by Guy Belleranti -
Ramon shielded his eyes from the sun as he puffed along the sidewalk beside his older sister. “Marie, why are you running so fast?”
"Exercise,” Marie gasped out. “Don’t you know that exercise…does the body…good?”
“Oh, I know...that,” Ramon said, equally out of breath. “I just thought maybe…you were trying...to get away from...the Thing.”
Marie slowed from a run to a trot and stared at him. “The Thing?”
"Yep." Ramon slowed to a walk. "Do you see it, too?"
"Uh, no," Marie replied, now also walking. "But I wasn't looking." She glanced to her left and then to her right. There was lots of activity going on around the neighborhood, but she wasn't sure what Ramon meant by The Thing. “Do you mean that boy in the driveway over there practicing moves on his skateboard?" she asked.
“Nope,” Ramon said giggling. "He's just a kid like us."
"How about that lady walking that big dog on the other side of the road? Or that man raking the leaves in his yard?"
“No, no, no," Ramon said. “Those are just a lady, a dog, and a man. I'm talking about the Thing. T-H-E and T-H-I-N-G,” Ramon spelled. Then he dropped his voice to a whisper and said, “It’s right behind me.”
Marie looked. “But, Ramon, there isn’t anything behind you. No one, nobody, and no T-H-I-N-G thing.”
“There is so,” Ramon declared.
Marie stopped walking completely and put her hands on her hips. “Okay, then tell me what it looks like.”
“Sometimes it’s tall and sometimes it’s short,” Ramon said. “In fact, right now…wow! Now there’s two Things. Come on, Marie. We have to run again to see if we can beat them home.” He chugged forward on his short legs.
Marie rolled her eyes. Little brothers could be so weird! She kicked back into running gear and in a moment had caught up to Ramon.
“Hey, Marie...Ramon!” Tony from next door swung his bike in alongside them. "What’s with the fast feet?”
“I’m exercising,” Marie panted.
“And I’m trying...to get away…from the Things,” Ramon said between gasps for breath.
“Things?” Tony asked. "What things?"