Spring 2012 — THE POTOMAC

Lunch on the Grass
  Michael Hemmingson

Our kids are playing war games with the other kids in the park. My wife and I try to have a quiet lunch on the grass while our two sons aim and shoot invisible machine guns and rocket–propelled grenades at the four boys and one girl across the park's delineation of friend or foe—these children of other couples in the park also trying to have a peaceful lunch—launch their imaginary shells from make–believe tanks. From the unseen, they turn to sticks, stones, dirt clods. Things fly in the air like dead birds that don't know they are dead.

My wife thinks they'll get hurt.

"I played rough dirt clod war when I was a kid," I tell her, "it's nothing."

She touches her belly where our daughter is growing and says well, she, our daughter, will never play fake war, girls should not play such games.

The girl on the other side gets hit in the head with a dirt clod. She cries the agony of the wounded on the battlefield.

Her mother says, "Hey! Put a leash on your two little brats!"

I want to tell her to fuck off, her tomboy child was launching the same at my boys.

I see no use in starting a war with any adult here in the park.

My wife says we should've gone to a movie, had popcorn and soda and bon bons—she goes, "This is what the boys wanted anyway."

She informs me they play war in the park because they're bored.

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