I bought Cade a new baseball glove a few days ago. We went out back and threw ball. We were in Charlotte and the sun was warm. The grass was still mostly brown, but the trees were white with buds.
Talk about flashbacks.
* * * * *
Twenty-five years ago a little boy yelled for his dad to come outside and throw ball. And he did. The two of them stood in the grass and the ball flew back and forth between them. They didn’t say much. The ball was their conversation, back and forth, thwopping into their leather gloves like compliments, or points well made.
The air smelled of freshly mown grass. The cows wandered over to the fence and watched, with their endless chewing and tails flopping back and forth. They watched as if it was the most boring thing in the world, but the only thing.
Across the street from where the little boy threw ball with his dad was a church with a white steeple, and a graveyard. The boy used to look for monkey’s gold in the macadem, play hide and seek amongst the headstones. Beyond the church was a creek where he once caught a monster carp which his dad toted around in a five-gallon bucket, showing it off to all the neighbors before dumping it back into the muddy water.
But on the days that he threw ball with his dad, there was nothing else. Just the small white orb with spinning seams smacking into their leather gloves, the smell of green grass.
* * * * *
“Two hands, Cade. Use two hands, buddy.”
“Step toward me when you throw. Look at your target – your head’s flopping all around!”
He laughs and throws the ball. It falls short.
“Don’t be sorry, buddy! Don’t worry about it. Just step and throw.”
He reminds me of that little boy. Regular throws, back and forth, bore him. He wants me to throw the ball to the side so that he can make diving catches. He wants me to throw it over his head so he can chase it and catch it over his shoulder. He wants to grind grass stains into his knees, muddy up his elbows.
* * * * *
The little boy’s dad went inside, but the boy stays out, throwing the ball up into the air where it pauses, like a large star, then falls to earth. He whispers commentary to himself as he chases the ball through the darkening sky.
He catches the pop-fly that wins the World Series nearly every night, throws his glove into the air in celebration, rolls around in the sweet grass clippings and closes his eyes. He is the only person in the whole world.