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Mosaic Fiction on a Map of Consciousness
We would play baseball almost every afternoon. All five of us. Chris, Andy, Katie, Jonathan, and me. The teams were Chris and Jonathan versus Andy, Katie, and me, and they were very lopsided teams.
Chris and Jonathan were a few years older and much more skilled. Andy was pretty good. But Katie and I? We were horrible, we knew it, and we didn’t much care. They forced us to play most the time, and so we’d just sit there, chase moths, pet the neighborhood stray, and generally be miserable in the sweltering heat.
Meanwhile the other three were busy hitting tennis balls with plastic bats and squeezing them in their sweaty palms and throwing them with all their might as fast as possible. They were intense. They were into it. Andy would yell at Katie and me furiously every day, trying to rally us to his support so that maybe we could win just one single game.
“You guys are so lazy,” he would say.
Day after day, game after game.
And so it pleased me infinitely when, pitched by Chris, the tennis ball made contact with a swing by Katie (a rare occurrence) and flew full speed high velocity into Andy’s right testicle. He crumpled at second base like he’d been shot in the head.
* * *
He liked to just sit in the passenger seat and pretend that he wasn’t moving but that the rest of the world was. It was like a three dimensional video game. He was static, he was nothing but vision.
And it was beautiful. The early sky painted impasto with a rising red sun, the kind you rarely see outside of Africa, and on either side, about twenty feet from the edge of the road, a forest springs up, and birds, leaving the branches together to find another place, swoop down in front of the cars and up and up and to the side safe from impact, magnificent, fluid. They fly and they soar, moving not on their own but as part of a world of movement.
* * *
Why is your family absent?
Truth is, when I drew the map of my conscience, I wasn’t thinking about my family at all. I thought about happenings and circumstances and sunny spots through tree tops.
But why is my family not part of my conscience?
I really do not know. Maybe I don’t love them. The most we ever say to each other is usually “Good, how was your day?” Our days are always good and the house is always silent.
We used to eat dinner together, but then my brother went to college and my mother became a bishop and went back to school for her doctorate and my father got a new job and I got sucked into a world of academics and sleep.
So maybe I have no real attachment to them.
But then I remember my grandmother who died of lung cancer in our dining room under hospice care. We set up a bed by big windows and a television and put curtains in front of the entrance ways for privacy, and all the neighborhood kids would come together and we’d play baseball and she would watch. And one night the nurse called up to where we were sleeping and we went down and my grandmother was dead. I never thought I would cry for anyone, but I did then. I did not know I’d loved her, but I did, and maybe I simply don’t yet know that I love the rest of my family just as much.
The backyard. It isn’t so cookie cutter there. We used to have a baseball field that we made from constant use, not construction. The grass was all torn up, and I bet the neighbors snickered, but their children didn’t. We would all come together to play baseball, and even though I thought then that I hated it, those were the best days of my life. The field is gone now, covered by gardens and steppingstones and trees.
But from the backyard, I can see into the dining room, where my grandmother passed away, and I think as long as I go there, through my mother’s rose garden, through my father’s vegetable garden, and all the other things growing, as long as I go there and look through those open windows into that empty, sunny room, I will always remember backyard baseball and my grandmother and that in that very moment, in that very spot,
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