Wishing You Were Here
To say that baseball was popular where I lived would be an understatement, the inhabitants of Salem, Massachusets were fanatics. I was also a fanatic, obviously, but not as much as my dad was. Did you catch that? I said was, I’m pretty sure you know how this ends.
It was on June first six years ago, I was nine years old at the time. I still don’t understand the whole story, and my little kid brain took a while for it to understand that he was really gone. My dad wasn’t perfect, I mean who is? He used to be perfect, he really was.
He would give me and my brothers piggy back rides when we visited the beach, but that stopped. Soon he came home at random hours when we were asleep, or when he thought we were. Sometimes I would be wide awake waiting for him or the angry screams of my mom. He smelled of whiskey and cigars as I got older until I had associated the thought of home with that smell. He passed away while driving drunk, not like it was surprising.
When he died it was like an infection, you denied that you had it and you kept quiet. Then when you finally admitted that it was in your system it was a little easier to breathe instead of wondering what was wrong with you, but that relief didn’t last long. When the actual disease kicked in it almost felt like you can’t breath like the water is filling your lungs but you can’t cough it up. I could feel my throat closing up as I thought about him, the corner of my eyes dampening when I smelled whiskey.
I slowly got up from the stands and shuffled through the crowd of sticky toddlers and tipsy mothers that had wine stained lips. I slid past the gates and staggered into the parking lot. I balled my hands into fists and paced around the empty lot. I let out a choked cough and then leaned against the forest green Jeep that I had gotten for my birthday a year ago. I took a breath and counted to ten, only making it to eight before someone tapped my shoulder.
“Back off!” I yelped. I opened my eyes that had been squeezed shut, my hands raised above my face just like Dad had taught me to do.
“Easy there,” a low voice chuckled. “I was just checking to see if you’re alright, but I think you can handle that.”
“Whaddya want?” I mumbled back as sharply as I could muster. I rubbed my eyes to get rid of the tears that had almost spilled over and sighed.
“Again, I was just checking to see if you were all right,” I finally looked over to who was talking to me and I was taken aback. He had wavy blonde hair that looked like rivers had run through each strand, his eyes were a deep azure with gray flecks that seemed to have been hand-painted into his irises.
I shook my head and sighed. “I’m fine.”
“Beer?” The guy held out a green bottle.
I squinted sharply at him. “I’m underage.”
“Relax it’s only ginger beer,” He inched the bottle closer to my hand.
“Fine,” I took the bottle and twisted the cap off quickly, the bubbles tickling my mouth. “I’m not trying to be rude, but...”
“Why am I here?” He took a sip from his bottle and smiled, and it was a gorgeous one as well.
“Exactly,” I lean against the door of my car and rest the nozzle of the bottle against my lips.
“Well, I moved into the house that is right next to yours,” the boy’s stormy eyes search mine for any recognition.
I stay silent for a while but then I jut my arm out and the golden liquid sloshes around in my bottle. “Oh! You’re a Grapard!”
“Yep,” he laughs a little. It sounds like thunder, rumbling in the back of his throat and rolling out of his mouth languidly.
“You have like, eight siblings right?” I laughed a little at the face he made when I mentioned that part of his life.
“Six, and they’re all painfully annoying,” he replied.
“I have three, all boys and all older than me. A true nightmare,” I grinned and it’s been the first true grin in a while. “Especially since my ma and I are the only two who don’t think lighting fire crackers near relatives is funny.”
“What about your dad?”
I felt my heartbeat speeding up, my mouth trying to form words that wouldn’t slip past my teeth.
“Not around?” He saved me from my explanation.
“Y-yeah, he’s not around,” I cleared my throat and turned back to him. “I gotta go soon, but I need to know your name first. Just so I know I’ll be talking to the right Grapard brother.”
“I’m Adam, and you?” Adam gave me a crooked smile and I felt my cheeks burning at the sight.
“Olivia Ingram,” I found a slip of paper on the ground and fished around for a pen in my bag, finally finding one that had been buried underneath mounds of used tissues. I scribbled my number onto the slip of paper and handed it to Adam. “Call me sometime.”
“I will,” Adam slipped the paper into his pocket and walked away.
By the way, I sang at the top of my lungs to every song that came on the radio while I was driving home.
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