an evening on the village green
It’s a surprisingly warm evening and as I dare to sit on the war memorial bench, I take in the scenes of the after-supper goings-on. This green is a real teenage hangout. I count four distinct bunches of kids high school age, perched on the benches in every position except sitting down. Half of them are wearing athletic jackets. The conversations are about football, Homecoming Day (which is Sunday), some actress who just had a controversial wedding, the new vegetarian cooking class at the school, whether the current principal, now in his 60’s, will retire, and a car accident some old woman was in yesterday, she’s in the hospital but fortunately is recovering.
Sukie is here, of course, and as usual is dominating the conversation. She’s next to a girl who’s dressed in stereotypical lesbian clothes -- flannel shirt, corduroys, army boots. To my surprise they’re holding hands! Then they separate, as Sukie does some kind of gesticulating. She’s explaining something to a boy in a football jacket, and his friend in the red sweatshirt. Another girl, sitting on top of the back of the bench, is listening. Now Sukie holds hands with the football jacket boy, swings his arm back and forth. Now she lets go. It’s just something she does.
A loud laugh and for some reason Sukie runs off and the boy chases him. Others look. It’s all in fun. Sukie’s quick on her bare feet, bolting across the green, circling around the perimeter, now veering back. The boy is gaining on her, or maybe she’s letting him. At the last moment she scampers up the trunk of an elm tree and grabs branch to branch, scaling the branches like a cat on her tough hands and feet. I have to laugh -- she’s so skilled at tree climbing, as if it’s something she practices every day. Maybe being naked all the time makes it easy to do. Now they have a jokey conversation, him on the ground looking up at her. As she talks down to him her arms are braced against a branch over her head, and below, her toes are clutching branches that are widely spread. Her legs are almost a ballet dancer’s split; he must be able to look right up inside her. But he’s clearly talking to her face. She jumps down onto the grass, breasts bouncing in front of him, not that he notices, and they stroll back to their bench. I can’t make out what they’re saying.
Someone mentions “play practice”. Sukie and the boy in the red sweatshirt say goodbye and walk toward the high school.