As planned, Ron grilled the burgers and with plenty of side items and a full cooler, the Hawkins enjoyed lunch in the park.
“Man, I had so much food, maybe we should rest first before playing football, Ron announced.”
“CHICKEN!” Seth yelled at his dad. “You just don’t want me, Asha, and mom to whip your…”
Before he could finish, Shararah yelled, “SETH!”
Asha and Caleb tried not to giggle.
“Yeah, where did you learn to talk like that, boy?” Ron said firmly.
Seth looked embarrassed.
“Come on, you guys go down there and kick off to us.” Ron said.
“Why are we kicking to you?” Shararah asked.
“Because you outnumber us.”
“Come on mom, we’ll still beat them.” Seth added.
Asha kicked the football, further than Ron thought she would and had to run back to retrieve it. “Give it to me, dad!”
Ron handed the ball off to Caleb and started blocking for him, easily taking out the first one going for the tackle, Seth, who went flying to the ground. Seth sat there a minute without saying anything, then got up, brushed himself off, and walked back towards where Shararah and Asha had successfully tackled Caleb.
Shararah started towards Seth but after adding some pep to his step, he declared, “I’m alright mom.”
“Kind of hard on him, weren’t you?” Shararah retorted while giving Ron a sneer.
“Hey, come on. He’s fine.”
Ron let up for the next several set of downs until Caleb said in exasperation, “Dad, you stopped trying and now we’re losing.”
“Yeah dad, play harder,” Seth added. “You didn’t hurt me.”
“It was part of the strategy,” Asha added. “Mom just wanted to make you feel guilty so you would let up.”
“Shhhh.” Shararah had her finger over her smiling lips.
“Oh, is that so? Come on, Caleb. We have a touchdown to score.”
“Now you’re talking!”
After Ron handed the ball off to Caleb, he ran straight for Shararah and rather than shove her aside with a block, he tackled her.
“HEYYY! THAT’S HOLDING!”
“Yeah dad,” Asha agreed as she jumped on his back.
“Piggy pile! Seth yelled as he ran to join the fray after tackling Caleb near the end zone.
Caleb dropped the ball and ran for the growing pile himself.
The football game slowly turned into a rugby match, causing Farsi to bark his disapproval. When the laughter subsided, the Hawkins family sat around in the grass, leaning back on their arms, lying on their sides, or whatever other relaxing position they chose at the moment, taking in the gorgeous day…the last full day together before Ron would leave for Iraq and face ISIS.