always only asked that dare. It was sad, but Melissa got up and started running anyway. The thing is I lived next to Tiffany who lived next to Melissa. So Melissa had to run around three houses. Knowing her, she would take a while. Athleticism wasn’t her strong suit.
Since Melissa had just been asked a truth or dare and she was not here, it was Trevor’s turn to ask someone. Trevor looked around and his eyes stopped at me. Oh great I thought, Trevor was younger than Dave, his dares were even worse.
“Truth or dare John,” Trevor said looking at me.
“Dare,” I said smiling at him.
“You also run around the houses,‘ he said.
Of course, yet another repeat of a dare, but it wouldn’t hurt to get some exercise in.
As I rounded the corner of Melissa’s house, I caught sight of her. She wasn’t even running at this point. That lazy bum. I ran up to her and began walking next to her.
“What? You got tired?” I asked her.
She laughed, “yeah.” I loved that she laughed. I loved making her laugh.
“What?” Melissa said, and I realized I was staring at her.
I shook my head, “hmm, nothing.”
“Whatcha thinking about?” she asked.
“You.” The word just slipped out before I could stop it. I stared at her horrified realizing what I had just said.
Before I realized what was happening. Melissa had closed the distance between us. I felt her mouth on mine and it was over before I even knew it had started.
She winked at me, “can you keep a secret?” And just like that, she ran away, back to the other kids.