Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | June 5, 2008

Ping Pong

Jamestown, Rhode Island. July 17, 2007.

I don’t believe in physics. I can solve problems of angular momentum with my eyes shut, but it’s not real. The world is much stranger than numbers and well-behaving forces can ever explain.

It was last summer: four friends, a huge house, and all the poison ivy you could ever wish for.  Lily’s family invited us.  Her parents were there, but they spent every waking second out on the water.  Loony in more way than one.  Mostly, it was just us.  Us and the boy who took to hanging out at the end of the driveway.

He’d been there off an on for a week when I lost it.  Lily could have left him there all year, but I was too curious.

“What’s up?”  I called out.  Didn’t go close.  You never know who could be an axe murderer.

He shrugged.  His eyes were completely hidden under the craziest, blackest, curliest hair I’d ever seen.  The baseball cap squashing it down didn’t really help at all

“Do you want something?”

Shook his head.  The hair barely moved, just jiggled a little.  Most people would have waved politely and walked away at this point.  Ok, I was caught stalking, sorry, moving on.  This guy kept standing.

“Well, bye!”  I waved for emphasis.

“My name’s Warren.”

Warren?  It was the stupidest name I’d ever heard.  Even my older brother who had the misfortune of being born the day our grandfather died wound up with Edward, which could be shortened to Eddie, which wasn’t so bad.  I lucked out.  Heather wasn’t any dead relative’s name, just mine.  But I wasn’t going to tell it to this nutcase.

“Bye, Warren.”  Maybe he’d go away this time.

He did shuffle back a few steps.  I heard the girls behind me, coming out to see what was going on.

“Heather, what are you doing?” Lily and Kat marched up behind me, squashed together like one four-legged person.  Jillian was leaning over the porch railing, a bored, sleepy look on her face.  She only woke up for activities involving balls and lots of angular momentum.  This summer, that had mostly meant ping pong.

“Heather?”  Warren said.  I thought I caught a glimpse of dark eyes beneath all the hair.

“Thanks guys,” I muttered, “I was trying to be anonymous.”

“Oh, sorry, dude.  Her name’s anonymous,” Kat cupped her hands and shouted down the driveway.

“Ka-at!”  I drew her name out to two long syllables and joined my arm into the Kat-Lily creature.

“Kat and Heather,” said the boy.  He was collecting our names left and right.

“You still don’t know me!”  Lily shouted, “and we won’t tell you!”

The boy grinned, showing off some perfect white teeth.  “I know you, Lily. We met in a sandbox when we were three.  Don’t you remember?”

And he was gone, loping off down the road.



  1. This is creepy, Kathryn! Is it part of a larger story? I’d like to know what happens next (I guess I like scary children)….

  2. You’re right, it is creepy! I hadn’t really noticed when I was writing it… And unfortunately, I have as little of an idea as you do what happens next. since I write these little story bits stream of consciousness. Eventually, I will turn my favorites into longer, finished stories, though.

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