A Short Love Story by Garrett Kaminaga
Jumper had known Molly Jensen since the moist-eyed days of
early youth. Charlie Rickford had teased Jumper about hanging out with girls
until Molly beat him up and made him cry in front of Arthur Jones, Jonathan
Loo and even Quentin Clarke. And this was in _the second grade_, where
crying meant the end of hanging out, of chasing each other at near light-
speed on bicycles, of endless adventures in the any-world of the fantastic
playground. It was, in the second grade, like another fall of man. but
Charlie was reunited with the gang the next day, his . . . unmanly tears
forgotten in the furious pace of a seven-year-old’s life.
Jumper liked Molly because she never asked him to marry her, never
wanted to play house, was interested more in transformers than in the fake
Barbie dolls that you could cut the hair off of and it would never grow back.
Not that Jumper pretended or even thought that girls were yucky; he liked
them on the whole. but they were so much less real than Molly was. Jumper
still got frightened at the movies, went swimming and played get-dirty-get-
scraped tag with the guys, but he reserved his most fantastic adventures for
playing out with Molly. The any-world of Charlie and Arthur and Jonathan
always had the same machine-gun fights (even when they played knights and
dragons), the same gory deaths, the same _everything_. Molly and Jumper
created worlds better than anything on TV, filled with the black-and-white
hopes and fears of second grade, because Jumper and Molly were best
When they reached intermediate school, and Charlie and Arthur all
eagerly pretended to be grossed-out by spin the bottle and the other I’m-
curious games of adolescence, Molly and Jumper, impossibly, grew closer
together. One day at the park Molly wanted to play on the swings instead of
play four-square, and she began to talk about the grayer hopes and fears of
thirteen-ness. And Jumper, amazingly, found that he really didn’t mind. So,
they learned from each other — Molly talked about training bras, about
stupid slumber parties, about the unbelievable pain of braces. Jumper talked
about his middle name (Xavier), about not making the basketball team cut,
about the requisite machismo of being a teenage guy. And they both got to
sleep a little easier because of it.
They stayed friends even through the intense world of high school.
Through Nazi history teachers who pulled pop quizzes and looked at someone
else but asked you a question, through class struggles that made Sally Hart
laugh at Jumper when he asked her out, through Valentine’s dances and
Homecoming games, club fundraisers and the slow invasion of the pressures of
the outside world. Not that they were boyfriend and girlfriend. You never
saw Molly and Jumper talking and crying or stuck together like siamese twins.
They didn’t even go to prom together — Jumper went with Sally, who was much
nicer after she stopped hanging out with the soc crowd, and Molly went with
Quentin. They exchanged pictures and signed yearbooks and talked just like
regular friends, right up through graduation. But only Molly knew that
Jumper came close to flunking out of school, and only Jumper knew that Molly
had slammed the door in Quentin’s face after prom (although Quentin told it
Then, while waiting in the registration line at State, wedged between
his roommate (who claimed to be an anarchist, making Jumper go look the word
up) and a huge woman who wore a hideous shade of green and smelled of
anchovies, Jumper realized that he loved Molly. All it took was his roommate
telling him, as Molly walked into the gym, that his girlfriend had arrived.
Jumper started with the automatic response of “She’s not my girlfriend,”
since he had been asked that too many times to count in high school, when all
the memories of their time together pressured it back down his throat and
lodged it painfully in his chest. For the entire semester, when Jumper was
at Molly’s dorm doing frosh english or just talking, his mind was racing
through thousands of scenarios of confessing his love. “Molly, I love you”
wasn’t quite right, and the moonlit walk through Bishop Yard was a little too
saccharin (and dangerous). When they fell to talking as they had been so
used to, he lied when she asked him about his love life. Jumper knew that if
she didn’t love him (how could she, so beautiful, so warm, love me? he
thought) then that put their friendship in a precarious, awkward position.
Their 12-year friendship was too much to gamble. But then, the pain that had
stayed from his realization in the registration line (Jumper had thought that
it was indigestion at first) was eating him up from inside and burning
through his skin every second of the day.
Then, one night Molly told him that she had a crush on Adam Rawlings,
the athletic water polo player down the hall. Jumper died inside. Dammit!
Jumper only wanted Molly to be happy, but that meant her having Adam, and not
having him. But Jumper, who truly loved Molly, decided to get him for her.
Jumper and Adam knew each other from weekly physics problem sets, and,
through cajoling and begging and innuendo, Jumper got Adam to ask her out.
Then, as Jumper was about to go drink himself into a stupor over what he had
done, Molly asked him to come over.
“Adam asked me out.”
Jumper acted surprised. “Great! What’re you going to do?”
“I’m not going. I told him no.”
Jumper said nothing. “Jumper, I’ve known you since second grade.”
Her words came slowly, choked. “I … ever since high school … ”
And Jumper knew that she loved him too. He said nothing. He grabbed
her hand and ran outside, into the parking lot, where the cold bit at the
skin, but Jumper and Molly didn’t mind because they were warmed inside and
the moon was coming out from behind the clouds and someone, somewhere, was
playing mambo music a little too loudly, and they didn’t have to say anything
to each other because saying anything would have been anticlimactic, and he
slipped his arms around her and amazed, felt her against him, and he lowered
his lips to hers, happy beyond all joys.
Then a truck ran them both over and smashed them to bits.