Muhammad Ali This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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They’re walking.

It’s almost three in the afternoon, and he’s hot and exhausted and afraid she’s going to rip off his arm, the way she’s swinging on it, but they’re walking. Up until about 20 minutes ago, she was riding on his shoulders, but soon his scalp ached from the way she’d pull his hair to turn his head in the direction of that cute puppy, or that man with the funny mustache, or that pretty lady.

So he’d set her on her own feet and now they’re walking.

Suddenly, she pulls down on his arm, and he finds himself staring at the ground, bent over double. She’s crouched on the balls of her feet, her shiny hair cascading over her shoulders. She has a death-grip on his fingers.

“Hey, what’s the ma–” he starts to ask, but she’s standing in a flash, her little hand clamped over his mouth.

“Hush,” she commands in a grave whisper. She lets go of his face and points at something on the pavement. “You’ll scare it away.”

He looks at the spot she’s pointing at and sees a monarch butterfly perched on a daisy. Its autumn-colored wings flutter gently every so often. He kneels beside her, gazing at the bright astonishment in her eyes, the gap in her grin where she lost a tooth last week, the messy strands of hair that stick to her sweaty forehead.

His wallet is $15 lighter than it was this morning because of that sundress she wanted. She’s a terrible liar; she had insisted she didn’t want it, but he saw her eyes when she spotted it in the window, and she hadn’t stopped thanking him since he ducked in the clothing store to buy it. He had found himself surrounded by women, the only male creature in the area. Knowing he was burning scarlet, he grabbed the stupid dress (fortunately, it only came in one color), paid for it, and practically sprinted out the revolving door.

It really doesn’t matter, though, not even that he won’t be getting any more allowance until next month. He’s also half an hour late for soccer practice, and he forgot to set his VCR to tape that program he’s been waiting for all month, all because she said she was bored and wanted to get out of the house. He’s going to catch it from his coach tomorrow, and he doesn’t know when or if they’ll run that show again, but it really doesn’t matter, because he’s her “Muhammad Ali,” a nickname she’d affectionately bestowed upon him the previous year, when he’d joined the sophomore boxing team.

He has a throbbing headache, but when she’s finished looking at the butterfly, he swings her up onto his shoulders again, ignoring her fingers as they yank on his hair and the way her legs kick back and forth against his chest and the plastic bag with the dress inside that repeatedly bangs against the side of his face, because he’s her big brother, and nothing else matters.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Elizabeth J. said...
Mar. 20, 2009 at 1:38 am
Very good, the title is confusing but I like the story
 
lover-girl said...
Dec. 9, 2008 at 11:53 pm
Wow, that is some GREAT descriptive writing. This is worth publishing.
 
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