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Surrender

by Dan Schultz

Tiffany Sweetwood

(if you can believe a name like that)

had a big head and long, long legs.

She was tall

and always in shorts.

Her legs went up and up,

and my eyes followed further

into the shadows

receding inside of her

striped, terry-cloth shorts

as she ascended further up the climbing rope

and away

from me

in my triple rolled, husky-sized jeans,

as I hung limp on the knot

at the bottom of the other rope.

And my balls ached

and my round cheeks reddened

when Tiffany took the Wrigley's from her mouth

and reached out toward

the mint green glob of fossilized fresh breath

that hung like a cloud

underneath the mint green rafter

of the gymnasium.

Then Mr. Bainbridge took the cap off of his green marker,

and making a mark on his clipboard,

noted and asked in one breath, "Tiffany-ten-points—Drumheller?"

And as he peered over his clipboard

His face fell

as if in the middle of asking, 'What is that smell?'

his eyes were already turning downward

as his sneaker was turning over.

Then he uncapped the red marker.

And the only sound was the sound of Tiffany's feet

hitting the blue wrestling mat

as she dismounted the rope higher

than I could climb.

Then there was the time

Tiffany caught John McKee's supposedly uncatchable stinger.

Mr. Bainbridge lifted the needle on the record

that played the music to her victory dance

when he pointed out that she had not quite won the game of dodgeball

as I had been overlooked

having stood immobile

close to the sidelines, chatting with Zach Rexrode, throughout the game.

Swallowing, I stepped out into the open space

of the gym and openly gazed at Tiffany,

because I had to

and because I was allowed to.

In front of the shuttered cafeteria window,

she stood across from me,

poised, knees bent,

legs spread shoulder width,

sizing me up.

It may have been the longest I had ever held her attention.

Then I blinked,

and felt her

touch

for the first

and only time

through the basketweave pattern of rubber.


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