broken glassTitle: Second Inning
Author: Gail Jeidy
Category: Fiction
You might think my childhood was dull because I had few toys. And no brothers or neighbors. But the thing was, I had rocks and a cracked 35-inch Harmon Killebrew. I grew up batting rocks over and through fences into the cow pasture, pig lot and chicken yard. Every summer, I batted roughly 60,000 rocks. It was like this: pick, toss, swing, match target to destination then multiply swings by hours. Not to have a big head, but I’ve probably batted more rocks than anyone in the last seven centuries, even if you are the first person I’ve told.
     Over time, rocks gouge through wooden bats the way beavers gnaw through trees. I went through three rock bats in my youth. In years my bats lasted eight, five, three, in that order, a reverse Fibonocci sequence. Dad and me always talked numbers like that.
     The summer I turned 13, things changed. Early June, I was king of the mountain standing tall on the biggest rock pile in the county gazing over acres of contoured domain, sending rocks sailing in best of three, five, seven sets. Mid haying season, Dad bought a new John Deere and the next evening after nine hours baling (a record 850 bales) he flipped it hauling the hayrack up the hill behind the barn. I was batting rocks in the abandoned quarry on the west quarter when Mom found him crushed beneath a tire. After the funeral, Grandma told how Dad batted rocks as a kid. He never told me that. Then she went home to Chicago leaving me with Mom’s crying. I laid my bat to rest, did the chores and hid beneath my pillow. The days dragged on and Mom wouldn’t stop crying. One night after she was asleep, the thing about Dad batting rocks and me wondering how many piled up inside so loud I grabbed my bat, walked the mile past the railroad tracks to the John Deere implement dealer and put out every window from forty feet away. No one ever suspected me because I wasn’t that type of kid. You’re the first I’ve told that apparently I was. 
     I still feel guilty, but admitting my sin wasn’t an option at the time. All I knew to do was bat rocks. I started swinging again on an August afternoon so sticky-hot my tee formed a second skin. I found the rhythm place and dug in until my world tumbled into a fierce switch-hitting competition. I launched homers, Mantle with my right hand, Whitey with my left. I batted and battled, cracking rock after rock until the sky changed, clouds passed, a rainbow formed and light flooded the valley. I aimed for the jeweled spotlight but it kept moving. I batted right. Batted left. Right. Left. The light kept shifting and I batted until the immortal moment came when I realized:  there was no way I could lose.
     And suddenly I became the one who couldn’t stop crying.

Gail Jeidy grew up around boys and baseball and married one who inspired this story. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. Her novel The Truth About Rocks is currently seeking a home.