Out, my brother says,
as he halts the ball mid-air into a curled-up fist.
Absolutely not, reply I,
bat in the air like I’m bidding to be right:
you touched the ball with your bat.
But we’re not doing that rule, he says,
I thought we agreed
it was stupid.
Stupid rules are still rules –
is my defence, which I imagine to be quick and cutting and final.
He tells me I’m being pretentious.
I tell him I’d rather be pretentious than someone who believes
rules that are stupid aren’t rules.
[I’m not even sure I agree with this. I twirl the bat in my palm.]
Well, he says.
We fall silent. A bird chirps in a tree. A dog barks from a nearby garden.
Fine, say I, being the bigger person, or maybe just older, or possibly just
Take the point. Play on.

Later, when we are eating carrots in the kitchen
and I am silently stewing in unwarranted sweat and slightly more warranted defeat, I will
okay, fine, if you really want, we can reconsider which rules we think are
stupid and which we don’t.

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