In late July, in the mid-nineties, I begged Mom and her fiancé Paul to buy me a big ball at Roses department store. Green and white swirls, it seemed six feet wide. It took up the whole backseat. It wasn’t a beach ball, but one that came already inflated.
“No,” Paul said. He looked at my mom to see if the preliminary answer stood.
“Let’s get it,” she said, looking up to him, smiling.
Paul rolled his eyes and pulled it from the top of the net cage that held many others just the same size.
I sat next to it in the back seat. It was the biggest ball I’d ever seen. Mom and I talked about how much fun it would be to bounce it in the pool. But it was Sunday evening, so no pool because they had to go to work in the morning.
Paul, Mom, and I formed a triangle in our big front yard. We played a game where we bounced it from one person to another.
“Let’s see if we can not let it hit the ground,” Mom said.
We made it one round. From me to Mom to Paul. Then, to me, to Mom, again, only it went over her head. Mom’s competitive, so she jumped to hit it. The sun was setting. The ball was bigger than the sun.
Mom’s nails barely scratched the surface. It went towards the fence. We moaned as a group.
The ball bounced on top of the chain-link fence and popped.
It made no sound, only the release of its air, and shriveled up into rubber shards.
“Aww,” Mom said.
“Oww,” I said.
“Maybe we can we get another?” Mom said. She sounded sad or disappointed or guilty.
But we didn’t replace the ball because
Roses closed early on Sundays.
And Mom and Paul had to work in the morning.
And I’d already begged that one.
And they broke-up.
And Paul moved away.
And they married other people.
And I grew up.