“You want to come and play?” He asked, raising the hoops on his arm. I looked over at mum, who’s eyes were definitely encouraging me to accept. There was no reason for me to not. I nodded with a smile which I tried so hard to not look awkward. “Well, it starts in about 5 minutes, okay? I’ll see you down there.” He gestured to his left, and attempted to tickle my feet again. I immediately made them flat on the bed before he got within an inch, and he grinned at me before walking off.
Those next few minutes were the longest of my entire life. Even though I probably only waited one or two, it felt like a thousand. I was so restless I got up to walk over there anyway. There was impatience in my steps, I knew I was acting so oddly. Maybe I wasn’t. Maybe I’d be the only one to notice because I knew what I was doing, and why.
I sat on the bench in the shade, which was on the far side of the grassy area where the game was played. I sat with my legs crossed, but I was completely incapable of sitting still. I started to twitch my foot rapidly. Then my leg started bouncing altogether. Realising what I was doing and how I must have appeared, I uncrossed my legs furiously, pushing them hard into the ground to stop any movement, and placed my elbows on them as I crossed my arms. I refused to satisfy my want for bouncing them again, having to consciously think about it.
I decided to calm myself down. I was way too tense. I figured closing my eyes would probably help, so I did just that. “Hey.”
I jumped. I looked up to see him. I wasn’t shocked. This was becoming a habit. Whether it was a good or a bad one, I hadn’t made up my mind yet. He had perched himself on the armrest of the bench with a pot of ice cream, but stood back up when I looked round. I moved over a space so he could sit next to me. “Hey.” I replied uncomfortably. He held out the little white spoon from his pot, with a heaped scoop of ice cream, in front of me.
I grinned, and opened my mouth as he fed me. Thanking God it was just vanilla, I let him have the spoon back. “Thanks.” I said, nudging his arm slightly. He laughed.
Eventually people started to come along, not before I was fed at least one more spoonful of ice cream. “Here,” He said holding the pot out to me, “Can you hold this for me?” I nodded and took it from him as he got up. He greeted a few people, and when there was a large enough gathering, he spoke to everyone. I was caught up in the sound of his voice in awe as he spoke in at least 8 different languages. As it turned out, I had the basic rules of the game figured right. Throwing the pointy thing with feathers – I learned they called a ‘Javelot’ which I suppose made sense, in some sort of way, like a miniature javelin – at the balloons was the aim of the game. The different coloured balloons indicated the different scores you would achieve. Pink and yellow were 50 each, and the white ones 150. Making the javelot land in the hoops which the balloons were attached was 100 points in itself.
“I need someone’s shoes.” He announced, while the rest of us looked confused, “For a starting line? I need some- you!” He held his hand out to me and lowered it in line with my shoes. “You have sexy shoes, come on, let’s go.”
I took off my shoes and put them toe-to-heel in a line where he was tapping his foot. It was a good few feet away from the hoops. I was hopeless at throwing. Here goes another way for me to make a complete fool out of myself.
Before I could embarrass myself, teams had to be chosen. Funnily enough I was chosen as a team captain. I recognised one girl on my team, as she was someone I had sat next to in waiting to have the surfboard pulled from under my feet the other day. She was about half a head taller than me, skinny and tanned, which enhanced her beautiful, big dark green eyes. Her dark blonde hair was pulled into a scruffy bun in the back of her head, but allowing two pieces of hair free at the front. Obviously there was no conversation between us, as I realised when she spoke to the entertainer guy that she was German.
Thankfully, as she was pretty confident, she decided she wanted to go first. She managed to win us 100 points by hitting two pink balloons with three javelots. We exchanged smiles as she came back to our group, showing her basically-perfect teeth.
The captain for the other team went first next. I recognised her too, and actually remembered her name; Chloé. Her skin was darkly tanned and had a similar hairstyle to the German girl on my team, but with black hair. Chloé’s older sister, Sara, was on my team. They had similar features, although Sara’s face and nose were longer. Sara was also extremely tall and skinny, with long curly hair reaching just past her waist. I was ever so slightly jealous of her figure, and as a natural reaction, found that she was almost flat-chested, which made me inhale a small amount of pride at my larger breasts.
Chloé managed to get 50 points for her team, and then I was up. Still holding his ice cream, I handed it to him, smiling a little awkwardly. “Ah, Lyssa, you look worried. Maybe she needs a massage?” He shouted, laughing while taking the tub from my hand.
“You can’t,” I giggled, “You have no hands free!” As I bent down to pick up the three javelots from the floor, I heard him mutter in such a low tone it was certain nobody else could hear;
“I can.” I could tell that if I was watching him he would have winked. I knew he was only teasing, but a shiver ran through me and left a trail of goose-bumps in its wake. I couldn’t remove the grin from my face, until I properly felt the weight of the javelot in my hand. It was heavier than I thought it would be – which made me misjudge the strength I needed to throw. It landed at least two feet short. I suppressed a humiliated feeling, but still felt my cheeks heat up.
My team cheered support; I was grateful I couldn’t hear any hint of sarcasm if there was any. I threw again, somehow bouncing it off a white balloon, which received plenty of ‘ooh’s. My third went completely off-target and near a tree somewhere to the left. Wonderful. Then I got something I didn’t quite expect;
“Ah, no points, no points. But you get 10 points for looking sexy when you did it.” He said, and handed me back the ice cream.
First thing I figured, whilst the other people took their turn, is that the ice cream was mine. I could live with that. Secondly, I knew nobody gave it second thoughts even though I was feeling slightly awkward. I suppose knowing what happened would make an impact in this, but I felt a little isolated; feeling one thing whilst everyone else completely oblivious.
While I was still not paying attention to the game, I saw Sara step up. I notice, with a slight twinge of unnecessary jealousy, that she was batting her eyelids and being flirty with him. I quickly shoved that thought in a mental file named ‘Grow up and shut up’.
Eventually everyone in each team had finished their go, and I watched as he totalled up the scores on his clipboard. “And team two won!” The other team. I wasn’t surprised my team lost. A bunch of cheers came from their group. “But!” He shouted over them, quieting their celebrations, “Team one had one less player. So I will throw for them, and then the leaders will have one more throw each.” Oh well shit. There’s me thinking I got out of it. “Team one needs 250 points to beat them.”
He took his first shot, skimming one of the already popped balloons. His second popped a pink balloon, and the third missing. Leaving me with at least 150 points to catch up, assuming Chloé didn’t score anything more – and seeing as she’d already actually hit a balloon, that was very unlikely.
Chloé in fact managed to score another 50 points, making the entertainers turn basically void. Magnificent. I assessed the balloons remaining as I took the javelots in my hand. There were 3 white balloons, 2 pinks and a yellow. I took a deep breath and threw. To my, and everyone else’s, astonishment, there was a pop. I’d hit a white balloon whilst managing to keep it inside the hoop it was attached to! Shocked, proud and hearing plenty of happy cheers behind me, I threw the other two, which did in fact miss. My failures were suddenly irrelevant.
There was an ending ‘ritual’ to this game, similar as the killer darts – which I had managed to escape from. This time I stayed. Everyone drew closer, and held hands in a circle whilst the ‘loser’ – or in this case, the captain of the losing team – would stand in the middle. A familiar hand clasped onto mine. I glanced beside me to see none other than who I expected. Name! I could’ve gasped out loud, but I simply searched for a name badge on his shirt. Mikail. I was suddenly compelled to stroke my thumb over his where he held me, and I felt like glowing when I felt him return it.