Charlie was a boy of seven, possibly eight, and definitely no more than nine. He had chocolate stains on his fingers and wore a skateboarding helmet when he rode his bike because he thought they looked cooler (he was mostly right). When he was called to dinner and it was mac and cheese and chicken nuggets he knew a babysitter wasn't far behind. His favorite books included The Way Things Work and one about castles his favorite uncle had given him. Charlie liked to take things apart and put them back together, though the putting back often took considerably more time.
Then there was Jessica; tall, blonde, loved basketball and horses, excellent at her multiplication tables. She came to school early and after she stayed late, with all the other kids whose parents had jobs that required this. She was the only one in her grade to have pierced ears, and she'd had them since she was five, which made them all the more special. She would have been the little girl all the boys had crushes on had she not been the one bullying them. She took lunch money, she shoved kids when she was sure she'd get away with it. During bombardment she aimed at heads and she usually got in trouble. Her parents gave money. Jessica was OK.
One day on the playground Charlie's friends called to him from the tire swing: "Charlie! Charlie! Come on! Spin us!" Charlie liked tire swings, they gave him the good kind of dizzy. So he ran over, fast, recess was almost over. And that's when Jessica stuck out her foot and sent his body flying into the air and hard onto the rubber chips that covered the ground. His face, though, that landed on the first wooden step to the monkey bars. Smashed his nose and blurred his vision, somehow not breaking his glasses or teeth or even splitting a lip. He got up and forewent the swing, being plenty dizzy as is. It hurt less than you'd think, and there was no blood. He mostly didn't understand. Jessica didn't seem to enjoy it all that much, she didn't laugh with a gaggle of friends. It was simply one of the many things she did.
The kids were called inside, they got drinks of water and went to the bathroom. Afterward they went to their desks and waited for the teacher. Charlie wiped his mouth on his hands and his hands on his pants, moving the water around. Jessica walked a few feet ahead of him, and as she turned into the class he saw the glimmer of her left ear's golden ring. An idea, an invitation, an impulse. He sat three seats behind her.
Jessica sat, putting the finishing scratches of her name on her desk. She wasn't looking at Charlie when he walked in (not that she would have anyway). There was a tug, hard, and a sting. She looked back to see Charlie sitting down, and brought her hand up to her ear to find the lobe missing. And there it sat, small and fatty on the top of her desk, earring and all. It hurt less than you'd think, but there was plenty of blood.