Shellie Zacharia
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Jump
 

You, J.P., were ten, or maybe eleven, and you wanted to stand on your roof and pretend you were Ace Frehley from Kiss. You had your face painted up: black lines like flames around your eyes, drawn with your motherís liquid eyeliner. Your best friend had cat whiskers like Peter Criss, but he stayed on the ground. He didnít take the ladder from the garage and prop it against the side of the house. He did hold the ladder though, so you could climb the rungs.

You stood with your arms stretched toward the sky. You had blond hair longer than most boys and a tall skinny body that I watched during the neighborhood games you always seemed to be in charge of. Captain. Quarterback. Of course girls would have crushes. Of course I would.

You yelled, "Love Gun!" and then you jumped from the roof and I smiled to watch you fly. You landed in the grass and rolled and you didnít even break anything. Later Iíd climb the tree in my back yard, the huge bischofia that hid me in the late afternoons, and Iíd carve our initials and a heart but I wouldnít say anything about it.

Sometime during ten, or eleven, I saw you on your bicycle in your driveway. You were crying and though you didnít want me to see, I did, and there was no way I could ask you why. But later, it was all I could think about, and when you picked teams for kickball and when you walked home down the street when your mother called and you tossed the ball skyhigh so weíd all scramble and scrabble to catch it, Iíd remember those tears. I shimmied up my tree and looked at our heart, but I didnít trace the initials with my finger and I didnít make secret wishes. Because all I could think was rock stars donít cry.  

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Shellie Zacharia lives in Florida. Her stories have appeared in Hobart, Backwards City Review, Inkwell, Zone 3, The Pinch, Washington Square, and elsewhere.  

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