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Randy

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The plane was plummeting to the ground and everything outside looked the same: clouds, clouds, and more clouds, an endless amount of clouds and blue skies. It would be obvious to say that while Augustus was grasping onto his arm rest with the little energy he had left, he was thinking about his family and what would happen to them if he were to die (which he most likely would). However, this is not the case. He was not thinking about his wife, about the day of their marriage and the way she looked at him when he came running up the aisle, late as always. He did not think about the way she smiled and shook her head, laughing a little as she hid her embarrassment, her parents, his in laws, looking at him with disdain. He did not think about the summer they met, when they would both be freshmen in college, blissfully ignorant and carefree.

He did not think about how such small girl could carry such a large backpack and suitcase, and how she could possibly, at the age of eighteen, still have trouble tying her shoes, because apparently before she had never had to untie them in order to put them on. She only ever wore boots and flip flops, hardly any sneakers. Her feet were always small enough to slip inside those sneakers, if she were to wear them, and the double knot that held the laces together would always keep them together. He did not think about how that sneaker came untied on “move-in” day and how she had asked very politely, “Um, excuse me… this is so embarrassing, but, can you please help me tie my shoe?”

Augustus did not think about that day and how he helped Grace unpack all of her boxes, and later that night took her out to dinner. He did not think about how they were inseparable throughout their freshman year, and how eventually, after they both graduated, he asked her that one question that everyone knew was coming: “can I make you breakfast every morning?” No, he did not think about any of that. Augustus did not think about how five years after that day, Grace gave birth to their first child… and their second child. Twin boys. He did not think about how Andrew’s favorite color was purple and only because Jacob didn’t like purple, and he didn’t think about how Jacob’s favorite food was lasagna only because Andrew didn’t like lasagna. He didn’t think about how his twin boys will be graduating high school in the spring, and how, even though they are both young adults, they still have the same feelings towards the color purple and the pasta dish lasagna, for reasons that only make sense between them.
He did not take one minute to think about any of that. While the other passengers surrounding him on the plane screamed and held onto dear life, Augustus closed his eyes, relaxed his shoulders, and let himself drift away. What he did think about was that one night in July when he was twelve years old and the entire neighborhood boys were getting together again in his back yard for their nightly summer game of baseball, dirt covered jeans, and old converses. He thought about how sixteen year old Randy down the street was “really gonna get him” that night, and how when Randy wound up that supposedly great curveball he had learned, Augustus crushed that ball right over the fence. He thought about that night he looked at the kids all huddling in the outfield watching that ball fly, and he thought about the look on Randy’s face when he rounded second base. He thought about the summer full of hopes and dreams, the summer full of laughter and friendship. He thought about the neighborhood boys that taught him how to rub some dirt in his wounds and be a man; about the smell of the freshly cut grass, and the way each boy fought over who would play the hot corner. Augustus thought about how now at age 46, the last time he picked up a baseball was when he was cleaning the attic, and how every baseball he saw reminded him of the boys of summer.
He thought about how that year, Randy was the starting pitcher for the varsity baseball team and how his best pitch, after being practiced for hours on end, was his (you guessed it) curveball. He thought about how the next summer, Randy didn’t come back to play because he had been in a car accident the night he had been scouted. Augustus thought about the first summer game without Randy, and how they all stood by the mound telling the new neighborhood kids about that certain pitcher and his “pretty damn fine curveball.” Augustus thought how now, he’d be playing ball with Randy again, the kid who taught him that it doesn’t matter how good a ballplayer you are, but if you can’t hit the curve in life, you’re in for a bumpy ride.



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