A few weeks ago we noticed the smoky patterned purple ball rolling back and forth, over the patch of dirt in the backyard.
We had gathered around the sliding door, curious, pointing, muttering at the entertaining spectacle.
At first no one thought much of it.
But then it rolled back, striking the edge of the concrete, then back and forward again, deliberately with an unexpected, eerie determination.
The teenager immediately reached for her mother, tightly griping the loose folds of her flowing shirt, clinging to her bosom, muttering, "It's rolling... The purple beach ball is rolling--against the wind!"
That set our hairs on end.
Mind you, we're not a superstitious lot, but having nothing else to do in the kitchen, clutching each other tightly came very natural all the sudden.
The dark prose of Poe flashed across my mind.
Worried the beach ball might turn on us, we took a few steps back, seeking refuge deeper into the kitchen, toward the half wall.
The ball rolled back, again, attempting to mount concrete.
"Oh my god!"
"Did you see that?--Did you see it?"
"It's trying to roll over the lip!"
"--And onto the patio."
Stunned, fixed on the pendulous ballet, we watched, wondering if this ominous orb was the servant of a terrifying thing waiting for nightfall.
"That's it. We're taking Paranormal Activity off the instant cue."
A few days later, on the way to the grocery store we discovered the ball securely lodged under the bumper of the minivan, inches from the garage door.
Later that week, the ball had relocated to the opposite corner, corralled with empty milk jugs and cardboard boxes, underneath the sliding glass door. How the ball managed to get inside that moat we would never know.
By Sunday afternoon, the next day, the ball was lingering near the back gate, bobbing, insisting, anxious. The portal was slightly ajar. We looked at each other. "Did you unlatch it?" No, each said in turn.
Then someone gasped, raising hand to mouth. "It's trying to break free. Look--"
We leaned inward, huddling. The beach ball rolled forward, pushing the gate. The teenager screamed. There was no breeze that day.
"Seriously, it's trying to get out. It's trying to break free."
A few days ago, while collecting the trash for a dumpster run we noticed the ball had disappeared. Had it finally shed its patio shackle? Where did it roll away to, and in what direction? We were relieved and concerned all at once, worried for the family that would eventually cross paths with the purple orb.
Gone now, we dare few glimpses toward the patio, for if our luck holds, the accursed globe might return like a hellhound to pace our backyard once more...