Two boys sat quietly on a bed together, munching potato chips, lost in thought. JJ, the rambunctious, wild-haired-curly-one, jumped up; a sudden thought burst from his brain to his legs.
“Hey, J!” The quiet blond caught hold of the bowl of chips before they scattered all over the spread.
“Just ‘membered sumpin’.
JJ stood at the mirror and grinned. “See?” His front tooth hung crooked. “How ‘bout yours?”
Austin stood beside him and jiggled his tooth. “It’s close.”
“Ya gotta jerk it out or it’s gonna be too late.”
“Know what?” Austin asked.
“Sometimes I don’t think I oughta like you.”
JJ grinned into the mirror again while he pushed his tongue against the loose tooth. “You know you’ll always like me. We’re brothers. Almost, anyways.”
Austin took two fingers and pulled and pushed until tears fell from his eyes.
“Austy, ya ain’t crying, are ya? I’ll leave mine alone, k? It can wait.”
“No. It’s gotta be today.”
At that, they both sat down hard on their behinds and tears streamed down their faces. “Why you gotta move, Aus? It ain’t fair.”
“We gotta make it ‘ficial, us being brothers. K? I watched my brother do this one time, when he didn’t know I was there.”
JJ crawled over to his bed and pulled out a pocket knife.
Austin stammered. “Wwwhhhat you gonna do with that?”
“We gotta mix our blood. Then we’ll be real brothers.”
“You gonna chop off my finger?”
“Sure hope not. Just gonna share blood. Ya know? Poke a hole in my finger and in yours then smoosh ‘em t’gether. Ya ain’t scared, are ya?”
“I ain’t scared ‘less you are. Are ya, J?”
“You calling me J like I’m some kinda chicken, huh?”
“JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ” Austin squawked out J’s until they both fell over in laughter.
“Serious now, Aus. If you get me giggling, I just might cut off your whole dang finger, and it wouldn’t be my fault.”
“So…you cut me and I cut you?” Austin smiled sporting his newly crooked tooth poking out of his mouth.
Austin closed his eyes tight when the knife got close. Just as the blade touched his skin he yelled, “Wait!”
“What’s this for again?”
“I told ya. So we’ll be brothers forever. You know. For tertitty.”
“Titty? Last time you taught me one of your crazy words, I got my mouth washed out with soap.”
“If you say it right, you wouldn’t get in trouble. Tertitty. Ter-tit-ty. I learned it in church. It means forever. We’ll always be friends. Even when ya move away. Even when we both grow up and have ten kids of our own. Tertitty. Ya ready now?”
“Kids? That means we have to have a wife. Eww.”
“Ya sure ‘bout that? Ugh. Forget the kids. Even when we’re both playing pro baseball. Better?”
“Better. Titty. Okay. It gonna hurt?”
“Course it’s gonna hurt. Close your eyes.”
Austin jumped when the knife touched his skin and a little blood flowed.
“Hurry and do me before ya stop bleeding.”
They both had their eyes closed when Austin poked JJ’s skin.
“Okay. Now ‘peat after me. I, JJ.”
“No. You say, I, Austin.”
“Quit playing around. I, JJ.”
“Promise to be friends for tertitty.”
“Promise to be friends for titty.” Austin attempted to repeat, destined for a mouth washing.
Then they smooshed.
“Ewww…I have JJ blood. Betcha I get in lots more trouble now, even though I’ll be fifty miles away from ya.”
JJ punched him. “I’m gonna miss ya, Aus.” He swiped at his eyes. “Ya ready to try it again?”
“Yeah.” Austin gave a big yank and his tooth flew out.
JJ did the same. They stood together smiling with two less teeth between them. JJ pulled out the gorilla glue from his back pocket. “’Kay. Let’s see if this’ll work.”
Austin picked up his tooth and put a dab of glue on it and stuffed it into JJ’s empty spot in his mouth. JJ did the same for Austin. They smiled goofy six-year-old-smiles in the mirror; then put their arms around each other; sucked up tears; shook hands like men, and said together, “Tertitty.”
“JJ, I don’t care about forever, I just want right now.”
“Me, too, Aus.”
“Mom’s gonna notice my one yellow tooth of yours, JJ.”
“Forgot to brush today, Sorry.” JJ sniffed. “Gonna miss you bad, Aus. You’re my best friend.”
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