24 May 2009

Our Barbies, Ourselves

We were sitting on the porch, Stephanie and I, drinking glasses of ice-cold water and eating saltine crackers. They both hit our spots. Crickets were chirping in the gloaming nightfall and we could hear the kids, one block over, trying desperately to milk one last inning of softball from the gathering darkness.

"I can see," yelled Cinnamon. "I can still see perfectly. Just pitch the motherfucking ball, alright?"

"Such a mouth," giggled Stephanie.

I took a long drink and put another cracker in my mouth. Across the street, the Anderson's living room window changed from blue to grey to blue again as they switched channels from Entertainment Tonight all the way over to A Current Affair. Those Anderson. I could set my watch by them and their ever so regular viewing habits. And I did. Eight-oh-three.

"You're out!" shrieked Jasmine in the middle of the play. "Stop running, you running cunt! I tagged you three fucking years ago. You're out!"

"Fuck you!" came Lilac's retort.

Can that Lilac retort? I think so, and Stephanie does, too.

"If I'm still moving, you're still losing. Tag this, you stupid little whore!"

Stephanie and I both smiled, separately though simultaneously, to imagine little Lilac's gesture. There, in the kind of darkness that encloses us when that kind of darkness falls, we could see the dim forms of catfish on the lawn. They walked, in the kind of way they walk when they walk across our lawn, slowly and without rhythm. Like catfish.

Lilac's voice rose an octave. The fish paused then redoubled their motile thrashings. Stephanie and I both smiled, separately though simultaneously, to imagine little Lilac's distress. We could hear the dull sound wood makes, Louisville Slugger wood specifically, when it hits girl flesh. I put a saltine cracker on my tongue and closed my mouth. It, the cracker, began to dissolve.

"More ice cold water?" Stephanie asked.

"Mmm-mmm," I answered around the cracker. She filled my glass until the water bulged, trembling, against the rim of the glass. We could hear the shrieks of the girls floating toward us and the gentle shiver of breaking glass.

In that moment, hung against the twilit paint of another evening's end, the girls came pounding across the Mitchell lawn with sports equipment akimbo.

"You girls," Stephanie smiled at them.

"How was the game? You girls?" I asked them all through the paste in my mouth, the remains of my saltine cracker.

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