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NO PERMANENT BAD THING / Kim Edwards ONE THING I KNOW for true: I want to touch him. I push my hands into my pockets, fists against my hipbones, so they do not move to feel his arm, his back, rub the nape of his neck. I look at him for too long, and when he sees me, I look away, but not before I see him smile. We are standing under the bridge at Damascus. This is not the bridge whispered about by the grade nine cheerleaders in third period biology, where they come to rumple their clothes and moan and frustrate themselves and their boyfriends. This is the other bridge, the bridge by the old train bridge, the bridge where he comes with my brother and their crew, and they light fires and talk and act stupidly and take off their clothes and sail out onto the river in the rowboat that they dock in the bushes when they leave. We are standing by the place where the ridge comes into the ground. Because I need to touch something, I turn to the cement and put my fingers where my brother has spray painted his name in big red letters, and just off to the side, I see another name, his. I turn to see if he is watching what I do, and when I see that he is not, I touch the name, painted small and concentrated. I feel the letters with my fingertips, I stroke them slowly, each one by itself, alone. I write over them with my finger, then I push my palm hard against them. I push them flat into the concrete, to make sure they will stay. This is a place for boys, and I should maybe not be here. This is a boy place where boys sometimes bring girls and get the girls naked and make the girls laugh, and I am maybe too young to be here; this is only the second summer I have given any real thought to sex. I am thinking about it now, but in my loose shorts, T-shirt and high-tops, I may not be dressed right for mating purposes. I have not curled my hair or applied make-up, and there is a scab on my knee where I cut myself shaving. I know why I want to be here. I want to be here with him, to kiss him and touch him and let him touch me. I want to listen to him talk and tell me all his secrets and hear him say my name sweet-like, and he would reaUze that I am more than just good at shooting hoops and being a smartass, that I am . . . more. I 222 ยท The Missouri Review know why I am here: I am here because of the paint. He says he has some painting to do at the bridge, and I say that dad has some paint left over from when he and my brother painted the house earlier in the summer and he is welcome to it. So, I give him the paint, and he brings me to the bridge. Johnny says, The water's low, we could walk out, but let's get the boat. I say, okay. I hold the can of paint while he drags the boat from the bushes. Johnny pulls the boat to the water. We load the boat with the paint, a roller pan, a paint roller and an extension handle, along with a six pack of cola, all of which we have taken from the bed of Johnny's Isuzu pickup. I step in and Johnny pushes off. He picks a blanket up from the floor of the boat. I know it's from my mother's hall closet, brought here by my brother. Simon's contribution to romance on the river, says Johnny. He smiles, a white-tooth smile that I see real good because of the full, big, white, whole moon pushing light from the sky down on the river and shining back up again, big whole moon smiling pretty at its own reflection and making soft light for Johnny and me. We're going...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 122-131
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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