A 996 word story written for the Writer's Cramp prompt, 10/8/19.
| The Playground
"What are you up to?" It's Brian on the phone and that can only mean one thing; he's bored.
I look at the screen where Crash Bandicoot is impatiently tapping his foot, urging me to get back to the game. I can't tell him or he'll be round here, taking control and hogging the controller. "Nothing, really," I say.
"Meet you outside in about ten minutes then," and he's gone.
That's the thing about Brian; he's so controlling. What he says goes, and if you don't like it, well, that's tough. I guess that's why I'm his only friend, for I let him push me around.
I grab a handfull of change, push my feet in to my sneakers, and reluctantly say 'goodbye' to Crash. I'll resume the game later, when I get home from whatever Brian has planned.
I'm outside and waiting with five minutes to spare. I had to be, otherwise my Mom would have invited him in and I'd be spending the next four hours watching him play MY games. It's not that I'm possessive, but watching is boring and, in all honesty, he's really not much of a player.
I can see him sauntering along the road. At least he's on foot today. Last time he called me he was on his bike and I had to run just to keep up with him. Did he let me ride it at all? Not a chance!
"So, what's the plan?" I ask as I walk beside him.
"Don't know, really. You got any money?"
"Not much." Okay, I don't know how much I've got, but he's not going to get me to spend it all on him. "How about you?"
"Nah, I'm skint. Lost it all to my brother, didn't I." I nod, understandingly. And I do understand. It's a lie. There is no way Matt would have been gambling with his younger brother.
"I guess I can buy us a can and some chips."
We're already heading to the store. Brian had known I'd offer; I must be becoming way too predictable.
The soda is lukewarm. I don't care when he drinks more than his fair share, but when it comes to the chips I smack his hand away. "Leave off! There's less than half the bag here, anyway."
Brian sulks for a while, kicking at the wall we're leaning against. I let him sulk. It was my money that paid, after all.
We loitered around for a while, but Garvey Kennedy in the store was giving us more and more frequent glances. Don't know what his problem is. I mean, we aren't doing anything to put off his customers.
Mrs Harris gives us a dirty look as she walks along the edge of the pavement, keeping as far from us as possible. She pushed her way in to the store and walks straight up to Garvey. We couldn't hear her words but they both kept looking our way.
"Stupid bitch," Brian mutters, then turns to me. "Are you coming or not?"
"The park. There's not much choice in this dead-end town, is there!" Brian strode away, hands thrust deep in his pockets.
I had to jog to catch up. The park was going to be full of kids. A lot of our classmates will be hanging around; giggling girls one side, and soccer-playing boys the other. They'd all pretend not to care, but it was a game of who could attract the most attention.
They wouldn't take any notice of us, but then we'd not be going in to the fields. Brian only went to the park for one thing. He might be twelve, but he was still going to go on the slide, the roundabout, the swings.
The younger kids grouped up to watch us. They had nothing to fear from me, but Brian wasn't averse to pushing his way through the younger ones, not once he'd decided on which piece of equipment he was going to use.
First he headed over to the swings, sending the younger ones scuttling away. He reached up, stuck his foot on the seat then he swung the thing dangerously high. I'm not competitive but even so, I felt I had to push up way higher than I was comfortable with.
Once he got bored with that, he twisted the chains tighter and tighter until they weren't going to twist any more. He let go, and the seat swung wildly around. Brian stuck out his foot and hit me just above the knee. I bit back on the yelp that wanted to escape my lips.
The roundabout was next in line. He climbed on and waited for me to get a grip then run like mad to set the thing spinning. After two goes, I told him it was his turn to push so he headed off over to the slide.
Now, there's two slides here; a lower one for the younger kids, and a big tall one for the others. Metal steps that get slippery, and a metal slide too. "You go first," he says to me, but don't go getting the idea that it's from any consideration for anyone other than himself. I'm polishing it for him, so he gets to slide that bit faster.
Something's wrong, though. I'm watching him starting his descent, then it all happens so quickly, he's gone over the side and he lands on the ground with a smack. The younger kids look at me and I look at them, then one starts to wail. I guess they've seen what I've seen; that blood starting to pool.
I walk over to him, crouch down. "Brian? Are you okay?" A stupid question, but then I'm only twelve, too.
One of the older kids comes jogging over, phone in hand, and I'm glad to take a bit of a back seat while we wait for the ambulance to arrive and whisk Brian off to the emergency room.