Let that be a lesson

Two children, one of them in a brown cap, it might have been a girl, were kicking a beach ball up in the air, back and forth. It would go up quickly, weaving side to side like an inflatable buoy against the mottled blue backdrop of the sky. It would complete the curve, drifting down slowly.

They ran up and down on either side of a green asphalt tennis court with a saggy, torn net. For all the attention they paid one another, they might have been side by side or miles apart – they were watching the ball. The surface showed a map of the world in bright, unhealthy color. The surface was divided into twelve longitudinally, like long cantaloupe slices. The sea was pointillist blue.

The nearer child, probably a boy, kicked at it too hard and lost his balance. He fell on his back, the ball bouncing behind him. The large-eyed, bearded man with that had been observing them trotted quickly after it. He bent and picked it up in one hand.

Eight countries in a row across sub-Saharan Africa had been colored the same pinky orange, and the borders of a small middle eastern country did not appear, its name showing in a non-specific location. The child that fell had rolled over and both were watching him. He made sure. He unplugged the north pole and squeezed from east and west until the ball was a limp pankcake between his large palms and his long, thin fingers.