Friday, March 23, 2018

Page 1626

After that, Parson made a habit of avoiding Damian whenever he saw him. He was a timid boy, Parson, and Damian was older by almost a year.

Then Parson met another boy who lived in the village, one whom he had seen around a few times but never learned the name of until their mothers forced them to play together.

The boy’s mother said his name was Jonah, and he even answered to it when she called for him. Yet, when Parson was alone with him, the boy suddenly started acting otherwise.

“Don’t call me that!” he said, hanging from a tree branch like a monkey.

Parson was confused. “Don’t call you what?”

“Jonah! My name’s not Jonah!”

“Then why did your mother--?”

“Shut up! She’s stupid! She doesn’t know anything!”

Parson didn’t believe him, but he decided to play along. “Alright, so what’s your ‘real’ name, then?”

Jonah hopped down from the tree and landed with showy toughness. “My real name is Parson.”

Parson’s face scrunched up. “What?! No, it isn’t!”

“Yeah, it is!”

“Nuh-uh! You’re a liar!”

“No, I’m not! My name’s Parson! You have to call me that from now on!”

“No, I don’t! Liar!”

“Yeah, you do! That’s how names work, idiot!”

That was it. “Oh yeah?! Maybe I’ll tell your mom that you said she was stupid!”

“What?!” That seemed to rattle him. “You better not!”

“Or what, huh?!”

“Or--! Or I’ll tell everyone your stupid dog bit me, too! Then you’ll be sorry!”

So Parson punched him.

Then Jonah punched him back.

It was the first fight Parson ever got into. It really hurt.

When both boys returned with black eyes and ripped clothes, their mothers were indignant. Parson got ten whips with father’s old belt. His mother didn’t seem to have any trouble carrying out the sentence in the man’s absence, nor did she care to listen to his claims that Jonah had it coming.

When he saw Jonah the next day, though, the boy seemed different.

“I’m sorry for what I said before.” Jonah’s eyes were at his feet.

Parson checked to make sure the coast was clear, wondering if his mother was putting him up to this.

Oh. Yep. There she was in the window, watching them.

Better put on a good show for her, then. “Don’t worry about it,” said Parson, and he stuck his hand out to shake on it. “I’m sorry, too.”

Jonah took the handshake with a big smile.


It was only supposed to be for pretend, but as they continued to spend more time together, it became clear that Jonah didn’t realize that. The little jerk actually took the words to heart.

Well, that was fine, Parson supposed. He still didn’t like Jonah very much, but it was better than another spanking.

And they became friends. More or less.

“My name really isn’t Jonah, though.”

Parson rolled his eyes. “So what is it, then?”

“It’s Peter. You have to call me Peter from now on.”

“Ugh. Fine. You’re Peter now.”

“Yes! Thanks, Parson!”


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