Troy focused on the ball as he prepared to kick it. It was a large one with green swirls through white, the fun kind that you can buy out of the big bins at the IGA, but today he did not kick it in fun. He gave it a solid kick against the grayed boards of what used to be a chicken coop and then jumped quickly to recover the bounced ball before it snagged on the barbed wire fence that separated the yard from the neighboring property. The small old coop sat back against the dark trees of the McAllister’s place. Troy had to be careful to keep the ball from hitting the barbed wire fence. If the ball hit one of those barbs, that would be the end of the ball, and his game.
It was one of those summer days where there did not seem to be enough to do. Troy did not really want to do anything, but he definitely did not want to be burdened with some little girl. Sarah, his eight-year-old sister, sat in the deep grass near by, while Troy kicked the ball, again and again, against the side of the weathered shack. His father was across the yard next to the tan rock of the driveway, building a doghouse for his Malamute, a fluffy black and white, blue-eyed dog. Another dog had been found shot about a mile down the road, so his father had tethered the dog to the front steps of the house without shelter from the sun. Only after noticing that the dog no longer bothered to get up when he drove into the drive did the father decide that a doghouse might be needed.