A baseball flew over the six-foot fence and into her
outstretched hand. Her fingers clenched automatically, as
though they'd been waiting for the pitch. She pulled her
hand down and stared at the scuffed white orb inside. The
leather was soft from use and the threads reminded her a bit
of Frankenstein's monster.
"Hello?" A young boy's voice called.
She turned to see pudgy fingers weaved through the
latticework on top of the fence, and a pair of brown
eyes peering unsteadily over it.
"Do you have my ball?" He lost his grip and dropped.
Only a few seconds passed before the face popped
back up again. "Do you?"
Tina gestured with the ball. "It's right here."
The face disappeared followed by a thud.
Was the boy okay? Tina carefully slipped past her
bushes to the fence and stood on the bottom board.
She looked over to see a boy of six or seven
standing on the ground with arms crossed, clearly
frustrated at his inability to hold himself up on
A man's head poked around the corner. "Everything
"Yeah, Dad! Just getting my ball."
Tina lifted the hand with the ball in a wave and
smiled at her new neighbor. She couldn't see his
face under the cap on his head, but those denim
shorts sure showed off his solid body quite nicely.
At that thought, her face heated with guilt. She had
no business admiring the tight body of a man who
most likely had a wife around.
He returned her wave with the extra long basting
brush he held. With a flash of white teeth, he
stepped back behind the side of the house.
"Could you throw it back, ma'am?"
The boy's question brought Tina's attention back
where it belonged and away from someone else's
husband. She looked down and smiled at the boy who
stood, mitt at the ready.
"Sure." Tina tossed the ball into the neighboring
yard where it bounced into his waiting hands. "But
would you try to keep the ball on your side? I have
rose bushes here that could be ruined if you're not
"Sure! Thanks!" The child smiled and then raced
around the side of the house.
She heard childish giggles and then a shriek and
more laughter. Were they having a tickle fight? She
flashed back to her own childhood here in this
now-quiet backyard. With a small sigh, she stepped
off the fence and through her roses. She wanted
backyard barbecues and tickle fights again.