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Tiffany’s Momma gave her $5 for helping weed the flowerbeds. Tiffany said she would buy me a pushup pop at 7-11 but not to tell her Mom that she pulled out two pansies on accident ‘cause she thought they were weeds. Tiffany’s Mom is so nice. She lets us play restaurant with her real china from the cabinet and pour Sprite in the wine glasses.

My mom would have a fit. My mom makes us play in the carport with paper plates and Saltines.

Tiffany called for me at my house on her bike. She wanted to ride bikes to the 7-11. I asked my Mom to carry us up there in the car but she said no, she had a sick headache and exercise was good for us. She made me put sunblock lotion up on my arms and on my face. Tiffany said ha ha she never has to wear sunscreen because her skin is black.

I told her not to brag at me.

Tiffany promised to go slow because I’ve only had my training wheels off for two weeks, and plus she’s older and her legs are longer. Her bike is more big kid than my bike but that’s OK. She doesn’t have a basket. I said we could carry the $5 up to the store in my basket but my Mom said the money might could fly out so Tiffany better keep it tucked in her pocket. I said OK. We had to promise to walk the bikes across the road at the red light and come straight back after we ate up our treats.

It was hot.

Tiffany had to do gears on her bike to get up the hill by the Color Tile store and I had to stand on the pedals but we made it up. We rode over to the 7-11. I almost crashed the side of the wall with my tire but I stopped in time. My Keds had dirt on the toes from dragging my feet to stop. We leaned up our bikes and went in. The bell dinged.

It smelled like cola Slurpee and Red Man Chew inside the store but it felt cool. There wasn’t anybody inside but us and the man at the counter. Me and Tiffany looked at the candy. I thought I might could get a Ring Pop or some candy cigarettes instead of the Pushup Pop but then I changed my mind back. The man from the counter kept walking over by us, getting in the way of us picking. Tiffany wanted Sprees, but we couldn’t find them.

We looked at the magazines. I wanted to buy Bop for John Taylor on the cover from Duran Duran, which was a music band my big cousin told me about but Tiffany said we wouldn’t have enough to get our ice creams if we bought that too.

We went to the freezer. The man from the counter came over and started fixing up the milk on the shelves. Tiffany couldn’t decide. I breathed my breath on the glass and made a smiley face with my finger. She got a Mickey Mouse ice cream bar but then she put it back and got a Rocket Pop which has the colors of America. I got my Pushup Pop.

Tiffany gave the $5 to the man behind the counter and she got her change back. We decided those things would sure melt if we rode all the way home so we were going to eat them first thing. We sat up on the curb and unwrapped them. The concrete was hot under my bluejeans shorts.

Tiffany bit off part of the red. I pushed up my pop so the lid came off and I licked it. The sun was right behind our heads and that was making it hard to see real good. My shoe was untied. I made Tiffany hold my pop so I could tie it up.

The red started to run down the back of her hand and she licked it. We didn’t have no napkins.

Tiffany said did you see that man in the store. I said yeah. She said he always be following me around when I come in there. There was a ant was crawling on my Pushup Pop lid and I squished it. She had finished the red part now and was down to the white.

I said what do you mean. She said he follows me around the store any time I come in here to buy stuff. I pushed up on the straw. It was getting melty. Why is he doing that, I said. I held mine out for her to have a lick. She licked it. My behind was really hot on the concrete.

Because I’m black, she said. I said, so? She said he thinks I’ll steal. I thought on that. She was almost down to the blue.

He thinks you’re gonna steal candy just ‘cause you’re black, I said. She said yeah. She said does he follow you around every time when you go in there? I said no. See, she said. Told you.

Tiffany knows about some stuff I don’t.

My head felt mean. The back of my neck was sweaty. I was down to the plastic on my Pushup Pop. I squinted and made the corners of my eyes glittery orange and red. That’s not fair, I said.

Tiffany shrugged. He’s just prejudiced, she said. There’s nothing you can do.

I got up. My backs of my legs itched. You don’t steal, I said. You never do bad stuff. You’re my friend. Tiffany stood up too. She took our trash over to the can and threw it in. She wiped her hands on her shorts so I did too.

I felt like I wanted to go in and tell that man something but I didn’t know what. I felt like I wanted to cuss him out. I tried to think would my mom be mad at me if I did that? He was a grownup.

Tiffany picked up her bike. Come on let’s go, she said. We got back on our bikes and started to ride. We sang shimmy shimmy cocoa puff, shimmy shimmy wow. At the hill we coasted and did no hands on the way down. But after a minute I snuck one hand back on the handlebar without her seeing. It’s OK to do that if you need to. I have only had my training wheels off for two weeks.

Jessica Dunton Fidalgo

Jessica is a former stage actor who now has a real paycheck, health care and 2 strapping Yankee kiddoes. She’s lived in NYC, Chicago, and DC but prefers a Maine crabcake above any other.

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