The F- It List

The F- It List by Julie Halpern Read Free Book Online

Book: The F- It List by Julie Halpern Read Free Book Online
Authors: Julie Halpern
know why I said that, except that I was worried I did look like shit. Then I felt guilty for worrying about how I looked when Becca was awaiting her fate. I wondered if I’d ever have a guiltless thought again.
    “Nah. You don’t look like shit. I only listen to Lamb of God when I hate someone. Or myself.” That’s when I noticed a basketball tucked under his arm.
    “You play basketball?” I asked with a hint of disgust in my voice. There was nothing less appealing to me than an ass-smacking member of a high school sports team.
    “If you mean I know how to manipulate a basketball, then yes. But I’m not on a team or anything.” His jacket smelled of stale cigarettes.
    “Well, that’s good. ’Cause I was about to ask you to leave if you said yes.”
    He smiled at me, a smile I’d never been that close to. His teeth weren’t perfect. They weren’t snaggletooth or stained, but his canine teeth stuck out a little farther than his front two. I chuckled to myself at the notion of him being a vampire, something Becca and I would have had a field day with.
    “You want to shoot with me?” For a quick second I thought he meant guns, but he held the basketball up with the invite.
    “Really?” I didn’t know if my apprehension was because I hated sports or I didn’t want to look stupid in front of him.
    “Yeah. It’s fun to play here because the baskets are so low. It makes me feel like a giant.”
    “You are a giant,” I noted.
    “Get out of the car already,” he commanded. I obeyed.
    This close, our height difference was noticeable. I had to look up to talk to him. I was glad it wasn’t the other way around because that would make me on constant booger alert.
    We walked together to the nearby basketball court, and he was right: It was kind of fun to feel superior to the baskets.
    “This almost makes me want to join a basketball team,” I told him as we lay down on a grassy berm for a rest. “Like, one for six-year-olds.”
    Leo laughed a small, inward laugh and pulled out a pack of cigarettes from his jacket pocket. He held the pack out to me as an offer. I hesitated. “When in Rome.” I shrugged. “Or an elementary school parking lot.”
    He put both cigarettes in his mouth, lighting them at the same time. He passed one over to me, and I held it between my fingers. I never imagined a cigarette would feel so light and insignificant. It seemed like such a constant crutch in so many lives, I thought it would have more substance to it. I gingerly held the cigarette up to my lips, as it had been to Leo’s, and took a tentative inhale. Then I coughed like the inexperienced asshole I was. “Damn. Why do you bother with this? My mouth tastes like I just sucked on a turd.”
    He laughed his quiet laugh again and said, “It gets better once you get used to it.”
    “That’s stupid. That’s like when someone tells you, ‘He seems like a prick at first, but he’s really nice once you get to know him.’ Why bother?”
    “I guess because it also gets addictive once you get used to it.”
    “What about”—I wished I didn’t say it—“cancer?”
    “It’s just death, man. Cancer or not, I’ll die.” He lay back into the grass and puffed smoke into the sky.
    I lay down next to him, my arm touching his jacket sleeve. I wondered if he could feel it. “I don’t want to talk about death right now,” I told him.
    “What do you want to talk about?”
    I kept the cigarette in my hand and tried flicking off the ashes as they burned in the wind. I didn’t smoke any more of it.
    “Did you go to school here?” I asked Leo.
    “No. We moved away before and after grade school. My older brother, Jason, went here, though.”
    “He’s in Afghanistan, right?” I asked, the not-so-subtle stalker.
    “How’d you know?” he asked. When I paused to answer, he continued, “I don’t want to talk about him right now.”
    “So what do you want to talk about?”
    “You like horror movies, right?” Smoke

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