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Boys, Balloons, and Ketchup

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It was summer. The grass was green and itchy, the sun scorching hot and we had nothing to do but sit around in our bathing suits blowing bubbles and eating nachos. Luckily Kelsie had a pool because we were too young to drive and too old for our parents to actually be happy chauffeuring. With my ipod on shuffle and a volleyball within reach, we could not have been happier.

Doing nothing all summer would have suited me perfectly. I was getting a quite a nice tan and could really get used to an Orange Julius every hour. My only problem was Kelsie. She had a mind of her own and wanted an adventure.

“Do you really think I want to tell everyone I sat in my backyard and pigged out all summer?” she asked giving me that smile I knew all too well. I was in for it.

The next morning was as hot as every other day in Las Vegas, only we spent our morning making water balloon after water balloon instead of playing around in the pool like we normally did. Once we had enough to fill our two huge Jansport backpacks, we set off to the park. As we walked, Kelsie told me the plan.

“Okay, but not adults or little kids.” I warned her. She laughed, but I was serious. We set our backpacks behind a three foot stone wall and partly under a desert looking bush. Grabbing four plump balloons we set out to find our first victims.

It did not take long. Three skinny blonde girls wearing white tennis skirts were practicing their serving on an otherwise empty tennis court. I glanced at Kelsie, but she was already throwing one of her blue balloons over the green gate. I quickly followed suit. There was a scream, two laughs, and then another scream and a “Who did that?” I whirled my last balloon over the fence and chased after Kelsie, her dark brown ponytail bouncing ecstatically as she ran. After laughing for about three giddy minutes, we started to plan our next attack.

I lay down under a tall tree and watched the clouds while Kelsie unwrapped a Fruit-by-the-Foot. I was only half listening as Kelsie complained that she knew she should have worn sweats with pockets to fit more water balloons in.

“Some things just come back to haunt you don’t they?” she asked me.

“Let’s get them.” I suggested looked at two boys about our age tossing a football. Kelsie grinned.

“Agreed.” She was always up for anything. We set out again, slipping behind pillars and ducking behind bushes, trying our best to act like the ninjas we thought we were. Once we were as close as we could get without being spotted, I took my first water balloon and flung it as far as I could. It missed.

“What the heck was that?” exclaimed the boy spinning around on the spot, his infuriated eyes right on us, but Kelsie had already sent her balloon toward him. It smacked him in the face leaving a sopping wet and boiling mad boy holding a football. In his furry he chucked it at us and we started sprinting like it was the end of the world. What is worse is that he started to chase us and he was fast. I don’t know why I let Kelsie lead us into the dark wash tunnel without any flashlights, but it just happened.
We ran until we hit a dead end and to my horror I saw that Kelsie had the boy’s football tucked under her arm. The sunlight from the tunnel opening exposed the boy’s silhouette coming toward us. And then his face was so close to mine I thought he might try to kiss me.
“Are you girls crazy?” he asked. I hoped I could sense a little tint of amusement in his voice. Maybe I was wrong. “Just give me back my football.” He muttered, “I am definitely not going to fight two girls in a dark wash.” A blanket of relief fell over me.
“Fine.” Kelsie exclaimed, “We’ll fight tomorrow, same time, at the park.” I felt Kelsie rip the blanket right off me.
“I’ll be there,” he smirked, snatching the football and turning around. “Don’t chicken out.” And he was gone.
The Orange Julius I had when we were back at home did not taste nearly as satisfying as it should have. It must not have just mixed right with the pit in my stomach. I looked over at bubbly Kelsie painting her toenails yellow and singing along with “All Star.” She was no match for a strong football player. Apparently she felt my gaze.
“Come on, Brit. I wasn’t going to let our only adventure end there.” She smiled at me.
“Getting beat up is a better story than no story at all, isn’t it?” I replied unhappily.
“Exactly,” she mused, obviously not catching my sarcasm. “So, at first I was thinking water balloons, but then I realized they were just too kiddish.” At least she wasn’t thinking fist fight. I relaxed a little. “But I think I got it—water balloons full of paint. It’s perfect.” I smiled. I did really want to get those boys.
We spent our afternoon squeezing blueberry blue, princess purple, and sunshine yellow paint into the remainder of our balloons. As I walked home from Kelsie’s house that night I felt as if had just swallowed a pill of regret. I had the draining feeling that yesterday’s water fight was going to come back and bite us.
I woke up with the sun the next day, pulled on my oldest pair of faded jeans—the ones with the holes in the knees—grabbed a banana for the ride to Kelsie’s and was on my way. I was greeted with Kelsie’s huge smile that shone with every aspect of exhilarating thrill. I knew then there was no way we were going to back down now.
“Here is the camera. I have the balloons packed very safely. Let’s go.” Once again she had everything planned and ready.
It really was a nice day. The wet blades of grass sparkled as the sun peered over brick walls and through trees. There was actually a slight breeze dancing through the bushes and playing with my hair. Kelsie’s plan was actually pretty ingenious; maybe it would turn out to be a summer adventure after all.
Up at the park I noticed two boys, and a football soaring through the air. What were they already doing here? I looked over at Kelsie’s smirk of pure delight. I took my barn red balloon from Kelsie and we broke into a frantic run. They were in for it.
Before my balloon had left my hand, I felt a splat of slimy red ketchup hit me in the face. The disgusting taste of stale McDonalds French fries stuck in my mouth. Another splat and the smell of old mustard told me that Kelsie had been hit. I wiped my eyes and tried to hold back my grin as I sent my staining blue paint balloon at the taller boy’s shoes. Before we knew it we were all covered in a rainbow of paint and hotdog condiments, laughing as if we had known each other since kindergarten.
We have plenty of crazed pictures of the four of us, from that day and from the rest of the summer. I learned that sometimes Kelsie’s ideas are actually a good thing and sometimes I just need to trust her, even if I still can’t get that horrid smell of paint and relish out of my hair.





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