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Jenny and I were in the playground after school. The blacktop basketball court across which we walked was so swollen with the bumps and craters of disintegrating asphalt that no one ever dribbled a ball on it for as long as I had lived. She was the very first girl that I thought I had a chance of kissing, and I thought she sensed it too: this chance that maybe something miraculous would happen between us. Several times, she teetered into me, bumping shoulders.
During seventh grade Earth Sciences, Jenny would catch me ogling her. Our teacher had heaped rocks on our desks for us to identify—igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic—and it was across this temporary landscape that I thought I could feel her blush—yet she was guilty of it too, staring at me, and it unnerved me how long she can hold her gaze. During lunch, guys at my table talked about the weekend football games we watched on TV but, so agonizingly conscious was I of her slightest glances, that I could barely concentrate on the peanut butter sandwiches I pulled from my brownbag lunch. Sometimes I thought I was imagining it: the shared stares and how we gravitated into each other between classes at least twice a day. She was the tallest girl in our class, taller than I was, and certainly she was capable of bouncing into people in the hallways without it meaning anything.