Zest Lit Issue 2, October 2013 - Page 108

soon-to-be friend Shirley will hide behind. Also a crabapple tree, under which, a Billy goat waits to buck you.

Shirley from New Rochelle, New York, turns out to be your best friend. She and her mother spend summers at one of the Hilltop cabins, one mile away. Shirley’s Dad comes up on weekends. Shirley claims the biggest rock on the farm to hide behind. So she’s the queen and you’re the princess, hiding behind a smaller rock. She says only Catholics go to heaven. You say Catholics worship idols and Lutherans have the gift of grace. But you ask yourselves, is there a God? One summer you and Shirley test the existence of God. You both traipse up to the blueberry patch with an old rag rug. You roll it out on the ground. If it is there the following summer, there is a God. The next year there is no sign of it. And there you are – empirical evidence and you both declare your atheism.

The same summer you and Shirley are sitting under the crabapple tree enjoying peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Billy goat pulls on his long tether to get a taste but you just tease him. You start to run off, but Billy races behind you, bucks your bottom and you fall down, bleeding. Shirley rushes to tell Grandpa.

‘What did I tell you, girls?’ says Grandpa. ‘Stay away from Billy!’ He runs up to inspect the damage. ‘Let’s go inside and I’ll put some iodine on it.’ He applies some yellow-brown runny stuff and kisses you on the forehead.

One August, Mr. Orr drives Grandmother up from Adams, after her train ride from Cleveland. As he drags her five pieces of luggage to the door, he says, ‘Nice tits you have there, Granny.’ You don’t wait for the slap she’ll give him. Instead, Shirley and you run upstairs, flop on your