The field next door is perfectly mowed, I look at it because to me it is the world… my world. The world that keeps me company every summer. In the middle we’ve carved out a baseball field where we play every day. I never worry about being the last one chosen… they all want me on their team. I run fast. I hit hard. I throw far. I never give up. I am wild.
There’s a dirt track that circles the boundary, worn down from the motorcycle that the boys next door own. I sneak on it, out of the sight of my grandmother. My legs are too short to crank the kick-starter so the boys do it for me. I ride around the track, my sweaty brown hair flapping uncontrollably in the summer heat as I beg the bike to go faster as I approach the bump that will send me into the air for a brief second. I am wild.
The boys are waiting as I round the corner, screaming at me over the roar of engine to stop because it’s their turn. I keep going — they’re twice as old and twice as big as me but I laugh wildly as I tear past them for another time around the track and over that bump. They curse at me, laughing, when I finally stop and call me punk and squirt and pat my head and none of them go as fast I did — none of them. I am wild.
The sun disappears and we say our goodbyes for the night, I’m the last one to leave at the end of every day and the first one to arrive in the mornings. The boys walk to sit with the adults gathered in the backyard of their house. I turn and give the field a final look before I wind my way through the opening in the bushes that separates the field and the serene perfection of my grandmother’s immaculately groomed back yard.
She sits by the open window, the warm breeze blows the curtains back just a bit, the family next door laughs and screams and curses. She can smell the spilled beer and the unfiltered cigarettes as if she were standing in the middle of them… instead of where she is, on the edge of the footstool peering through the open window. I join her.
We watch together and listen together and we are silent, together. I wonder if she wishes she were sitting in the backyard with them… unencumbered by the foul smells and prickly words thrashing through the summer air all around them. I look at her. I see the want in her eyes… briefly. I stand up, tired of watching, and walk away, leaving her there… still staring.