Field of Play
Our neighbour lives in a beige two-storey house ringed with sheds at the far side of an L-shaped field. Our garden sits in the crook of the field, a square patch of neatness amid the ungrazed grass and budding ragwort. As winter fades to a memory we spend more time outdoors after school, kicking a ball around or turning lazy somersaults on the trampoline. Sometimes the ball sails past my outstretched hands and lands in the field. ‘Not getting it,’ we both quickly say, and then ‘jynx, double jynx.’ In the end, though, my brother always fetches the ball. It’s a hop up onto the trampoline, a couple of steadying bounces, then a flying leap over the fence. ‘Space jam!’ he shouts mid-air. Mum knocks on the kitchen window. ‘Is your brother in the field again?’ I wave her down. For now the field is an extension of our garden, our games include it; we play rounders, hacking at a tennis ball with a thick branch, waiting for the one-in-a-hundred shot that will launch the ball almost as far as our neighbour’s house. High five. As spring approaches, though, we’ll relinquish the field to its new tenants, cross-eyed ewes with their wobbly lambs, and later in the summer a gang of baudy young bulls. After that, with winter on the rise, the evenings will shut down and the field will be just a dark haze seen through steamy windows. For now, though, the field is open, empty and ours. My brother reaches the ball and punts it back towards me. The game resumes again.