The Game Was Red Light
by Emma Eden Ramos
The game was Red Light, Green Light. “Swish, swish!” Cayden shouted as each car sped by. His mother clutched his tiny hand.
“Look!” She commanded. “What color is the sign?”
“Wed!” Cayden jumped off the curb. A sharp tug and his feet were planted back on the sidewalk.
“No!” His mom had on her angry voice. “What color says go?”
“Gween says go, wed says no.”
On the opposite side of the two-way street, a boy much older than Cayden threw a tennis ball. A brown dog, the kind that was so big it could smother Cayden’s entire face in one lick with gooey slobber, sprang forward, catching the ball mid-air. Cayden wasn’t always the best at reading signals, but he could throw a ball so fast even the smartest, strongest dog couldn’t catch it.
The cars came to a halt. “Momma, look!” Cayden bounced, pointing ahead. “It says go!”
“No, no,” she hissed, her iPhone in her other hand, pressed against her ear.
Cayden shook loose. Signs never stayed one color long. Sometimes grown-ups, ones with long legs even, had to run to make it to the curb in time. If you didn’t make it, the cars won.
Ready, set, go! Cayden sprinted past one car. Another. Another. A driver cranked his head out his window, shouted something, probably that Cayden was winning, but there was no time for stopping. He made it, just before the light turned red.
Turning to see how far he’d come, Cayden caught a glimpse of his mom. She had on her angry voice and her angry face. There’d be no throwing balls, no petting the big kid’s dog.
“We don’t play in the street!” she yelled, cars honking as she charged past them. When you’re a grown-up, Cayden thought, you always win. When you’re a grown-up, you even get to walk into red lights.
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Emma Eden Ramos
Emma Eden Ramos is a writer and English teacher from New York City. Her work has appeared in Luna Luna Magazine, BlazeVOX Journal, TheCitron Review, The Legendary, and other journals. She has also written articles for Luna Luna Magazine, Agnes Films Journal, and Afterimage:The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism.