~ torn ~ 15

28 Jun

(previous chapters can be accessed through the ARCHIVES calendar)

*****

The sun felt warm on Julia’s face.
She sat up away from the back wall of the shallow dugout and opened her eyes.
Her teammate, Mary Simpkins, jogged in from the outfield.

“C’mon, Mary,” she said as her friend joined her. “Try it, one more time.”
“Julia, don’t you ever get tired of that game?”
“C’mon, once more, it helps keep my pitching grip in shape.”
“Alright…” Mary said.

Julia thrust her right hand forward, palm up, fingers clutched on a softball like the talons on a claw-foot tub.
“Go ahead,” Julia said. “Try to get it away from me, but no arm twisting allowed.”
“This is…a bear trap,” Mary sputtered, as she tried to wrest the ball from Julia’s grip.

Julia laughed and glanced off in the distance.
Her eyes fluttered against the bright sunlight.
At the far side of the athletic compound, in the rectangular glow of the field house doorway, a man stood alone.
Above his right shoulder, the small window in the center of the door shone like a mirror.
In the reflection of the window, Julia saw a woman in white approach with a coat draped over her arm.
A smile crossed the man’s face as he turned.
Took her hand.
Spoke.
Held her coat close in front of him as the woman slipped into it.
They strolled away together into the inner darkness.
The man’s arm around the woman’s waist.
Julia squinted.
Tried to identify the couple.
She knew them.
From somewhere.

Mary wrenched Julia’s arm.
“Hey, that hurts,” Julia said.
Mary redoubled her efforts to wrest the ball away.
Julia fell back onto the dugout bench.
Mary climbed onto Julia.
Rammed a knee into Julia’s ribs.
Yanked at the softball.

“Mary, stop…stop, you’re hurting me…”

But Mary wouldn’t stop.
And Julia couldn’t break free.
She couldn’t breathe.

julia crowsA crow flew overhead.
Then another.
And another.
And another
Then more.
And more.
And more.
Until a murder blacked the sky.

*****

©2016 JEFITZGERALD

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