Issue 31 Dec 2015
The mango tree crowds the corner of two yards. The trunk is gnarled with sap, and the roots bulge like bruises through the ground ivy and fishbone ferns. In the deep green of the canopy, the leaves fold around the skeleton of a tree house: slabs of weather-worn pine mucky with bat shit; swollen boards of compressed fiber; wooden dowels snapped like chicken bones and dangling from rusty nails.
I hated moving to Darwin. The heat, the mosquitoes, the storms that last for days add to the torment of starting at a new school. Even in my air-conditioned room, the tropical nightmare continues after every sunset. Flying foxes scream from the corner of the yard and keep the whole family awake. Possums gallop across the tin roof and launch themselves into the mahogany tree, which threatens to flatten the house each time the wind blows.
First Period: Homeroom
The homecoming game is this afternoon and she sits next to me in that short cheerleader skirt she wears every Friday. Slices of gold peek out from the navy-blue pleats and I figure the skirt must have some weird magnetic qualities that only work on eyeballs, because every boy in the classroom is homing in on her legs. So am I, except I'm not a boy. The magnet thing doesn't gender-discriminate.
Second Period: Trigonometry
One plus one makes two. I learned that rule over ten years ago, but I think about it differently now. Sometimes, one and one can equal one. When two people come together, does each of them turn into a half? Or does one become a zero? That's how I feel as I watch her talk to the football captain and make tiny arcs in the air with a sneaker-clad foot.