by A. H. Caffrey
“Where’s Travis?” Josh was hot and annoyed. His fiery red hair stuck in clumps to his dirty, freckled forehead.
From the restless crowd, a girl said, “He’s with his dad… the beach, maybe?”
Josh nodded. “Yeah, that’s right. I forgot. So we’re all here.” At ten, he was the oldest kid in the neighborhood and leader by default. He spat a gnat onto what looked like poison ivy.
“You already know why we’re meeting,” he announced to his comrades who ranged in ages from four to nine. They stood respectfully quiet except for the occasional giggle.
“The adults aren’t doing their jobs.”
Lips murmured in agreement.
Josh scratched the raised scar on his neck.
“They forget to share. They always interrupt. They lie. They don’t play fair. It’s rude and disgusting.”
An eight-year-old boy who perpetually smelled like cigarette smoke snickered, “And I think I saw my mom running with scissors, too!” Titters rose above the thorny bushes. A robin fled her perch.
Josh scowled. “This isn’t funny, Dennis. It’s damn serious.”
The heavy silence returned at the utterance of a curse word.
“But what can we do about it?” Jessica always whined. She annoyed Josh, but he liked the way her flower-scented curls tickled his nose when he stood behind her in the lunch line.
“We have to take over.” Josh paused.
One second. Two.
Something scampered through the underbrush and was smashed by a kindergartener’s pink sandal.
No one moved.