She was taller than me. The way she walked, I could tell she felt awkward about it.
‘What rides do you like?’ I asked. It was a dumb question. It made my backpack feel heavy.
‘The fast ones,’ she said. She had to tilt her head down when she said it.
The place smelled like livestock. We were kicking up dust as we walked. The crowd was making it hard to have a conversation and the sun was wrong. Its yellow was a shade past romantic and I felt too young.
I was fourteen, same age as her.
‘I heard a kid died on the Exterminator last year.’ I said. ‘The safety bar was busted, and the kid was thrown out. Landed in the middle of the dodgems.’
‘I don’t think that happened,’ she said.
She wore her jacket with the sleeves tied around her waist. She told me one time her grandmother had made it. I’d never seen her wear it like a jacket.
The way I asked her out was I wrote the question on a small piece of paper. I had to borrow a sharpener because my pencil was too blunt to write small enough. I unwrapped a Mintie and rolled the lolly up in the note, then re-wrapped it.
It was lunchtime when I gave it to her. She was sitting with her friends near the toilets. I didn’t really give it to her; I threw it at her and walked away. Casual-like. She didn’t open it right away. I know because I watched through the window of the science lab. Her friends were all talking, probably asking about it.
She waited. When the bell went, she went into the bathroom and I think that’s where she read it.
‘Will you try to kiss me at the end of the night?’ she asked, when we were walking past the food trucks. It still smelled like livestock, but there was a little grass to sit on.
I didn’t know what to say. ‘Would you kiss me back?’ I asked.
‘Maybe,’ she said. ‘Are you romantic?’
‘I think so.’
‘Are you going to do something romantic?’
Kids were lining up outside the science lab when she came out of the bathroom. I had Maths in the classroom next door. I pushed out into the other kids, and found a place at the back of the line. She was heading to the stairs at the other end of the building when she saw me.
‘Hey,’ she said.
‘Um,’ I said.
‘My parents don’t want me going out with any boys.’
‘But I’ll just lie to them. They wouldn’t like me going out with a butcher’s son anyway. They’re vegetarians.’
‘Are you -‘
‘At home,’ she said. ‘I like meat though.’
This is what I told her when she asked if I was going to do something romantic: ‘I got you something, and I think it’s the most romantic thing you’ll ever get.’
‘What is it?’
I put my backpack on the grass, sat down next to it and pulled out a package a little bigger than a loaf of bread. It was a cold thing, wrapped in butcher’s paper.
‘This is for you,’ I said.
It was heavy, and she had to put it on the ground when she unwrapped it.
‘Is it a pig’s?’ she asked.
‘Nah,’ I said. ‘A pig’s heart is a lot smaller. That’s a cow heart.’
The note I wrote was stuck to the side of it. I used a texta instead of a pencil this time. Good thing too, because the cow’s heart had made the paper a little damp
She peeled it off, and read it.
Her lips didn’t move, and I liked that.
‘You’re weird,’ she said.
‘If you don’t like that one, I’ve got a few others,’ I said.
I pulled the flaps of my bag open so she could look into it.
‘How many are there?’
‘A sheep’s,’ I said. ‘And a pig’s. A chicken’s, a rabbit’s, a kangaroo’s.’
‘Do they all have different notes?’ she asked.
‘They all say the same thing,’ I said.
She wasn’t taller than me when we were sitting. The way she kissed me, I could tell she didn’t feel awkward about it.