At recess, Kona couldn’t get anyone to play with him.
“Too hot, dude,” said Glen Miyabuchi. “I don’t want to run around. I’ll get all sweaty and stinky.”
“What do you mean get stinky? You’re stinky now!” snickered Brenda Chang.
“Knock it off, Brenda. You wanna fight?”
“Nah, Glen, relax. Just messing with you.”
“Come,” said Wendell Pacheco with a head jerk. “Let’s go play marbles in the shade by the library.” He held a big marble up to the sun, colors winking. “I have a new shooter. Green cat eye.”
“Sounds good,” said Glen. “Let’s go!”
“Not for keeps, right? Only for fun, yeah?” said Wendell, trailing Glen a little.
“Whatever, Wendell. You know you’re going to lose,” said Glen, rounding the corner to the shady side of the building.
“Hey! This marble’s new. I don’t want to lose it!”
“Whatever,” Glen said.
“Only for fun, okay?”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah…”
Looking back, Brenda saw Kona still standing near the classroom door. “Hey, Kona, you coming?” she called.
He shuffled his flip-flops on the cement, sliding his weight from foot to foot. “Uh, no,” he mumbled to the ground. “I didn’t bring my marbles today.”
“So? You can borrow some from me. I have a ton.” Brenda shook her purple Crown Royal bag, the marbles clicking.
“Nah, I’ve got other things to do. You guys go and play without me.”
“You sure?” she said, head tilted to the side. “I’ll loan you some. It’s only for fun.”
“Nah. I want to run even if you guys don’t want to play tag.”
The sounds of his friends’ rock-paper-scissors lingered in his ears as Kona started his long, slow jog all the way around the soccer fields, crossing in front of the Lauele Elementary School sign and back, working up a good sweat.
Man, it’s hot, he thought. I’m sweating like a pig. Good.
“What’s up with Kona?” asked Wendell. “How come he’s always running?”
“He’s crazy. All he wants to do is play tag, even if no one’s chasing,” said Glen.
“Borrrr-ring,” said Brenda.
“Like we’re still second grade.”
Excerpted from Sniff by Lehua Parker. Copyright © 2013 by Lehua Parker. Excerpted by permission of Lehua Parker, LLC and Lauele Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher or author.