“But Jacko she just won’t stop!” I wailed.
“Whatever Jen! WHAT-ever Amelia did, why did you have to empty your entire water bottle on her head?” He fumed, clutching his fists. This was the second day in the week that news about me had reached him in school.
“What are you being so teacher-ish about? You had a nice long fight with a boy today didn’t you?”
“What? Don’t tell me to control my anger and all that. She asked for it.” I crossed my arms across my chest.
Jacko sighed. “You’re a bull sometimes!” I stuck my tongue out.
“Okay. You took your revenge. The past. But did you think about it?” He looked up hopefully.
“Ye-ah… I told her to leave me alone and I tried telling Mr. Matthew but Miss Abigail won’t let me talk to him, and I did tell her that would hit her if she didn’t stop so I did think about it. And then I didn’t hit her! I just- emptied my bottle…”
Jacko sighed again. “What was it about anyway?”
“She was going on and on and on about her trip to India. Even now! And she was bugging everyone. And she was convinced that cricket is better than baseball. I said that’s because she doesn’t know zilch about baseball and she had never been on a strike-three team. So lame, huh?” I looked up hopefully.
Jacko stared. “And then?”
“And then she told us some rules about eleven players and twenty-two yards and something; but no one really listened.”
He kept staring. Then, shaking his head slowly he said, “Jenny, please tell me that is NOT why you emptied your bottle-”
It was my turn to stare. Of course…
Jacko got up and exclaimed, “Oh God!!!”
“Forget it, just- forget it.”
“Alrighty.” And we went back to our work. We were in Jacko’s room again.
It was a few minutes later that I thought things had cooled down enough for me to ask him.
He looked up.
“Have you ever played cricket?” He looked at me at first and then-
“Wanna try?” He smiled.
“Yes!” I laughed.
As I jumped up from hid bed, Jacko threw me two baseballs, one glove, and his new race car.
“The bat’s different. What do we do for that?”
“Cardboard? Mommy bought new track pants yesterday, right? From the same shop I got the socks from?”
Gathered our merchandise, we set up the race-car-box wicket, Set me up with the cardboard bat and Jacko took the familiar ball. We left the glove, it was a single and we had no ‘Wicketkeeper’. Jacko told me a a few basic things. Throw the ball, hit it far and run between the wickets and make ‘runs’ and then don’t let the other team reach your score. Oh and, if you hit the wicket with the ball when the batsman isn’t in, he’s out.
“That’s all?” I asked.
“It’s not very different from baseball!”
“Except there is no strike-three.”
“There’s no strike-three?! How is this game so popular?!”
Jacko threw the ball. It bounced off the ground.
“Hey! What am I supposed to do, hit the ground?”
“Wait till it bounces. Then hit it.”
“That’s stupid. Why not just throw it in the air?”
“Ha! I don’t know Jen!” Jacko laughed.
“Stupid Amelia.” I said as Jacko bowled again. I Swung the cardboard full, missed the ball by an inch perhaps but it hit my leg and bounced off. I started off towards the opposite wicket, but had to stop when Jacko started laughing.
“Stop stop stop! You’re out! Don’t run!”
“Why? The ball’s hit.”
“It hit your leg. Leg Before Wicket. That’s an out.”
“Of course it hit my leg! If I don’t keep my leg before the wicket, you’ll just knock it off!”
“No! You protect the wicket with your bat. With the leg, it’s a fowl. And you’re out anyway, you’ve knocked the wicket clear off with the cardboard!” Jacko motioned and laughed.
I looked at the fallen race-car box. And then I laughed too.
That day, we went back in pretty late but thankfully, nobody noticed. Which also meant that I missed the final evening practice, which also no one noticed, the consequences of which I had yet to know. But when we did return, we came back with a race car that no longer had a box, two shoddy pieces of cardboard that went in the bin and one ball (one lost to a ‘Sixer’, by Jacko).
And that was that.