Mikey bends down to pitch the kickball but pauses before release. He straightens and cocks his head. “Y’all hear that?”
“Just throw the ball,” Terrence retorts from home base, i.e. a frisbee lying in the street.
“I hear it too,” says Wendy, who tonight is playing left field, short stop, and third base.
“I don’t hear anything.”
The fireflies are out, the light is fading, and soon their moms will be yelling for them to come inside. Terrence’s team is only down by one run and he knows that if they can just keep playing, they can actually win this time. Or tie, which would be just as good. Mikey’s older sister, Kristie the high school power kicker, will be back from her grandma’s tomorrow, meaning it’s now or never.
“I don’t hear anything either.” Terrence’s teammate Pat seems to want to win as badly as he does, or maybe he’s just oblivious.
Mikey shrugs. “You’re losing anyway.” He launches the ball down the pavement.
As the flimsy plastic ball rolls towards him, Terrence hears it. The ball is off-center, but it doesn’t matter. “Ice cream truck!” he yells as his foot connects.
“Told you!” Mikey pumps his fist toward the sky, whirling around to face Wendy. “Didn’t I tell y’all I heard it?”
Terrence’s plan works. His neighbors race towards the truck still a block away, ignoring the game. He sprints around the bases — a sewer grate for first, an x-shaped crack for second, and a flat white rock for third — before stomping on home with both feet.
“We won!” he shouts to the light poles. Deep down he knows it probably doesn’t count, that it’s actually a tie at best and will require a do-over tomorrow night, but that doesn’t matter right now as he jogs over to get his victory treat.
E.D. Martin is a writer with a knack for finding new jobs in new places. Born and raised in Illinois, her past incarnations have included bookstore barista in Indiana, college student in southern France, statistician in North Carolina, economic development analyst in North Dakota, and high school teacher in Iowa. She draws on her experiences to tell the stories of those around her, with a generous heaping of “what if” thrown in.
She currently lives in Illinois where she job hops while attending grad school and working on her novels. Read more of her stories at her website.