Bring it Back by Ann Haywood Leal

It all began with the same sounds: a drippy faucet slowly filling up a sink with water, the whir of a fan, a baby crying from the next block, two brothers fighting . . .  surrounded by a light staticky buzz that was almost visible in the quickly disappearing sun.

Then the streetlight flickered to life and it was Game On.

My brother, Tim, and I huddled in the far-reaches of the streetlight periphery, bouncing on our toes, preparing and trying to anticipate.  Would we have extras tonight?  Ringers brought in from the outlying blocks of the neighborhood?  Could we out-strategize all of them tonight?

Then the pattering of feet, sneakers and sandals, the snap of flip-flops, and the almost-silent padding of summer toughened bare feet . . . quickly approaching, but not yet revealing faces in the direct beam of the streetlight.

Tim and I scanned the outer shadows for creative, yet undiscovered hiding places, nodding and planning.

The players moved in as if circling the wagons, strategy heavy in the air.

Somehow, somewhere, the can was produced, plopped in the precise center of the circle of light on the asphalt.  The girl from one block over positioned her dirty Converse next to the can and closed her eyes tightly, shouting out the countdown.

And we scattered.  
As Tim and I hid, we waited for our chance, watching and listening for the creeping rubber Converse soles.

My toes itched, aching to connect with the metal of the can.  I slowly crept out of the shelter of my hiding place, spotting a clear path to the streetlight.

I crouched to a runner's start and took off, the summer sweat trickling down my back.  Pounding feet approached from the opposite side of the street, but I kept going until I reached my destination.  I took a half step back and my right foot sent the can clanging across the pavement.

My glory was short-lived, because as with all kid freedom, a parent had to break in and cut it off.  Voices rang out from doorsteps, calling us back.

I never minded much, the going back in part.  Because I knew I had more friends waiting for me inside.


  1. Yay for those inside friends. (I've never seen that cover of ARE YOU THERE GOD?)

  2. Nancy...I remember her well. So great to be among such friends!

  3. Oh, nighttime summer games...what a nice memory recounting, Ann. Thanks for sharing this.


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