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511 Sandman Avenue
There must be something better to do than document each thought, each emotion for no one to read. At least not now, maybe someday my mother will find these pages. She’ll scoff at my thought process, and disapprove of my actions, no matter how real anything was.
It started at tryouts. The grace and confidence of her movements left me breathless. Her arm completed its circle in the blink of an eye. She sent the first pitch flying like a bullet across home plate, adding a cute little hop as she released at the mound. Her hair was tussled, untidy, but obviously purposely so. Blonde locks danced around her ears, framing a face which alone gave me butterflies. What was it about that short blonde hair, those bright green eyes that affected me this way? The slim face, nearly sunken, the navy blue baseball cap… For once I found myself looking forward to softball practice.
Unconsciously, I watched her. I plotted her every move in the map of my mind, even when she was out of my line of vision. I was always conscious of where she was, perhaps in case I would end up standing face to face with her without fair warning. I wasn’t sure if this was normal or healthy, but nevertheless the thoughts continued. They ate at my dreams, spiraling in and out of my mind.
Little changed in the weeks to come. I had accomplished only a handful of casual conversations with her, and I’m sure she forgot these simple exchanges by the time the proceeding inning began. Our latest chat was still replaying in my mind that day. I’d learned her name was Emily. Practice was halfway over, the pitching machine was set up, and I stood distracted at third base. She was on deck, standing feet from the dugout, eyes still visibly gleaming underneath her helmet. I wasn’t paying attention to who was batting at the time. I was focused on Emily’s body swaying as she swung the bat, her weight shifting from right to left.
It hit me like a hurricane. A clash of metal-on-ball woke me from my daze. My head had only turned an inch or two to assess the current play. Nothing. All was black. My head swam, ached. I barely had time to feel the ground beneath me, seeming to fly upward and catch me. Voices drowned, and blended together like a chorus of anxious nuns. “Is she okay?” I recognized the voice and tried to hold on to it, retain it in my memory. The tone echoed in and out of my consciousness, as did I.
Opening my eyes in a familiar place, I did not think to question a thing; not the means by which I arrived there, nor the event that had just taken place. In fact, I found my memory to be hazy, and the past day to be blotted out completely. On any level, my Grandfather’s house in the heart of Oklahoma was a welcome retreat. The pain in my head slowly subsided, leaving no bruise or bump to my knowledge. Running into the dome-shaped house I yelled, “Grandpa! Granny, I’m here!” Crickets continued to chirp, perhaps too loudly. The empty house projected my words back in my face.
How odd. My thoughts raced, they seemed to be scanning the area, listening.
Rhythmic feet carried me back to the driveway, searching. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. A branch snapped quietly behind me. I turned to stare at that familiar navy blue hat. Her grin was unmistakable and alluring. I closed my eyes, waiting for the butterflies in my stomach, half expecting her to vanish, reveal herself as a mere figment of my imagination. I opened my eyes. The incredulous question came, “Chrystal?” for that was my name. Running her long fingers through her hair only added to the nonchalant perfection of her ragged head. “Is this 511 Sandman Avenue? I wasn’t expecting to see you here.” I felt myself unable to answer her question, unable to process it at all. I wondered if someone had slipped me a hit of…of god knows what. I was frozen, focused on only one thing at a time. First, her lips, so soft, the bottom lip was slightly chapped. Then, my eyes fell her subtly slanting jaw line. My attention flowed to her eyes, the flood of green was like the sea reaching out to swallow me whole. Emily, I forced my mind to process the thought. Soon I was again focusing on her words, her lips moving. “I’ll be staying here tonight.” Lips stopped. Can you hear me? I gawked; the last question had not been spoken. No, that could not be, my mind was simply playing tricks on me. I suddenly felt that something was wrong.
I tried to speak, tried with all my might. I meant to inquire why she was staying, though I was too thrilled and astounded. I imagined how I must look, staring dumbly back at her. Upon opening my mouth, a plop sounded. I tasted earth, granular bits of dirt. Eyes followed. My tongue lay limp at my feet. Confusion stormed through me, and I glanced helplessly at Emily. “Silly girl, cat got your tongue?” She giggled. As soon as the words were out of her mouth, and orange tabby appeared, sniffing my detached organ. Emily picked the strange object up, and handed it to me. A silent mime, I sat down on the ground, unsure what was happening. My eyes connected with hers and stayed there. At her gaze, my tongue flipped, and I tasted the fresh air clearly. Absent mindedly, I stroked the tabby who would try again and again to Houdini my tongue out of my hand. I smiled, unable to do much else, wondering what the inside of my mouth must look like, tongueless and empty. My eyes closed and I was gone.
Waking up in her arms, I felt safe and secure. It didn’t seem as if my tongue would attempt to escape again, and for that I was grateful. She was warm and cold at the same time. Her body molded to mine, cradling me, stroking my cheek. “What happened?” I wondered aloud, surprised by my own voice.
Her boyish rasp replied to my tired, timid inquisition, “I had to sew your tongue back in.”
“Well, thank you dear.”
The day was past resting, my head in Emily’s lap. I learned of her trials, her tribulations, favorite things to do, and odd habits. I discovered that her favorite place to be touched was the back of her neck. When I was ready to get up, Em helped me inside the still vacant house.
Recuperation occurred quickly with her smile and company as an aid. I should have questioned it, but I readily accepted everything happening around me. Her fingers stroked my hair, working their way down my neck, along my arms with a gentle grace only possible in dreams. I felt braver than I had sitting next to her those days in the dugout. “Hey Em?”
“You know… I could never stop thinking about you… ever since tryouts.” She gave me a confused look but I continued, “You’re beautiful, you’re clever, you’re perfect. I… dreamt of you.” Then she seemed to understand, without speaking, her lips found mine. Her fingers continued to trace my arms, then my waist. The kiss took my breath away.
When night fell, we slept on the king size bed in the loft. I could see Em’s frail arm shivering against the comforter as she slept. Reaching over, I tried to warm her. The sleeping beauty wrapped her arms around me like a teddy bear and her shivers subsided. I held her to me, focusing on her breathing, soft and raspy. Opening her eyes sleepily, Em laughed into my collarbone, “Seems like my body just gravitates towards yours.” She stayed still, relaxing. I tussled a stray lock of hair out of her eye. Without giving it a second’s thought, I kissed her again. My pulse quickened as I pulled her closer, her lips were slightly rough, but welcoming. Pulling away, she smiled breathlessly, “Good night,” she whispered, kissing my neck softly.
Before she could render herself unconscious I whispered, “Em? Promise me you’ll never forget this?”
“Of course I won’t, how could I forget something that made me this happy?”
The night in her arms was the most rejuvenating break from consciousness I have ever experienced.
I awoke to her voice, her sweet voice, “She’s coming around, coach.” A shuffle of feet, and more voices I didn’t care to identify. My eyes opened reluctantly, the light stinging my pupils. It didn’t make sense, I fell asleep far away from here, I fell asleep in her arms. Reaching for Em’s hand I asked her, “How did we get here?” She looked confused. Why did her hand stiffen as I stroked it? My eyes searched hers for clarity, but found nothing.
“You hit your head.” Then I remembered flashes. Em, moving her hips with the swing of her bat, the crack of another bat, out of focus. “You were out for at least ten minutes.”
“Should we get back to the house and rest? Anything can heal when you’re there…” My voice trailed off as I caught the confusion on her face, and reality hit. There was nothing between Emily and I. It was all a delusion. It was a day of happiness she would not retain memory of. She had broken her promise, had not remembered.. I diverted my eyes from hers, my hope crushed. I felt as if my tongue again lay on the ground, no words could ever explain this to her without an awkward aura, without her thinking I was a freak.