“Truth or Dare?” my best friend Jackson challenges me. I glance around at my circle of friends like they might have an answer.
“Dare,” I say confidently. My friends and I always get together Saturday evenings. We’re gathered around a campfire eating marshmallows on a beach in Florida. Just then, Jackson grins wickedly at a tall palm tree with four coconuts cradled under its huge green leaves, and then back at me.
“Simon—I dare you to a coconut race with me. Take it or leave it.”
“I’ll take it,” I say, feeling my face turn red like it always does when I’m excited. Jackson and I know the drill. We each jog over to separate palm trees and shake them vigorously. When the tree gives up a coconut, I catch it as it falls. Jackson also gets a coconut. Then we drag our feet in the sand, creating one wide racetrack going for maybe twenty-five feet down a hill. The hill is steep enough to give the coconuts momentum. Jackson and I go to the starting line and bend down, the coconuts barely touching the ground. I feel the tense feeling of excitement in the air, my heart beating quickly. Everyone has their eye on our coconuts. A surfer shouts loudly to a friend in the distance. No one budges, no one hears. I will win this race. I will.
“On your mark, get set…” Jackson starts, my heart beating even quicker.
“On your mark, get set…” everyone cries, “Go!” Our coconuts tumble out of our hands and down the track, picking up sand. “Jackson and I race alongside the coconuts, making sure neither of them stray off our uneven track.
Our friends start choosing sides. They break away from our circle and form two clumps, one cheering, “Go… Jackson! Go… Jackson! Let’s hear it for Jackson!” and another group yells, “Simon! Simon! Simon!” I feel the thrill of the moment as my coconut wobbles, surprisingly fast, past me. I sprint to keep up with it. Our audience crane their necks and squint to see the coconuts through the rapidly falling night.
Now the coconuts are nearing the end of the track, where Jackson and I made a heap of sand to stop the coconuts from rolling on and into the water. Mine’s in front—or is it Jackson’s? Oh, darn it, we forgot to mark the coconuts so we could tell whose is whose! But it’s too late— one of the coconuts has hit the barrier of sand.
“I won!” Jackson shrieks, sticking his index fingers in the air. “No way. I won!” I argue, jabbing my thumb into my chest.
“You’re just jealous of the winner!!”
“I definitely won!”
“You did not.” The two of us go on like this for a while more, the onlookers’ heads swiveling from one person to the other. Eventually we get tired of our argument and collapse on the ground, laughing. Once we quiet down, all the kids lie on their backs and look at the stars. I gaze at one that looks particularly like a coconut.