Sleep did not come easily the next few days. Nor did focus. By the following Thursday I had noticed a decrease in performance not only in class, but on the field. Luckily my next start wasn’t for another two days. But having not talked to anyone since Hiroshima I knew this could not continue.
I haven’t even told my parents yet. I knew I could do it- they’re pretty understanding. But how does a teenage boy confess that he’s about to become a father? What angle do I use? I think I should begin with my father- the two of us seem to have a sort of friendly father-son relationship.
I asked him if he wanted to help me with my pitches the next day. Being a Sunday and all I knew he’d be free. Dad was delighted. We got up at six for breakfast along with stretching exercises. Then, we walked to the nearby park.
The sun wasn’t out- the news reported the day before that it would be overcast but no rain was imminent. Fall was in full bloom but mother nature seemed to want it to be winter. Parents jogged with strollers or dogs, sometimes both. Corners with its usual carts were empty, as always on weekends. The wind had begun picking up which would serve as a challenge for my pitches.
Dad squat down sixty feet away dropping down pitch calls. I worked on my fastball first, throwing it twenty times. Next came the changeup, same amount. Before moving on to the slider dad said “reduce the amount by half. You’re still getting used to throwing this. Don’t wanna burn your elbow out.”
To give myself another breaking pitch I decided to add the curveball to my repertoire. I do like the drop in the sinker, and a forkball seemed to be an interesting pitch. I didn’t like how far you had to spread your fingers for the forkball, however. Perhaps if I keep playing once I go to college I’ll add one of them to my repertoire. If I can go to college, now that I’m going to be a father myself. I wonder if we’ll have days like this…
“That’s enough, Chase. Good job.” Dad said while trotting over to me with the ball still encased in the gloves webbing. “You’re getting good, son. The drop on your slider is improving, and the break on your changeup is the best I’ve seen.”
“Really dad, the best you’ve seen?”
“Well, in someone your age.”
“So you watch a lot of high school baseball?”
“Only when my son plays, smartass. You hungry?”
With that, dad and I walked to a nearby delicatessen where we bought two turkey and cheese hero sandwiches, water, and chips where we brought them back to the park and ate on a bench.
“How’s school?” Dad asked.
“It’s high school. You know how it is.”
“But how is it for you?”
Shrugging, I swallowed food and looked at him. “It has its ups and downs.”
“It’s never been brought up but I’ve wondered for some time now- have you told anyone you’re adopted?”
“Outside of you and mom, only Charity knows.”
“Not even Todd?”
I shook my head.
“Why? I thought you and he were close.”
“For the reasons you had the parental tone at the start of this conversation.”
We took a bite in silence.
“Since the topic was brought up, can I ask a question?”
“You can ask me anything.” Dad said.
“When you adopted me, did any of the doctors tell you of pre-existing conditions?”
Shrugging, I said “like depression. Migraines. Diabetes. Stuff like that.”
Swallowing, dad said “given the state you were found in the doctors said there’s a good chance that something could develop later in life. Like after you’ve repressed the memories and they’ve resurfaced.”
“But I live those memories every day. I could never hide them, bury them. They’re who I am.”
“Have you ever thought about talking to someone about them- sought professional help?”
“Maybe. When the time comes. Right now I’ve got you.”
“And your mom.” Dad said.
“Mom is a bit high strung.”
Laughing, dad said “yea she can be. But you can count on her.” Placing his arm around me he added “and me. We’re lucky to have you, Chase. You’ve renewed our youth.”
“You make it sound as though you’re ready for retirement homes.”
“Not yet. But the house was never the same after…”
“I know, dad. You’ve been great to me. Mom too. I’m lucky to be here.”
Another bite in silence, then “what made you want to ask such a thing?”
“Well, I do think about the ‘what if’s’ you know? And I’m heading off to college soon,”
“Don’t remind me.”
I nudged his side. “You’ll be alright without me, old man.”
“Watch it.” He said with mock sternness in his voice.
“I’ve just always wondered what I’d pass on to my own kids.”
“Too early to be thinking about kids, Chase, since you are one.”
“I kinda don’t have a choice.”
I turned to my father. The sandwich was in his mouth, his mouth was poised to take a bite, his eyes bulged from their sockets as he gazed at me over the length of the partially eaten other half of the hero.
Putting the sandwich down he said, “please, PLEASE, tell me you don’t mean what I think you mean.”
“I wish it didn’t. Grandpa.”
I couldn’t control the tears that seemed to finally escape my body. It came on like a tidal wave. My father grasped me in arms and held me as I weeped into his shoulder. It was the first time since I was found that I can recall shedding a tear. It was also the first time since then that a feeling of helplessness, anxiety, and a whole lot of being scared shitless, surfaced.
“What am I going to do?” I finally said.
My father’s brow had become furrowed. His eyes seemed to sink in. His mouth drooped into a frown. He looked at me not with disappointment but with the same eyes I had so many years ago- he was scared, too. I wonder; had his son lived to be my age is this be a conversation the two of them would be having?
“We’ll think of something, son. But first,” he cradled my head in the palms of his hands while starring into my eyes. “We’ve got to tell your mother.”