The disc slices through the air and I marvel as it travels towards the sun, disappearing for a second, before it begins its downward journey and lands in my brother’s expecting hands.
“99,” I announce, my eyes wide.
The air around us is still as we silently postpone our celebrations with goofy smiles and clammy, nervous hands. Don’t jinx it.
“100,” I shake my head, not believing my eyes. Or my hands.
I can almost hear my brother’s thoughts: Imagine if we make 150.
As soon as I hear it, I silence it, focusing on the 101, 102, 103…
The rudimentary throw-catch-throw-catch of frisbee takes me back to childhood; of batting a bright yellow, fuzzy ball on the end of a string, on the top of a plastic pole in the ground, back to my brother. Hit-wait-hit-wait. Of pressing a see-through dome, home to two dice, with the hope of getting my little yellow pins back to base first. Press-move-press-move.
“150,” my tone, surprised, like when the new boy beat me by one correct spelling in the highlight of my junior school week: the Friday spelling test. Excited, like Christmas Eve, my brother and I clumsily duetting “Happy Christmas Eve” to shop assistants who accepted our pennies for mince pies. Nervous, like when I took to the stage with my friends, as lead singer, to perform Do Wah Diddy Diddy – dance routine and everything.
…104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110…
As the frisbee soars through the air – us at its mercy – I note that both my brother and I have one foot pitched in front of us, and one behind, like a quarter lunge, ready for war.
“150,” I’m soon saying, throwing the frisbee back to my brother, as he now catches with two hands, the one-handed catch seeming like playing with fire at this point.
I remember all of the tennis balls lost to neighbour’s gardens in summer holidays and beach trips that, despite the time put in, never saw us master pebble skimming. As I watch the I-really-don’t-want-to-be-the-one-who-drops-it expression make itself at home on my brother’s face, I remember a time I was annoyed with him in a way younger sisters can be, as I scattered up the stairs, setting up shop in my parents’ bedroom to watch him from their window. He was playing football with the wall, having lost his teammate to a quarrel, he’d traded me in for some bricks. Kick-bounce-kick-bounce, I silently tantrumed as he seemed unphased by my lack of presence. Kick-bounce-kick-
-The ball and his right trainer flew into the little substation behind the shed as my brother exasperated, “No!”, his panic palpable even behind the upstairs window.
Throw-catch-throw-catch, 200 comes about and I can no longer keep it in, “We have to get to 250.”
I throw the frisbee back to my brother, my teammate, but remember the ultimate test of oppenency as kids. “Shall we play the breathe under water challenge?” my brother asks, Spain: 2004.
Internally, I groan, knowing it’s not my sweet spot. Even so, before long, my brother is counting us in, “3, 2, 1…”
Noses pinched, we sink. Pinch-float-pinch-float.
“236,” I update my brother, 250 nearly at our fingertips. “237,” I confirm as the frisbee reaches my brother’s palms.
Pinch-float-pinch-float, my mind panics and I let myself pull into the summer holiday air, my brother, still a peach-red mushroom floating on top of the water. Sensing my withdrawal, my brother emerges.
The frisbee dances through the air.
Surprised, excited, nervous, I reach for its blue edges, the ends of my fingers finding it in the air, but they fail to grip, and the frisbee flops to the floor.
Eyes wide, I look to my teammate – throw-catch-throw-drop – and then I look to the frisbee, asleep on the ground.
My brother grins, hair wet, arms in the sky like a ‘v’ for ‘victorious’. I adjust my goggles and make a face, in a grump, because he’s three years my senior and clearly this equates to three more years’ experience in breathing underwater. The Spanish sun dances a salsa in the sky to the holidays reps’ sing-song rallying together of pool volleyball. “There’s always next time, Kath.”