There was a boy named Meredith and a girl named Hunter. They were best friends and they were eight years old. They were always together. When people met them for the first time, they always asked, “Who’s Meredith? And who’s Hunter?” Meredith really liked being a boy with a unique name: his friends called him Dodo (which supposedly is short for Dith in Meredith). Hunter really liked being a tomboy: she loved it that teachers taking roll-call on the first day of class always expected her to be a boy. Hunter could run faster than most boys and could lift heavier items than most boys. Meredith was an exception.

They had been best friends for a long time, and Hunter was very competitive. If she had an idea for a race or a tree climb or a contest for the number of times she could bounce a basketball without stopping, she surely got Dodo involved. They usually played and ran and raced and threw well enough, but sometimes there would be arguments about who really threw the farther baseball, and who really touched the seesaw first. Then, Dodo and Hunter often pretended to be upset at each other, and each went home to have dinner. But the next day after school, they were at the competitions again!

One day, Dodo asked Hunter if she wanted to see who went higher on the swings. They had done this a million times before, but this time, Dodo was in a teasing mood, which actually suited Hunter just fine.
They got on the swings and Dodo said, cautiously, “You’re kicking ok – for a girl.”
“Just you wait, Dodobird, ’till I’m kicking over the swing line and you’re still licking the ground.”
“Oh, yeah? I’m licking the ground? Well, who wore girl sneakers to the park today?”
“Certainly the person who’s still down there in love with the ground while I’m flying high.”

They threw happy insults back and forth like balls over a tennis net – they both liked the volley and they both had plenty to contribute.

“Maybe you want to run home and tell your mom that I’m beating your butt like the hero that I am?” Dodo threw out at her, swinging himself harder and higher.
“Maybe you want to run home and tell your mom that you’ve been beaten by a girl and are crying about it,” Hunter came back at him, also swinging herself harder and higher.
“Maybe you want to go home and get a watermelon to bury your head into from the shame of losing the game you’re best at?”
“Maybe!” said Hunter. She jumped off the swings, and landed on her feet in a low squat. The momentum of the jump kept moving her forward, and she was pushed by her body movement forward onto one knee. She immediately stood up, dusted off that knee, and walked away from the swing set. Dodo jumped off too, and ran after her.

“Wasn’t your ‘Maybe’ really a ‘Yes’?” Dodo asked expectedly, his only offer of truce.
And then, Hunter made a choice – a tomboy choice or longtime-friends choice – who could say what kind of choice it was? Hunter said, “Absolutely. Most of my ‘Maybe’s are ‘Yes’s. You’ll have to come over to help me take the watermelon off my head.” And with that, Dodo laughed while Hunter tagged him and ran off, looking behind her.


3 Comments

  1. Lila
    Posted Tuesday July 25, 2006 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Cute story. I think you mean “lift” and not “life” in the first paragraph.

    In my house, “maybe” often means “no,” unfortunately. And it usually appears in a conversation like this:
    L “So and so is having a few people over for dinner on Friday. I’d love if you came along. What do you think?”
    C “Maybe.”
    Guess who always shows up at social invitations without her husband?

  2. Posted Tuesday July 25, 2006 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Yes, very cute! I never thought of my maybes as being choices, they’re more like open questions as in “you present two or options from which I can not determine, at this time, what the best course of action is.” Zzzz. So I tend to either shoot for explicit YES or NO. In the context of the story, I guess that would come out as:

    “Go stick your head in a watermelon!” — the imperative form
    “Why don’t you stick your head in a watermelon!” — the suggestive form

    Maybe the power of maybe is that it’s inviting because it’s a kind of “call and respond” form!

  3. Posted Tuesday July 25, 2006 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Lila: hahahahahhahaahhahah! That’s very funny for some reason!

    Dave: Funny because even kids’ stories elicit call-and-response by their nature. When kids hear a story for the first time, they ask so many questions, “Why did the third pig make a brick house?” “Why did the first two pigs play all summer long and not make their houses?” “Why did the wolf dress like a sheep?” A story by its nature allows for many interpretations, and many challenges! And, in a way, so does a ‘maybe.’ :)