My sister, not that her imagination was small or anything, told me I was straight-up the stupidest turd she’d ever known. All because I’d suggested the oak branch, with some whittling here and there, could make a decent bat.

“It has to be the real freaking thing,” she said, glaring at me.

“But it’s just as big as the one we had.”

“Oh, yeah, right. The one we had had some real muscle to it. This one? It’s punier than you are.”

The one we had, an authentic bat, had splintered thanks to Jessica throwing a fastball a little too fast the weekend before. Our dad hollered out us that we couldn’t go around breaking precious things like that, so he refused to take us to the sports store to buy another one.

“You’ll just have to make do with whatever,” she said. “Or don’t play at all.”

So now me and Jessica were left to our own resources. “It’s not so small or thin,” I said, pointing at the branch.

Jessica snatched it from the ground and twirled it around in her hands. “You wanna bet?”

“What do you–“

She broke the branch across her knee.

“Hey!” I ran over to Jessica and punched her in the stomach. She didn’t even try to stop me, the way she was laughing so hard. At my horrified reaction.

About a dozen times I called Jessica a “turd,” which at that time was the meanest, filthiest word I knew of to throw at someone. Jessica just laughed. Then she went over to the front porch and crouched on one of the steps. “Your stupid branch wouldn’t stood one pitch. I don’t even know why you cared about that dumb branch, anyway. There’s more out there. Better ones, I bet.”

The urge to attack her was still in me, but I knew that beating Jessica up on the porch would risk either Mom or Dad seeing us. So I kept my distance and paced around in the yard. “It doesn’t matter that much,” I said, trying to be careful with my words, “it’s just that you never give me a chance. Or my ideas. You just think you’re so smart.”

“That’s because I am,” she replied. She pointed at the two pieces of the branch. “You saw it snap. Not my fault you don’t know what makes a good branch.”

I went back to the branch’s pieces and picked them up, one in each hand. With some whittling, I thought, I could turn these into spears to stab Jessica with. But I didn’t believe in myself. Jessica had done that. She let me make me not trust my own mind. I threw the twigs–because that’s what they were at that point–into the street. An SUV ran them over in due time. Jessica laughed. Her eyes were gleaming, too.