The newborn first opens his eyes to a world that seems new and full of wonderful things. Looking around the room to a woman who appears to be in awe, she secures the baby and kisses him on the forehead. A beautiful beginning of a long relationship of mother and son. Soon the door opens and a cart full of presents is pushed in. The first box is opened and a red ball is revealed, the baby eyes it curiously. His eyes close and eventually he falls asleep. The next day the mother and son go home, the ball is dropped on the floor near the white bassinet. The baby once again falls asleep. The baby turns three months old and can now hold the ball. He rolls it around and watches it get away from him. The ball is a little dusty since day one. Months later the boy rolls the red ball away, however now he crawls over and retrieves it on his own. One year later the boy skips to the toy chest and grabs the red ball, now slightly discolored with a brown stain from leaving it out in the rain. At the age of three, the boy finds the ball and takes it outside. His mother reminds him not to let it roll into the street. Content with the red ball, the boy tries to ignore the four older boys on the corner. Four years old and the boy has a friend over, they play catch with the red ball. The boy turns six and goes to school. For show and tell he brings in the red ball. He lets the other children pass it around. His mother takes his hand and they walk home together, past the older boys on the corner. The boy is now eight and it is time to put the red ball in the closet, time to grow up. At school there are real balls, they are stronger, bounce higher, and have better colors. The boy turns ten and has long forgotten about the red ball. He walks to the corner and talks with the other boys; they laugh at his jokes and pat him in the back. The boy is thirteen and on the corner with the boys, he puts out a cigarette with his shoe and looks across the street. There is a little girl there playing with a ball; she is trying not to watch the older boys on the corner. The boy says good-bye to his friends and walks home. He opens up the closet and searches for the red ball. It is in the back behind all of his winter clothes. The ball has a thick layer of dust covering it, and is almost completely deflated. He grabs the ball and goes back out into the yard; he slowly lets the red ball roll out into the street as he winks at the boys on the corner. He goes back into the house and passes by his mother without saying a word. 1
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.