My heart aches and there is an overwhelming emptiness where the sadness used to be.
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Dark, ominous clouds matched the fog in her head. The statue looked vaguely familiar, as if she’d been here before, but she wasn’t sure what she was doing here now. Sitting on the marble pedestal below, she held her throbbing head and searched her memory. Images ran wildly like an old carousel slide projector. A small hotel room overlooking a piazza. A cup of cappuccino at a sidewalk café. Holding hands with a man near a fountain. A Celtic tattoo on his forearm. A shiver of fear ran through her. Why couldn’t she remember more?
“Are you okay love? That bump on your head looks bad. I can take you somewhere to get it checked out.” She looked up into a smiling face. He spoke with an Irish brogue and seemed friendly enough. She reached for his outstretched hand and noticed the tattoo on his forearm. A memory flashed through her mind. A struggle inside the hotel room. A broken lamp. Running down a stairwell and disappearing into a crowded piazza. His smile was suddenly sinister and she pulled her hand back. A shiver of terror ran through her. “Now Abigail, let’s not put up another struggle.”
I enjoyed the view from the hospitality suite. He stepped beside me and held out a frosty bottle of beer. We stood in silence, sipping the cold brew and drinking in the sight of the Temple of Baseball laid out below. Players in bright white pants and bold red shirts dotted the emerald field in various stages of warm-up. Some stretched, some hit, some threw, some ran. Some merely stood talking, about what I wondered. Game strategy perhaps, or maybe something as simple as what they had planned for their day off – one day in the middle of a long stretch of back to back to back to back games. My eyes darted back and forth from one group of players to another, not settling on one spot for very long before moving again. It was a visual delight.
I breathed the smell of popcorn and hot dogs and beer and fresh cut grass and summer air, a combination unique to a baseball stadium. “It’s a beautiful day. Thank you for inviting me.” I turned to him, meeting his cornflower blue eyes. My stomach flipped at the upturned corners of his plump lips and the apple cheeks that formed when he grinned. His deep southern drawl still melted my heart. “Darlin’, baseball is no longer my favorite pastime.”