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Thwacka This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The boy's smooth, taut skin, curled into a fist, pounded repeatedly into the soft, worn leather. Each time his hand hit the baseball mitt, a warm, almost distant sound resonated throughout the boy's room. Thwacka, Thwacka.

It was a first baseman's mitt, Nineteen-twenties vintage. There were but three sections for the finger, unlike the five on modern gloves. One section was for the thumb, one for the index finger, and the other for the middle, ring, and pinky fingers. It was fairly dirty, but with a little more saddle soap the boy would have it cleaned. Thwacka, Thwacka.

The glove had belonged to the boy's grandfather, who had used it when he was in his teens.The love was passed down to the boy's father, and then finally to the boy. All three men were left-handed. It was not only a bond between them, but probably the only reason the old mitt hadn't been thrown away. few but themselves could use it, or so it seemed to them. As the boy polished the back of the mitt, he saw his grandfather's name inscribed. The name was one the boy liked, and he was glad his parents had given it to him as his middle name. Thwacka, Thwacka.

The boy could never really show his love for his grandfather. The same was true for the old man towards his grandson. They didn't talk too much. The most they had ever spoken was when he had taught the boy to play chess on those old, wooden pieces that seemed to sit on the coffee table motionless for an eternity like the toys of a child who eventually grows up.But the boy always remembered his grandfather's gentle, gravelly voice. There was just a kind of understanding between the two that the boy's father was never included in. His father never liked baseball very much, so he was somewhat left out of the trio, like the youngest sibling who everyone loves, but always tags along when his older brothers go out. Both his son and father loved him, but in a different way than they loved each other. The boy saw the stain on the side of the glove from when his father left it in the garage and oil dripped onto it. Thwacka, Thwacka.

Today when the boy's mother woke him for school, her eyelids were brimming with tears and she told him in her gentlest mother whisper that his grandfather had died. The boy said nothing. He waited for his mother to leave the room and then he dressed for school.

At school the boy said nothing, and he felt nothing. He thought he should be crying but he didn't want to. He didn't understand why he wasn't sad. He wanted someone to ask him what was wrong, but no one did.

The innocent boy came home on the bus and walked into his room.Shutting the door behind him, he reached for the baseball glove on his top shelf and pulled it down. He tried to think about the nicest time he had ever had and all he could think about was when he was eight and stayed up after his bedtime to lie on his fatherAs lap listening to record, and had fallen asleep to wake up in his bed the next morning. He rubbed a bit of saddle soap into the pocket of the glove and then sat on his bed. Looking at the baseball in his had, he notice that the seams meandering across its surface made it look less like a ball and more like something that had curled itself up into a sphere. He threw the ball into the womb of the glove.

All the love he had never shown, all the feelings he couldn't show, he pounded into his grandpa's mitt. The soft, brown leather absorbed them all, and there they stayed in the warm, safe pocket. Thwacka, Thwacka. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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