Somewhere, Val suspects, there may be boys who admire her bamboo limbs but out in Red Hook everyone goes for June's generous shape, her elastic breasts and rear that she seems to resculpt every night, giving the neighborhood something fresh to look at. Even her wavy brown hair appears mischievous in the way it curls and bounces. Val's hair, an unremarkable straw color, strikes her as lacking in enthusiasm.
Val knows that time is short for kids' stuff. When school starts, they'll be expected to turn up at parties, looking on-point, made up and polished. But sometimes Val can't restrain her silliness. After being cooped up in that day care, she wants to be naughty. Not that in-your-face naughtiness of scoring a bottle of something sweet and alcoholic or sneaking a cigarette. What she's after is a prankish secret the girls can share someday when they are on some guy's couch tipsy or even high.
The window is open wide. June's positioned herself near it and hops to her feet each time she hears footsteps. She stretches out her arms, grasping either side of the window frame.
"I'm gonna get my groove on tonight," she says loud enough for anyone passing to hear. "I'm gonna turn it up." She rotates her hips and thrusts her chest forward. Her shorts strain at the seams. Val worries that if June arches her back another inch, the whole package is going to burst. "I'm going to show them how it's done," she says.
Something about June's posture reminds Val of a bag of microwave popcorn. She falls back on her bed, her laughter pouring out into the street.
"Baby," June says. "You laugh like a baby." She leaves the window, flops down on the bed, but keeps her distance from Val. She checks her nails and pulls out her phone. "Let's do something."
"We could camp out on the roof," Val says.
June does not look up.
"Or watch a movie."
"You want the world thinking we're babies forever."
"There's nothing wrong with movies."
June stands up. "I'm getting us a drink."
Five minutes later June returns with a half-empty bottle of alcoholic lemonade. "Did you pick up someone's empty?" Val says. "I drank half on my way up."
"We could take the raft out," Val says. "It's something."
June finishes the drink. "You have some stupid ideas."
"Your only idea was stealing a half-empty bottle from my sister."
"Just get the goddamned raft," June says. She tilts her head upward, tosses her hair, exhales an invisible cigarette.
"Don't be such a bitch," Val says.
The rubber raft was a gift from a crew of older guys who'd taunted and teased them, and finally made a play for the girls at the pool last weekend. What they wanted with a hot pink rubber raft Val and June didn't know but they took their prize. Tonight, hot and stir-crazy, Val decides what the raft is for. Take a float in the bay, cool off, see what's what from the water.
Excerpted from Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda. Copyright © 2013 by Ivy Pochoda. Excerpted by permission of Dennis Lehane Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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