Jessica, a few days past her ninth birthday, was lying on her bed with Lucky, a young black and white sheep dog, next to her. Both had the look of boredom painted on their face. It was a sticky hot day in mid-September, the last few days of summer holidays.
She slid to the edge of the bed and pulled out a box from beneath. The box was full of soft toys, dolls and small toy cars. Jessica pulled out a doll with only three limbs and green-painted hair. She threw the doll to the floor and reached for a red convertible sports car. Lucky looked on amused. Jessica gave him a hopeless look, put the car away and then saw a ball, a yellow highlighter ball that emerged from the jumble. Jessica’s eyes brightened.
She grabbed the ball, turned towards Lucky and put it against his nose. Lucky pricked his ears as he smelled the ball. He lay lower, stretched his legs and wagged his tail. Jessica jumped off the bed and Lucky sprung to his feet, wagging wildly. Jessica threw the ball gently against the wall of her room. Lucky jumped off the bed, chased the ball, grabbed it, and laid it next to Jessica’s feet. He looked at Jessica and wagged as she encouraged him delightedly. “Well done Lucky!”
Jessica opened the door to her room and looked into the hallway. Lucky tagged behind. She gave a glimpse at the dog and hurtled the ball down the hallway. Lucky leaped behind. The ball bounced on the floor and rose high. It bounced again and crash!.The ball hit a glass pane. Jessica was stunned but Lucky was unhindered. The ball bounced back next to his legs and Lucky grabbed it between his teeth. Jessica ran back to her room with Lucky behind her as her mum screamed, “Jessica!!” from downstairs.
She hid herself under the bed and Lucky scrambled in with her as mum stormed in. “Were you playing with the ball again?”. “Sorry ma”, Jessica replied.
“How many times have I told you?”
“Lucky is getting really good you know”
“Balls are meant for the outside”
“Let’s go practise outside then, please” Jessica begged as she put her hands together as if she were praying and surfaced from behind the bed. Lucky followed suit and jumped on the bed, ball in mouth, wagging his tail.
Mother couldn’t keep the angry look and almost let out a smile.
“I still have to send a few emails and then prepare food for tonight. We’ll go in the evening”
“Can me and Lucky go now? Please”
“It’s too dangerous, there are cars everywhere”
“I’ll stay in the field, promise”
Matthew looked at the clock on his dashboard and didn’t like what he saw. He was running late. He stepped on the accelerator pedal, turned a corner and looked at the street name. It wasn’t what he expected. He looked at his phone, on the passenger seat.
Lucky grabbed the yellow highlighter ball from the top of a soil mound of an abandoned field. Jessica gleamed as Lucky ran towards her, ball in mouth. He came to an abrupt stop in front of her, sat down and lowered the ball on the ground.
“Good boy, Lucky, good boy!”
Lucky remained behind the ball, seated, mouth open, tongue out breathing. He wagged his tail and looked at Jessica with huge dog eyes, asking for more.
Jessica looked at him affectionately, went towards him and hugged him passionately. “Good boy Lucky.” Lucky spread his tongue over her face, while wagging his tail.
Matthew drove his car at high speed rolling down a country road. His radio was playing. The phone, on the passenger seat, vibrated. He looked at it trying to read the notification. He turned his glance back towards the road.
A yellow highlighter-coloured tennis ball hit his bonnet and flew off.
His car went over something. He jumped on his brakes and the car came to a complete stop.
To his left, a girl emerged from behind a rubble wall, leash in hand. She stopped abruptly, stunned.
Tears rolled down Jessica’s face.