Zest Lit Issue 2, October 2013 - Page 50

switch. They stand in the instant light, blinking. The boy lowers his gun. Miniature footballs and baseballs and basketballs spiral around them, peeling away from the walls.

‘This used to be my room,’ Grumps whispers. Cowboy creeps around, touching the footballs and baseballs. A papered section comes off in one long peel. He picks up an old metal truck and zings it across the dresser. He squeezes the head of a Barbie-sized army figure. He shakes a wooden stick that sounds like rain. Then he finds a crudely made slingshot. Grumps doesn’t say how his father found the thick Y branch in their kitchen sink after a tornado blew through. His father skinned the branch with a pocket knife over an afternoon beer. Cowboy’s about to pull back the rubber band, when he spies something on the yarn-tied bedspread.

He drops the slingshot and grabs up an old mitt. ‘Whose is this?’ Cowboy demands.

‘Bring that here,’ Grumps says from the doorway. He doesn’t have the strength to move any further into the room. ‘This,’ he says, ‘is my proof.’

The boy rolls his eyes so only the whites show. ‘If you wear a ring long enough,’ Grump says, ‘the shape begins to form to your finger until it’s no longer round, but dips and curves. A mitt, it’s just like that. After a while, the only hand it fits is yours.’

The mitt is rounded and bleached by years of sunny play. Grump’s rough fingers loll around the rounded edges of the mitt. A lost sun suddenly singes the edges of his ears and sears into his young bare arms and legs. He tastes grit from a slide into home base; Tommy screams he’s safe, he’s safe and the other boys quarrel nose to nose. A