I muster up Miss Brave. “Daddy? Can an almost twelve-year-old have a friend that’s almost fourteen?”
“Of course, Sugar Pea.”
“Even if it’s a boy?”
Daddy sighs and creases his forehead. He places both hands on my shoulders. The pressure feels like serious is coming. “Emma June. Boys that age get a little, a little, carried away sometimes and don’t always think with their heads. Do you know what I mean?” His eyes beg me to understand.
I think of Frank who got carried away with his need for moonshine money and blackmailed me to get it. I think of the man behind the flea circus tent who told his girl, “We’ve been friends a long time now. Time for something more.” Then Carla and me Heard a loud smack across his face and the man yell, “bitch”.
“Boys want more than a girl might wanna give,” I say.
“That’s right. And a boy hasn’t got any right to take it if a girl says no.”
“But what do I have to take?” I never let Frank take my dollar. And I didn’t let Brandon dance with me at the carnival.
Daddy sighs again. “Maybe, since your Mama is away and all, this is something you should ask Miss Helen. In the meantime, don’t let any boy touch you.”
I don’t tell Daddy, but he’d be proud knowing I didn’t shake Frank’s spitty hand.
Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket