Kim’s Game – Chapter 2
The flat-screen TV was smaller than the one in Kim’s living room, but Arya had the latest Play Station and some games that the boy had wanted to play. The boy unfolded his feet, hanging them off the side of the sleeper sofa’s mattress. He stretched when he realized he and Arya had spent the last couple of hours in front of the TV. That’s when Andrea came into the living room and said, “Arya, your brains are going to fall out if you keep playing that.”
The girl groaned then said, “I’m kicking Kim’s butt.”
Chuckling, Kim said, “Hey, I haven’t played this before.”
Andrea grabbed her purse, “You guys seen my keys? I can’t find them, and I’m supposed to be at work in thirty minutes. I don’t want to be late.”
Arya paused the game and said, “Did you leave them on the nightstand?”
As Andrea headed back into the apartment’s bedroom, Kim couldn’t help looking at her. She wore a knee-length skirt and a white button-down blouse.
She came back from the bedroom with the keys jingling in her fingers when there was a knock at the door. Before Kim or Arya could get up, the young woman navigated around the sleeper sofa that filled up most of the living room when it was unfolded, like now, and opened the door. Kim was startled to see his dad at the door. The boy glanced at his watch and realized he’d lost track of time.
His dad waved, “I thought I might find you over here.”
Andrea opened the door all the way, “Oh, hi, Mr. O’Hara. Come on in.”
His dad nodded at Andrea, “Please, call me John. I just need to borrow Kim for a quick moment.”
Kim climbed to his feet and joined his dad and Andrea at the door, “Sorry, didn’t realize it was time for you to go.”
His dad said, “It’s okay. I’d rather you be playing games than cooped up at our place, reading books all day long. I got all the perishables in the fridge. Make sure you get the rest of the groceries put away before you go to bed, alright?”
Kim bobbed his head, “Alright. This your four-day week?”
“Yeah. They’re running me up to Oklahoma City tonight.”
Andrea’s sharp inhalation caught Kim’s attention. She said, “You’ll be gone until Friday, uh, John?”
John’s cheeks grew red, “Yeah. Over the road trucking. Kim’s pretty mature for his age, and he’s been doing this for a year now.”
Kim’s heard hurt, seeing the anguish in his dad’s eyes.
John added, “Mrs. Walsh, she’s the lady who lived here before you, she checked on Kim a couple of times a day, made sure he was fine. Didn’t burn down the building.”
Andrea looked embarrassed, “Oh, I didn’t mean anything by it. We’ve only been here three days now, and I can see he’s very responsible.”
Kim cleared his throat, “Uh, I’m right here, you know.”
His dad pulled him into a quick hug, “I know, kiddo. I was talking about you, not to you.”
Kim groaned. His dad usually didn’t have the time or the inclination for dad jokes. But usually didn’t mean never. His dad turned back to Andrea, “Um, could I talk with you for a quick moment?”
Kim watched the young mother glance at her watch, but she nodded and stepped out onto the landing, nearly closing the door all the way.
She had, however, left a sliver of a crack, and Kim leaned forward to listen.
“Miss, I mean, Andrea, I know you hardly know us at all, but If you have the time, would you mind checking in on Kim from time to time?”
Andrea’s voice was friendly, “It’s no imposition at all. What with just moving to San Antonio, we don’t know anyone. And the move was hard on Arya, so having a friend next door is a godsend, really.”
The sound of relief in John’s voice was unmistakable. “Thanks. My cell is on the fridge in our place. Don’t hesitate to call me if Kim is any problem. Don’t let him overstay his welcome.”
Andrea chuckled, “He’s welcome over here anytime. I’m starting a new job at one of the local restaurants this evening, and as long as you don’t mind, I’m more than happy for him to stay with Arya until I get home.”
John said, “That sounds great. I’m sorry I can’t stay and visit, but I’m due at the terminal soon. Please tell Kim bye for me.”
Kim pulled back from the door, bumping into Arya, who stood right behind him. The two of them spilled onto the floor just as Andrea opened the front door.
From the look on her face, Kim could see Andrea guessed they’d been listening. She wagged a finger and said, “I’m going to pretend you didn’t listen to us. There are left-overs in the fridge. Kim, there’s plenty for you, too. You’re welcome to stay here, play some games, watch Netflix, and hang out until I get home around eleven.”
Andrea stopped at the door and looked back at Kim and Arya, “Y’all have fun and don’t burn the place down.”
Kim growled, “Shoot!”
Arya laughed, “Don’t tell me you want to go best five out of nine?”
“No. The way things are going, school will be back in session before then.”
The girl set her controller down on the fold-out sofa’s mattress, “Just admit it. I’m a better racer than you.”
Kim lay back on the soft mattress, “Sparkling sports cars with unicorn horns?”
Still, he’d been having fun. The mechanics weren’t very different than some of the other racing games he played before. He glanced at the digital clock on the DVD player on which the Play Station sat. It was still early. Andrea wouldn’t be home for hours yet. He leaned over, “Whatcha want to do? Play another game? Watch a movie?”
The girl grabbed the remote and turned the TV off, “Maybe later. I wan to go swimming again.”
The idea appealed to Kim. “Sounds fun, but do you think your mom will mind?”
Arya climbed off the sleeper-sofa, “As long as you take me, it’s fine. She never said anything about her having to be home.”
Kim remained seated. “I know. Just wondering if she maybe intended it.”
Arya shrugged, “Ask her tomorrow if you want. I’m going to get changed.”
The girl closed the door to the bathroom and a few minutes later, appeared in her too-small yellow swimsuit. She grabbed Kim by the arm, “Come on! You coulda been changed by now.”
It had been several years since the boy had any close friends. The disease that claimed his mom took a couple of years to kill her, and during that time, Kim had retreated from the world. He liked Arya’s persistence and determination. Sure, she wasn’t as mature as the girls in his grade, but kim found it easy to forget their age difference.
“Alright,” he said as he got up and headed toward the door. He led the girl next door, where he left Arya in the living room while he closed the door to his room and put on his swimsuit. When he came out, the girl was holding one of the library books he’d been reading.
She said, “Oh, you’re reading the Game of Thrones book. Is it any good?”
Kim shrugged, “I guess so. It seems like every chapter someone I like gets killed.”
As they headed out the door, the girl said, “Who’s your favorite character.”
Kim said, “Oh, that’s easy. Arya.”
The girl skipped and ran on ahead. Kim found her waiting impatiently for him to enter the access code. Like before, the pool area was deserted. There were fewer leaves in the pool, but Kim doubted the maintenance guys skimmed the water more than once a day.
The girl was already in the water by the time Kim jumped in. She swam behind him and grabbed around the neck, climbing onto his back. He could tell she was trying to dunk him. The boy sank a bit, letting the water take almost all the load. Arya said, “I think it’s cool you like Arya. Mom says I remind her of Arya.”
Kim sank to the bottom of the pool and waited until the girl let go of his neck before floating back to the surface. The girl was spitting out a stream of water and pushing a few strands of hair out of her face. The girl was certainly feisty enough, he thought.
Arya took a step toward him and used her hand to splash him with water. “So, do you think I’m like her?”
Kim splashed her back, “Arya? I thought so, but then you kinda gave up trying to tackle me, so I’m not sure.”
With a howl of mock rage, the girl charged through the water, splashing as she came. Kim dodged aside as Arya charged through where he’d just been. Giggling through clenched teeth, she said, “I’ll show you I’m just like Arya Stark!”
The next time Kim tried dodging, Arya guessed right and pulled him under the water. He kicked away, realizing he only outweighed the girl by a few pounds at most. And she was a lot more energetic, too. They were very nearly evenly matched.
Kim wasn’t sure how he felt about that. He should have been able to dunk the almost-nine-year-old girl easily. Diving under the water, he swam around Arya’s splashing legs and hands until he could get her by the legs and pulled her under.
In turn, she twisted around until she grabbed him by the waist and sank to the bottom, dragging him with her. Kim felt a bit flustered, as that was his thing. Arya wasn’t as strong a swimmer and had mostly preferred to keep her head above the water. And the fact that she was strong enough to grab and hold him was just another reminder that he wasn’t like all the other thirteen-year-old boys he knew.
When Arya floated to the surface, Kim swam over to the side of the pool, upset. It wasn’t fair. He should’ve been able to dunk Arya as much and as often as he wanted. Only letting her get the best of him when he wanted.
Behind him, Arya said, “Um, are you okay, Kim?”
He mumbled, “Yeah. I guess.”
He felt her hand on his shoulder as she came up beside him, “Did I do something wrong? I’m sorry. I thought we were playing tag and dunking and stuff.”
Kim felt his eyes burning with tears. It wasn’t the girl’s fault. And as he looked at her through blurred eyes, any anger he felt at her evaporated. He shook his head, “No, you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just me being stupid.”
Arya leaned her back against the side of the pool. Kim could feel her concerned eyes on him, “You’re not stupid. You’re not upset that I tackled you underwater are you?”
Kim started to shake his head. The girl was partly right. He hated that she’d been able to do it, not because of her, but because he wasn’t bigger and stronger like most thirteen-year-olds. He sighed, “Not you, Ayra. I think it’s cool that you’re a fighter and that you’re so determined. I just hate being so small. Sometimes it sucks.”
The girl’s arm was still on Kim’s shoulder. “Before we moved here, Mom moved us around several times. When I start the fourth grade in the fall, this’ll be my fifth school. Even though I like being around people, I’ve never stayed long enough to keep a friend. Now that I actually have a friend, I like how it feels. When I saw you outside your apartment, I hoped we could be friends. If you’d looked all teenagery, I would’ve been too afraid to have come up to you.”
Kim wiped at his eyes. “You know we’re kind of really messed up, Arya. You talked to me because you thought I was younger, and I talked to you because I thought you were older.”
The girl squeezed his shoulder, “I’m glad we did.”
Kim nodded, “Yeah. Me, too. And, uh, I’m sorry about getting upset about earlier. I really think it’s cool you’re like Arya in the books.”
The girl pushed away from the edge of the pool and held her arm out, like it was a sword, “Dance with me, or feel the point of my needle.”
Kim laughed. Apparently, the girl had caught at least a little bit of the HBO series. Still, he lunged for her, grabbing her arm with one hand while trying to get the other around her neck. Arya slipped away from him and splashed water into his face. The boy laughed, relieved that Arya wasn’t upset with him for being dumb.
They dodged back and forth. One would dunk the other, and then, a few minutes later, their fortunes would reverse.
The sun had sunk behind one of the apartment buildings, and the sky remained a riot of reds, oranges, and yellows. But it wouldn’t be long before twilight fell. Kim wanted one more good dunk on Arya before they got out. As she was splashing around, he dove down, close to the bottom, and swam over to her, intent on grabbing her around the waist and pulling her under.
Arya twisted around, and before Kim knew it, he’d gone from hunter to hunted, as the girl’s hands grabbed at his legs. The girl lunged forward and grabbed the hem of his swimsuit. Kim kicked at the water, trying to dislodge the girl, and while he was successful, Arya didn’t let go until his swimsuit was down to his knees.
Kim shot up out of the water, grabbing at his trunks and pulling them up. Arya surfaced and said, “Oh, God, Kim, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were gonna throw me. I’m so sorry.”
The boy was flustered. He could feel the red in his face. “What the heck, Arya. You grabbed my shorts.”
The girl’s face was as red as his own. She stammered, “I was trying to climb up to your back. It was an accident. I didn’t mean to.”
Kim could hear the terror in the girl’s voice. After telling him how much his friendship meant to her, he knew Arya wouldn’t do anything deliberately to hurt him.
He still felt embarrassed as he said, “I guess you didn’t see anything, so it’s alright.”
Arya shook her head, “It happened so fast.”
Kim swam over to the shallow end and sat on the last step. He made sure his swimsuit was where it was supposed to be before Arya joined him on the step. She was still rattled by the unexpected turn of events.
With a shaking voice, Arya said, “I don’t think I saw anything, but if I had, would you be mad?”
Kim glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. He’d only known the girl for three days, and already, he felt like he’d found a long-lost friend. He liked Arya and her mom, and he didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize the friendship, even if it felt weird to think she might have caught a glimpse of his dick.
Finally, he shook his head, “No, I guess not. But don’t make a habit of it, okay? It’s not like I can return the favor and pull your swimsuit down.”
Arya ran her fingers along the tight straps of her suit let out a nervous giggle, “No, I guess not. But if I had a two piece swimsuit, we could play keep-away like that, right?”
The thought of pulling Arya’s swimsuit down made something stir inside the boy, and he crossed his arms and rested them on his legs. “Good thing you don’t have a swimsuit like that.”
Arya stood and stepped out of the pool, “Mom said I’ll be getting a new swimsuit for my birthday. Maybe I’ll get a bikini.”
Copyright 2021 – Caliboy1991
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