|1. A ball sits untouched in
the middle of a field. A man walking past, on his way to a blind date, sees
it. His first thought is to kick it good and hard like heís kicked balls
in his past. So he veers towards it. As he comes closer he begins to wonder
why a ball would be left untouched in the middle of a field. He would never
leave a ball behind. A ball is large and hard to forget, unless one is deliberately
leaving it behind, he thinks. You donít just go out with a ball and come
home ball-less, in the same way that you donít go out wearing pants and
come home trouser-less. Unless it was deliberate. Why would someone leave
behind a ball on purpose? he thinks. Maybe it isnít a ball at all, he thinks.
Maybe itís a bomb. It might be a bomb disguised as a ball, meant to blow
the first fool to kick it into a million foolish shards. That seems insane
to him, such random violence, especially since it would most likely be a
child victimized. Children like to kick balls. But even if there isnít a
bomb, there might be something else in it. What if it is slit in four places
and filled with dog shit, so that when you kick it dog shit flies all over
the field, your shoe, your suit. Or perhaps someone has filled the ball
with cement so that when you kick it, the ball doesnít move but your foot
bones shatter, and maybe your ankle. The man has been fooled by coins glued
to the floor, he doesnít need to be fooled by a cement-filled ball. By this
time he is very wary of the ball and incensed at the bastard who left it
behind. He canít believe that there are people like that in the world. He
isnít even comfortable thinking about the ball and so he changes his path
and walks in a wide circle around it. He looks at his shoes.
2. A woman comes by not long after and she, too, is tempted to kick the ball. But then she thinks that the ball must have been left behind by someone. Someone who didnít mean to leave it behind. Someone who would be sad to have left it. Tomorrow that person will come back searching for it. She instantly catalogues the significant things she has lost in her life: a stuffed rhino, her fifth-grade backpack full of library books, a wallet with her first driverís license, a ring, a down jacket. If she kicks the ball it might get lost. It might get lost in the bushes, even though it might take two kicks to get it into the bushes, or even three because the bushes are quite far away, but all the same... She quickens her pace and goes where she is going.
3. Later, close to dusk, another man walking across
the field contemplates kicking. Heíd seen the ball earlier in the day
but had been in a hurry. Now he is going slowly homeward, not hurrying
home because there isnít anything waiting for him there. His girlfriend
has broken up with him. Why is the ball still there? Do people know something
that he doesnít? His ex always tells him that he is, you know, kinda dumbóthat
he doesnít ever notice anything until it pinches his butt. He doesnít
always remember her birthday. He doesnít notice when she is really, really
sad. He doesnít know how to act right around her friends so that she isnít
embarrassed. Really she doesnít know why she was ever with him at all.
Because heís kinda dumb, because heís been dumb his whole life, he always
figures that everyone else knows something he doesnít. It is a safe default.
There must be a reason not to kick the ball, since the ball hasnít been
kicked. So he walks away. Besides, he thinks, Itís a volleyball. Not for
Imagine the love story graph and it always appears as a series of spikes and dips. It looks like teeth. The teeth of a monster, appropriately. I love you, I stab you in the heart, I love you, I crush you with my heel. But. Then imagine, charted on the same axes, a thin line that gradually curves up from zeroóeverything always starts at zeroóand plateaus; it oscillates slightly, but it never comes down, it never severs, it never peaks, it doesnít run into a wall. What about that?
Thereís always an obstacle unless there
isnít one; the obstacle is not always overcome. Then you cry for the star-struck
lovers. So sad. And if the lovers are triumphant? You are torn up between
horror and joy.