"Kiss it!" Darlene said. "Kiss the face!" But it wasn't a face; just some knots in the floorboards that formed a sort of triangle: two twisted eyes, a round mouth. Darlene was twelve and not always angry but this was her favorite humiliation, her revenge on the scourge of little brothers everywhere. Her foot pressed on my back as I bent down, our little tableaux of the state flag: Sic Semper tyrannis. I closed one eye, squinted with the other into the knot hole, made my obligatory fish-faced smooch, then stayed there, breathing into the knot, enjoying the flat reflection of my head's varied topography: reduced dimensions, angles. The longer I stayed put, the more scared Darlene got that mom would find us, so she started pleading with me to make me move. I knew I had at least three pleads before she'd kick me in the gut. I let them last, heard my exhalations swirling round the knot, saw green and blue floaters against the darkness of the wood and then, as her last "come on" wheedled past, my heel tapped the mouth, my toe touched the eye, and I ran smoothly out.