It is the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series. The score is tied. There are two outs and the bases are loaded. The loudspeaker blares, "Batting for the pitcher - Greg Schroeder!" I stand in the box and size up the pitcher. He's a wily old veteran reliever. I dig in.
The first pitch burns in low and away. I take it for ball one. The next pitch breaks over the center of the plate for a strike. The third pitch nicks the outside corner for strike two.
I ask for time to readjust myself in the box. When I'm settled the umpire calls, "Play ball!" The pitcher winds up, kicks, and throws. A slider high and tight1 Bat meets ball with a loud "crack" sending the ball over the leftfielder to the wall. The winning run scores and we are World Champions!
Alas, it is just a fantasy, a daydream of mine. Yet I try to make my fantasies, my daydreams, come true. Today, four months after my tenth birthday, I will take the first step in making that fantasy a reality. Today I will start my first Little League game.
As I don my catcher's equipment I look over the other team, the Cardinals. They have fifteen good athletes on their team, no slouches. No wonder they won every game they played last year. By comparison our team does not have overwhelming talent, we are not all superstars and we know it. Still we have an undying drive to win if possible and therefore are not intimidated by their unblemished record or superb appearance.
I crouch behind the plate, catch a few warm-ups from Gerry, our pitcher, and indicate to the umpire that we are ready. He yells, "batter up!" and the game begins.
The first inning is a disaster - four errors, one passed ball, one wild pitch, four walks, and two hits result in eight runs before we can get the side out. In our half the first two batters strike out before Gerry pops out to the shortstop and we are right back on the field.
Now Gerry bears down. He faces only four batters and strikes out three of them. However the batter he does not strike out sends one of his pitches over the rightfield fence for a homerun, giving the Cardinals a 9-0 lead.
Determined not, to stand idly by while they clobber us, we start attacking. Our first batter grounds out, but the next two stroke singles into left center. Steve, our third baseman, walks to load up the bases.
Now it is my turn to bat, my first at bat as an organized baseball player. The pitcher whips in a fastball that glances off my right shoulder to the backstop. I go to first base and our initial run scores. Three batters later we are back on the field down by just six, 9-3.
The third, fourth, and fifth innings pass by with us vainly trying to match the ever growing number of Cardinal runs. Now it is the last of the sixth, our last chance. Though we are down by eight, 37-29, not one of us does not believe we can and will win.
Bobby, our second baseman, helps to confirm our beliefs by drilling the very first pitch of the inning down the rightfield line for a triple.
Andy punches a pinch-single through the infield to score Bobby and trim the Cardinal lead to seven. Randy, our shortstop, hammers a double to center and Andy races home. Six runs to go.
Gerry steps in. Their pitcher is upset and sends his first pitch over the catcher to the backstop allowing Randy to take third. Gerry walks to bring up Eddie. Eddie, too, walks to load the bases. Unfortunately Chuck, our best hitter, strikes out for the first out. Bill walks to the plate. He allows the first pitch go by then drops the second in front of the centerfielder and behind the second baseman for a single. Gerry and Randy score to cut the Cardinal lead to four. Steve peps out for the second out and I step in.
I let the first two pitches sail outside before missing a fastball high and tight. The next pitch hits the dirt in front of the plate and bounds to the backstop allowing Eddie and Bill to advance. I foul off the next pitch to fill the count. The next pitch hurtles toward me. I time it perfectly and hit a hard chopper to short. It leaps off the shortstop's glove into leftfield. I end up on second, Eddie and Bill score and we are down by two, 37-35.
Bobby is up again and draws a walk. Their coach has finally had enough and changes pitchers.
Andy fouls off four straight pitches before straightening out the fifth. He hits it so hard I don't think anyone will ever find it. Bobby scores. I follow and Andy crosses the plate with the winning run!
Annisette sat cross-legged on the grass peering through the stalks of the zinnias waving gently in the summer breeze. Her eyes were just below the level of the blossoms. She could hear the bees working busily but could not really see them until they slowly hovered from one flower to the next.
Her vision anyway was locked on her brother on the other side of the yard looking painstakingly through the rhododendron and lilacs. She could almost hear his whistling over the hum of the bees. She knew it was the theme to The Andy Griffith Show even though she never thought his whistling and the song sounded remotely similar.
She waited until he made it to the pump house and the small white building blocked him from her view. She sprang up and dashed ten feet to suddenly sit again, this time behind the bed of snapdragons, the multi-colored flowers now waving at eye level.
Jeremy emerged from the far side of the pump house and looked right at her without seeing. Her print dress blended perfectly with the flowers screening her from his view. His gaze passed to the zinnias and then even further to the sunflower bed. He started to amble in that direction.
Annisette took her chance, jumping up and racing for the giant sycamore. Jeremy shouted “Ha!” and burst into a run on an intersecting path. She started to giggle as her bare feet pounded across the soft grass. She could hear him gaining ground, his much-longer legs eating up the distance between them, but, like often, his steps seemed to slow as they all closed together – Annisette, the sycamore, and Jeremy.
She reached the tree. “Safe!” she squealed. And then he reached it, and her, and one finger tickled her ribs, expanding the giggle to peals of laughter. She collapsed to the ground out of his reach, still laughing, and a grin split his face. “You are so-o-o-o fast.”
“And tricky!” she giggled.
“And tricky” he agrees. “Next time I’m going to start looking at the zinnias!”
“OK! Count!” and she starts to run into the middle of the yard, the giggling stopping with the seriousness of the next hiding place.
Jeremy hides his face in the tree and starts counting, loudly, and peeking to see where she goes, “One! Two!...”
Two older women walk into a pizza joint. They shuffle on unsteady legs to their table. When seated they nervously ask the waitress the price of each item, and their running total so far. Starting with a salad, two slices, and a soda each, they quickly delete items to get under $20. No salad, one slice each. "Is the bread free?" they ask hopefully. Painfully hopefully.
On one side of the two old women sits a young couple. One surmises they have escaped from a tiny child or two and are luxuriating in being adult and alone together, if only for a stolen hour. One the other side is a mature couple. One imagines their children successfully out of the nest and them trying to adapt to being alone together, now for the rest of their lives.
The young couple gets the waitress' attention. Discretely they tell the waitress, give the women a second slice each, on us. She nods and scurries off, scribbling on her order pad.
The mature couple on the other side flag down the waitress. Give the women that salad, on us, they say, unobtrusively.
The women, as one item after the other is delivered splutter their disbelief. The waitress winks at the couples and each of them, in turn, assures the women that it's all right; they should enjoy it, if only just this once.
And, as the waitress walks past the bar toward the kitchen the college kid grabbing a slice and a beer before heading to his night class slips her a ten. Your tip, he tells her, for taking care of the two women.
“I lost my password, please help.”
The message sat on my phone, glowing in the darkness, mocking the deep sleep it had just woke me from.
And all I could do was laugh.
A picture popped up in my mind of the Irish maid in Mary Poppins, “Dear, dear! I’ve lost me password! What’ll the Master say?!”
Then, what does a password look like? If I’m going to find a lost password, I should know what it looks like. Perhaps, as it is a computer thing, it looks like Sultan, the footstool from Beauty and the Beast – a kind of ottoman with legs and a tassel tail running around in circles. I can imagine walking through the hospital, peering under gurneys and curtains, looking for a little wagging tassel.
Perhaps it is more like the functions in Donald in Mathmagic Land small trains of letters and numbers that crawl around on the surfaces like a centipede. This would be harder to find as I imagine it to be silent and with the ability to blend into the shadows.
Or perhaps it was lost like those socks that enter a space-time continuum inside the dryer. If that is where/how she lost her password there is no hope. At least I can never find that second sock once it disappears.
Finally, I thought, maybe it’s like the lost pet with all those posters in the neighborhood with a photo and the desperate pleas of the owner sometimes with a reward offer. You never know how that turns out, the posters just eventually disintegrate.
In the end, there was only one thing for me to do. Go to the big password-mill, despite all my misgivings about how the big operators run these massive for-profit enterprises where the passwords are emotionally and physically abused. At least I knew there would be a replacement password there.
Joanie stood in her narrow kitchen and looked down at Bruno in all his well-brushed glory. The collie returned her gaze with his liquid brown eyes just dripping the unconditional love that dogs can have for their humans. That look always warmed Joanie’s heart.
You’ll never discount my feelings, my career, or my interests, will you? She thought as she reached down to rub his muzzle. You’ll never tell me I could lose a few, or be more adventurous, or get a boob job either, eh?
The dog moved his head slightly so that she was scratching his ears and then she swept her hand down to pet his shoulders. His tail began to swish and his eyes, if it was possible, said even more vehemently, I love you; you’re the best! His needs were simple, give me attention and affection and I will return the favor. She gave him a final pat, gave him a small piece of salmon jerky and left him chewing on it, content.
In her small, neat bedroom she changed into a bright flowered dress for this evening’s date. She liked the dress as it matched her personality - modest (knee length, high neckline) yet showy (bright, twirly). She would be easy to find no matter how crowded the venue.
Later, at the bar (why was it always a bar?), Scott was waiting. His white bow tie made him clearly identifiable. She hadn’t thought he’d actually wear it. The bar was noisy but somehow he’d managed to get them a table in the adjoining restaurant where the sound was muted and they could talk, not shout.
He didn’t try to invade her space and his cobalt-blue eyes held hers as if he was trying to understand her words and feelings. Maybe, she thought, just maybe…
I saw a couple of these #onelinestory on Twitter. I thought it an interesting concept to tell a complete story in one sentence, as I interpreted the meme. Below are a few stabs I took. Drop a comment or respond to me on Twitter with yours!
Stunned, the obese cat dolefully returned the cherub's smile, ignoring the toy cast hopefully across the floor.
When you left my heart froze and the rest of my body has been slowly dying ever since.
The dandelion puffs exploded one after the other, spreading seeds with the same efficacy as the joy on young Rachael's face.
Steam rolled over the buffalo and the Lakota with equal indifference as the land lost its color.
I touch your face and the ice encrusting your heart melts.
Alien ships slant at impossible angles to bring energy-capturing panels into line, saving the ship's inhabitants from freezing to death.
Brother holds his sister, rejoices in her birth and anticipates a life of laughter, challenge, perserverence, and love.
Sarah and Lincoln is a novel with adventure in which I am about 50% done. It was a NaNoWriMo project that will not complete this November because my day job got in the way. The first 300 words introduce the first protagonist:
Sarah sat silently on the slider. It swung slightly in the warm summer breeze that ruffled the wheat that was starting to head out in the field in front of her. The sun was warm and the old tabby cat lay nearby on the white painted porch.
She wore a plain gingham dress with a broad-brimmed straw hat. It was actually her favorite dress. She’d had it for almost twenty years; bought at a barn-raising when the Amish had first moved into the area. She liked the hat, too, though it was a more recent purchase, at the Marshall’s over in Sioux City.
A pensive smile rested on her face, her eyes focused at something impossibly far away. Her hands were folded peacefully on her lap, a small white leather clutch held lightly. They, like her face, were lined and tanned.
From the field came the call of a whippoorwill. Two grackles swooped onto the yard and cocked their heads at Sarah and the cat, intrigued by their quiescence. They soon lost interest and looped back to the field.
Bemused, Sarah put a hand on the arm of the slider and levered herself slowly upright. She was ready. The decision had been well considered and she was comfortable with it. The shock would be palpable nonetheless. She almost looked forward to what was to come.
She walked slowly, with a step more struggle than would be expected from the rest of her appearance. The cat looked up but did not otherwise stir. He had his priorities.
The screen door opened easily under Sarah’s touch and she entered the relative dimness of the rear parlor. It was empty, as she knew it would be. The room was rarely used these days. The time of card parties past midnight, sweet sixteens, and sleepovers well past.
Me as a critic (be careful! the harshness will be well concealed!)