The girl with pink socks sitting on the wooden bench in the grassy green playground park in the middle of town shadowy under early evening trees. Summer heat past summer now so hot the air won’t even move like everywhere a stage beneath a giant glowering spotlight melting everything; and nowhere to escape the heat. The massive green grass playground park in middle of town stretching endless from deserted baseball field where games are over, and swimming pool with a mere handful of children trying to pretend they’re having fun.
Past the endless playground equipment, swings slides sandboxes, the girl watches boys play at basketball on the cracked cement court careening the heavy ball off the metal backboard, thwang and thwang and whish the ball drops down through metal mesh beneath the hoop. To the top of the key and hands slapping ball against cement in cutoff jeans, naked sweaty torso’s rubbing against each other shoulder into chest vying for position dripping wet, closing in on the hoop in the oppressing heat. Stupid boys, she thinks, playing stupid games; reclining against the wooden bench feeling hot sweat dripping from her face crawling along bare legs beneath her short skirt.
The tall boy with dark hair steps onto the court glides around the others with no effort leaping up stuffing the ball down through metal mesh hoop whing then slapping on cement. The girl, breath caught in her throat. Afraid he’s not going to make the shot, won’t be able, embarrassing himself attempting something beyond his reach. Embarrassing to watch as someone so…skilled makes a fool of himself, and lesser people laugh at him for trying. But it was easy, makes you catch your breath to watch. He looks at her looking at him then tosses the ball back easy to center court.
What to do now, the right move. Go over to the basketball court, stand there smiling. Catch the loose ball and throw it back to the boys as they check you out, your breasts to see if you’re old enough, your legs, you’re face to see if you’re pretty enough to bother with. Or is going over there like saying you’re easy, ungry little slut looking for attention, begging for it maybe. What to do. Why is he here, the tall boy, the only one that matters; so better than the others. What, just showing off, nothing else to do. Why isn’t he with his girlfriend, up in her room with the parents in the living room down below imagining their daughter and her friend are listening to cd’s when really he’s undoing her blouse feeling inside the lacy bra covering her round breasts. Maybe her breasts aren’t so big, maybe she’s slim petite laughing giggling, doesn’t wear a bra. Just to undo her blouse and rub his large hands on her small hard breasts; lying on the soft bed kissing her neck by way of unzipping jeans down to her hot wet crotch.
Why isn’t he there. Maybe he’s just come from there; or been there so often the basketball game is something different, more interesting now. Maybe he doesn’t even have a girlfriend. Yeah, fat chance. The girl in pink socks looks up at an old man who walks by. He looks at her and smiles. Old men can do that and get away with it. He reaches down into the sand, picks up a shiny coin and looks at it. Then hands it to the girl; twenty-five cents. “Oh, uh…thanks” she says. The old man nods, smiles and walks away.
Silly old man, she thinks and takes a deep breath, relaxes; grateful to say the right thing. Not “fuck off” or something like that, what she was thinking, what she almost said to the stupid old bastard handing her a fucking quarter. When the old man was her age, a quarter’d maybe buy you a meal in a diner. Know what it’s worth now old man? Go to that same diner, walk in the front door and stick it in a bubblegum machine. Or one of those see-through plastic spin around things where you put in a coin and watch it go round and round ‘til it drops into the big hole. That’s what its worth, just to watch it spin around a couple of times before it drops into that hole and gone forever.
The girl looks over at the empty basketball court sees the boys walking off in the distance going their separate ways with the sweat dripping down their backs.