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The Winter Senior

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There’s a group of kids gathered half way down the street, they can't be older than 11 or 12, headed home from school. It's the same thing every day. The whispers, the shoving, until one or two of them finally gather their nerve, and RUN. The goal is to see who can get furthest across the lawn on the corner, who can stay on the springy green the longest, before he hears.

“Hey! Get the fuck of my lawn, ya goddamn kids!”

Old Man Barnes, the crotchety owner of the house on the corner and not actually OLD. He can't be more than 30, broad shouldered with chin length brown hair, always a few days worth of beard and ratty jeans. Everyone just calls him that because the man acts like he’s 100, standing out front watering his flowers, puttering around in the garage and, of course, yelling at the kids to get off his goddamn lawn.

At first the kids aren't doing it on purpose. It's just that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line and when you live on the corner, that straight line just happens to go across your yard. The first time it happened Old Man Barnes had been in the garage, poking at something on his tool bench with a screwdriver, and when the kids had been about ten steps onto the grass he stood at the top of the driveway and bellowed,

“What the hell?! Get off the grass you little punks!”

The children, appropriately startled, hight tailed it out of there as quickly as possible. The next day as they approached the corner Peter dared Pietro to run across as fast as he could. Pietro, never one to turn down a challenge just handed his backpack to his sister, Wanda, and took off across the green expanse. He made it halfway before Old Man Barnes popped his head over the top of the fence.

“What did I tell you little shits?! Get Off!” He exclaimed, a deep scowl on his face, eyebrows drawn together. He turned the hose on them for emphasis. Squealing and slightly damp the kids took off.

Every day was much the same, one of the kids would dare another to take their chance and everyday Old Man Barnes would pop up from somewhere to yell at them to keep their lousy feet of his lawn. Sometimes he would throw a lemon from the tree in the backyard at them or attempt to spray them with the hose while the kids ran off, laughing and screaming.

One day, after the kids had taken off, Old Man Barnes pulls his head back into the house where he had been leaning out of the upstairs window, a smile stretched across his face. Steve, who is seated at his easel, looking unimpressed, just turns to him and asks,

“Why do keep yelling at them when you don't even care about the yard?” Bucky’s smile widens a fraction.

“It's just fun to see how fast they scatter. Like the cockroaches when you turned the lights on in that old 3rd floor apartment we had.” His grin takes on a devious edge. Steve just rolls his eyes and turns back to his painting, then wonders,

“How long do you think it'll take them to realize the grass is fake and that it doesn't matter if they walk on it?”

“Oh I don't know, at least till the end of the school year. Tony did good with this version, looks and feels almost like the real thing.” Steve just rolls his eyes as Barnes takes another look out the window. “What do you think they'd do if I turned the sprinklers on them?”