Mike and Cindy were enemies. Well, in real life, they lived next door to each other. That is how they were described by their parents.
“Mike and Cindy are next-door neighbors.” “They are so cute together.” “They love to compete in everything!”
Clink clink; the ice would shake in their glasses as the adults cooed at Mike and Cindy. But the truth of the matter was that Mike and Cindy would never be friends or anything of the sort. They hated each other. They loathed the very idea of being friends. They were arch-enemies, and that was the way things had always been.
“Let’s do Crashes,” Mike said one hot afternoon.
“The game I just made up.”
Cindy held on tight to her fairy wings as she watched Mike move to grab his horse, which was actually a horse head on a stick. But it was close enough to count as the real thing.
“The way you play Crashes,” Mike explained, “is you run at each other as fast as you can and then see who falls down first and who falls down last. The person who falls down last wins.”
“That sounds dumb,” Cindy said. Still, she strapped her fairy wings over her shoulders.
“It’s dumb,” she repeated, “but I can beat your dumb butt anyway.”
Step after step after step they parted from each other and let more space between them, until they were standing on opposite sides of the road.
“One,” Mike said. He reared up his horse.
“Two,” Cindy whispered.
Mike galloped wildly. He was picking up speed. He was going to knock down Cindy with such a crash that she would go flying backwards into the air before she landed on the ground.
But what Mike didn’t know was that Cindy’s wings could actually fly. As Cindy glided towards him, she knew just what to do. As they came close enough, Cindy pointed her arms out and flew right over Mike and his horse. Mike shot past her and turned.
“You’re not allowed to spin out of the way!” he yelled.
“I did not spin,” Cindy said. “I flew. If you can’t meet me in the air to play Crashes, then that’s your problem.”
The two stood, nose to nose, pointing their fingers at each others’ cheeks and turning red in the face. Then they paused. There was a noise off in the distance. It sounded like wide, uneven footsteps.
Shhlllep, clunk. Shhlllep, clunk.
Cindy and Mike waited, now not quite nose to nose, as the sound came closer to them. It rounded the corner, and then they could see that the uneven footsteps belonged to a kid. Well, they guessed by his clothes that this was a kid. But it was the biggest kid they had ever seen. He seemed tall enough to crash into Cindy even if she were wearing her wings. He also seemed big enough to stop Mike’s horse in his tracks.
The kid stumbled all the way over to the piece of sidewalk that Mike and Cindy were standing in.
“What are you two supposed to be?” He glanced back and forth between the two of them. “A rainbow princess and a sheriff? Didn’t anyone tell you it’s not Halloween?”
“A rainbow princess?” Mike shook his head. “Didn’t you see the wings, goofus?”
“He’s not wearing any badge!” Cindy said. “He’s a cowboy outlaw!”
“You both are weird,” the big kid said.
Just then the small jingle of the ice cream truck winded in from the block over. Mike and Cindy always paused for snow cones. Always.
“Be right back!” they both called out to each other, and each went inside to beg for fifty cents for a snow cone.
A few minutes later, they were both out again. But the big kid was waiting for them.
“Give me the money,” the big kid said. He opened and closed his hand impatiently.
“Are you kidding?” Mike said. He stuffed his change deep inside his pocket. But the ice cream truck was now turning the corner. Mike looked to the truck and back to the kid. He would not let the handful of coins go completely.
“Run for it!” Cindy called out. “Run, Mike!”
Mike turned on his heels and rode his horse out towards the truck. But the big kid was following after. And he was much faster, Cindy could tell. She pushed off of the balls of her feet and leapt into a run behind them. Her wings were begging to take her up and off of the ground, but Cindy couldn’t let them just yet.
The man in the ice cream truck was just reaching over for Mike’s money when the big kid pulled on Mike’s arm. But just as the bid kid was pulling on Mike’s arm, Cindy had caught up.
Cindy toppled over the kid and sent him to the ground. She skinned her knee and tore a wing in the process. But she also got some good scrapes on the boy twice as tall as she.
The whole thing was pretty heroic, but unfortunately for Cindy, her mom happened to be looking out the window at that very moment. So instead of getting a parade in her honor, Cindy got sent to her room. For a week. That was how they treated snow cone heroes these days.
Two days before Cindy was supposed to get out of her punishment, there was a knock at the door. When Cindy’s mother opened it, she allowed Cindy to come downstairs. Mike was outside on their front porch. His bicycle leaned against the railing, with his horse carefully taped to the front handle bars.
“Want to play Escape?” Mike asked.
“It’s a game I just made up. The way you play Escape is that the Cowboy breaks the Fairy out of jail and they make a run for it on their bikes.”
“I don’t think it counts as a real escape if my mom let me down here.”
“Sure it does,” Mike said. “Hop on!”
He pulled her bike from the side of the house and adjusted her wings as she swung herself up and over the seat.
“Bet I could beat you to the end of this street,” Cindy told him.
“You’re on,” Mike said.
“One, two, three!”
And together the two arch-enemies rode off into the sunset.