Straight blond hair just to the shoulder, parted in the middle. Tight white tee-shirt, pack of Marlboro’s rolled up in the sleeve. Would have had a tattoo just peeking out, but hell, we were in eighth grade.

Joints for a buck in the lunchroom, slip him a dollar and he’d unroll the sleeve, slide the pack over across the table. Not hiding it, not looking around, but he knew where the teachers were, and they never saw. Take out a skinny little joint, rolled real nice, probably stole the weed from his older brother.

You’d think kelly wouldn’t be much for conversation, yea, he never said much. But you could hang with him real easy, even if you didn’t light up that joint you just bought, in the back corner of school, right where the drive came round to the athletic fields, against the building where there were no windows. But you would light it hold that smoke in and gaze out to where you could see the sky so blue behind the silhouette of the trees, maybe some gym class out there.

kelly would nod when you said something, say something back, clipped and tough, but you could sort of hear a laugh in there. He would look at you when you talked, you could see him listening and even though you knew that that the sky was melting, that the trees were cardboard, and the kids jogging back were rolling out of a scene from some movie you could almost remember … he would look at you and you would know that you were real.