According to the Internet, he's smaller than average but he’s not sure how close to hold the ruler or if he has some more time to grow. He's well aware of all the black stereotypes and he gets the jokes from his new white friends - both boys and girls. And he doesn't want to believe what they say. But he does know that these kids can't run like kids did back home. Or play basketball. He's not being racist. After gym, in the locker room, Kevin asked if he was on the team at his school in the city, where he tries not to think about gym, where he got picked last and called Urkel because of the glasses he wore in middle school. He told mom he didn't like the glasses. He told her a lot of things before he had to move in with dad.
It's almost 5:00 and dad will be home soon and if it's like any other day they'll sit silently at the kitchen table and pretend there's no time to make up for. He'll think about how dad met mom, wonder when dad moved to the suburbs and why this house has three bedrooms. He'll think about the few years mom and dad were married. He’ll pretend to remember having both home at once.
He hears the automatic garage door open and pulls up his pants, zips. Washes hands. Puts the ruler away, sits at the kitchen table.
Marlin M. Jenkins was born and raised in Detroit, and he studied creative writing and Black studies at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. His work has been published by decomP, Squalorly, Black Heart Magazine, The Molotov Cocktail, and others. You can find him online at marlinmjenkins.tumblr.com and @Marlin_Poet.