This is my first installment in the A–Z challenge:
“Arsenal.” He collected words like pebbles in his pocket his mother would complain about later when they went through the wash.
“Arsenal” was amongst his most favorite, like a crystal rock he’d found last summer on their trip to the Polar Bear New Hampshire caves – it was the perfect word for his collection of arms.
So since the discovery of this super shiny word, he’d put together his own arsenal, a couple of Nerf Guns, old water pistols, and his favorite, a bow and arrow he’d made himself, from branches and string.
And there he sat up in the treehouse, armed and waiting until his victim was in sight; the girl next door. She had gotten him into big trouble for telling him to throw his new Heelys up into the trees “or else.” He was waiting for her to come outside to play with her new puppy.
He’d loved those Heelys. Gliding, cruising the sidewalks, he’d felt cool as otherwise he rarely did. He’d begged for them, and his mother had given in, even though his 7th birthday was a month away.
Still. He’d done as he was told. He’d thrown the Heelys up into the trees.
Her mother came outside to stare up at them, tangled in the branches of their towering Spruce. “Sixty bucks. Do you have enough to pay that back from your piggy bank?”
Of course not. He only had pennies. And he saved those for his magic tricks.
“She told me to do it.”
“And since when do you do what everyone tells you to do, including your mother?”
Well, she had a point there. Like not dropping his bath towel on the floor, or littering the house with cheese-stick wrappers….
He didn’t know why. Maybe because this girl next door stood a full head above him, and liked to remind him that she was already in third grade when they issued you an actual string instrument, an elementary school rite of passage.
Whatever the reason, he was in one pickle; he’d had to resort to his old crappy tie sneakers that did not make him feel cool.
And there she was. With the puppy. She ran around the yard with it, tossing a stick, but then sat down to watch it as it sniffed around the yard. She ran the stick through the dirt, as if drawing a picture. He witnessed her in a moment alone.
And he was alone.
He was still mad about his Heelys. He still would never forgive her. But he really liked playing with the puppy. In that immediacy of the moment as tactile as a pebble in his pocket, as only a child can, he was able to abandon his arsenal and run next door.