Grant Bergland
A Blue Clear Day

It was simpler then. His dad took him to the ball games and they both wore the same caps and ate hot dogs and cheered in the summer sun.

His adult self sits watching the television. She's been gone for a few months, but baseball season started like nothing happened. Some nights he imagines climbing onto the table and pushing through the screen, squeezing himself through the little hole to the bright sunny day outside. When he comes through he's next to home plate, looking up at #9. Reggie Jackson is batting left-handed. He is about to swing but stops and says:

"Hey kid, your dad's waiting for you."

The catcher from the Phillies grins behind his cage mask and motions with his glove to the left. The boy sees his father off in the bleachers, not a hundred feet away. He was in a better seat than they had ever afforded at Candlestick Park. And he looks down and sees he really is a kid again and feels that his knees don't creak and he doesn't carry anything in his pockets.

He takes off for the stand wearing lace up sneakers and shorts and a t-shirt blinking back the sun as he gets used to being small. His dad meets him at the gate, his skin a dark olive color.

"Where you been, buddy?" his dad asks.

"I got married, I grew up."

"You know what?" He smiles. "I did the same thing, it's fun. But you still need to see a game every once in awhile."

He climbs up into his father's lap just like he did a thousand times before, ten thousand times, and they turn to watch the game. Heat rises up from home plate and Reggie is ready to swing; two of the bases are stacked with players with their hands on their knees, ready to run. And he looks up into his Dad's eyes again and says:

"It's been hard."

His dad says: "I lost your mom, and your grandpa and your big brother you never met. But I still went to the games whenever I could."

"I loved her."

"No matter what you do, your heart will have to break sometimes."

The batter hits the ball with a crack that echoes across Oakland and the crowd roars like a wave coming to the shore. The boy looks up and it's a blue clear day with no clouds to be seen. Everyone in the stadium cheers as the base runners come home.

And on the other side of the screen, the grown man smiles.


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