A man came to the high school and gave a speech about kids and guns but Sophie didn’t feel like hearing it. She went outside and lay in the middle of the football field in the light autumn drizzle. She watched the clouds go by. Three football players approached. “Hey, get off our fucking field,” one of them said—his name was Tom, he was the quarterback. “Shut up, that’s my girlfriend,” another said—that was Rick. Since Sophie’s father had died a month ago she’d been pretty numbed out and hadn’t been able to give Rick the attention he wanted, but he hung in there. “Oh, Sophie, Sophie, I love you, Sophie, I love your black makeup and black fingernails and black underpants,” Tom sang. “Shut up,” Rick said. Sophie moved to the bleachers and watched them throw the ball around and tackle each other in the mud. Rick was the smallest, worst thrower, slowest runner, most frequently tackled. She could see that each hit hurt him but he didn’t show it. Even before her dad, a police officer, had been shot and killed by a meth dealer, she knew she didn’t want a man like him for her own—one super-strong alpha male in her life was enough. Tom threw a long, beautiful pass and blew Sophie a kiss. When the rain came down hard he and the other boy ran inside. Sophie stood under the bleachers where it was dry. Rick came toward her with that sad look. She liked him and she couldn’t deal with him breaking up with her but she also didn’t know how to talk to him or anyone so she reached in and gave him a quick handjob, and watched his delicate, mudspattered mouth while she did, and took comfort in it. If he kept having that mouth, and if he quit football and took up the violin again, she thought she might be able to open her heart to him. She knew that was dumb though. You don’t love a guy if he does something. Sophie was so unready to be a woman that she wished high school would go on forever.
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