It’s days like this I miss you the most.

Seventy-three degrees. Not a cloud in the sky. A light, gentle breeze from the east.

A perfect day for you.

I leave the office early today – can’t stand the thought of being cooped up indoors for one more second. I race home, beating the rush hour traffic. I throw on some shorts, and head right back out the door. I should probably take the dog with me – she enjoys the spring, too – but I don’t. I hope she understands – maybe next time.

I lock the front door and head down the sidewalk, towards the park, the sun warm on my neck. My skin feels alive, the first time since the end of summer. I squint into the sun, realizing that I left my hat hanging on the back of a chair in the dining room, a rookie mistake. My face warms – it’ll tell that tale tomorrow.

Five minutes later, I’m here. No one else is, not yet, nobody except the rec department guy raking the dirt, laying the chalk, blasting some Ozzy from the truck radio. I sit down in the bleachers and watch him work, thinking of you. He glances over at me; confused, I bet. I smile, wave back.

He works faster.

Soon, he’s done, and Ozzy provides the soundtrack as he rumbles down the gravel path and out of the park, on to the next field. I’m alone now, and my thoughts return to you.

Mostly I remember how you never quite loved me the way I loved you, and how you never quite smiled on me the way you did the other boys, the ones who never loved you back, not the way I did.

In a few minutes, the kids start to arrive, the real go-getters who tie their cleats over the handlebars and get here early, not able to wait for their parents to get home from work with a ride. It’ll be one of them that’s worthy of your love today. That gangly left-hander over there, maybe, the one with the glasses, trying so hard. In my heart, I hope that you’ll love him back – but my head knows better.

Later on, more kids will come, many of them a whole five minutes early, which is really fifty-five minutes late. Their parents will push them out here, two hands on the small of their back, forcing them on you with a supportive swat on the butt. Knowing you like I do, you’ll smile on one of them, bestow on one of them your graces.

Probably the one wearing the soccer cleats.

My old coach often lamented life’s greatest tragedy, that the ones that have it just don’t want it and the ones that want it just don’t have it.

I never knew he was talking about you.

Frank Byrns lives, writes, and plays ball in the Washington, DC area. Visit him online at