Thirteen, a terrible age. A wonderful age. For Smitty, a kid shortstop, it was the summer when he found out that everything he knew was going to change.
This is the story behind “The Summer of the Home Run,” a short story about baseball, girls and being thirteen.
“The Summer of the Home Run” is available at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/299057
“Might not seem like a big deal, being allowed to pitch in a summer league baseball game, but for us, summer was the game and the game was our summer, what we lived for.
Our town was not that big, but it was spread out and we could go all summer and not see any of our friends. Anything could happen, like the year when we moved from sixth grade to the middle school and found out only when we got back to school that Jackie Dennis, the girl everybody on the baseball team wanted to take to the movies because she was like the prettiest girl in three counties, like we knew girls in three counties, but you know what I mean. Anyway, she had moved because her father, who was a minister, had been transferred to a church in, like, Iowa. We didn’t even know that minsters got transferred. I mean, all the ministers in all the rest of the town’s churches were old like they founded the church or something.
But anyway, we only found out Jackie Dennis had moved when she wasn’t sitting in the second seat of the third row in homeroom. That’s where she always sat, between Allan Anderson on her left, whose name was always second behind Brenda Ades, and Eddie Madden, who was always in the second seat of the fourth row. I always sat in the fourth seat of the fifth row and had a perfect angle view of Jackie Dennis. She had the blondest hair. It shined like it absorbed the sunlight, and she had a soft, round face with green eyes and a pretty little crooked smile.
You know who sat in her seat now? Frankie Earl. I didn’t like Frankie Earl.
It’s not like I would have had a chance with Jackie Dennis anyway. She was too perfect. She moved with a confidence that I could never figure out. Her friends were all smart and she always gave the speech at graduation or at the Memorial Day parade, and read the notices during homeroom.
She knew my name, and would always say “Hi, Smitty,” when we passed in the hallways, but I’d never have a chance with her.
That’s why getting to pitch that summer was such a big deal.”
While at Smashwords, take a look at my collection of short stories, called “The Resurrection of Leo” at: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/282799.
The collection including, “What happened when he came back.”
“The kitchen was as silent as a church when you finished speaking of her. You and I remained quietly staring into each other’s eyes, silent, close, reaching.
And she floated above us like a ghost.
Like a prayer.
And I wanted to hate her for the lines and worried look she had painted on your face, wanted to hate her for all the energy she had drawn from you and wasted. And when you finished speaking of her you seemed smaller, shrunken, as if expelling the words to describe her, the breath required to speak her name was torn from your very muscles, ripped out piece by piece, leaving emptiness.
Make love to me, Stephen, I said. Take me and hold me. Let us mix up all the things that happened and never happened, take in all the dreams dying and dead, all the wishes nodding in the darkness, all the orphaned cares and give them shelter.
Let us love, Stephen, I said. Let us break the gloom with shouts.
And in the warm darkness I felt the sweat form between your shoulder blades and run like a fevered river down your back. I opened my body to you and felt you climb inside. I tasted your sweet breath and moved under your touch. And at times we moved together, as if all the writhing and groaning of lovers could change the world, it would change that night.
My man done come. Back.
But in the morning when you awoke in my arms, she was in your eyes.
And I sent him away.
I will not save you, Stephen. The mistakes you make are your own. I have enough of my own.
One more lie exposed.
What was saved that night, Stephen? Have you gone back to that shadow where you fear that she might turn again that smile on you, or turn it off forever? Either is the same death. If you came here for answers, I only gave you questions.
But you could say the same to me. I wanted you to be a door, something with a knob I could grasp and turn and step through into a new place. But you were only a mirror. And the sadness that clung to your cheeks clung to mine; the darkness of your eyes glowed in my eyes. I wanted to blame you for the place my life had rested in all these years, to say if you had only answered me in the library, told me you loved me, if you had only stayed with me that night after we drove on the Thruway, all would have been well. For as crazy as it was, that night was just what I needed. Everything had become so plain, so routine, I lost my direction. The wars with Nick tore down my resistance.
And then you were there. You brought me back to life. And I sent you away.
Had I been waiting for you to come back? You tell me. I had carried you around with me ever since. When I told you that day in the library so long ago that I loved you, it wasn’t some schoolgirl crush, and it was the purest love I have ever known.
Still you went away. I sent you away. It seems now that it is the same thing.
Then you came back with her in your heart, trapped there by all that was right and wrong. If a night of love with me cannot dislodge her, then I will move on.
He came back.
And I sent him away.”