“Being a girl is so easy,” Jamar said.
“What?!” Jina shrieked. “You have no idea how hard it is being a girl.”
Jamar sucked his teeth. “You get a stomachache for a couple days. Big deal. But you get to have whatever you want.”
Jina narrowed her eyes into angry slits and hissed at him. “Don’t you ever talk about periods like that again. Cramps are NOT a stomachache! And since when do girls get whatever we want? We JUST started voting! We JUST got into the military! And we STILL don’t have a woman president!”
“Whatever,” Jamar said, popping another popcorn into his mouth. “You don’t like something? You don’t wanna do something? All you gotta do is cry, people feel bad, and bada bing—whatever you want.”
Jina threw a pillow at him and tried to shout something, but nothing came out. Instead, her face started stinging and her chest started shaking. She tried her best to stop it from coming, but it was too late. Her lips trembled. The tears came. And now she was crying.
“Jamar,” Dad said as he walked into the living room. “Be nice to your sister.”
“See what I mean?” Jamar said. “Sure, Dad. I’ll leave her alone.” Then he turned back to Jina and mouthed, “Whatever you want.”
“You’re the spoiled brat,” Jina said, wiping her eyes. “You…you…get to sit back and eat whatever you want and not get fat, rape all the women you want, and nobody says anything. Cuz you get to run the world.”
Jamar scoffed. “You think being a guy is easy? You ever heard of blue balls? Try playing with some of those for a while then get back to me.”
“Jamar Oscar Richardson!” Mom shouted as she walked into the room. “Apologize to your sister.”
“Sorry, Jina,” Jamar mumbled.
“Don’t worry, baby,” Dad said to Jina. “He’ll understand tomorrow.”
“Nah, Dad,” Jamar replied, kicking his feet onto the coffee table. “Tomorrow, I’m gonna wake up livin’ it up. Jina’s been a princess for 17 years and now it’s gonna be my turn.”
“I hope you have the worst periods in the history of periods,” Jina spat at him.
“And I hope your balls don’t drop.”
“That’s enough,” Dad said. “Go to your rooms. It’s almost midnight.”
Jamar tossed a popcorn into Jina’s hair and she shoved him as he walked past.
“Your new rooms,” Dad reminded them.
Jina headed into her brother’s room and Dad walked in after her. She sat at the edge of the bed, wiping her tears.
“Why do boys have to be so mean?” she asked.
“Because they don’t understand yet, baby,” Dad responded.
“When will they?”
“The Cross usually does it for most of them.”
“But what if crossing doesn’t do anything?”
Dad chuckled as he tucked her in. “Just worry about yourself, okay, baby girl?”
“Is it gonna hurt?” she asked.
Dad chuckled again. “Not physically.” He kissed her forehead.
“Don’t you bother your sister like that,” Mom told Jamar as he sat on the bed.
“I was just messing with her.”
“But it’s not funny, J. I would’ve whooped you for that. But tomorrow’s gonna be just as good a belt on your hard-headed behind.”
Jamar sucked his teeth. “Why does this even happen?” he asked as Mom tucked him into Jina’s bed.
Mom looked down at him and said, “You’ll never know how to love someone until you’ve lived in their skin.”
“Okay,” Jamar said.
Mom kissed his forehead, shut off the lights, then walked out.
And Jamar and Jina both fell asleep like babies.
But when they woke up the next morning, everything changed.