Ball Pit

I was about ten years old, Columbia Missouri
I can’t remember the name where
kids went to have birthdays
I’d go multiple times a year
This time for a classmate
I’m not sure which
Everyone was invited to every birthday
By the end I was alone
I had wandered off and did so willingly
Maybe why I don’t remember the name
maybe not
I went over to the ball pit
By myself having fun doing whatever
some kid threw a ball at my face
I looked out to see
He threw another
He seemed older
not big or imposing
but older
He pitched another at my face
I stood up and I took it
I stared at him and said nothing
I was amazed at how
hard he could whip
small thin plastic shells
at my face
His mother chimed in
from somewhere behind
outside the ball pit
I didn’t turn to see
but she spoke
in a mother’s voice
referring to him by name
suggesting he stop
throwing balls
at my face
I figured he would
but he’d not
I remember the stinging
each throw
the same spot
His mother said once more
it’s time to go
and he walked
And I thought
I should have stopped him

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