We’re at my grandparents’ house and I’m in the back bedroom logging into my grandfather’s AOL account to talk to boys in regional chatrooms. It’s a joke now how slow a modem took to connect, but even then his seemed especially so. I’d click “sign in” and spend what felt like ten minutes snooping through his dusty stuff. The blinds aren’t drawn, but they feel that way.
His dresser has dried Palm Sunday fronds folded into crucifixes, a portrait of Pope John Paul II, a ceramic statue of child Jesus with a halo. The desk drawer by my right knee is where he keeps his candy stash. It’s usually Fireballs and those dry caramels with cream in the middle. Sometimes I steal some and hide the wrappers under the trash that’s already in the can, other times the modem’s fast.
The boys and I talk about school and sports, mostly. One time I tell some 13/m/cali or 12/m/boston that my thing is off-road rollerblading. I am eleven and the lie makes me feel attractive. And sometimes, after I leave, they IM him. They’ll try to follow up about rollerblading or how his math test went. He calls my mother and I get in trouble, but I don’t stop chatting. I get sneakier.