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You're Short

“You’re short.”

The words slide from your lips, as you gaze down at me with your clear, fathomless dark blue eyes. Those two words swirl through my brain, taking it along a new track, remembering how we met…


It was second grade. I was standing on the playground, staring forlornly at the monkey bars I was unable to reach and holding back small, childish tears. Then you walked up. My first thought was : If he were any taller, he’d block out the sun. Of course, you weren’t that tall. But compared to my measly three foot eight inches, it seemed that way.

For a few seconds you’d just looked at me, your eyes flicking between my sad form and the unreachable monkey bars. Then, as second graders often do, you said the first thing that came to your mind.

“You’re short.”

I’d scowled, and walked off in a huff. Like I needed someone to tell me that! However, I hadn’t gone more than a few steps before your hand clamped around my arm. Despite my protests, you retained your hold on me, dragging me toward the monkey bars, surprisingly strong for an eight year old. When we reached them, you lifted me up and made sure my hands were firmly curled around the cool metal bar before letting go.

Incredulous, I swung across, using my momentum to do what height could not. I reached the last bar and dropped, not waiting for you to come and help me. A second later you were standing there. Looking at me.

“Thanks,” I mumbled, glancing down at my wiggling, sandal-encased toes. You didn’t reply. You just smiled.

It became a tradition. Every day, for the next two years, you would lift me up to the monkey bars. I would drop by myself. Then we would sit, most of the time in companionable silence, but after a while, you started talking.

You told me about your life. Your dad left you when you were four. Your mom was often drunk, and in differing states of depression. You were the oldest of three, and taking care of the little ones fell to you.

I never said it, but I guessed that this was why you were so much different from the other kids our age. More quiet. More mature. I didn’t mind that.

In return, I told you about my life, though I was almost embarrassed to do so. It felt wrong to be telling you about the nice, normal, good life I led after what you’d told me of yours. But I still told you. I told you about my happily married parents, my older sister who was closer to me than anyone I knew, our clean, average, cookie-cutter house. Everything seemed incredibly dull, yet you drank it in as if it were the most interesting thing you’d ever heard.

Life progressed. By the middle of fourth grade, I was able to reach the monkey bars. But I didn’t tell you, afraid that you might stop lifting me up. I think you noticed—but if you did, you never said.

When sixth grade came there was no more recess. But that didn’t stop us. We still talked, and every day after school we would rush to the playground a mile away—and you would help me onto the monkey bars.

Our friendship slowly changed. When we spoke, or when you touched me to lift me up, I suddenly felt nervous and light-headed. I began feeling awkward and unsure around you. I didn’t understand what was happening.

It’s eighth grade now. The last dance of the year. Imagine my surprise when you asked me to it…


I was pulled back into the present. Your hands, soft and gentle, circled my beribboned waist. Mine were clutched tightly around your neck. Your face was so close, I could feel your sweet breath brushing my cheeks.

“You’re short.”

“Thanks, I had no idea.”



Join the Discussion


This article has 41 comments. Post your own!

A.Dreamer said...
Aug. 23, 2010 at 7:51 pm:
I loved it! :) It was so adorable, and I like how him just helping ended up being a close friendship and what looks like the beginning of a relationship. Good job!
 
ItWasAMurderButNotACrime This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 23, 2010 at 8:02 pm :
Haha thanks:D
 
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-Missy- said...
Aug. 22, 2010 at 11:30 am:
This is a great story! Cute and sweet. Good job with it, I really liked it.
 
ItWasAMurderButNotACrime This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 22, 2010 at 11:39 am :
Thank you! :D
 
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ArtemisOwlfeather said...
Aug. 18, 2010 at 2:13 pm:

This is simply awesome. My thought process after reading it: Awwthat'ssocuteandsweetohwaitI

shouldn'tsaythati'llgetarrestedloveitloveitlovett

yaysweeneytoddmeatpiesyum!

 
gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 19, 2010 at 7:23 am :
Haha thanks! Interesting thought process:D
 
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avantgarde said...
Aug. 18, 2010 at 11:19 am:
This is such a wonderful piece of fiction! You get what, six years, into this page of beautifully written prose. Great imagery and story telling! Good job :)
 
gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 19, 2010 at 7:22 am :
Thank you so much!
 
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JohnWallOfTheWizards said...
Aug. 17, 2010 at 7:44 pm:
Man I'm going to have to go to man jail for saying this but that was a "sweet" story. words like "cute" perfectly describe it. -nods head- okay just cuff me already
 
gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 17, 2010 at 7:48 pm :

You have the right to remain silent, everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law...

 

Lol thanks. Don't worry that's the description most people are going with.

 
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Stormythrone said...
Aug. 17, 2010 at 4:45 pm:
Oh wow.. this is just amazing. I love how you started and ended it. Its something cliche'd but, I think you were able to pull it off with flying colors without it being borring. Loved it, Keep writing!
 
gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 17, 2010 at 4:56 pm :
Thank you so much! I know it's cliched, but I hoped to put an original spin on it.
 
Stormythrone replied...
Aug. 17, 2010 at 5:00 pm :
Oh, you did. It was great :)
 
gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 17, 2010 at 5:03 pm :
Thanks:D That's nice to hear.
 
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JessieBecker said...
Aug. 16, 2010 at 9:21 pm:

you think you can check out my new short story?

ps. this is really cute(: I loved it♥

 
gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 17, 2010 at 7:44 am :
Thanks! Of course:D
 
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Lovely_Lauren said...
Aug. 16, 2010 at 5:58 pm:
This is so cute. I love it! (:
 
gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 16, 2010 at 6:12 pm :
Thanks:D      
 
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MayaElyashiv This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 16, 2010 at 9:47 am:

The story line is kinda cliche, but as I like to tell people, in writing the subject is not what always matters. It's the way you present the subject. And for most of the piece, you did manage to weave the chiche topic with your own original threads. However, you lost it in the last two paragraphs. 

Additionally, the sentence, "Imagine my surprise when you asked me to it..." isn't grammatically correct (you ended it with a preposition). 

To summarize (because I can't s... (more »)

 
gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 16, 2010 at 10:03 am :

Thanks:D I appreicate the constructive criticism.

 

For the grammar thing, some grammar stuff isn't always used in writing--for instance I use fragments all the time.

 
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