We spend the summer picking kumquats from neighbors’ trees, all bare feet and little girl giggles and sun-bleached hair. We eat the kumquats peel and all (the sweetest part) and leave no trace except sticky fingers and a neighborhood of bare Nagami trees. Sometimes the senile woman raps on her window. Sometimes we give her the finger. She could never run as fast as us. Never in a million years.
When we’re full we sit on the sidewalk and flip figeater beetles on their backs and watch their iridescent bellies shimmer in the sun like broken glass. Green gems. Fish scales. (Sometimes we crunch them under our heels, like fortune cookies).
Anhingas dry their feathers at the foot of the retention pond, birds made of oil and serpentine necks. Once we watched a devil bird drag a fish through the sky, water falling, feathers scathed by Florida sun.
The sky burns at six and goes gray at seven. Mosquitos come at eight, knuckle-sized and thirsty. They’re worse near the water so we try to stay away.
Down the street we play games with older kids. They tell us to fill their buckets with kumquats and not to come back until we’re done. Easy. We sneak through yards and pluck fruit like feathers. We hop through puddles of porch light.
When it’s done the older kids pelt kumquats at windows and cars, at houses hard enough to bruise. Dogs bark. The older kids tell us we better stay put. No moving, we’re watching. They run when front doors swing open.
In the middle of the road, we face the houses and smile.