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"That was HER! That was the girl I told you about."
I was telling Eddy about my battle with Miss Stiletto, and I'd just gotten to the part where I turned to look for Minerva and she was gone.
"Man," Eddy said, "that's just like her too, to leave you holding the bag."
"Maybe she was scared," I said, suddenly feeling the need to defend her.
"Scared!? That girl is scared of nothing," Eddy scoffed. "You don't know her, Wump. I'm telling you, she's trouble. And if you don't want to get in trouble, too, you'd better stay away from her."
"Maybe she gets in trouble because she doesn't have any friends," I suggested.
"Of course she doesn't have any friends!" Eddy said. "How could she when she ... ?" He stopped short. "Hey, wait a minute. Why are you all of a sudden taking her side?"
"I'm not," I said, blushing. "Really."
Eddy peered at me suspiciously.
"So," I said, "are we going to build that clubhouse or what?"
We spent the rest of the afternoon scrounging up boards for the clubhouse, then spent the evening listening to Eddy's CDs. Eddy's a serious collector of rock 'n' roll. That night we listened to a group called Non-Stick Kitchen Utensils and a group called Pinheads Who Vote.
"The Utensils are OK," Eddy pronounced. "But the Pinheads are the future."
When it was time for bed, we went out to Eddy's back yard. We stretched out in our sleeping bags on the cushiony grass, and gazed up into the sky. The night was moonless, still and cool, and the sky was thick with stars.
"You know how when you get older you start to wonder about stuff you never thought about before?" I asked.
Like girls, I thought. But what I said was, "Like ... how far away is the end of the universe?"
"The edge of the universe is 20 billion light-years away," Eddy said.
"But what's beyond that?" I asked.
"Nothing, I guess," Eddy said.
I tried to imagine nothing.
"But there's got to be something, doesn't there?"
I could almost hear him frown. "Maybe our universe is just a speck of dust in a bigger universe," he suggested.
We stared at the stars, trying to imagine that.
And I remember thinking: There is no way to imagine that. There are just stars and stars and stars and then ... there are girls ... girls like Minerva Wimberly who took my stuffed mouse and kissed me.
I listened to the sounds of the night. I heard Eddy breathing, slow and steady, and I thought he must be asleep. Softly, I said to myself, "Girls are like stars."