“I certainly don’t feel like I’m the same as everybody else.”
“What are you, Charley Brown? Come on Garrett.”
We were on the hill behind the school, where only a sagging chain-link fence cordoned us off from the blur of passing cars, trucks, commerce, and society in general. Molly lay back, oblivious to dirt or trash we were supposed to be picking up because neither of us dressed out for gym class. The wind flipped her hair over her face.
“Everyone feels that way, I think. I mean, most people assume they’re different—even though they’re not.”
A whistle pierced our thoughts. Somewhere behind us was football team lined up and smashed each other.
I sighed. “So I’m no different from Marshal Chambers.”
“Of course you are, Garrett. I mean, sure, Marshall’s hot, has the body of David, sculpted out of stone, and those—”
“I think he’s marble. David, I mean.”
“Whatever. What I mean is that’s all he is. Marble. Dense.” She picked a flower, twirling it with her fingers, studying it close. “But, I don’t know, maybe you’re on to something. I mean, I doubt most people sit on trash strewn hills, stewing over how they’re just like everyone else.” She handed me the purple flower. “So there, you are different.”
The stem was warm from where she was twirling it. “Thanks. I think. But…”
“I mean, you don’t watch much TV, but every commercial is about how we’re special. How we stand out, how we’re brave. Be a champion. Be the best. I’m sure Marshal puts on his football helmet and thinks he’s doing something great. Be extreme, buy this soap, drink, shirt, gun. Get what everyone else is buying. Of course, these brands wouldn’t be so rich if we really wanted to be unique. If we didn’t all want to wear the same shoes, right?”
There was no stopping her when she got like this. So I lay back, beside her, our faces to the blue, my brain panting just listening to her.
“…and look at us, this high school, only difference between this and prison is the school can’t afford the razor wires on the fences…and why are we picking up trash?”
“We’re not, really—”
“…because we wouldn’t conform, it’s the same flawed system, it’s designed….”
When you first saw Molly, she didn’t blow you away. She was short, wore jeans and hooded sweatshirts. A mop of curls. Freckles. Hazel eyes. But when we lay on our backs, on the hill, talking like this, bouncing thoughts off the clouds, it felt like we were flying.
I stuck the flower behind my ear, tried to reel her in. “So maybe that’s my curse, to know that I’m unique.”
A woodpecker rattled overhead. A barren tree feeding the looters. I thought how if everyone was dense, at least they were filled with something. Was I just hollow? I wanted to say this to her but I didn’t know how. Besides, Molly was exploring my uniqueness.
“And that’s the thing, they all think they’re unique, but the few who are unique are crucified, considered weirdos, outcasts, freaks. And even that is overdone these days.”
I turned to her, ready to stir the pot. “Okay, so you have all the answers. And yet, you have a crush on the high school quarterback. And it drives you crazy, right?”
“So what would you do if he asked you out.”
“Oh Gee, to the prom?”
“Whatever. You’d say yes.”
Molly slammed her head back. “Yes. Ugh. I would. I’m so weak…”
“Just like I would hop on the chance to date Emma Riley. God, we really are predictable.”
Molly lifted her head and turned to me. “Is it her boobs? I mean, she’s not that pretty. And her voice, I’ve heard city plows scrape with more finesse.”
“She’s a cheerleader, she supposed to be forceful. And since we’re on the mountain of honesty, yes, the boobs help.”
She looked at me and grinned. “I knew it.”
“But I still don’t feel the same. When I walk down the hallways, I feel like I’m watching a sitcom. A werewolf or vampire show or something lame. Every single day.”
“I feel ya.”
The whistled sounded. We both stood and dusted ourselves off. Another detention well spent. I grabbed my empty bag and tossed a cup into it. “Good luck with Marshal.”
Molly wiped her butt off. “Bite me.”