I wish I could have said there was some legit reason for my volleyball to be stuck in a tree. I wish I could have said that some mean eighth-graders had come along and stolen it from me while I waited there, all alone, for my mom to pick me up after practice. I wish I could have said they’d chucked it up in the tree and laughed at my face and walked away congratulating themselves on their meanness.
But no. It was just me, being stupid, trying to see how high I could bump it. I didn’t even think about that tree. It wasn’t like it was right overhead. I’m not sure exactly how the ball ended up over there.
But yes, I had to admit, it was entirely my fault.
I walked all around the tree, watching my ball, my very own ball, the one my big brother who is off at college bought me for Christmas, teal and white and black, my favorite colors, stuck up there in the bare twigs. There was no way to climb this tree, the school maintenance people had made sure of that by cutting off all the low branches. Even if I could climb it, the ball was stuck way out in the tiny branches near the top. The branch would break under me and I’d fall long before I got out there.
I needed a really big ladder. Or one of those crane things they use to fix telephone wires.
I looked around on the ground for a stick or a rock to throw up there, but there wasn’t anything big enough that might get a volleyball loose from the branches of a tree. The only thing I had was...
It wasn’t too heavy, with only two of my school notebooks and the latest Ninja Mummy manga from the school library inside it. But it felt heavy enough to knock the volleyball back out of the tree. I gave it a swing with my arm. Yep, it just might work. I went and stood directly under the volleyball, swung my arm back, and hurled the pack into the tree.
It didn’t even come close to the volleyball. A few twigs snapped and showered down around it as my pack thumped onto the grass.
I tried again, and entirely missed the tree.
On my third shot, I gave it all I had and flung the backpack up into the branches. This time it reached the volleyball and actually bumped it a little, but not enough to bring it down. And my backpack snagged in the tree just below it.
I heard my cell phone start to ring, and my hand instinctively went to my pocket, but I already knew from the sound of it that my phone wasn’t in my pocket like I had thought it was.
My phone was in my backpack.
At the top of a stupid tree.