Soccer. Ingrid checked the clock on the waiting-room wall: 4:10. Practice was at 4:30. She'd completely forgotten soccer practice. Miss a practice, miss a game. That was Coach Ringer's rule number one. Was there anything more boring than sitting on the bench for a whole game? Other than math class, of course; that went without saying. And could you get around rule number one by skipping the punishment game? No, because rule number two was miss a game miss the next game. This had actually happened to Ingrid's friend Stacy Rubino, who'd gotten into a battle of wills with Coach Ringer that had spun into a death spiral of missed games and eventual demotion from the A travel team to the Bs. The Bs, who always inherited the uniforms worn by the As the year before. Say no more.
4:13. Ingrid glanced out the window: no green van, no silver TT. Her cleats, shin pads, and sweats were in her backpack, slung over one shoulder and heavy with homework. She went outside to wait, in the hope of saving a minute or so. Why? Because being late for practice meant push-ups. Rule number three.
Ingrid stood in the parking lot. No Mom, no Dad. This would be a good time for a cell phone. Did Ingrid have her own cell phone? She did not. Did Ty have his own cell phone? Yes, he did. Were Mom and Dad's reasons for not giving her one yet anything more than complete b.s.? They were not.
A few more leaves drifted down. Probably 4:15 by now, maybe even laterIngrid didn't know because her watch, Fossil, red face, red band, lay on The Complete Sherlock Holmes in her bedroom. Or maybeuh-ohin her desk at school. Red was Ingrid's favorite color, of all the colors the only one that said COLOR in big letters.
A little spark went off in Ingrid's head, a lively, wake-up kind of spark she'd had before. It always meant one thing and one thing only: Inspiration had struck. Inspiration, a thought coming out of nowhere, like the apple falling on Newton's head, and this was a good one: Why not walk to soccer practice? Even though she'd never actually walked from Dr. Binkerman's to soccer practice before, she had to know the way, having been driven there a million times. So what was the big deal about walking? Why hadn't she thought of this before? In fact, why not run?
Ingrid ranturning right out of the parking lot, zipping past Blockbuster and Benito's, and over a bridge. Bridge? Funny, she'd never noticed this bridge beforemaybe you noticed a lot more when you were on foot, like the way the river flowed underneath, sliding along like one long jelly the color of Mom's good silverware when it needed a polish at Christmas, the only time it came out of the drawer.
How about this for a move? Ingrid thought, swerving to kick a Coke can over a fire hydrant, catching up to it before it stopped rolling, kicking the can again, then again and again, while she thought When the hell is Coach Ringer going to retire? and Does the fact that I hear them talking on the sidelines mean he's right and my head's not in the game? and raced faster and faster down a street lined with shabby old gingerbread houses, their paint peeling and windows grimy with
Shabby old gingerbread houses? Whoa. The Coke can clattered into the gutter and came to rest on a sewer grate. The only shabby gingerbread houses Ingrid knew in Echo Falls stood in the Flats, the oldest part of town, where the shoe factories and railroad yards had been long ago. The soccer fields were up the hill from the hospital, and that was nowhere near the Flats. Was it? Ingrid looked around. No hill, no hospital, just these gingerbread houses in a neighborhood not especially safe, come to think of it. The front door of the nearest onejust about the most decrepit of all, actually crooked to the naked eye, half the roof covered with a blue tarpopened, and out came a woman with a shopping bag in her hand.
From Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrahams. Copyright © 2005 by Peter Abrahams. All Rights Reserved. Reproduced with the permission of the publisher, HarperCollins. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher.
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