The ninth-grader ate his lunch quickly so that he could rush outside to enjoy the remainder of his lunch period under the autumn sun. He was the first one out. Eager and immature, he hadn't yet learned the proper bearing of a high-schooler. Much of him was still but a boy, happy dirty, playing with Lego, or shooting plastic army men with rubber bands. He wandered the decrepit parking lot that served as the playground and waited for his only friend to finish his lunch. His friend's nickname was Pumpkin-head. His ruddy complexion, orange hair, and round head made the nickname inevitable, but the boy had only called him that once.
The boy's pacing betrayed his impatience and his envy. Pumpkin-head was always late getting out because he had to wait in line to get a lunch from the hot lunch line while the boy only had to wash down his peanut butter sandwich and starcrunch with the grape Hi-C from his Thermos. The boy kept looking back toward the double doors where his friend would emerge. Students were beginning to file out. Lately, he and Pumpkin-head had been conducting rock wars against each other. This consisted of running up and down an eroded embankment, finding the perfect projectile, and launching it at your best friend. For some reason, none of the other high school students joined in the game, but both of the boys lacked the self-consciousness too much notice or care.
Looking for some ammunition, the curves of a small, gray and white stone caught the boy's eye. It was perfect. Even before he picked it up, he could feel the coolness of the stone fitting into the curve of his index finger as though it was made to go there. He picked it up and imagined throwing it. He wanted to show it to his friend. He caught movement by the building. The door opened thirty yards away. Pumpkin-head stepped out of the darkened lunchroom into the full sun of a cloudless day. The orange sphere stood blinking in the sun, eyes trying to adjust and unable to spot his friend. Knowing the range was extreme at the least, the boy thought to throw the rock in his hand at the building, hoping the crash would startle Pumpkin-head, who still hadn't spotted the boy with the rock.
The boy's arm and hand snapped, his body twisted, and with the combined energy stored in a peanut butter sandwich, grape Hi-C, and a starcrunch, he released the rock. Time seemed to slow down. Pumpkin-head blinked slowly as the meteor tumbled in the crisp, clear air. The boy stood with arm still extended, following the flight of the rock. At its apogee, the boy was struck with the divine knowledge that the rock was on target and would strike Pumpkin-head. His mouth opened to yell as his mind raced through the possibilities: Pumpkin-head’s head smashed open like a, well, like a pumpkin, or the rock lodging his Pumpkin-head’s eye, or having to explain to his parent’s how he killed Pumpkin-head with a rock. But as the meteor began its rapid descent, time sped back up, and no warning came out. The rock struck home about one inch above the point directly between Pumpkin-head's eyes. The boy’s heart was racing with anticipation, fear, and guilt; he didn't know whether to laugh, run like crazy, or get help. Pumpkin-head, blinking with the impact, stood for a moment stunned as he wondered what force was at work that could reach out and strike him as soon as he came outside. He began rubbing his forehead. He looked up. He looked left and right. No one was near. He looked down and saw the guilty meteorite. He picked it up and, while he was still in a crouch, his eyes met his friend's across the parking lot. In an instant he knew. He had been ambushed. The boy, elated that Pumpkin-head yet lived, turned and ran, laughing with joy and pride in the finest throw he had ever made, wishing only that someone had seen it.