Chapter 8

The count went even with the ball missing inside, the catcher attempting to frame the pitch to get the call. No big deal that it hadn’t worked. The slider inside was designed to be swung at, not sat on. Guess word is starting to spread quickly about my new pitch.

Shaking off the fastball the catcher flashed the sign for another slider- this time he wanted me to throw it up in the strike zone. That was a tricky move. If it hit the batter it could look retaliatory since Todd had been hit in the second inning. I am not the kind of pitcher who answers back by hitting an opponent; Novak on the other hand is.

Stepping off the rubber I then waved for Marshal to come over. Removing his mask while standing up from his crouching position he jogged over.
“You alright, bro?”
“Yea. I wanna throw the slider but on the outside, low and away.” I said, glancing at the runner on first base.
“And if he doesn’t swing?”

I thought about that as Marshal began his approach. “He will. Scouting report says that’s his favorite part of the zone.”

Shaking his head, Marshal trotted back to the plate while placing his mask back over his face and assuming the position. After a moment he called the sign, I took it. The wind-up. The pitch left my fingers and began a sharp ascent towards home plate but at the very last few seconds curved inward, marking its territory at the corner of an invisible box at the knees of the batter just low enough to want a taste of it but also out of reach enough to miss, which is what he did.

Strike three. Two outs. Damn it, no double play.

Next batter stepped in. A fastball high and inside is what I wanted- got it three signs in. The wind-up. Swung on and foul tipped into Marshal’s glove for strike one. Another fastball, this time low and inside. The wind-up. I could hear the bat shatter as the ball bounced on the grass towards me. I ran for it, scooping it up bare handed and tossing it to first. Inning over. We were still in the lead by two with three more innings left of my start.

The game finished after eleven innings leaving the game’s conclusion up to the overhead lights of the stadium. Since I exited the game in the eighth it meant I got the no decision. Not favorable but at least we won.

Charity wasn’t at the game. She had to stay late for a study group thing with some classmates in her graphics class. It sucked not having her there but school is more important than coming to see me play.

“But I love watching you, bubbie.” I could hear her tender voice as if she were next to me.

The gala had been almost two months ago- how time flies- and ever since that night Charity’s been acting weirder than usual. Perhaps it’s a side effect of the new anime she’s become obsessed with, a show called K-ON. Tonight I’ll finally have her to myself being that her father has had his hands busy with a case that’s become very public, very quickly.

Buzzing Charity’s apartment number in the intercom outside of her building, she let me in moments later. The elevator was already in the lobby so I took it up to the third floor, turning left upon exiting.

Charity was waiting for me in the open doorway wearing an oversized shirt and knee high socks. From the looks of it, no bra. I kissed her on the lips, reveling the taste of her mouth.

“How was the game?” She asked with the shadow of a smile.
“We won, but I didn’t get the W.”
Shrugging she said, “you’re still two and oh. That’s what matters.”

She led me into the apartment passed the kitchen and into her room. Inside, she turned to me and put her hands up as if in defense. “We have to talk.”

Uh-oh.

“What’s up?” I said, trying to keep my voice steady despite feeling shaky.

Instead of answering she went over to her desk and grabbed one of her sketch pads. The one I bought for her. Flipping through, she stopped somewhere in the middle. Folding it over she then handed it to me.

“What do you make of this?” She asked, not making any attempts at hiding the shaky in her voice.

I looked at the drawing. It was the two of us. I had my hands covering my mouth while Charity sat on the bed with her hands folded between her thighs, tears in her eyes.

Before jumping to conclusions that this was her way of breaking up with me I searched the picture for deeper meaning. Charity liked planting easter eggs in her drawings. It was how she said “I love you” the first time. It had its moments.

To get a better sense of the world within a world I stood where the drawing version of me was placed then began looking about the room for similarities. Her Converse were where they were in the drawing, so was her backpack, trashcan, down to the lint on the floor.

Focusing on the floor in the drawing I saw what appeared to be a popsicle stick shaped object. Switching focus to the actual room, the object was in the same place. Only upon further inspection it wasn’t a popsicle stick.

I walked over to it slowly. The object was now directly between Charity and I, who was sitting on the bed in the same spot as the drawing.

“Is that a-” I said, knowing the answer already. My eyes began to blur but could still see the positive sign clear as day.

The sketch pad fell to the floor, its pages flipping to another drawing from another world. My hands clapped over my mouth, eyes now falling on Charity who had tears streaming down her face and both hands tightly between her thighs.

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