All of the noise appeared to simply disappear as his foot first kicked the dirt in front of him. For so many years, Lucas developed the ability to adhere his focus to the pitcher when he was at the plate. This time was no different. This time would be his last. His brow furrowed. His teeth clenched. Around the bat, his fingers tightened against the weight of it. A few slow, deliberate swings adjusted all of his muscles into place.
Surrounding him, the roars of the crowds deafened the ballpark. A feeling of excitement grew within them. It was the final inning of the game and he was the first up to the plate. A legend was before them for the last time.
The pitcher nodded as he received the sign from the catcher. Lucas expected a fastball low and inside. It was the pitch that tempted him most, but often he only felt air against the end of his bat.
“I’m ready,” Lucas muttered under his breath.
“You ready, old timer?” the catcher taunted.
Lucas ignored it. The pitcher reared back. Lucas caught a glimpse of the arm’s speed and angle. Fastball. He swung.
Change-up, low and outside.
“FOUL BALL!” the umpire yelled.
Lucas adjusted his helmet. It hadn’t been what he expected. Cheering wildly, the crowd recovered quickly from the brief letdown of a foul. He glanced around allowing the energy to breathe into his lungs. He stepped back into the box and performed the few slow, deliberate swings again.
Change-up again, high and outside. Swinging again, only air met the bat.
“STRIKE!” the umpire yelled.
Two strikes. Fading into his own mind, he closed his eyes again. The crowd had gone silent once more in his mind. Years of the game collected into a single dream before him. When he opened his eyes, he saw her.
Somehow, through the sea of unrecognizable faces, her’s stood out. All that he was thinking disappeared as he forgot for the moment where he even was. Her hands rested right below her chin with the look of worry, of hope directed at him.
When had been the last time he saw her? When had she talked to him last?
“You playing, son? C’mon,” urged the umpire somewhat impatiently. The catcher said something snide, but Lucas couldn’t hear it. He shook his head and looked again, not believing for a moment that she would have been watching, that she would be there. Indeed, she stood there, her eyes now closed appearing as though she was praying.
Repeating his usual swings, he found that there was nothing suddenly routine. Memories flooded his mind and he couldn’t shake it. All that he saw was her face.
Leaning forward at the ready, the pitcher nodded once more to the catcher. He went from the stretch…
Fastball. Low and inside.
All that Lucas saw was her as he swung.