“You guys! The volleyball!” I shriek, racing towards the lake.
It’s too late. It rolls into the water with a disappointing silence, like a yo-yo slipping down its string. It drifts slowly but surely to the middle of the lake, where it then stops in the dead of night.
My friends crowd around me and debate possible options to reel it back. Someone suggests stealing the life preserver from the pool, but that doesn’t sound very responsible at all. Another tries to wade through the lake, but it is surprisingly deep. Someone else walks back home for a spool of twine. They try to knot a circle to lasso the volleyball, but we are hardly Westerners.
“When’s your birthday?” the culprit asks with a nervous smile.
“May,” I grumble.
“Okay, bet. Expect a new volleyball in May,” he says, flashing me a grin and a thumbs-up. I know his answer is genuine and this predicament isn’t entirely his fault, but I still glare in response.
It is 2020, and the pandemic isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Playing volleyball and badminton at our local park has been our only source of social interaction for the past month. This volleyball is the only one we have, and in our adolescent minds, holds infinite power for joy.
I wander to the other side of the lake and hope it will float in my direction. Plopping down in the grass, I take off my mask and gaze at the still water. The volleyball looks like a bead of color in the monochrome night, a dot of white in a black abyss. From where I sit, it almost resembles the reflection of the full moon, wafting along the water and surrounded by specks of twinkling stars. I half expect a fish to surface and spike the ball into the atmosphere, causing it to never be seen again. Maybe it’ll knock a star out of place. Maybe it’ll form a new constellation. Maybe the planets will align, beckon a new fortuitous age, and then someone will find a cure for us all. Maybe the tides will go wild with the appearance of this new moon. I shudder and rub my icy hands together, my imagination running wild with the current.
When it drifts to the other side of the lake, I touch the moon and frown. Its craters are all wrong, too shallow and straight. The texture is too soft. I am not holding greatness or infinite power in my hands. My hope dissolves into the water.
It is just a wet cold ball, stolen from the sky.
Raiya Shaw is an undergraduate student at the University of Central Florida majoring in English: Creative Writing and Sociology. She works as a writer for Her Campus magazine and has been recognized nationally by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and the NCTE.