Each night, indigo blue smoke bloomed from the candle sitting on the patio table while the tall brown-eyed girl spat chewing tobacco into a Styrofoam cup leaning forward with her elbows on the porch railing, watching the black birds pick apart a chicken bone as they teeter tottered across a sable telephone cable. Her name was Candace and she wore a backwards baseball cap, that belonged to her brother Joshua. He had died from a brain aneurysm last year.
She always would tread her fingers around the wide brim of the blue cap, close her eyes and remember how her brother use to take her
to softball practice back when she was in elementary school, driving
her around in his lime green Mitsubishi GT 3000, with the windows down, and Pink Floyd percolating from the soothing speakers built
into the dashboard. After Joshua had died, Candace dropped out of Mary Washington. She found a job at Movie Theater down the street from the baseball diamond, working at behind the register, arms propped on the countertop, wishing that she had tried out for the club softball team at college. When her shift would end
she’d go back home and sleep in until midafternoon. Then she’d wake up and march over to the library to read the picture books while snuggling on the lumpy couch with the plump giraffes and short elephants, the toy animals with the holes on the bottom of
their rear ends where the stuffing would roll out whenever she’d squeeze their heads.
One rainy day she strolled to the lake and stole a rowboat from the wooden dock. Dipping the plastic oar into the calm current, she paddled through the blue water, yawning, stuck in her daydreams about winning that soft ball championship back when she was ten years old, and after the game her brother had bought her a fudge brownie sundae
and a strawberry milkshake, with a ****** cherry sunk in the whipped cream. The night grew darker, as her memories turned more emotional. So she came back to shore, tied the rowboat back to the dock with looping a knot around the nook with a thick rope cord. Then she went back to her apartment house and
crashed on the couch, the blue baseball cap falling onto the floor.
When she woke up from her nap she put her cap back on her head, and
went out on the porch, lit a cigarette, then gazed out at the shining moon
suspended in the clouded sky. She reached out with her arm, her fingers stretched.
The depths of Joshua’s soul lay beyond her touch, and she knew it.
She grounded out the cigarette, went upstairs to her bedroom, shut the door. And then she cried, cried until the hot tears turned icy with the pain, that was wracking her heart with an emotion that staggered like Joshua had when he was in the kitchen that one day, swaying back and forth. Dropping
to the tiled floor, blood running out his nose like a baseball player
stealing home. Then the memory dissipated from her mind, as if it never
come to fruition in the first place. She took off her blue baseball cap.
She held it in her hands. She clutched the wide brim and treaded her fingers around the stitching, wondering why Joshua had to leave her life.
And why she couldn’t let go of this baseball cap.