Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Playground Game

He buries his face in hands that press against the huge old maple and begins to count. "One Mississippi, Two Mississippi, Three Mississippi," as the kids scatter across the ancient playing fields. They run toward hiding spaces great or minimal, deep or shallow. Up in other trees, crouched behind stone walls, under the creaking bleachers, in clumps of overgrown brush. They will try their best but he will not look for them. As he moves up the number line, "Fourteen Mississippi, Fifteen Mississippi, Sixteen Mississippi," it is he that is fleeing. He imagines other places, different families, moments far away. He wishes a distant island, his father a fisherman who takes him out each morning onto the gray Atlantic. There is a warm fire on the hearth at home, and quiet, and safety. By the time he has reached the agreed upon number, "Twenty-Eight Mississippi, Twenty-Nine Mississippi, Thirty Mississippi," he has made his move. He yells nothing, and drifts gently away.

After ten minutes the kids emerge in confusion. They look for him until they get called in for supper. An hour or two later, the adults start their search.

copyright 2004-2006 by Ira Socol


Brenda said...

He waits until everyone is hiding, and then disappears...

An unexpected ending.

I particularly like "ancient playing fields," and "spaces great or minimal." It seems that's where we all play, and hide and seek each other, and ourselves.

If you're lost, can you be found? "Playground Game" raises some probably unanswerable questions...

An unexpected ending that is open-ended. Without being over-written or heavy-handed in its meaning. A twist to a childhood game, but isn't that what the rest of our lives are?

Adriana Bliss said...

Yes, Brenda, I like the game being turned on its ear. Haunting, beautiful, in Ira's unique voice.