Wonder Boi Writes

Countdown to Heart Of The Game: 2 Weeks

Hey friends,

We’re in the final weeks before the release of my next novel, Heart Of The Game!  Today I’m going to give you the first sneak peak of the book.  It’s the prologue, so there’s no real set up needed, but by way of introduction, I will say I’m pretty proud of this piece.  If you like it, too, why not head on over and pre-order yourself a copy?

Pre-Game

The crowd pushed around her, a mass of denim and skin blocking the sun and even, at times, the air. Tall trunks of legs rose past her line of sight, a solid forest uprooted, flowing and shifting like a river and carrying her along. Everyone towered impossibly high and swift around her, a legion of giants, but such is the worldview of every four-year-old. With her small hand engulfed securely by her father’s, she found nothing disconcerting about her inability to see beyond the blue jeans in front of her. She allowed herself to be pulled along in his wake, content for once to be part of this stream of people with him for once. She even looked like him now, almost. Her overalls were only a shade lighter than his pants, and they covered her legs the same way even if they did come up higher and have silver buckles. They also said “Oshkosh.” She liked that word. Her mother had said it when she pointed to the blue label. Her father didn’t have a blue label, but he wore a red shirt like hers. Red like a fire truck, red like a crayon, red like the little bird on her hat. It wasn’t her hat, though. It was Aidan’s, but Aidan was sick, so she got to wear it.

She also got his ticket. “Ticket.” She said the word loudly enough to be heard by her own ears, then float away on the sea of moving trunks behind her. She liked word as much as she liked the slip of paper protruding from her tight fist. She’d seen it at home but hadn’t been allowed to touch it until they’d come into this cavernous hallway. Once in the dim night and the forest of knees, her father had handed it to her. She sensed its importance without understanding its purpose and silently hoped to prove herself worthy of this thing, this ticket.

She felt more than saw their path change. There was a pause, then a step to the left, a few more steps forward, then over. Soon they were near a wall, close enough she could have touched it, but she didn’t. She followed only the denim knees she recognized as his as they turned down another smaller hall. This one wasn’t as crowded. Light slipped in among the legs ahead, and the gray slab walls on either side offered shelter from the pushing, grinding river of bodies. Her father slowed, allowing the tension in their joined arms to slacken, and she scooted up even with him. Gradually the layers of legs before her stepped away, each one leaving more slivers of sunlight for her eyes to adjust to until finally the last of the legs stepped away, revealing the most beautiful sight her young eyes had ever seen.

The enormity of the view seeped in slowly, like the gentle warmth of the setting sun against her cheeks. The path before her descended steeply to a low wall, separating this plain of cold, gray concrete from a vast open field of colors more vibrant than anything she had in her box of crayons. The dirt was a rich shade of orange, but not like an actual orange, burnt, crumbled, and cut through with stark, bold white lines. They offered a dry contrast to the lush green of the grass, which stood bright and deep, rippling into patterns. Rows crossed one another in the faintest shades, lighter or darker, like those left by her mother’s vacuum across their living room carpet. If someone had vacuumed the field, it must have been God. Surely no person could have done something so big and so perfect. Even though the concept of the divine hovered foggy and uncertain in her mind, she knew God lived in the stained glass and tall pipe organ of her church, and she knew instinctively He lived here, too.

Men, or rather, big boys occupied the field. They dotted the richly colored grass, the brilliant white of their clothes signaling to her they were part of the field, or maybe the field belonged to them. They ran about, back and forth, or swung bats. Some of them simply sat in the grass, arms and legs outstretched, bending and straightening languidly. They were playing. The formality of gods blended with the youthfulness of children to draw her closer.

A group of younger children brushed passed her, their hands clutching cotton candy, popcorn, snow cones, but her eyes remained locked on something more compelling than any petty treat. The men on the field had birds on their shirts, red birds, bright and definitive against the white, the same little bird she had on her hat. She drew steadily nearer now, slowly but purposefully inching closer, over the lip of each stair. She’d let go of her father’s hand, but still felt anchored, as if tethered to him. He had brought her here. He wore the red bird, so did those boys in white, and so did she. Her mind made connections loosely, rapidly, freely, but her feet moved to a rhythm set to a reason she could only sense.

She stepped to level ground, the last of the gray concrete beneath her feet, before the low wall, and saw her opening. A little door, a small gate, towering bodies of men shifted all around, but they were dull and faded compared to the sharp pull beyond. She strode with an unnamable confidence now, threading her way nimbly around obstacles too big to pay her any mind. Her foot struck out, both of its own accord and of her deepest wish, then hovered, suspended over the burnt orange clay. Inches from Eden, she halted, then was whisked backward and upward as her father scooped her swiftly into his arms.

“You scared me to death, Sarah. Don’t ever wander off like that again.” The harshness of his words was undercut by both relief and exasperation as he carried her slowly back up the muted gray stairs.

She struggled against his hold, squirming around to see the field over his shoulder, her face scraping against the dark stubble of his beard. “I want to be out there, Daddy.”

“So does everybody else who’s ever picked up a baseball,” he snapped, then sighed. “We all want to be out there, but we’re not allowed.”

“Then why are those boys out there?” She pointed to the players.

He turned slowly toward the direction indicated by her outstretched hand. He stared at the men on the field, his blue eyes seemingly focused on something bigger or farther away than the players in his line of sight. He didn’t speak, and she waited, captivated by the pensiveness in his gaze, the sag of his shoulders, the slight crook at the corners of his lips. He’d always been a giant in her eyes, but for a moment he changed in a way a mythical creature may be timeless, or boundless. They stood, transfixed for what felt like a long time before he sighed heavily. His shoulders dropped and the deep creases along his mouth returned as he turned back to her and said, “Some of those boys are blessed, some of them work harder than all the others along the way. Most of them are both. Either way, they earned the right to go on that field. The rest of us are just lucky to be able to see them play.”

He set her down on the stadium seat, then with a smile even a child could tell was fake asked if she’d like a hot dog.

She ignored the question and tried to focus on the feeling slipping away. “Blessed,” she repeated as she stood on her bright red chair and looked out once more on the field, the colors, the boys, and their play. She didn’t know if she was blessed, but she did understand hard work. If that was what she needed to do to get closer to that game, then that was what she’d do. Somehow those men with the bird on their shirts had earned their spot in this place. She turned to her dad one more time and said, “Someday I’m going to earn it, too.”

 

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February 18, 2015 - Posted by | Uncategorized

2 Comments »

  1. Lovely. Simply Lovely.

    Comment by onamarae | February 18, 2015 | Reply

  2. […] it (why not?), you can read on below where I share with you the first scene of the book (after the pre-game, which I shared last […]

    Pingback by Countdown to Heart Of The Game: 1 Week! « Wonder Boi Writes | February 26, 2015 | Reply


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