It was 25 years ago today. Twenty-five years.
* * *
“A high fly ball to right field. She is …”
She is heavenly in our memory, still vivid, still true.
She is sailing from the pitcher’s hand toward a man on knotted stilts, all torso and determination and even a little secular prayer, but no legs, none to speak of. His bent front peg trembles, elevating slightly, the rear one already buckling.
She rises so slightly off an invisible cushion of air, then starts to settle, trailing away but not far enough away. The front peg descends under the weight of arms, strong, driving down into the strike zone.
She is inside the circumference of the catcher’s mitt, but the bat intercedes. The arms look horribly awkward, the back elbow bent at almost 90 degrees, the front arm cutting down in front to form a triangle. The back leg elevates at the heel as the batter lunges, almost to the point of falling down.
But she meets flush with the bat, ceasing to be a sphere, transforming into a comet. She is launched by a popgun, a croquet swing. The left wrist twists, then the hand loses the bat entirely. The follow-through whimpers like that of a novice tennis player, but it doesn’t change anything.
He looks up. His back leg comes down again, spread across home plate from his right. His left arm is cocked like a puncher. His first motion out of the batter’s box is of a runner. There’s been a mirage. The living, breathing, conquering athlete was in there all along.
She travels at the speed of light. The right fielder breaks back, taking one, two, three…four…five…six steps, slowing down, his mind and hope retreating before his legs even know. A single set of identical red lights, that’s all, prominently glowing but orphaned, can be seen under the peak of the pavilion roof, behind the brimming, jammed bleacher seats, not abandoned, not at all. Arms are soaring into the air in exultation.
She is crashing down from the sky; mass times acceleration, a shooting star at mission completion. She is in the crowd, she is in our heads, she is in our astonishment, she is in our incredulous joy, she has broken into our ever-loving, unappeasable souls and exploded.
She is …