Denise hadn’t even been at Maize High three months when the rumors began. I was in a mandatory physical education class, second period, the first time I saw her. She was in the class right after mine and we brushed shoulders in the hallway a few times. She was pretty enough, I’d say, with long wood-burnt hair down her back in waves and an olive complexion like a Greek. She was in the middle ground on fashion which told me all I needed to know about her life at home. I was in the same boat myself. My parents never could afford to make me a popular walkabout with their conservative clothing purchases. It’s like my dad used to say, You take what you can get. Then later, when you’re all grown-up, you’ll thank god you didn’t have enough.