“Three and two. Be ready!” shouts the catcher.
The batter’s front cleat lines up with the front of the plate. The back cleat grinds into the brick dust.
As my right foot steps on the rubber, the batter’s knees bend. Hidden in the cover of my mitt, my fingertips rub against the rigid seams. My thumb slides along the leather. The automatic caress finds the sweet spot and my grip tightens.
I am at the edge of a forty-five foot-long tunnel, the batter in her stance and my catcher in her squat at the other end.
With her fist pressed against her thigh, my catcher flashes one finger. Beneath the shadow of the plastic helmet, the batter’s daring eyes meet mine. With a twitch of my head that causes my ponytail to swing, I shake off the call for a fastball. Beyond the wire and padding, my catcher frowns. I hear her voice in my head: The fastball’s working.
But I hold her gaze. The distance between us weakens the fierceness of her glare. More important to me is the batter’s confident stance, relaxed grip, and unwavering eyes meeting mine. Her last strike – a hard liner foul of third base – proved my fastball wasn’t working.
Close behind me, my shortstop shouts, “Two out. Plays at first.” But this is just the routine. Everyone expects a strikeout.
My catcher’s eyes narrow as she flashes one finger again. Also, everyone expects a fastball.
I shake it off again. My shoulders lift, my lungs fill with air. I let in the clapping and chatter from stands and each dugout for the briefest second, then block it out again. My catcher flashes me two fingers. My chin dips ever so slightly as my lips press together. I curl and fold up one finger, its knuckle brushing the smooth leather, then start my motion. The batter’s features fall away until she is faceless and frozen and not a factor.
Exercise: HUNTERS TRANCE 300 word flash fiction – (does not have to be hunting)