Wednesday, June 11, 2003
three rain slickers and baseball
it was raining on fishers island. three colorful rain slickers were traipsing down the hill from the musty old house to the main road. this is the scene.
an ambling little blue slicker with a seven year old girl named katherine inside. an intuitive seven year old. a little girl with calm blue eyes. slow to smile. patient. a bouncy pink rain slicker with a five year old named annie inside. anniebeans - the classic middle child. boisterous. quick temper. flashing green eyes. annie had a hard time dealing with baby james. sometimes, she'd want to hold him, and then she'd nearly drop him. her first instinct of anger was to pinch. but when she threw her arms around my neck and pretended to be my "necklace", and when she curled up in my lap after dinner and twisted my hair around her little fingers, i secretly knew she was my favorite.
and me, in my grown-up yellow rain slicker. holding two little hands in mine. listening to annie prattle on about forest animals,and watching kat's eyes linger on the grey, frothing ocean in the distance. me, in my yellow rain slicker, nearly twenty years old. on fishers, any college angst or doubts or fears didn't matter. what mattered was, it was a rainy day, we'd been cooped up inside for hours, and i was taking the girls on a rainy walk. three rain slickers, bobbing down the hill.
we stopped at the baseball diamond. annie ran onto the field because she saw a bunny rabbit, and she wasn't old enough to realize that when you chase the rabbit, it'll run away. kat and i watched annie slip and slide across the field, chasing the bunny, calling with a hint of desperation in her voice, demanding that it come play with her. kat turned to me with a squinty thoughtful look in her eyes. "annie's silly, huh." i laughed. "yeah," i answered, "but you should enjoy being silly too, while you're young." she shrugged. "like," i said, "we should play baseball." now kat laughed. "we don't have a baseball, or a bat." i looked at the muddy, rained-out diamond. "so?" i asked. "we'll play imaginary baseball."
"imaginary what?" annie panted as she trudged back to where we stood. "imaginary baseball," i said, the idea catching on. i instructed annie to stand at the plate. she stuck her bottom out and scuffed her shoe and pretended to practice a couple swings. i dragged kat to the pitcher's mound. "why do i have to pitch?" because, i said. "you're the best pitcher in the league." she shook her head. "no, i'm not." i solemnly handed her the imaginary baseball. "in this league, you are." she squinted and smiled.
i walked back to the plate, watching annie wave to her fans. i pulled my imaginary mask over my face. i slid on my imaginary glove. and i crouched down behind annie, and winked at kat through the rain. she wound up an incredibly hot ball. her tiny arm rotated in its socket about six times, while annie crouched, shifting from foot to foot. crack! play ball!
i don't remember how the game went, or who won. i remember calling all the plays ... and mackey-mccall catches that mid-air, and stackpole-mccall is OUT! ... oooh, close one as mackey-mccall slides into third with stackpole-mccall hot on her traces, and it's SAFE! ... foul, and mackey is NOT happy about it!
i remember we played imaginary baseball for thirty minutes. i remember the sound of my voice booming over the empty, muddy diamond, while everyone else was inside their homes, avoiding the rain. i remember watching a blue slicker tackle a pink slicker, and i remember catching my breath until i saw both little girls jump up, screaming with muddy joy. i remember blocking a home slide from kat that landed us both face down in the mud, shrieking with joy.
but most of all, i remember ending the game in a muddy, colorful heap, on the pitchers mound, going over the plays and laughing at the tops of our lungs, three voices getting lost in the density of the rain on fishers island. blue, pink, yellow. pitcher, batter, catcher. five, seven, and twenty. and i remember looking into the sky and thinking - remember this day.
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