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Every Sunday morning I gotta get up early and attend nine o’clock mass over at Holy Name Church. It’s been the same routine for the past five or six years. Just so you know, I hung out late last night. I’m not in the mood to go to church.

Besides, I’m fourteen now, no longer am I a student at Holy Name. I go to John Jay down on seventh avenue; why do I still have to go to church?

“Get up or you’ll be late for church,” mom screams through our five-room, railroad apartment on Ninth Avenue and Windsor Place.

“I’m not goin’,” I shout from under my warm blanket.

“Get your ass up!” she shouts.

Damn she’s angry.

After a few more attempts to get me up, I finally give in. Her yelling is pissing me off.

It’s annoying to tell the truth.

“Get off my case!” I mumble.

Not too happy about this situation, I throw on the  jeans I wore last night, a blue-hooded sweatshirt and my white, Chuck Taylor Converse All-Stars. There’s a scuff mark on the side of my left sneaker. And some grass stains from hanging out in Prospect park last night.

“You can’t go to church lookin’ like that!” mom shouts at me right before I am walking out the door.

I give her a look, not a mean look, just a look like, ‘don’t tell me how to dress’.

“And take a shower,” she adds.

One reason I don’t like going to mass is because I never have any money for the collection box.

When they pass around the straw box attached to the long broom handle,  and it gets to me, I just look at the money in it.

“Sorry, I’m broke,” I say to myself.

Walking up ninth avenue, alongside the stores I see some of my friends walking with their families. They’re all dressed up, shiny black shoes and everything. Sometimes I wish I was in their shoes

As I get up by Smith’s, I look across the street and see a ton of people walking up the church steps.

I’m having second thoughts.

No way in the world mom will know I didn’t go.

She never asks me any questions afterwards.

When I was a student at Holy Name, if I skipped out on mass, the following morning I was called down to the office. They always knew if you weren’t there.

My decision has been made.

I’m not going.

Making a right turn on Prospect Avenue, walking past Regina Bakery, I can smell the bread they are baking, I walk down towards eighth avenue.

Hanging a right on eighth avenue, I walk towards Windsor Place hoping to see my girlfriend, she lives right off the corner of Windsor and eighth.

I glance over at the Bodega on the corner and there’s two guys outside sipping a can of beer which is covered by a brown paper bag. They’re passing it back and forth to each other.

They are arguing over something. It’s hard to tell though.

Standing on the corner, the sun is in my eyes. I look down Windsor Place and up at my girl’s window. There’s no one there. I have thoughts of walking over and ringing her bell. But I don’t think her parents like me very much.

I feel like a million dollars when I’m with her. She always has a smile on her pretty face. She’s tall, and most of all, she loves me.

Her family attends the ten o’clock mass.  If I happen to see them, maybe we can walk up Windsor Place together and I can go to church with them?

We started holding hands in public, so I wonder if her father would be mad if I took her hand while we walked?

I’m going to sit right here on this stoop on the corner until she comes out. It’s our favorite stoop actually; the owner of the house never complains when we sit here together at night.