By Olivia Davis

Skip never loved the outdoors as a child. Skip never loved many things when he was younger. Even now at nineteen, not quite a teenager anymore but not yet an adult, he falls back into the habit of criticizing everything he thought might like to criticize him back. He had always hated how much he would hate but he couldn’t control the strong emotion that always seemed to brew inside him. 

Little Skip sits outside, hating. He never liked the color orange, wasn’t a fan of his shoes with the laces–he much preferred his light-up shoes, the ones with the velcro that made that ripping noise whenever he pulled them apart. He couldn’t stand jagged rocks that pulled and tormented his knees, and the boring brown bandaids his mom stocked up on when they were on sale were his worst enemy. He had wanted the bandages with The Backyardigans on them, but his mother walked right by them in the aisle, and his five-year-old hands couldn’t reach the colorful box, much to Skip’s disappointment. He hated when there was no breeze to soothe the burning of the summer sun beaming down on him, especially on a day like today, when they ran out of his favorite blue popsicles. The only ones left were the orange ones. He hated the orange ones. 

Skip continued his glaring contest with the wild mushroom that he found growing in the grass of the backyard. He hated the texture of the weird fungus. And why did it bounce back every time he poked it? Why was it looking at him with its little stem pointing at his face? “You know if you keep frowning like that your whole face will be covered in wrinkles before you’re thirty.” A high-pitched voice rang through the yard grabbing Skip’s attention instantaneously. 

A little girl stumbles out of the sliding door, tiny toes poking into the soft blades of grass. Two buns protrude from the sides of her head, just above her ears. “Princess Leia buns,” Skip thinks she called them. He never understood the reference, Skip always hated Star Wars. The girl continues her rampage through the backyard, a lopsided grin adorning her face, complementing every delicate feature. She was never bothered by the sun shining in her eyes, or the shoes with the laces. She didn’t mind the flavor popsicle they had left in the freezer, and she loved the color orange. Skip watched her coming closer, each step placing her further into the sunshine. He watched, convinced she was making the sunshine brighter instead of the other way around. The sun, moon, and stars shined for her, for Jonie. 

“Nuh, Uh, that isn’t true! I’m not gonna have wrinkles.” Skip tried his best to deepen his frown and turn away from the shining girl, but the corners of his mouth raised with every tug on his sleeve. 

“You are too! You’ll look like an old man, older than me, and I was born first!” Jonie giggles and pokes her brother’s puffy cheeks. 

“Only by a minute.” Skip’s mumbles. Jonie wasn’t listening.

“Come on loser, I want to show you something.” Jonie grabs Skip’s arm and pulls it upwards, as if the minimal force of her small, stubby arms were enough to bring the sulking boy to his feet. Skip looks up at his twin sister, looks at the shadows and highlights, indents and contours of her face. How could he ever say no to her? Skip pushes himself up by his knees and grabs Jonie’s hand, her fingers still a little sticky from the frozen treat she had finished inside, not that he minded. Jonie took off to the other side of the yard, fingers intertwined with Skip’s.

“It’s called a grasshopper,” Jonie shoved the skinny bug into Skip’s disgusted face, “I caught it in the flowers earlier! Isn’t it cool?” The grasshopper didn’t move, as if it were delighted to be held in Jonie’s palm.

“I hate bugs.” Skip wasn’t as amused by the insect as Jonie would have liked. He hated the way bugs crawl and squirm. What were they thinking? Why did they have so many legs? It never mattered to Jonie though, everything she could find was a new experience, each discovery a new adventure. 

“Mom said girl grasshoppers eat boy grasshoppers! They pull off their heads! Isn’t that crazy? They must be so strong.” The grasshopper didn’t like the sound of that. It wiggled a bit before leaping to the ground. Jonie didn’t seem upset by the bugs’ actions, she simply giggled and watched as the bug ventured through the grass. “I wish I was as strong as a grasshopper,” she whispered.

“You are.” Skip and Jonie looked at each other, legs sprawled in the dewy grass blades.

“Really?”

“Mhm! You’re the strongest ever! I wish I was like that.”

“Well,” Jonie looked up at the clouds with a lazy smile on her lips, “Your name is Skip, and Grasshoppers have the word hop in it. That’s pretty close isn’t it?”

Skip looked up at the fluffy-looking bundles of condensation. The more he thought about it, the less he minded the thought of Grasshoppers. He guessed bugs weren’t so bad. He could always ask Jonie to teach him how to tie his laces, and now, looking at his sister–the girl the sun, moon, and stars shined for–he really wanted to grab an orange popsicle from the box in the fridge. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

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