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"Can you take me high enough, to fly me over yesterday..."
Tim, surly, tapped his foot to the music, staring intently at Amy’s sickbed. Musicals were not his forte. He did not like them. They were untrue to real life, which was much less interesting. If only everyone did everything perfectly choreographed, like a dance routine.
"Yesterday’s just a memory, and I don’t want to live without you any more..."
Admittedly, Tim had never listened to the lyrics of any musical, but judging from this sampling, they were all atrocious. He couldn’t believe Amy could swallow all of this.
He looked timidly at Amy, who still lay on her bed, breathing softly with an expressionless face. She was covered in her favorite Red Sox blanket. Amy hated herself for her great strike against her home team, but she had voiced her strong opinions against No, No, Nonette – the musical that was funded by selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees - enough times that her friends knew not to tease her about her supposed, undying allegiance to her home team.
Amy looked on with wonder as the television screen flickered, the bright colors reflected in her glassy eyes. She feverishly shoveled popcorn into her mouth. Half of it spilled out of her slackened jaw. A can of Budweiser rattled dangerously on the end table as Amy turned the volume up, notch by notch.
Tim looked at Amy with a look of slight alarm. He had never seen someone so intense. He, of course, had no idea what was going on.
"Ames," he said slowly, "How much longer until it’s over?"
"Be quiet!" Amy yelled, flailing an arm at him.
"Sorry," Tim muttered.
"Don’t be. Hush. One more. Just one more."
"Three strikes and you’re out, Tim. One batter left."
Amy leaned forward, her grey eyes bugging out of her small frame. She had given up eating now, and merely gripped the sides of the cushion she sat on for support, as she inched towards to television.
Tim watched cautiously as the players lined up for – what’s the terminology? The final play, would that be right? Anyhow, the man with the bat was coming up, and the two guys, one behind the guy with the bat and one across from him, were wearing white and red. Okay. That’s Amy’s team. Right.
The guy in red and white who wasn't wearing full body armor geared up, and delivered the pitch.
"One!" Amy cried in glee.
The guy threw the ball again.
Tim could feel the air getting tense as Amy shivered, her entire life leading up to this moment. They had won the World Series already, before, and the chances of it happening again were slim, he thought. Nevertheless, seeing them win again would make Amy’s life worth it.
The guy in red and white drew his arm back. His leg rose, and for a moment, he stood stock-still, in a statuesque representation of what the perfect baseball player should look like.
He jerked his leg back down, and in one, fluid motion, swung his arm forward, letting the ball go.
It sailed gaily past the bat and landed snugly in the Red Sox catcher’s mitt.
Amy paused for a moment, her expression of hope frozen on her face. Then, like a string of Chinese firecrackers, she jumped up, upsetting the popcorn bowl and the beer can, and let out a deafeningly loud, euphoric scream.
"PAPELBON!" she yelled, throwing herself at the television, squeezing it tight in an amorous hug. "And Varitek! My angels! My babies! My heroes!"
She looked up at the screen, and at her entire home team dancing for joy and embracing. Her eyes began to tear up.
"I love you," she said shakily. "I love you. And now I know it wasn’t a fluke. You’re back, you’re back, you’re the Sox and you’re here for good this time!"
She leant her head against the T.V set. "I love you," she repeated.
Tim, by this time, had quietly and inconspicuously crept up beside Amy. He had watched her emotional fit over her one true love. And now, he hesitated, taking in a long, deep breath. Should he? There’s never been a better time, has there?
"I love you," Amy whispered again, a blissful smile appearing on her face. She wiped the tears from her eyes with the back of her hand.
"Amy," Tim said firmly, placing a hand on her shoulder. Amy momentarily looked up at him, puzzled, wanting to return to her beloveds.
Tim opened his mouth, expecting the words he’d rehearsed so many times to spill out, but they didn’t. He stopped dead, then sighed. "Amy," he repeated, just in case the words wanted to come out this time. No dice.
Amy removed her other arm from around the television set. "Tim," she said, then giggled. "Oh God, give us a hug, then."
"I can’t," Tim said, much to his surprise. Where the hell am I going?, he thought.
"But why -"
"Amy," Tim repeated, feeling rather silly, putting his hands on her shoulders and looking right into her watery eyes.
"Shut up," he said, and kissed her.
They carried on for quite a while, until the television cut to commercial.
Amy broke away from Tim, then frowned. She could still feel her sticky tears by her lip and cheeks. She looked up at Tim, who had an expression of pure disbelief and vague shame. She broke out into a smile.
"This is it, then?" she asked shakily. "This is my big Boston moment?"
"It could be."
"Christ," Amy said, then laughed.
"Amy," Tim began, then stopped. "Will you... Would you...? No."
"We’re not getting any younger," Tim said awkwardly.
"We’re not even thirty," Amy laughed.
"Would you like to – no. No. No."
"No, just – forget it. It’s all right. Tonight was great. Let’s leave it as it is."
Amy paused. "Okay, then." She turned back to the television, the incident forgotten.
Tim walked over to the CD player, stopped it, and removed the disk from it. Too late, he realized that he had mixed up Amy’s favorite musical with a glam rock band again. He looked sheepishly at his unconscious friend, as if to apologize for his faux pas.
Amy had waxed lyrical about her great-grandmother, who had fallen in love with an Irish steel worker, her grandfather, who was lost in the Second World War and came stumbling back two years after it ended, right down to her father, who had met her mother at the hot dog line in Fenway Park – all in her beloved city. She buried herself in it when she was alone.
She buried herself in it when she was with other people, too.
The sun haphazardly filtered through the cheap, Venetian blinds of Valley View Hospital, illuminating what looked like a man made entirely out of drinking straws, and an anorexic mafia don.
The drinking straw man was splayed out on a chair that couldn’t contain him, his long limbs sticking out at odd angles. About twenty percent of him was actually on the chair, as he half-stood, supported by his thin legs. Tim, the mafia man, wore a baseball cap, tipped so that it covered his eyes, with nothing but a cross-looking mouth and a lank body visible. The don leant against the whitewashed wall, arms crossed, face curved into an expression of vague worry.
They both looked far too old for their age.
"What’s going to happen to her, Tim?" asked the drinking straw man, peering up at the other through hay-colored hair.
"I don’t know. She’ll either wake up, or... well."
The man in the fedora lifted his hat so that he could see. He had an almost vampiric complexion that no amount of sun could ever cure.
"Or... well?" the blonde repeated.
"Well." The darker of the two bit his lip. "She’s going to wake up, most likely."
"Likely. I bet she’ll wake up."
"She always did say we should look on the bright side of things."
The blonde man smiled. "Yeah, it was like her," he said softly. "Silly optimist that she is."
"Look where that got her."
The blonde stiffened. "She never liked you being cynical."
"Hey, Tim," the blonde said suddenly, "she can’t hear us. Or see anything."
"What’re you getting at?"
"Well... she won’t even know we visited."
Tim paused, then gave the blonde a thoroughly questioning look. "She’s our friend," he said slowly. "She’d like to have us by her side. I think so, anyway."
"But I’ve got better things to – no, you’re right. You’re right," he said.
Tim tipped his hat back over his eyes. "God, Alan,” he sighed. “You’re supposed to be her best friend."
"I’m not," Alan protested, his elongated limbs twitching like a wounded giraffe’s. "She always said she didn’t have a best friend. She was never close enough to anyone."
Tim shifted, looking slightly agitated. "The closest thing to her best friend, then," he said.
Alan seemed to pout. "But how about when she -"
"Alan," Tim said firmly. "Stop."
Alan seemed to recoil in his chair. He looked at Tim, then at the motionless girl on the gurney, with suspended bags of God knows what being shoved into her, and then sighed.
"You’re right," he said quietly.
The two looked on at their fallen friend.
"I just wish she would wake up," Alan said.
"You and me, both," Tim replied.
Tim looked down at her.
The pastor shook his head next to him. "I’m very sorry."
Tim looked at the pastor, then down at Amy’s grave. "There’s nothing about her here."
The pastor paused. "Her name, birthdate, parents’ names -"
"There’s nothing about what she loved."
"I didn’t realize she had a significant other," the pastor said, taken aback.
"She didn’t," Tim said. "She just... Boston," he ended, flatly.
"Was she very involved?"
The pastor brightened up a little bit. "A Patriots fan? Football brings so many people together."
Tim looked disgustedly at him. He opened his mouth, in an attempt to speak, then gave up.
"You just won’t get it, I don’t think," he murmured eventually. "I don’t think I really did, either."