Bob awoke early. His sleepy eyes looked out through his bedroom window to find wispy clouds floating across the glowing sky. He smiled and stretched and jumped out of his bed. Hanging on the knob of his door was his baseball jersey given to him by his father for his birthday the year before. It was faded and worn, but Bob had grown into it rather well.
He watched the Saturday morning cartoons with a forceful patience. His mother smiled at his anxious eyes and let him eat breakfast in front of the TV. That was a rarity. When the Looney Tunes faded away, Bob burst out the back door with his baseball glove to play Yankees by himself.
He was the pitcher and catcher and outfielder too. The pitching was fierce but the batters brutal. High flying balls were sent to the blue sky and Bob chased them down wildly. He often made spectacular diving catches and thanked himself for playing such great defense. When his pitching was on and he struck each invisible batter out, he thanked himself again for being so calm and collective. The private game wore on, and he barely squeaked out a win.
He came in sweaty and sat for a late lunch. “What time does Dad get here again?” he asked.
His mother paused and forced a smile to her face. “He should be here any minute,” she said. She slid a grilled ham and cheese in front of him.
“What time does the game start?” Bob asked.
His mother paused longer this time, her delicate hand resting on the back of his chair. She looked at him with dark brown eyes that seemed deep and endless. “Pretty soon,” was all she said.
“I bet the Yankees win,” Bob said. His mom muttered an agreement and walked out of the kitchen. Bob nodded and gripped his glove tightly in his hand. He brushed off the grass from his jersey and quickly ate his sandwich. When he was done, he dashed off again. He sat on the front porch and waited.
The early afternoon was alive and bustling. Neighbors mowed their lawns, and kids went by on bikes or screamed while playing tag. Bob passed up two pickup games. “No thanks,” he’d say. “I’m going to the Yankee game with my dad.” His friends would jump and cheer with jealousy and amazement and then disappear. Bob gripped his glove, another birthday present, with pride.
The sun arced and found its way. The air cooled Bob’s skin and his nerves. He sat in silence as he waited, always in the back of his mind listening for the telephone to ring.
As the orange horizon faded to darkness, his mother called him in. She made him his favorite, mac and cheese and tater tots. Bob ate quietly. His mother did the same. The phone did not ring. He found his taste for mac and cheese lacking that night. It wasn’t the same. His mother asked him a question that he didn’t hear nor answer.
He went to his room alone and took off his jersey. It was the first time in his childhood that he didn’t cry in the wake of disappointment.