I crushed a lemon seed between my front teeth before we tied string around them, tied a knot around a doorknob, and slammed it shut. My teeth went flying— that’s what we wanted. Drool sloshed around my mouth, blood blooming from the gummy buds. This was the only way to grow up. The summer was full of chasing geese out of parking lots and forking hotdogs out of bowls of Kraft. We wanted to shed baby teeth as if it would crystalize us into adolescence. Ma scrubbed the floor boards clean that day, the scent of chemical pine mixed with July sweat. The house gulped our memories, and I learned things that summer that would grow up with me: I didn’t like grapefruit, clementines gave me stomach aches, and your parents left you alone too much. We butterfly swam in the public pool and Hubba Bubba was the only gum sweet enough. A Monday in August was the last day we spit sunflower shells into each other’s hands, and so I thought of you for many Augusts after, the calluses on my fingers on fire from clutching swing sets. Our cheeks raspberried behind the peach trees. The warmth of your palms, skin rough like a fresh scab. What I expected from a girl’s mouth I don’t know, but I dreamt of your melon chapstick every summer that gave me growing pains.
Shyla Jones is a Black writer from Boston, MA. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, Fractured Lit, perhappened mag, Eunoia Review, and others. Tell her your favorite Frank Ocean song on Twitter @imnotshyla.