a.n: hello there. so, this is my latest offering. it's extremely corny, sorry. but everything i write lately turns into mindless fluff. this piece, at least, has some semblance of a plot. i think.. for english lit, we had to take something that had happened to us in real life and exaggerate it. i chose swinging off a clothesline, and this is what i got. i hope you enjoy it. oh, and even though it really has nothing to do with the actual story i think it deserves to be mentioned that i had the song 'worried about ray' by uber cool band the hoosiers on repeat while i wrote this. yeahh... review, please? i will eventually get round to returning the favour. thanks darlings.


He Started It

It's all Mitch's fault. All of it. Everything. Everything is Mitch's fault. The supermarket not having any chocolate ice-cream in stock, just when I was really craving it? Mitch's fault. Our school uniform being completely shapeless? Mitch's fault. Global warming? Mitch again. The fact that he's now lying on top of me, with his arm bent underneath my back at a very awkward and painful angle? Mitch's fault!

Over his shoulder, the clothesline's swaying gently in the light breeze that normally accompanies this time of day. There are a few plastic clothes pegs lined up on the string above our heads, and a few more scattered on the ground around us. Maybe it's one of those that's digging into my shoulder blade… Ow. I draw my focus from the clothesline back to Mitch's face, hovering centimeters from my own.

He's grinning at me. That stupid, lopsided grin that he gets only when he's feeling especially proud of himself. One of his curls is brushing against my forehead. His blue eyes are sparkling. Obviously he's not in as much pain as I am.

"Get off me, fatty," I say, lamely attempting to push him off.

He tickles my side with his free arm, making me squirm. "But you're so comfy, Grace," he replies. His breath smells like Skittles.

I mutter an expletive and push against his chest, trying to at least shift some of his weight off me. It doesn't work. "Damn it, Mitch. Could you move, please?"

He just laughs at me. Exactly the type of annoying, smug thing you'd expect Mitch to do in such a situation. He has a habit of laughing at inappropriate times. Mostly at me. I jab him in the ribs to show him my displeasure, and he cries out in pain. "Ow! What'd you do that for?"

I somehow manage to shrug, despite having his full weight on me. "Felt like it."

He glares at me, and I poke my tongue out at him. He laughs, making his eyes crinkle up at the corners. It makes me smile. He looks so cute and innocent. He reminds me of a little kid sometimes. He's been acting like a little kid all day today, really. That's the whole reason we're here, actually. He wanted to do what we used to do every time I went over to his house – he wanted to see who could swing on the clothesline the longest.

Mitch has one of those clotheslines that practically beg children to swing on them. A big, green Hills Hoist, with steel wires. It used to have those flimsy yellow ones, but we managed to snap those, so his parents got steel ones instead. They hurt your hands a lot more, but they also feel a lot more supportive when you're hanging from them.

We used to get in so much trouble for it when we were younger. I lost count of how many times I heard my mother say, "Just because he dared you to doesn't mean you had to swing on the clothesline, Grace. You're going to seriously injure yourself one day!" Unfortunately for me, she was right.

There's a reason I stopped swinging on Mitch's beloved clothesline – and it's not because I'm nearly 16 and have deemed myself too mature and cool for such things. Not at all. Again, it's all Mitch's fault.

I was going perfectly. I'd jumped from the trampoline and had grasped the wire tightly, and the force of my jump had sent me swinging round at what felt like a million miles an hour. There's nothing to describe that moment. The one where you're flying through the air, forced to squeeze your eyes shut so they stop watering, where your hands are starting to sweat and slip but you refuse to let go because you don't want the feeling of complete freedom to end.

And then Mitch just had to ruin it. He decided that I'd been on there long enough, and he wanted a go. He was yelling out to me, but I wasn't listening. I didn't want to get off. So I just kept swinging, kicking my legs out every time I felt myself slowing down. I didn't see Mitch jumping off the trampoline and reaching for the clothesline. I kicked out. I kicked him. We both screamed. He grabbed onto my legs in his panic, and I couldn't hold the extra weight. We both fell to the ground screaming, and landed in a tangled heap not unlike the one we're in now. But, that time, I landed even more awkwardly. My right leg took the full force of all of my weight and all of Mitch's. Not surprisingly, it broke.

I had to put up with my leg being in a cast for a full 8 weeks. You'd be surprised how quickly you get sick of sitting on your arse watching TV, especially when your attention span is as short as mine. After suffering through that cruel and unusual form of punishment, I found it a lot easier to refuse when Mitch dared me to a clothesline race.

Until today. We were sitting there on his back porch, eating homemade nachos and having way more Coca-Cola and Skittles than is good for us, when he turned to me and said, "Let's have a clothesline race."

My immediate reaction was to not very politely tell him that he could shove his clothesline race where the sun doesn't shine, but he persisted. I tried so hard to say no, but he just looked so damned cute, with those big blue puppy dog eyes and innocent pout; I couldn't refuse.

And so, next thing I knew, I found myself standing rather unsteadily beside Mitch on the trampoline, trying to balance myself and ignore the churning of nachos, Skittles and Coke in my stomach.

"It used to seem so much further away," I said nostalgically, leaning across and reaching for the wire. "We haven't done this in years…"

"You ready?" Mitch asked, smiling at me.

I chose to ignore my body's protests and nodded, completely disregarding the fact that I could actually feel the coke dissolving the melted cheese in my stomach. For a tiny moment, I got the strangest notion in my head. I actually considered reaching out and holding Mitch's hand. I have no idea why. I just felt like I should. I didn't though. Instead, I clasped the steel wire firmly and set my feet the right distance apart to get optimum launching power.

I shook my fringe out of my eyes, and smiled. "Three…"

"…Two…" Mitch sounded like a three-year-old as he continued the countdown.

"…One!" We cried in unison, jumping from the trampoline at the same time.

It wasn't like I remembered. There was only one second where I felt like I was flying, one second where I felt like I was eight years old again. And then Mitch knocked into me, or maybe I knocked into him, I'm not sure. And the clothesline made this awful screeching noise, and I screamed, and Mitch laughed, and we fell. From the clothesline, we fell onto the rather hard ground. And just to make things worse, I fell first and Mitch fell on top of me.

And now here we are. I can see a snapped clothesline wire dangling somewhere in my peripheral vision. Oh, his parents are going to be absolutely thrilled about that.

Mitch's voice pulls me out of train of thought. "What'd you do wrong?"

I tilt my head to the side quizzically and reply, "What do you mean 'What'd you do wrong?'? I didn't do anything wrong! That was your fault."

He sounds indignant as he replies, "My fault? How was that my fault?"

I roll my eyes. "You're the one who made the stupid suggestion that we swing on the clothesline."

"Well you're the one who agreed to my stupid suggestion," he retorts.

"I wouldn't have agreed if you hadn't have kept bugging me about it. You started it!" I tell him. And yes, before you point it out, I am well aware of the fact that I sound very much like a toddler chucking a temper tantrum.

Mitch looks shocked. "I did not! How dare you accuse me of such things." He pulls his arm out from underneath me and uses it to prop himself up.

I pout and tilt my chin up in a defiant way, even though it doesn't really work from this angle. "You did so." The clothesline makes a scary noise, sort of like a moan, but I don't really pay attention to it, because I've realised that Mitch's face is getting closer to mine. I've never noticed that his eyes were that blue before… I can still smell Skittles on his breath. He's not saying anything, and for some stupid reason I find myself unable to shut up. "It's all your fault…" My sentence trails off as his lips brush mine, and suddenly I'm not so sure that it's the fall from the clothesline that's making my heart beat so fast.

He pulls back, and just sort of smiles down at me for a second. And then, without thinking, I close my eyes and lift my chin up to kiss him again. This time, when we part, he's got an ear-to-ear grin. "That," he says quietly, "was your fault."

I open my mouth to protest, but am interrupted by the clothesline collapsing with an almighty 'CRASH!' We flinch as pegs scatter around us and the clothesline itself makes a horrible sort of squeal as it grinds against the trampoline frame and comes to rest. There's complete silence for a few moments as we survey the damage.

Then I turn my head to look up at Mitch, and find him staring down at me, laughing. It's infectious – straight away, I start giggling maniacally too. After a few minutes we manage to calm ourselves down.

I smile up at him, and say the only thing that I think fits the situation, "You started it."