The Soccer Game
by Phyllis Bohonis
C“Careful, Millie, you’re going to trip on that ball.” She can’t hear my warning because the foolish woman refuses to wear her hearing aid thinking it makes her look old. She’s seventy-three for heaven’s sake. She is old!
I try waving to catch her attention as I dart across my lawn to hers. She’s carrying a bag of groceries in each arm and can’t see the soccer-like ball on the walkway in front of her. As I draw near I realize the only way to remove it from her path is to kick it. I kick the ball with the grace of a moose dancing a pirouette. She shrieks as she stops just short of knocking me over.
When I turn to see where the ball disappeared I hear a giggle from the next yard. “Dorothy, what are you trying to do?” Millie’s other neighbour, Georgina, calls out as she runs to stop the rolling ball. With a twinkle in her eye she bounces it a couple of times with her foot and kicks it back over the low hedge.
Not to be outdone, I run to stop it. Millie in the meantime has placed her grocery sacks on the front steps. “What are you silly women doing?” She’s barely spoken before the ball sails through the air in her direction.
Shrieks of laughter, panting, and the sound of knees creaking abound as we try to keep the ball in motion. None of us wants to miss and end the game. Helen Koski from across the street joins us and we end up taking sides, two against two. The game has moved to my larger front yard.
The little boy who owns the ball starts shouting for us to kick it to him. He lives across the street and is not allowed beyond the curb. His mother soon joins him and shouts for us to keep it going. A delivery van slows to see what’s going on. The driver starts coaching from his open window.
After several more volleys the sound of a male cheer causes Millie to turn and miss a shot that bounces off the postman and knocks Georgina flat on her rump. She’s the baby of the group at the young age of sixty-two. We collapse on the ground beside her, out of breath and red-faced. When our breathing slows and we finally look at each other, we burst into another round of laughter.
“That’s the most action I’ve seen on this street since Joyce Hargrove caught her husband spiking her maple syrup with rum.” The boy’s mother yells.
Gary Tompkins, my widower neighbour, is walking toward us but looking only at Georgina.
“Are you all right, Mrs. Haines? That’s a nasty fall you took.” His look of concern is genuine as he reaches to help her to her feet. The rest of us slowly rise without assistance and watch as he brushes the dust from the back of her slacks. “Let me help you home. You might have twisted a leg.”
Millie shakes her head as Georgina, with an exaggerated limp walks away with Gary. “She fell for him long before today, poor unsuspecting man. How did this silly game start in the first place, Dorothy?”
“I was trying to keep you from having an accident. You didn’t hear me shout because you weren’t wearing your hearing aid, as usual. I never figured Georgina to keep the ball in motion once I kicked it. It was fun though. I felt like a kid again.”
The next day my doorbell rings bright and early. “Have you got a cup of coffee for a sore, stiff neighbour?”
“Come in, Millie. I always have the coffee pot on; you know that.”
We’re barely sitting when the doorbell rings again and I see Georgina and Helen through the glass. ‘What’s going on?’ I wonder.
After they’ve each poured themselves a cup, Millie confesses. “I asked them to meet me here. I enjoyed myself too much yesterday to let it end there. I got to wondering why we’re sitting on our behinds letting our bones grow old and our muscles sag, when we could be having that much fun every week.”
“I knew it was going to happen,” says Helen. “All that exercise drove too much oxygen to your brain. Surely, you don’t want to play soccer every week!”
“Of course not. I’m thinking more of something like tennis.”
“Tennis?” All of us ask in unison.
I shake my head. “I don’t believe this. I’ve created a monster with one little kick of a ball. Tennis has to be one of the most taxing sports there is.”
“Well, if the rest of you want to curl up in your rocking chairs then you go right ahead. I, in the meantime, intend to get my body in shape.”
“For what?” asks Georgina.
“Well, you’re a fine one to ask. You might want to tighten up that rump Mr. Tompkins was brushing yesterday.”
“There’s nothing wrong with my rump… is there?” She stands to look at the reflection of her backside in the glass door.
“You know, Millie is right. Our bodies really are talking to us. Mine sure was doing a lot of complaining this morning while I was showering. Maybe we should give some thought to regular physical activity.”
Georgina smiles and excuses herself promising to drop by later on.
In the early afternoon while watering my hanging baskets, I see Gary Tompkins turn into his driveway. “Good afternoon, Dorothy.”
“Hi there, Gary.” I smile as he comes across the yard.
“I understand you ladies want to become the next Williams twins? Or should I say quadruplets?”
“What are you talking about?”
It turns out Georgina and Gary worked a deal with the owner of a private tennis club where Gary is a member. We can play twice weekly in exchange for baking for the club-house lunches.
After three months of regular tennis, we are all much trimmer and more agile than we’ve been in years. Oh, by the way, next week I’m bringing a special dessert to the club house. It’s a cake that’s shaped like a soccer ball for Gary’s and Georgina’s engagement party. I understand the kid across the street is going to be the ring bearer.
This story shows how a little incident can grow — even if only in the imagination. Have you experienced any “little incidents” that might take flight with fancy? If you do, real or imagined, and you would like a little assistance to make them grow I can show you how.
Contact me at Phyllis@richmondhub.ca