FICTION May 20, 2011


Weeks passed this way, afternoons in her bedroom. Wanda told him he was becoming a good lover. The team kept winning, and his only other concern was that his parents wanted him to get a job. “We know plenty of people around town who would hire you,” his mother said at breakfast one morning, the newspaper spread across the table like battle plans. She ate bran cereal with fruit. Colin slurped down a bowl of Apple Jacks. His father had been at the hospital since before dawn.

“When am I going to work?” Colin said. “I practice all morning, and we play every other night. I don’t have time for a job.”

“You should do something besides play games all summer.”

“It’s not just a game,” he said. “You know that.”

“Sure, maybe you can get a baseball scholarship. But there’s more out there, Colin. And you don’t need a scholarship to go to college.”

Colin held back, didn’t give in. She wanted to fight. During the spring semester and well into summer, she’d goaded him, snipping at him and his father. Her shop did well. They had more than enough money. Only his father’s schedule raised her hackles like this. The man was rarely home, and when he was, his mother spent most of the time fighting with him because he was never home. His mother had accused him of cheating on her. His father had denied it. Colin wasn’t supposed to know, but their voices carried down the vents into his bedroom. He reasoned that his father had to keep busy, since he was a surgeon, but maybe he had cheated. Colin just wanted the fighting to stop.

“I could work for you,” Colin said.

This eased his mother’s mood, and she allowed herself a small smile. “What do you know about crafts? By the time you learned, you’d be ready to start school again.”

“Great. Now my own mother won’t even hire me.”

She slapped him gently on the shoulder with the sports page. She took her bowl to the sink, where she left it unrinsed.

The front page featured a former teammate who had been drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Colin envied him, even though he’d been chosen in the last round of the draft. There was also a sidebar about his team’s game against Mount Central tomorrow night. Colin’s team had only lost twice all season and they were favored to win this one. The paper described Colin’s hitting as “timely.”

“Are you and dad coming to the game tonight?”

His mother said, “I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.”

“I understand if you can’t,” he said. He felt obligated to ask, but never wanted his parents there. The game was something he could make his own. And now his parents would be bad luck; they had missed every game during the current winning streak. Six more wins and his team would have the best record in school history.

“I mean it, though. We want you to get a job of some kind,” she said. “Mow lawns or something.”