Peer Review Draft 

            There were only three rules to the game. They weren’t much like rules really either but Kai could play it for hours. The first was finding the perfect apple to throw from the tree in the front yard, the one that sticks out, a misplaced smudge of green in the middle of the brown dirt. The second is making it to the wall the quickest, because that way Kai could get the best spot. There’s one piece missing from the top of the wall—that Pop calls a fence but the rocks are aligned just right so no light can get through, so Kai calls it the wall—and if he got under it just right he could launch the apple up and over so that when it came back down on the others side he could hear the familiar clank. This is the third rule of course, to hit whatever made that noise. Sometimes, when Kai wasn’t playing the game, he would gather as many apples as he could, plopping them in the front of his shirt, which he held out to make a little sack, and running to the back of the wall. He would send them over, one after another, sometimes even two at once so that when they came down on the metal thing behind it made a sweet little tintinnabulation.

            This morning Kai was walking the perimeter, one hand dragging along the rocks, the other barely grasping a stick, which he held out to the side, drawing a line in the dirt behind him. He was getting old now and the inside of the fence was beginning to seem smaller, less exciting. He moved closer to the house, squinting up at it. The paint was peeling away from the trim, the dark grey wood underneath loudly announcing its presence against the white but Kai didn’t notice this. He walked up to the back porch, stick still in hand.

“Kai, leave that outside.” Pop nodded toward the stick from his seat in the brown chair.

             “Can we go outside the fence today?”

             “No, Kai not today.”

            “But why not?”

            “You know why, son. Go inside and eat.” Pop pointed him inside to where Mae had left breakfast on the little yellow table by the window. “I have to go work in the fields so make sure you stay around here.” Kai didn’t answer, he just looked out the window, his piece of toast resting casually in this little fingers. “Mae will have lunch ready for you too, I think she said.” Pop gripped Kai’s shoulder, and shook him gently, just enough to get his attention. “You hear me?”

            “Yes,” Kai smiled and the crumbs around the corner of his mouth fell into his lap.

            Kai waited until he could no longer see Pop from the window and ran outside. He grabbed a handful of apples from the little tree in the front yard and sprinted to his spot along the wall. It was actually rather far for a young boy to run and even though Kai played this game nearly every day, when he arrived at the wall he had to wipe little drops of sweat from his brow and calm his quick breathing.

                        “Uhhh, yuh.” Kai hucked the apples one after another up and over the tree, eagerly waiting to hear the clanking. But there was nothing. He grabbed a small stick that was lying next to him and threw it up and over. Still nothing. Kai scrunched his nose. He was smart, smart enough to know he hadn’t missed, he had played this game every day for the whole summer. The rocks were pretty smooth and it was hard to find a place in the wall where he could wedge his small feet into to push himself up. He put his hand up and started walking, feeling for anything he could use to climb over. He just had to get high enough to see what happened to his clanking noise.

            Kai followed the wall all the way to the red barn. He had never been along the back here because it was usually wet and muddy and he didn’t like when his sneakers got wet. But today he decided to keep going. He could hear the chickens clucking and fluttering their wings. The smell of manure and chicken feed mixed with warm mud made Kai scrunch up his nose. The barn went almost up to the wall, leaving a space barely big enough for even Kai to fit. It was dark and muddy and each time he stepped his sneakers squelched. When he was halfway, in the middle of the barn and the fence, he found a bundle of vines which had twisted together up and over the rocks. Kai grabbed at the stem, grasping the thickest part and began to pull himself up.

            I can do it; I can do it! Kai thought to himself as his arms began to shake. The rocks were piled high, especially for a small boy to be climbing but Kai was strong from playing on the farm and from helping Pop and so, even though it took all of his strength, he managed to make it to the top.

            “Whoooo.” Kai breathed out, gripping the top of the rocks so hard his knuckle’s turned white. His heart was beating so hard he thought he could see his shirt moving with each beat. He peered down the other side and found himself staring at rows and rows of apple trees. Not the little brown apples he picked from the tree in this front yard but big, red, shiny apples. Forgetting he was at the top of the wall and forgetting he was not supposed to leave the property—Pop would be pissed—Kai swung his legs around to climb down.

            The vines did not reach all the way around, however, and Kai found himself slipping down the side. The rocks scraped against his stomach and so Kai, unsure of what to do, closed his eyes and let go. The fall was not far but to Kai he thought he was flying, just for a second. Until he landed and his sneakers went into a puddle of muddy wetness. He sunk down, flailing backwards and landed with a plop.

            The orchard was probably once pretty, but now it was grown over with that tall grass that kind of looks like wheat and clumps together. Kai meandered through, picking apples from the low branches, taking the biggest bite he could, and throwing it as far away as was possible for a boy of six.

            “Hey! Whose throwing those?” Kai stopped and looked around, whipping his head from side to side to try to find where the voice came from. “Hello?”

            “Hellooooo,” Kai called back.

            “Who’s that?”

            “Kai.”

            “Kai, who?” The voice was getting closer. Kai was kneeling behind a tree, peeking out from behind the overgrown grass. A girl, a little older than him was coming towards him. He waited until he could see her whole body, her long brown hair was tied back in two braids and she wore jeans that were covered in mud stains and a red t-shirt that said something but Kai couldn’t read it.

            “Hey.” The girl jumped back. Kai grinned. He was not the type to scare easily and he found it funny that the girl had.

            “That’s not very nice!”

 

 

 

MEZZO DRAFT 

 There were only three rules to the game. They weren’t much like rules really either but Kai could play it for hours. The first was finding the perfect apple to throw from the tree in the front yard, the one that sticks out, a misplaced smudge of green in the middle of the brown dirt. The second is making it to the wall the quickest, because that way Kai could get the best spot. There’s one piece missing from the top of the wall—that Pop calls a fence but the rocks are aligned just right so no light can get through, so Kai calls it the wall—and if he got under it just right he could launch the apple up and over so that when it came back down on the others side he could hear the familiar clank. This is the third rule of course, to hit whatever made that noise. Sometimes, when Kai wasn’t playing the game, he would gather as many apples as he could, plopping them in the front of his shirt, which he held out to make a little sack, and running to the back of the wall. He would send them over, one after another, sometimes even two at once so that when they came down on the metal thing behind it made a sweet little tintinnabulation.

            This morning Kai was walking the perimeter, one hand dragging along the rocks, the other barely grasping a stick, which he held out to the side, drawing a line in the dirt behind him. He was getting old now and the inside of the fence of the farm was beginning to seem smaller, less exciting. He moved closer to the house, squinting up at it. The paint was peeling away from the trim, the dark grey wood underneath loudly announcing its presence against the white but Kai didn’t notice this. He walked up to the back porch, stick still in hand.

“Kai, leave that outside.” Pop nodded toward the stick from his seat in the brown chair.

             “Can we go outside the fence today?”

             “No, Kai not today.”

            “But why not?”

            “You know why, son. Go inside and eat.” Pop pointed him inside to where Mae had left breakfast on the little yellow table by the window. “I have to go work in the far field today so make sure you stay around here.” Kai didn’t answer, he just looked out the window, his piece of toast resting casually in this little fingers. “Mae will have lunch ready for you too, I think she said.” Pop gripped Kai’s shoulder, and shook him gently, just enough to get his attention. “You hear me?”

            “Yes,” Kai smiled and the crumbs around the corner of his mouth fell into his lap.

            Kai waited until he could no longer see Pop from the window and ran outside. He grabbed a handful of apples from the little tree in the front yard and sprinted to his spot along the wall. It was actually rather far for a young boy to run and even though Kai played this game nearly every day, when he arrived at the wall he had to wipe little drops of sweat from his brow and calm his quick breathing.

                        “Uhhh, yuh.” Kai hucked the apples one after another up and over the tree, eagerly waiting to hear the clanking. But there was nothing. He grabbed a small stick that was lying next to him and threw it up and over. Still nothing. Kai scrunched his nose. He was smart, smart enough to know he hadn’t missed, he had played this game every day for the whole summer. The rocks were pretty smooth and it was hard to find a place in the wall where he could wedge his small feet into to push himself up. He put his hand up and started walking, feeling for anything he could use to climb over. He just had to get high enough to see what happened to his clanking noise.

            Kai knew people were on the other side, that’s where Mae came from, after all but he had never been allowed to leave. The farm was pretty big too so there was never too much trouble finding things to do, it used to seem like an entire world to him.

 

 

Fiction 9/16

 

There were only three rules to the game. They weren’t much like rules really either but Kai could play it for hours. The first was finding the perfect apple to throw from the tree in the front yard, the one that sticks out, a misplaced smudge of green in the middle of the brown dirt. The second is making it to the wall the quickest, because that way Kai could get the best spot. There’s one piece missing from the top of the wall—that Pop calls a fence but the rocks are aligned just right so no light can get through, so Kai calls it the wall—and if he got under it just right he could launch the apple up and over so that when it came back down on the others side he could hear the familiar clank. This is the third rule of course, to hit whatever made that noise. Sometimes, when Kai wasn’t playing the game, he would gather as many apples as he could, plopping them in the front of his shirt, which he held out to make a little sack, and running to the back of the wall. He would send them over, one after another, sometimes even two at once so that when they came down on the metal thing behind it made a sweet little tintinnabulation.

            This morning Kai was walking the perimeter, one hand dragging along the rocks, the other barely grasping a stick, which he held out to the side, drawing a line in the dirt behind him. He was getting old now and the inside of the fence of the farm was beginning to seem smaller, less exciting. He moved closer to the house, squinting up at it. The paint was peeling away from the trim, the dark grey wood underneath loudly announcing its presence against the white but Kai didn’t notice this. He walked up to the back porch, stick still in hand.

“Kai, leave that outside.” Pop nodded toward the stick from his seat in the brown chair.

             “Can we go outside the fence today?”

             “No, Kai not today.”

            “But why not?”