Today's Reading

Even though TJ couldn't hold a note—that definitely wasn't his talent—he could hold a conversation. So he continued. "God making man from dust and blowing breath into his nostrils and all that, right?"

"I... guess."

"You think God breath stank?"


"Never mind. Probably not." TJ got himself back on track. "So, if God made man from dust, and now, for some reason, man—"

"And woman," Jasmine tacked on.

"Yeah, and woman... consist of mostly water, then basically, we water and dust, right?" TJ was waving his hands around like he was drawing some grand equation on an invisible board. Jasmine didn't say nothing, and she didn't need to for TJ to bring his theory home. "Which means... ," TJ concluded, and Jasmine could practically see the drumroll behind his eyes, "we all basically... boogers."

TJ wore satisfaction on his face like good lotion, and Jasmine wore confusion on hers like she'd been slapped with a gluey palm.

"Wrong," she clapped back.

"You ain't gotta believe me," TJ said, holding the door for Jasmine as they finally made it out of the building.

"Oh, I don't."

"You don't have to," TJ repeated. "But that don't mean it ain't true. See, no matter what you think I be doing in school, I really be learning. And seriously, I need to start teaching because while all these so-called scientists and teachers like Mr. Fantana be busy trying to figure out if aliens are real, I've already figured out that boogers are like... the babiest form of babies!"

This made Jasmine spit air. See, even though TJ was ridiculous and annoying and sometimes gross, she appreciated the fact that he always made her laugh whether she wanted to or not. Whether he was trying to or not. He was always there to chip some of the hard off. Tear at the toughness Jasmine had built up over the school year.

It had been a rough one for her.

It started with her parents separating and her father moving out. There was no drama around it. No fighting. Nothing ugly. Nothing like the movies. At least not that she knew of. Just a really uncomfortable conversation at the kitchen table with her folks looking at her like she was an exotic fish in a sandwich bag, darting back and forth, while she squirmed in her seat as if her skin were too tight for her body.

"We love you very much."

"It's not your fault."

"Sometimes relationships change."

"Sometimes people are better apart."

"None of this is your fault."

"Your father and I love you very much."

"Your mother and I love you very much."

Actually, that part was just like the movies. Especially the ones about girls her age. The kitchen-table conference. The follow-up knock-knock on the bedroom door. The kid cussing at the dad. The mom saying, "Language!" The weekend visits. The awkwardness of both parents asking if everything is all right, over and over and over and over and over and over again.

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