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Nobody ever fucks with her. She's five foot small with stick limbs and no tits, but she has the temper the length of a rat's pinkie toe, and the guts to go with it. So when Henry meets her flaring temper with a cool smile instead, she thinks she should punch him. But she doesn't, and he kisses her instead.

She falls in love. Henry listens to every band she does and then some, and although sometimes his crusty skinny jeans reek because his parents don't always welcome him home to do laundry, he more than makes up for it with his sharp wit and the way he holds her close. She likes to run her fingers through his blue mohawk and find the plain brown roots that belie his humanity, and she likes to tap each steel ring and stud on his body, counting them, silently naming them. She likes that sometimes he's self conscious about his soft belly that he hides with ragged band shirts and strong arms, because only she sees this side of him.

With all her knowledge and love of Henry, it only hurts worse when she finds him at the show (the show she'd bought tickets to for Henry's birthday) bending another girl backwards to bite the apex of her shoulder and neck, like some fucking punk rock vampire. She knows this girl Elaine from school, and she's a goddamn poser, with dainty gold stud earrings and straight brown hair held back with a bobby pin, her Misfits T-shirt still black and crisp with newness. But Elaine laughs girlishly and tips her big breasts upward when Henry pulls her back upright, and next to Elaine, she knows she looks like a boy in a skirt and oversized leather jacket.

But it would be stupid and girly of her to cry in the corner about it, so she does what comes most naturally to her. She goes home, dry-eyed, and she gets her baby brother's Little League bat. She spends the bus fare to go all the way back out to the show. When she gets back, she already sees Henry coming out of the building. It looks like Elaine is still with him, and that's all she needs to see.

The bat makes its first crack on the back windshield of his shitty El Camino, WHAM! She makes eye contact with him as he starts running across the street toward her, and the bat comes down a second time, this time into the back passenger window nearest her. She doesn't know when she started screaming, and when she hits the window again, she realizes with shame that she's crying. Like some dumb girl. So she hits the window a third time, and it shatters, scattering glass on the seats inside. He's shouting something as he nears, Elaine hard on his heels, and she screams at him that she gave him her fucking virginity, fucking asshole! Fucking poser dick-swinging asshole!

Strong, familiar arms encircle her from behind, pinion her twiggy arms to her sides, and the bat drops, but still she screams, flailing against the body she loves so much. He whispers fast apologies in her ear, Baby, baby, I'm sorry, I didn't mean it, I was thinking with my dick, baby please, I love you, and it's that last one that gets her. She goes limp, shaking as she keeps crying and hating herself for it, and Henry strokes her short pink hair, continually murmuring his apologies, his I love yous. She reminds him that Elaine is right there, they were together this whole time; he says something she can't comprehend right now about Elaine following him. It would probably make sense if she hadn't just drained all her adrenaline bashing in his car window.

I love you, he whispers again. I love you. And she can't believe that she believes him.

June 2011

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