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You Wanna Play Ball?

, , , , , | Friendly | March 15, 2022

It’s summer in the late 2000s, and kids still prefer to spend the day playing outside. I’m home alone with my brothers, sitting outside reading a book, when I hear some yelling coming from the neighbor’s yard. I walk out of my porch to see one of the neighbor’s kids running out of my yard through the fence with a ball in hand. I say to myself, “Oh, they accidentally threw their ball over the fence, okay.”

Me: “Be careful with that!”

They stare at me for a bit before going back to playing. I find it weird, but I assume they weren’t expecting me to say anything, seeing as I am a teen and not actually an adult, so I go back to my book. Not two minutes after, I hear the unmistakable sound of wire fencing being messed with, and I look over to see one of the kids running through my yard, picking their ball from one of my mom’s plants, and running off.

Me: “Hey! What did I just say?!”

The kids laugh and run off, and I move my chair off the porch so I can stand guard. The kids come back, see me, and pretend to be playing for a bit while I stare at them. I eventually decide to look back at my book… and the ball flies over the fence into another plant.

Me: “Hey! Did you not hear me?!”

I get up to go grab the ball, but they are faster and run off with it before I get to them. They move down the block a bit so that they are further from me but still next to my fence, and the scene plays again a few times. By now, they have pulled so much at the wire fencing — it’s simple wire, so they can’t get hurt by grabbing it, though it has barbed wire running at the top because there are many horses in the neighborhood — that the fence is starting to fall down in some places. I realize this is the actual game they are playing: they throw the ball into my yard for one of them to run in and try to run out before I catch them. My brother finally comes out to see what is happening. As soon as he does, the kids run off.

Brother: “Why are you yelling so much?”

Me: “The neighbor’s kids are purposely throwing their ball at our yard. They are breaking the fence, and they have hit Mom’s rose bushes a few times.”

Brother: “Oh… Well, next time they do, grab the ball and bring it to me.”

He goes back inside, and I decide to be sneakier this time; I move the chair back to the porch, half-hidden behind a grapevine so they can’t see that there’s nobody there, and climb the branches of a big willow tree closer to the fence. Just a few minutes later, the kids come back, look at the porch, and don’t even pretend to play before throwing the ball back into the yard… right into my grandma’s old jasmine plant — a big mess of branches, intertwined with some thorny plant — in which the ball instantly gets stuck.

I wait until one of the kids goes through the fence before dropping down from the tree. The result is even better than expected: the kid screams, tries to grab the ball but gets pricked by the thorns, runs off but falls in the tall grass, and finally goes through the fence, catching his shirt in the barbed wire on top and ripping his whole sleeve while trying to escape. A whole section of the fence gets ripped off, too, but I consider it a victory. I grab the ball and head back inside for the day.

A few hours later, we hear some clapping and look outside to see one of the kids’ moms waiting by the fence that separates our yards. My brother goes to talk to her, and I see the kids pale and shrink the moment my brother points at the broken fence and plants. The mother says something and he comes back inside.

Brother: “Give me the ball.”

Me: “What? But they’ll just throw it back in.”

Brother: “Yeah, but Mom is not here, so we cannot just keep it. Go sit back on the porch.”

He gave the ball back to the mother, and we both sat outside to watch her ground her children and throw the ball up on their roof. Victory.

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