The small vending-machine-bouncy-ball strikes you in the face. Again.
He sounds sorry, too. You sigh and pick the ball up from the floor of the car in the back seat, where it had fallen after striking you in the forehead.
“It’s fine. I’m just going to hold onto this until we get out of the car. Bouncy balls don’t really belong inside cars.
You can practically hear the pout on Aidan’s face, but you can also hear Jamie nodding while she drives.
“Bouncy balls are meant to be set free, outside. When we stop for a bathroom break I’ll give it back to you and you can launch it as hard as you want.”
You look at the bouncy ball. It’s a dull, candy-red. It almost looks invisible. You hold it up to the car window as the snowy, passing fields speed past. The ball is already starting to chip; soon it’ll look more like a small planetoid sitting in the sky, while another world quickly moves by in the background.
Finally the car stops. Mackenzie wakes up and everyone gets out of the car. She always wakes up quickly and in an instant she hops out of the car and has her camera out. You step out of the car and the morning is still brisk; the snow is the kind that is a million pieces of wet granules—you hear them all crunch under your step. Mackenzie looks at you from over the car roof and she’s smiling.
“What?” you ask, sounding more irritable than you wished. The fresh air is a treat after being in the car for two hours and you wish it made your tone sound nicer.
“Oh nothing,” Mackenzie says, “just that you have a big red dot from where the ball hit ya.”
“Oh c’mon,” you groan. Mackenzie starts laughing and snaps your photo.
“Just kidding, you look great.”
You smile and feel for the non-existing bump where the ball had hit you. You look down at the ball. Aidan has already lost interest in it, and is staring back at his phone. You turn, wind up, and throw the ball as hard as you can.