My Skylar(5)

By: Penelope Ward

I shot first, and the ball went right into the hoop.

Mitch followed suit.

We kept taking turns, successfully hitting the baskets until I became the first one to miss.

“Aha!” Mitch laughed. “Let’s see…what do I want to know?” He scratched his chin and scrunched his lips. “Oh! Yesterday at the park…did you know who I was?”

I nodded. “I knew you were Mrs. Mazza’s grandson from the pictures hanging in her house. That’s why I left like that. I knew I would see you again anyway.”

He nodded in understanding. “Cool.”

I passed the ball to him and backed up a step further away from the hoop, gesturing for him to do the same. “Go.”

Of course, he made it and passed the ball to me.

I missed again.

“Alright, Skylar…hmm. What was your most embarrassing moment?”

I looked up at the cloudless, blue sky. “I once started laughing at my friend Angie in class and accidentally passed gas out loud in front of everyone.”

Mitch’s mouth dropped. “I can’t believe you just admitted that!”

“We told each other we’d be honest! That was honestly the most embarrassing moment of my life.”

“That’s pretty bad.”

“No. What’s bad is that everyone thought it was Angie, and I let them believe it.”

We laughed at my admission until I passed the ball to Mitch who proceeded to shoot…and miss.

I giddily jumped up and down. “Yes!”

“That fart story threw me off track!” Mitch licked his lips and looked down at the ground shaking his head in defeat. “Okay, give it to me.”

I looked into his big, blue eyes and asked, “Why are you really here this summer, and why were you so angry yesterday?”

“That’s two questions.”

“But the answer is the same?”

Mitch didn’t say anything right away, just looked at me.

“Things aren’t going well back home right now. I’m pretty sure my parents are getting a divorce. They didn’t want me around anymore to witness all the fighting. So…yeah.”

“My parents are divorced, too.”

His eyes widened. “Really?”

“Yeah. For two years now.”

Mitch seemed to be thinking hard about something. Then, he turned to me. “Did you ever feel…” He hesitated. “Never mind.”

“What? Did I feel what?”

“When you found out about your parents, did you feel like your world was ending…like you couldn’t picture the future anymore?”

It seemed Mitch and I had a lot more in common than I originally thought. “Yeah. I did feel like that sometimes. It was hard. I’m an only child, and my parents are my only family, you know?”

“I’m an only child, too. I guess that’s why I feel like it’s my responsibility to keep them together. Or worse, I think sometimes maybe if I didn’t exist, they wouldn’t be having these problems.”

The game we had been playing was no longer significant. Now, we were just talking as we made our way to Mitch’s front steps. The basketball rolled away onto the grass.

“You didn’t ask to be born, Mitch. You know this isn’t your fault, right? I used to think like you in the beginning with my parents. But after a while, I figured out that it really had nothing to do with me. And honestly, they both seem happier now.”

“Why did they get divorced?”

I chuckled. “Well, I overheard my Mom telling my Aunt Diane that my dad couldn’t keep it in his pants. But I still haven’t figured out what ‘it’ is. Do you know, Mitch?”

His face turned red. “You’re kidding, right?”

I nudged him. “Yeah.”

We both started cracking up.

“I can’t tell with you.” He sighed, picking mindlessly at the shrubs at the side of the stairs before turning back toward me. “Did I really look that miserable yesterday? It was that obvious?”

“Sort of…yeah.”

“How old are you anyway?” he asked.

“Ten. How old are you?”

“Eleven. You seem way older than ten.”

“My mom says I’m an old soul. I also kind of have this thing. It’s like an ESP. With certain people, it’s as if I can feel their emotions. It’s hard sometimes because I don’t always want to. But when I saw you, I just sensed something was wrong, and I felt your sadness, too.”

“Wow. What am I feeling right now?”

“Right now, you’re not sad.”

He stared at me for a while before his mouth spread into a wide smile. “You’re right. I’m not anymore.”

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