THE school’s best hangout is at the western boundary tree line. It’s between the oval, and the town cemetery. At lunch I sit there with my new girlfriend and her friends.
Tahlia’s friend’s boyfriend’s name is Jaime. He’s a sports fanatic and talks to me about baseball.
“And at first base we have holding hands,” Jaime said. “So you’re already there. But Kim, Kim and I are at second base.”
“What’s second base?”
He gestures at me. Take a walk. Just us men.
Casually we step away. “Second base,” he said, “is kissing.” We watch the soccer ball fly past us, tensing forward a moment until we remember we’re spoken for. We can’t play.
We have to spend our lunches with our girlfriends, otherwise everyone in school knows the relationship is “on the rocks”. Once that happens everyone starts talking about it and you learn through Chinese whispers that you’re going to be dumped. Which means you have to dump her first.
“Yup. That’s okay, you’ll get there one day.”
“What’s third base?”
“Huh?” The question confuses him.
“What do you get to do on that base?”
He considers the question. “I think you touch her boobs.”
“What about fourth base?”
“There’s only three bases.”
At dinner I tell my fake-family that I’m playing baseball now.
“What?” my foster mother Hazel said.
“I’ve got a girlfriend.”
“What’s her name?”
“Um. I think it’s Connor.”
My grown-up foster brother Joe shovels peas in his mouth. “Isn’t there a Connor who runs the butchery in town?”
Hazel said, “is your girlfriend the butcher’s daughter?”
I have no idea. “Yes.”
“Cool,” Joe said. “Now we’ll get free meat,” and laughs along with everyone else.
I laugh too. But I don’t get it.