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Scoring

By Lynn Voedisch

The sun reflected off Kyra's painted toenails as she wiggled them in the breeze. Kyra had propped up her feet on the railing that separated the bleacher seats from the ivy-covered walls of Wrigley Field. Derek noticed that each toenail was colored a different, iridescent color, giving her small feet a shimmering, rainbow effect.

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Scoreboard Fans by Will Byington
"Do you think I could have the scorecard back?" Derek asked, watching as Kyra scribbled in the players' names.

"Just let me do this," she said, filling in the batting order for the Cubs and then for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Derek bought the scorecard, as he always did before every baseball game, as a focusing tool. Whenever he went to games, he found his attention wandering -- baseball is a slow game, after all -- and scoring the game forced him to keep his eyes riveted on the field. He hated missing things. Now his date had swiped the card.

"I didn't even know you knew how to fill in a scorecard," Derek said, trying to sound cheerful. "And how did you know the Pirates' batting order? They didn't announce it yet."

"Typical thing for a guy to say," Kyra said, handing back the card to Derek, as if it were a wet napkin. "My brother is a baseball player. Triple A. Anyway, I know their usual lineup. I can always change it if their manager shakes it up a little." She waved the eraser end of her pencil in his face.

"You never told me about your brother."

"You never asked."

When the first pitch shot through the air, snapping hard into the catcher's mitt, Kyra grabbed the scorecard back. One, two, three, the Cubs went down and Kyra penned a large K in each box. She chewed on the pencil’s eraser as she watched each pitch, squinting as she analyzed the flight of each ball, and announcing "sinker," "changeup," "split-finger fastball" more to herself than to Derek.

“It looks like Zambrano is tiring. He must have thrown a hundred pitches,” Kyra said. "But watch Eyre throwing in the bullpen. He's a lefty, they’ll put him on the mound for the left-handed batters coming up and it'll throw the Pirates off for an inning or two. You watch."

"Talk stats to me, baby," Derek said, feeling a wide grin spreading across his face. "This is better than sex."

"Better?"

"Well…"

The Cubs battled on, falling behind by three runs. Kyra was alternately cheering and moaning with each change in baseball fortunes. Derek felt his senses wandering. He heard the beer vendors barking and the organ urging on the calls of "charge!" Peanut shells cracked underfoot, hot dog vendors clacked their metal box lids, and the scent of suntan lotion alerted him to the presence of his new neighbor, a woman in a halter top with an enormous blonde hairdo.

He shifted closer to Kyra and watched her yell as Theriot slugged a fast line drive. She slumped back into her seat when the Pirate's first baseman snagged it with the web of his glove.

"So close," she said, scribbling on her scorecard. Hers because Derek would never get it back.

"Well, that was only the first out, three on base, so we'll do okay," Derek said. He reached over and grabbed her hand. Kyra looked up at him. Her eyes were green flecked with gold. Green like the ivy. Green like the well-tended turn near home plate. She squeezed Derek's hand.

"Thanks for taking me here," she said, her voice losing, just for a second, the sport's announcer's tone of authority.

As Derek returned the squeeze, the crowd inhaled as one great being. It felt as if all available air lifted off the ball field. A tiny, pale baseball lifted off the earth, sailing in an arc that stretched from home plate, over left field, and straight into the blue heaven over Derek's and Kyra's heads. They stretched their necks and gazed as Lee’s perfect homer -- a grand slam in the making -- moved like a shooting star over them. Derek pulled Kyra close, shut his eyes and felt her delighted laughter tickling his ears. He wished for a second, wished on this baseball miracle, that he could always find this moment. No matter the state of the outside world, this moment he could find, slip inside, and make his only, lasting reality.

Lynn Voedisch, journalist, author and freelance writer, covered entertainment and technology for the Chicago Sun-Times. These days she mostly writes fiction when she is not sneaking a peak at the TV to watch her beloved Cubs. She is the author of "Excited Light," a sobering spiritual fantasy about a young boy's attempts to rescue his mother from the clutches of alcoholism.

Posted on Friday, June 6, 2008 at 03:47PM by Registered CommenterLovable Losers Literary Revue in | Comments8 Comments

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Lovely details, like the toenails, the crunching peanut shells.

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