Echoes of the Heart
I came to visit the old baseball field in the dying town where I grew up. It was less than a whisper of what it once was. My first steps on the dirt sent my chest to thumping, and the still wind held the scent of chalk and nachoes. I could see the shadows of my youth running the bases, and I wondered if those steps had ever taken me anywhere. I made my way to the scraps of homeplate and dug my feet into the same ruts I'd stood in over twenty years ago. The decayed plate was like bones of forgotten friends, and I gave it a tap with a bat I would never hold again. My vision narrowed to see a pitch that would never come. I swung. Somewhere in the distance of my memory, I heard a crack. I looked to the dugout at the ghosts of my teammates and grinned. I looked behind to the empty bleachers and gave a nod to my grandfather. The pride in his ancient eyes was as bright then as it ever had been. In the silence, the crowds roar was like magic. Then, for what I knew to be the last time, I ran. I ran with all the thunder of a thousand feet, kicking up the dust of a thousand games. I ran with all the joy and speed of summers past. I ran with heartache and wishes, and echoes ... of a hollow sound.
Caleb A. Smith