best friends

“Hey fat ass!”
“Come on tubbo.”

We were playing tag, and my friend from a couple years prior was “it.” I was safe atop the big toy. Everyone taunted whomever was it, trying to make them chase you. Getting chased. Outmaneuvering “it.” The fear of being tagged. It you weren’t the one being chased, it was just a game of standing around.

I remember being in Rusty’s backyard looking for worms. This was “the couple years prior.” When we were best friends. I don’t remember exactly why we were looking for worms. Some kind of school project. Fill a glass jar with dirt. Puncture hole in the lid with a nail. Collect worms. I remember having to get a certain number. Ten, I think it was. That was the assignment. Anybody can find a worm. Collect ten. That was our homework.

I was screaming at Rusty. Horrible, mean things. The game stopped when Rusty stopped chasing anyone. He just looked up at me and started to cry. Later, in the principal’s office, tears were still streaming down Rusty’s cheeks, and I could barely look at him. His face was red. Blotchy. I told the principal: it was all in good fun. I was joking, I said. It was part of the game. We were friends after all I told her. We dug through the dirt together looking for worms.

The meeting ended with an awkwardness on all sides. Do we hug? Were we still friends? We shook hands and went back to class.

"viva paranoia" by Brian McDonald
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