By Allison Maruska
It’s dark here under the trampoline. I clutch my knees to my chest and squeeze. The grass is making my butt wet but I don’t care. I want to stay here forever.
I wish I could change. Those jerks wouldn’t say I look like a girl if my hair wasn’t curly. Or if I wasn’t so short. Or if I had lighter skin. All pretty girls have tans. Their words play over and over in my head. I can’t make it stop. Emilio? Emily is more like it. Hey, guys! Come say ‘hi’ to Emily!
I squeeze harder. My stomach hurts.
The doggie door fwap-fwaps, and Abby comes right for me. Her cold nose tickles my neck. I stay curled in a ball but she keeps sniffing. A puff of her breath goes inside my ear.
I laugh. “Okay, you win!” I stretch out my legs and she curls up on me, pointing her nose toward my face. I scratch behind her furry ears and under her chin.
She snuggles against me and lets out a deep breath. I stroke her head. The pain in my stomach goes away as I tell her about school. We stay under the trampoline all afternoon.
I want to stay here forever.
(Second Place Winner of the 2015 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Contest)