“Emmet, can I borrow twenty-seven dollars?” asked Hetty. She peaked into his room where he tinkered with spoons, feathers, hooks and things, piecing together fishing lures. He wrapped fishing line around one.
“Don’t have it. Me and Dex just spent everything at the arcade.”
“Twenty-seven dollars?” she asked.
“I don’t know. Whatever I had, it’s gone. What do you need it for?”
“Momma’s birthday is tomorrow, and she was admiring a vase at Mirna’s.” Mirna’s was a little antique store near the neighborhood.
Emmet looked up. “Tomorrow?” When she nodded, he started putting things away. “Sorry, Het. I don’t have a dry dollar.”
Hetty went to her room and rummaged through her closet. She found some cheap jewelry, barely suitable for a child, an unopened Hello Kitty chia pet, a Captain America frisbee, and some D&D black and red dragon dice.
On her way to grasshopper farm to look for other kids, frisbee in one hand and dice in her pocket, the Mecklin boys road up to her on their bicycles and stopped, forearms resting on their handlebars. The smaller brother, Hetty didn’t know his name, had a nice, new Broncos jacket. The bigger one called Chet had a Green Bay hat. It was worth a lot more than the frisbee, but the Captain America movie just came out and Chet was kind of dumb.
“Watcha doin’, Muck-About?” he asked.
“Minding my own business,” she said. She tried to step around them on Mrs. Shannahan’s lawn, but Chet turned his bike in front of her.
“What business is that?”
She glared for a moment, then said, “I’ll trade you this collector’s edition Captain America frisbee for your hat.”
“Fer that?” said the other kid. He was greasy looking with a ghastly grin. “Let’s see it.”
Hetty held it out and he snatched it from her, then stepped on his pedal and road off cackling. Chet followed behind, laughing and admonishing his brother. “Dude, that’s Emmet’s sister.”
Hetty tightened her lips and walked to the park. Four boys played frisbee golf. She’d seen them before, and they were nice. They would have liked the Captain America one. By one of the flags, lunch boxes, a few Super Soakers, and some bottle rockets lay in a pile.
“Any of you guys play Dungeons and Dragons?” she asked.
“Yeah. We all do,” said a redhead. “Do you?”
Hetty shrugged. “Never got into it much. I’ve got some cool red and black dragon dice. You want to trade for them?”
“Sure,” said the skinny blond. He pointed to the short one. “Dickey’s just starting out. He could use some.”
She pulled them from her pocket and showed them. “How about these for one of those Super Soakers?”
Dickey hitched his mouth. “Hm.”
“They’re pretty cool,” said the redhead. “I’d swap if I didn’t already have what I need.”
“Okay,” said Dickey. He picked up one of the squirt guns. It was the smallest, but pretty fancy. “This Soaker for those dice.”
They made the swap, and Hetty walked toward home to look for other kids. The boy who stole her frisbee appeared in the distance and pedaled in her direction, so she dodged into some hedges and hopped a fence, cutting through some back yards to get around him.
Several houses down, she peeked out to the street and didn’t see him, so she crossed back over to head down Spencer Street where a lot of kids live. The boy came out from behind a van looking startled himself when he saw her. Hetty bolted.
“Hey, wait,” he said. “I brought your frisbee back. I’m really sorry.”
Hetty slowed and turned around. He held the frisbee out so she warily walked toward him.
“How about this,” said Hetty. “I let you keep the frisbee and this Super Soaker for your jacket.”
He hesitated, but he bashfully surrendered the jacket and took the squirt gun.
“Nice doing business with you.” Hetty smiled and ran toward Howie’s house.
“What your name?” asked the boy.
“I’m Wesley,” he called.
Hetty asked for Howie at the door. When he came out, she held the Broncos jacket up to her chest and stretched an arm out.
Howie’s eyes went wide. “Where’d you get that?” He started pawing it, but she whipped it away.
“Never mind. You want it?”
Excitement propelling her, she ran to Mirna’s. She paid the sweet lady for the vase, and Mirna put it in a box for her. She was skipping home when Chet and a pack of boys hooted at her as they road by. One of the jerks slapped her box. It flew out of her hand, hit the curb with a crash, and tumbled several feet, jangling with broken pieces. The boys didn’t look back.
Hetty opened the box, and the vase had shattered into an irreparable mess.
At her party the next day, Hetty’s mother tried on the earrings with little feathers and silver spoons that Emmet had made, and then opened Hetty’s present. “Oh, Hetty. How’d you know I still love Hello Kitty?” She hugged her daughter. Hetty wasn’t sure she meant it, but it felt about as good as a vase.