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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Spray

A Collection of Boys Plays

Updated: May 7, 2023

Friday, 8th of October, 2006

“Come on Dale, we are going to be late!”

I rush out the interior garage door with immediate regret as my jacket snags on the two by four my father calls a handrail. After precious seconds spent on the action of turning and running back up the top two steps to reach the lip of the rail, Dale flings open the door and jumps over the stair stack to the cracked concrete below.

“YOU come on.”

Head down, full sprint, the gray shine of garage floor in a flash turns to the somehow smoother navy-black tar, freshly poured by the pavers - deemed ‘necessary’ by my mother the prior month.

We reach the bikes lining the driveway, lying on their sides in the plush bedding of pine needles that fill the front acre of our front yard. I yank the right handlebar of my blue Mongoose, left leg hopping twice for momentum, swinging quickly my right leg over the seat to the peddle. Off on a tear. Weave around the marina-blue Mercury minivan, quick right fake, left swerve to the opposite side of the black Chevy Impala parked

A quick glance at Dale behind me shows him still behind the Chevy, I turn back and wipe the flecks of handlebar grip, deteriorated from a summer of oily - dirty hands, off on my t-shirt. Another hundred feet and we shoot out onto the worn asphalt of Woodfield Dr, breaking into a whirlwind of pedals, any grunts of effort hid by the flapping of playing cards against spokes

The sun beats on our faces, sweetly. Any sign of summer heat has been gone for what feels like ages, the rays tease of the past, bringing nothing but light. Skidding to a stop in front of Camerons long driveway, we come to a rest side by side, front tires pointing towards the distant house. The others are already on their way, ripsticks, bikes, electric scooter.

“To the dirtpit!”

Cheers ensue, and it’s back to the races for the rest of the day, closing out the best summer yet.

And as we grow, I think we are aware

For I can’t quite make out, nor remember

That harsh shift of time, no, we had to know.

Tuesday, 21st of June, 2008

“Do you think I could go over to Barry’s this weekend?”

Silence, with an unstated expectation to know the answer to that question, back out of the increasingly cardboard office slowly, knowing it was a mistake in the first place. A naive question meant to ignite progress in a series of wishes over the past few months. No question of what was happening now, though no true understanding of the circumstance.

Run back through the maze we are making of empties and back to the bedroom, as if each time we run the course it may alter the future path of resistance. Each time one returns to the start, a seemingly innocent question asked, with a giggle to try and lighten the graying walls.

“Could we all go outside and play frisbee later?”

Every question asked, doubled alone time, less empty boxes. More clarity, more reality.

The afternoon filled with the occasional acknowledgment.

“That’s fine, just go play.”

We venture outside, a brother and sister duo. Summer sun in full fledge heat, we head to the trees.

“Fifteen minutes, then we meet here.”

‘X’ marks the spot in the pine needles, clearing way to expose the somehow damp dirt below, despite the sun.

We make the routes we know too well at this point, five houses for me, four for her.

“I was wondering if Grace could come and play?”

“Is Derrick home today?”

Over and over, the summer seems to be a facade. Noone ever home. For us.

We reconvene at the ‘X’, the exposed dirt now dry after a brief eight minutes.


A shake of the head, and a prompt turn without question towards the backyard. We make our way to the much denser oak trees and brush, following the slightly overgrown trails we helped clear the previous summers. Near the back acre, we slight off the path, following the trail the rest believe to be just for the deer. A few hundred feet, the sticks bound by strips of bark and tall grass come into view. Ducking through the framed door, we lie flat on the dirt, heads at opposite ends of the freshly groomed stick-fort. We’d make sure we would keep it groomed until the end, we agreed.

Gradual change is not guaranteed.

Relationships, a victim of age

A victim yet to see

Monday, 15th of December, 2009

Another yard to rely on, bigger even, with the cornfield and neighboring golf course. I hear it reminded as I run once again out into the snow, following my previous days footprints out of our property line and across the drift-heavy fairway. Alone again, seemingly more often, a result of tension likely, but noticing that one can be themselves alone. Across the wooden bridge, stop in the exact middle to peer into the half-frozen river river. Tufts of river weeds flowing with the current in the not yet frozen bits, the occasional large stick caught on the ice - eventually pulled back under in the flow.

Sit here for a few hours, bundled enough for the temperature. They will find me if they need me - wait - is this a test of a now often internal wish, or an understanding of reality? Good catch, that self-guided discovery will be helpful down the road. A few hours pass, with ease, still not cold, a long stare into the yet to be explored ‘other side of the bridge’ ends in turning back to the house. I need someone with me for that.

“Where were you?”

The first time a spiking anger felt from the question, almost defensive.

Why do you care? Is the unspoken but pressing motive behind the anger.

A shrug.

“Okay well dinners been ready.”

An unspoken delight of the gash

Not one memory in sight.

You don’t remember anything? C’mon.

Monday, 17th of September, 2011

“It’s been 2 weeks.”

“I could give a shit, to be clear, it’s happening.”

The big red house, on the corner of bronson, the big red house on the corner of bronson. Over and over in my head, afraid that I might forget which house, Leo’s mom may drop me off in the middle of nowhere. I think of how this house confuses me, and feels too nice for us. We pull in the driveway and I am pushing the ‘open door’ button as fast as possible.

“Right here’s great”

At the end of the fifty yard driveway.

“Do you want me to wait?” Asks his mother.

“Nope you’re all good”, couldn't say it fast enough. “Thank you again Ms. E!”

A nod of understanding, she shifts to park and the door opens. The light outside the side door flicks on as I grab my bag. Quickly press the button to close yelling “see you tomorrow” to Leo. Sprint up the driveway as the side door opens, a shudder of relief, followed by a shudder of unknown.

Time heals

For those with enough of it

But there’s nothing to regret, oddly enough

Wednesday, 5th of June, 2013

Car lights at what seemed to be all angles of the driveway, swift unspoken actions to load the cars, and get the hell out before midnight. Fifteen minute drive, unload with unruly exhaustion to whatever floor space available. Feels temporary anyways, where is my mind? Probably in the middle compartment of my buick, just need to remember charge the battery before I sneak out.

The house reeks of fucking cigarettes, is my true opinion, but mumble an ‘it’s fine’ instead. Mattress on the floor, awake for hours with two sleeping in the box filled basement beside me. The repercussions flash through my head, constant.

Can’t even make one more night of it, keys in hand, tears placed behind gritted teeth. Not for me. But for the ‘gift’ of guided discovery I self branded those years ago on the bridge. Looking forward to the guilt, seat belt clicks in place, and gritted teeth won’t stop that beast.

I’ll fix it. I think as I back out.

The truth of it, you aren’t there, not really

Not until later on

Imagine what could have been

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