Her sundress fluttered in the breeze, along with her thin blonde hair, shading her vibrant green eyes from passerby. Her hands were small, with uneven nails that she casually nibbled on. The tang of berry in her mouth forced her to look down at her stained palm, and she viewed it with distaste.
“I hate berries,” she thought to herself. “I’m probably sitting on some now.” But yet, she remained against the berry tree, and instead turned her eyes (or eye, since the wind had blown her hair in her face) to the nearby porch.
Her grandfather rested in a white lawn chair, a crossword puzzle resting on his lap, and a pencil tucked behind his ear. In his left hand, he held a plastic cup with a loose grip. It was filled to the top with ice and scotch, a part of him almost as natural as his beer belly and tanned skin. He took sips between bouts of thought, staring intently at the black ink before writing inside the boxes with precise print.
The girl sighed at her own sluggishness, touching her fingers to her face. A cool drop of liquid dribbled over her cheek, and she suddenly recalled the juice on her hands. With a sense of urgency, she rubbed the sticky substance from her skin, only leaning back against the tree when she felt satisfied at her own cleanliness. But yet, she continued to pick fallen berries among the grass, rolling them between her index finger and thumb to undergo her scrutiny.
A sleek black car pulled up to the curb of the neighbor’s house, and a plump little berry found itself squashed into a bleeding mass in her hand. Her eyes narrowed with hatred, prompting her grandfather to ask, “Hm? What’s wrong?”
Just as the question escaped the man’s mouth, a well-groomed man stepped out of the car, apparently giving himself a once-over before walking toward the old man’s house. Suddenly, recognition dawned in his eyes, and the girl looked to him before moving to the porch and retrieving the long forgotten orange plastic bat. She tapped it on the ground, and spoke with enthusiasm.
“Pitch to me, Grandpa!”
He gave her an odd look, before wordlessly agreeing and taking position on the sidewalk with the soft ball. She stood in front of the porch, a strange gleam making its way into her eyes.
“Target,” she mouthed, pointing her bat to the approaching man in his suit and slightly crooked tie. And then she brought it up and nodded as a ready signal.
Even in his old age, he was still a member of a baseball team, and could pitch accordingly. The girl anticipated this, and the ball hit the bat with a loud crack.
“Whoa!” the man cried out. “That was close.”
Not close enough, the thought hung in the air. But still, the girl noted the man’s flustered appearance with satisfaction, and her previous energy disappeared, leaving her just as lethargic as below the berry tree…
…until the swinging of a screen door caused her back to stiffen. She turned to face her mother, whose silent reprimand pierced her with icy eyes. The girl curled in shame. At her mother’s entrance, the man in the suit smiled, and presented a bouquet of roses he had kept hidden behind his back. She accepted them with a flirty smile, before pulling the girl to her side.
“You’ve met my daughter already, I take it? This is…” the girl failed to listen to her mother introducing the man before her. She nodded timidly at their words, under the pretense of a shy child.
But she knew the victims of the continuous cycle of deceit. She had eyes when they trusted her not to.
It didn’t matter though. They were all just another face to her, anyway.