Bombardment

I spoke to my friend Max over FB the other day. I haven’t seen Max in person since I was fifteen – thirty years ago this year.

We were in school together since the fourth grade. I joined WIS – the name of our school – then. I will always remember Max had the most singularly sweet smile. It is etched in my brain. Those childhood cells. Crazy, hey? I might forget what year it is and where I live in the end, but I will never forget Max’s smile. And that I hated onions. Right pain I was.

Anyhow, like Lu’s Chemistry teacher says, ‘Moving it along,’ – northern British accent.

I thought to ask Max a question the other day. It had been bugging me. We used to play this game at school see, which I’ve never played anywhere else since. It was the BEST game. And real simple. Basically, our class split evenly into two teams. Didn’t matter how many of you were in as long as it was equal. We drew a line in the middle.

You had to stay on your side of the line. Deal was – there was a ball. Big bouncy playground ball. The game started when someone threw it across the line.

You could throw the ball randomly, but it helped if you targeted individual kids. If you hit a kid on the other team anywhere on the body, and they didn’t catch the ball, they were out. If they caught it though you, the thrower was out. If you threw it too and it bounced on the floor, you were also out. I think that was the extent of the rules.

So it was simple. And it was quite brutal. Girls and boys played it together. Some kids threw hard, and you could get pegged. Some kids were sneaky with the ball too. They’d pretend to go throw it somewhere else, but at the last second they’d hurl it at you instead. The surprise would stop you being able to catch it. I’m pretty sure I did this.

The team who won was the team with the last person left standing. And I think writing this that there may have been a way of getting back into the game. I remember kids lined up on the playground tarmac, waiting to get tagged back in. Or am I dreaming it? There go the memory cells again. Typical. Can anyone fill in the gaps?

I do remember this game like I remember Max’s kind-filled grin. Mostly it was the look on everyone’s faces when the ball was coming their way. That slow-motion, high-emotion, frozen flash-frame. The decision-making: whether to get out of the way of the ball or whether to try and catch it. Getting the thrower out. It was all there.

The game, Max wrote to me, was called Bombardment. Bombardment! Of course it was. The gift of old friendship. Thank you Max 💕.

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