She don’t know I’m alive, but she gone—she gone know.
Can’t win them all, Ephraim. That what life gone teach you. You win some, you lose some.
Shandreeka Jackson the most beautiful girl in the world. I know it true. She got skinny leg and arm but something bout her brown eyes special. Her hair shine in the sun like Uncle Donald fresh-waxed Mustang, all-black shiny and grab the light. I watch her all day, every day, watch her from my desk in classroom corner, watch her jump rope now from the playground edge. All the girls jumping rope but Shandreeka best. Black balls in her hair bounce as she hit them steps. She don’t know I’m alive, but she gone—she gone know.
Lashawn lean back on the wall, wipe his face cause it hot, and say I lost my mind as we watch Shandreeka hit them jumps clean and easy. “Girl can move,” he say. “But she go with one big bad seventh-grade boy name Pipe who been ‘rested twice.” He pause and look right at me. “Twice,” he say holding up two fingers, an…