2014 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest Runner-up
One day Turg’s undershirt tag was pink and said Hanes Her Way.
One day Curly called in a bomb threat.
One day we noticed we were shorter than the girls.
We noticed one day that Mr. Halperin—he taught us math—had nipples that were always hard, and that his nipples were huge like pencil erasers, and that it must be a nightmare to have giant nipples rubbing up against your shirt all day.
One day there was a patch of hair under Turg’s ear, all by itself.
Curly’s pants got too tight because Curly’s mother didn’t have a job, and one day they got so tight Curly popped a boner just walking.
“It’s like someone else jerking you off for you,” he said.
One day Curly’s dog came home with an eye clawed out.
One day we went swimming in the river and it left a dead-fishy film on our skin. When we rubbed our hands over our forearms, little curls of brown stuff rolled up and mixed in with our arm hairs.
That day Turg said, “There’s never any girls down here.”
One day we started thinking certain things were bullshit. They included: time, Jesus, breakfast, singers that didn’t rap, the Knicks, the news, fathers, mothers, brothers, humidity, socks, and girls who knew we knew they were pretty.
One day we started wearing all black.
One day it started hurting when we punched each other in the face.
One day our fathers finally came home.
The next day our fathers left.
Turg’s brother had a Chinese girlfriend. She wasn’t from China, and she didn’t talk the way Chinese people did at Joy Wok, but one day he had us convinced that everything Chinese went sideways and that his girlfriend’s nipples pointed left and right instead of straight ahead.
“Let you touch one tomorrow,” he said.
The next day he said, “Let you touch one tomorrow.”
The next day he said, “Let you touch one tomorrow. Get it?”
One day at the end of May it hit ninety degrees, so we swam across the river, drew a giant swastika in the beach, then swam back to look at it, but we couldn’t see it from where we were. That same day we tried to light a football on fire but it didn’t explode. We threw rocks at a fucked-up bird. We bent the Tryon Street sign down into the ground. We snuck into a movie. We keyed a Volvo outside St. Christopher’s. We found an old lady’s wallet on the ground and took the money out, then walked to her house and left it on her porch. There was fourteen dollars in it. We bought two quarts of motor oil and tried to make a bomb, but that didn’t blow up either.
One day Curly stopped going to school.
A few days later Curly said he was moving.
“Florida or Arizona,” he said. “Or Buffalo. Hawaii, maybe. It depends.”
The next day Curly was gone and we never saw him again.
One day me and Turg walked across the city to see how many steps it took, but we forgot halfway through and just doubled what we stopped at.
One day Turg’s brother stole our cigarettes.
One day Turg said, “Where’s Arizona?”
They were out of hotdogs one day at Stewarts, so we just ate buns and relish.
One day we were walking and a car full of girls from our grade drove by, and the guy who was driving yelled something and then the girls started bombing us with water balloons, but instead of water they were filled with Thousand Island.
“I’ll prolly go live with my dad after this summer,” Turg said one day.
One day we tried to find Curly on 411 but ran out of quarters for the pay phone.
One day we pranked Lisa Giordano’s mother and told her the police found Lisa at the river dishing out fifty hand jobs at once.
One day we ripped the pay phone out of the box.
One day we missed a solar eclipse.
One day St. Christopher’s burned down.
One day they put a new sign up for Tryon Street and we went that night and tried to pull it down into the ground again, and we pulled and pulled until our palms were raw but the thing wouldn’t budge.
One day I couldn’t remember what color my father’s eyes were.
Before he left, Turg said one day, “Curly taught me this.” He took out one of those old-timey metal lighters with the hinged top and started swiping it against his thigh, one way, then the other. “The first time it opens up, and the second time you light it,” he said. He kept swiping and swiping but the thing never lit. It just opened and sparked, opened and sparked, opened and sparked.