During that split second between the baseball leaving the pitcher's hand and its contact with Andy's face, Andy was not concentrating. Perhaps it was his lack of concentration that resulted in the collision. At any rate, the result was broken bones and, even worse, degrading humiliation. It took several months for Andy's face to heal, and by then the baseball season was over. Andy spent much of this time trying to recall his thoughts during that split second ...
Okay, he'll probably try to get that curve ball past me, Andy thought. Or, he might chuck that fastball down my throat. I have to be ready for both.
Andy stepped away from the plate. He smiled to himself, taking several practice swings while staring at the pitcher. The man on the mound looked calm, waiting patiently for Andy to step back to the plate. Andy looked at the crowd watching the game, watching Andy, eagerly. His eyes passed over his neighbors and his family who had come to see their hero. Amy turned away from him as his gaze fixed on her. He grinned, but her apparent aversion to Andy's gaze was like a hex, a wish for his failure. Andy looked back at the pitcher who still looked calm. He stepped back to the plate, confident.
Even as the pitcher began his throw, his leg swinging up, Andy could already feel the swing everywhere in his body, the one that would win the game. He felt positive in his ability to succeed. When that ball came spinning toward him, he would smack it so hard that he could picture the little white globe shattering, as if it were a window. As this image crossed his mind, his smile widened. As Andy recalled, he was good at using a slap to shatter things ...
Amy screamed, as she fell to the ground. The slap did not hurt as much as the reason behind it; she should have known that this would happen. Amy could not think what she had done to anger him, but she knew that it did not matter. Andy needed to display his power.
"Stop it! Get out!" Amy shrieked from the floor.With tears streaming down her face, she frantically slithered into the corner of her room. Her dress was already half off, Andy's caresses and soft words had already worked their power. And then came the slap. Andy advanced, his hand slightly red from the force of it. His face was contorted, a mask of fury and arrogance. He fell forward, halting his collapse as his hands struck the wall. Amy was more frightened at that moment than she had ever been. She was scrunched in the corner, arms wrapped around her legs.
"You little slut!" Andy hissed in a voice that to Amy, vibrated with anger. "Why did I trust you? What was I thinking? You're a damn whore! That's it!" He stopped, and leaned his face toward her, so that it was only several centimeters from hers.
Amy whimpered, her mouth slightly open, tears flowing unchecked. She was shivering, though she hardly knew why. She wanted to close her eyes, to erase the image of Andy's cruelly malicious stare. But those hypnotic blue eyes that charmed Amy out of her time, money, support, virginity and trust held her gaze steadily. With her lower lip quivering slightly, she tried to speak, but instead gave a choking sob. In a feeble gesture of apology, she lifted up one hand with the intention of laying it on Andy's face. The hand came up ... and was smashed against the wall by a powerful fist. Now, Amy cried openly, her head sagging to the side, her eyes spilling tears. For a split second, Andy felt pity. Then, he smiled ...
The ball left the pitcher's hand. Andy's hands tensed up on the bat. It was time to prevail. He was already thinking ahead to the victory trot around the bases. The screams of the crowd, overjoyed at seeing the home-town hero hit the game-winning home run, would converge on Andy. He could see himself clearly, lifted high up on the shoulders of his adoring fans. And that baseball would be a trophy to add to his collection. He smiled as the ball came sailing toward him, remembering the long days of training, all for this moment. He remembered what he had sacrificed in favor of coming down to the baseball diamond, day after day...
"Will you get off my back, Mom? Christ, it's only for a few hours!"
Andy walked past his mother to the kitchen table. Picking up his glove and cap, he proceeded to the door.
"Andrew, stop!" his mother shouted. "Isn't it about time you did some of that homework? You've been putting it off all weekend. And you've hardly been home this weekend either."
That was true. Andy procrastinated in general, and this weekend he needed to practice for the game. Of course, the game was not for another week, but he still needed to work on his fielding. At his last game, his throws to first base were not as quick or as accurate as they usually were. He felt that he might be getting lazy.
"Look, I'll be back by 7 p.m.. I can do everything then."
His mother sighed. Not understanding Andy's fascination with sports, she did not take it seriously. But she knew the dangers of scholastic slacking, and she wanted, like other parents, to make a difference in her child's academic life. She saw Andy's zealousness in sports as detrimental, and she wanted it to stop. "Andrew, wait."
Andy stopped, his hand on the door. "What is it?"
"Come back here." Andy's mother walked toward him, a stern look on her face.
"I'm gonna be late, Mom," Andy said, urgency in his voice. He opened the door.
"Do your work first, Andrew."
Andy's face hardened. Mutely, he stepped outside. He felt a hand on his shoulder. Andy pushed back ... too hard. His mother, unsteady, fell back several steps, tripping over a telephone cord. She hit the ground hard, giving a little cry. For a split second, Andrew felt sorry. Then, he left...
The ball stormed toward him. In a split second, the thoughts of glory were replaced by thoughts of ... opposition. The pitcher was suddenly an enemy, the ball was suddenly a projectile weapon. And with the pitcher came his girlfriend and his grades and his mother and his drugs and his school and his friends ...
The ball smashed his face.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.