I am 12 years old.
Slightly older than most of my friends in school due to my September birthday, but still not old enough to say, “Well I’m older so,” to any of them. We’re all gathered in Melissa’s basement with the lights dimmed, sitting crosslegged in a circle hidden behind some aggressively 70’s couch. Her older sister was “watching” us but really, she was too busy going open-legged over her boyfriend to care what her sister and some other middle schoolers were doing at a birthday party.
Had she been paying attention instead of being hormonally 16, she would have found us spinning a bottle of Jones Soda in the middle of the circle. We had two hours until the boys were being sent home — the perfect amount of time to satiate some pre-teen curiosity between the chorus of various Michelle Branch songs and hushed giggles.
Kirsten is explaining to us how to play spin the bottle. She doesn’t like me. I never actually figured out why she harbored such an adamant hatred for me but I do remember it eventually culminating that year to her throwing a can of Diet Coke at my head on the bus. I never rode the bus again.
But that night, in the basement of a house across the street from a cemetery, Kirsten was challenging me in another way.
“You spin this pop bottle,” She explained, nonchalantly tossing her flat ironed blonde hair over her shoulder. “And then whatever boy it lands on you have to kiss.”
She locked eyes with me.
“Kendra. You go first.”