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nobody league

by Anastasia Barbato 8 days ago in friendship

A stream of consciousness

photo courtesy of Thomas Park (Unsplash)

There’s something to be said for rainy days, when the sky is gray and the pavement stinks of petrichor. When the sidelines of the baseball game are roaring with anticipation over the winning ball that lands in left field, the catcher misses, he flies over and falls to the ground, dirt on his britches. He’s too big for them, the britches, he knows this and still refuses to believe he is a enough, he is a character in someone else’s story but not even his own. He doesn’t know his name or where he was born, just that he is here and the sweat is dripping in his eyes and his breath is coming raspy and hot and damp in his lungs; what if he gets pneumonia from playing outside when it’s raining? It’s so fucking cold, he can’t feel his feet.

There’s nothing to be said anymore about the game but about the time he walked his dog and Rufus pushed him to the pavement and it stank of petrichor. The way the blisters on his hands from holding the baseball bat remind him of the skid marks smeared red against his palms that Rufus left behind, how Rufus stared down at him and laughed and laughed. He doesn’t know if it would be better if he had a baseball bat with him when he walked the dog next time, but he carried one anyway just in case. The dog didn’t know any better, just whined and whined. He wished it had barked like it would when it wanted to come inside; the dog would howl and scream like it was the saddest dog that ever lived, a mournful wail that wouldn’t let up until he opened the sliding glass door and the dog came inside, tracking mud in with its paws, the rain clinging to its fur until it shook the rain right onto him and he would laugh and laugh.

The game is back now and he’s running, running to catch the flying white orb arching a parabola high above. He never did pass geometry, was too busy staring at the back of the boy’s head in front of him and how the golden curls shivered whenever the boy raised his hand to answer a question. The boy was so smart; why wasn’t he smart, why couldn’t he bring home the math grade that would make his mom smile and put it on the fridge and give him a kiss on the head? He’d never be able to have homemade chocolate chip cookies for a job well done or see something of his, some drawing from his childhood pasted on the fridge, see it there in the middle of the night when he couldn’t sleep and needed a glass of water. He would have stared and stared.

And now he’s on the bench, tying his laces and getting mud on his fingers from the cleats, watching the dirt smear against the cement like it belonged there, like it would always be there. Charlie sits next to him and he’s sweaty, he’s warm and damp just like the rain, like the hair plastered against their foreheads. His teammate grins and slaps him on the back, gives him a "Nice catch, Wyatt" like a secret, something to make his heart swell a little larger in his chest. Charlie smells like sandalwood underneath the sweat and stink of petrichor. He smells like he goes home and his mother washes his clothes for him, freshly dirty and well worn, faded in the colors from the washing, torn from their gentle folding as Charlie put them on.

He can hear the umpire shout another strike and then the stands are empty, he’s looking through them and all he can see are wet bleachers. A few spots are dry but still empty. The audience were strangers. They weren't there for him. It was just a nobody league game after all, there wasn’t much to it; just another game no one showed up for, and he would go home and never talk about how the rain stung his eyes, or maybe he would, or maybe it was something else that made it hard to see.

All he wanted now was some macaroni and cheese, warm on a plate, ketchup on the side, like his grandma used to make for him after school and he would eat it all up before it cooled down, when it was too hot and burned his tongue. His tongue felt burned now anyways, he was so tired of holding it.

There wasn’t much left to do once the game was over but walk to the bus stop... No, he had to run because the bus only came at 7 and if he missed it that would be it, he would walk home in the rain and his mom would yell at him again for slogging mud in the house. She never seemed to mind when the dog did it, but apparently he knew better than the dog, or he should or whatever, he just couldn’t stop thinking about the smell of sandalwood, and how the curls on the back of the boy’s head in his math class stayed so bouncy, so bright and colorful, how could he get his own hair like that when it just matted to the top of his skull from the baseball helmet and the rain and the dirt and the sweat. He would never get it.

And the pavement stank of petroleum now, wasn’t there a saying about the first few minutes of rain being the slickest on the road? What about the last few hours? How did that fare? What about his bus fare, shit, he spent two dollars on the vending machine. Maybe he could bum it from someone.

He hoped he could.

friendship

Anastasia Barbato

A modern storyteller and social activist dedicated to elevating our human experience via the written word.

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