Rock, Paper, Scissors
By Amber Counts
I can’t believe I lost rock-paper-scissors. It’s not really fair anyway because I don’t know how to play. Jenny learned from her older brother. She must know some secret I don’t. The game can’t be as simple as that, can it? It’s so hot outside. Cooling off in the creek seemed like a good idea, but walking home to get us some water – the result of losing the bet – my jeans are plastered to my legs in an uncomfortable way, chafing as I walk uphill towards my apartment. Sloshing waist-deep in water all day looking for crawfish and pretty rocks, but not being able to drink the water, is really inconvenient. Though we usually only think to go back home when the apartment lights come on, our thirst cannot wait on this muggy August evening.
Opening the door to my squalid apartment, the air-conditioning hits me full-force. My stiff jeans become icy cocoons, and my bare arms erupt in goosebumps. A short time ago, I was miserably hot, but now I am uncomfortably cold. I open the kitchen cabinet, looking for the plastic cups to safely carry tepid yet refreshing tap water to Jenny, but there are none. Sighing, I begin to wash the dirty cups left on the counter from the previous night’s dinner.
“It figures,” I think. Not only did I have to trek all the way back to the apartment to get water while Jenny gets to wade through the creek, but I also have to clean the cups first. I really need to learn how to win rock-paper-scissors, I think. With the cups clean and full of tap water, I begin the walk back to the creek.
The hot air hits me immediately as I leave my apartment. I hear my grandma’s voice in my head, telling me that these abrupt changes in temperature cannot be good for me. My jeans stay cold almost all the way to the creek, though I feel the dampness beginning to evaporate as my jeans are already lighter than when I left the creek earlier.
Immediately, I know something is wrong, though I am not sure what. Jenny is scrambling up the bank of the creek holding onto her clothes and wearing only panties, mud smears all over her shoulders, legs, and face. On the other side of the creek, I see a man running the opposite way.
“What’s wrong, Jenny?”
She doesn’t answer.
“Are you hurt?”
She still doesn’t respond, and my panic increases.
“Did that man do something?”
Jenny is silent. She half-runs, half-staggers toward her apartment, and I follow. Jenny stops outside her door, shaking. I’m not sure if she’s cold or scared, and I don’t know what to say to make her feel better. The silence between us is palpable as I still cling feebly to the cups of water. After what seems like an eternity, I’m knocking on the door. Jenny’s mom opens the door and immediately pulls her daughter in, screaming words I can’t quite make sense of.
I make my way home and place the water next to the sink. I do not yet have a name for what has happened to my friend, but I instinctively know that it is terrible.
If only I had won rock-paper-scissors, she would be okay.