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Baseball

It’s the bottom of the ninth there is a man on second and a man on third.  The sun blinds my eyes.
    

I walk up to the plate, nod to the pitcher, wink at him, just like you aren't supposed to.  I can’t see anything, the sun is blinding, it will set soon.  I get in my stance.  Feet abnormally wide, weight shifted on the back leg, eyes squinting.  The guys in the dugout are quiet.  The catcher behind me makes fun of my shoes. 
    

The pitcher stands on the mound casting a shadow that stretches to within two feet of my feet.  He shakes his head.  Nods.  My heart starts pounding.  He winds up, raises his arms to his chest, lifts his leg as though he is a dog and is about to mark his territory.  The ball flies past me into the catcher’s mitt. 
    

“Strike!”
    

The other team cheers.  I am confused. 
    

My heart starts pounding again.  The pitcher winds up again.
    

“Strike!”
    

On the next throw, I hit the ball.  Vibrations go up my arms and through my body.  I run.  Swing the bat blindly to the side.  Legs pumping.  My shoes slip on the gravel, luckily I don’t trip.  It could be a double.  More confusion, should I keep running?  I’m already slowing down with the confusion of it all. 
    

My teammates in the dugout are telling me to “RUN!”  But I don’t trust them.  So I stay at first, and have made the right decision. 
    

Headache sets in.  Must be dehydrated.  My heart beat settles down and satisfaction settles in. 
    

The bases are loaded.  Two out.  Bottom of the ninth, and Michael F. is up to bat.  The worst on the team.  A puny nerd.  He looks like a girl taking practice swings.  He gives me a big thumbs up and smiles, poor dude.  The dugout act as though they’ve lost already. 
    

He walks up to the plate like a giraffe might.  He rests the bat on his shoulder and waits, like he’s watching a play or something, a real drama queen.  Now the sun is just about to set.  Michael squints at it.  His big nose bunches up and folds appear around his eyes.
    

The first throw offered him he swings and misses.  The dugout can’t watch.  He’s trying to be lighthearted about it.  We all expect disappointment.
    

Second pitch, same as the first.
    

The third pitch, Michael hits it way out, out into the sun.  Screams of joy.  It’s a home run.  

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