This story was entered into the 2013 Writer’s Digest Short Story Competition, with a maximum word count of 1500. I had written one piece of flash fiction before, titled Memories, and enjoyed packing a basket full of emotions into a small package, so I figured what the hay, you can’t win if you don’t enter.
Night of Dreams
Author: Joe Clay
Joey was awakened by the sound of the alarm clock blaring old classic rock. He rolled over to turn it off as the bright red LED lights informed him it was six thirty and another day had rolled around. He flipped back over to make sure the alarm had not woken Lisa. She was still asleep in all her beauty. Joey sat on the side of the bed clearing his eyes and his head. Joey’s sleep was always so restful and filled with dreams of pleasure and accomplishments. Last night was different: his dream had become a nightmare which caused him to toss and turn all night. He felt as if he had not even been to bed. The nightmare was so realistic he had to shake his legs just to make sure they were still there. After some stretching and grumbling about why it should not be this cold in South Georgia in late September, his feet hit the soft carpet and headed down the hallway to the kitchen. His athletic body needed some fuel. He would go ahead and start breakfast and have it ready by the time Lisa began to stir. Two scrambled eggs, toast with strawberry jelly, and a protein shake to wash it all down was his normal breakfast. He prepared Lisa her favorite: toast, eggs, and oatmeal with strawberries. The smell of her coffee brewing would bring her out of her deep slumber. Joey placed the morning meal on the small two person round table in the breakfast nook. He looked up to see Lisa coming down the hall wearing nothing but his long sleeve blue Oxford shirt. Her long black hair was all over her head and face. She was moving it away from her brown eyes so she could place the thick, black framed glasses on. Without them she could not see down the hall. Lisa continued walking and began buttoning the shirt from the top down. The task was complete as she reached the nook and kissed Joey on the cheek. They had plenty of time to enjoy the food, relax, and spend some time together. Joey did not have to be at the ball park till ten for the team meeting. They ate in total silence, only with glances of love being shared. Joey was a lucky man and he knew it. Lisa was not a typical jock’s idea of a perfect girlfriend. When they met in high school, most of his teammates were with cheerleaders. For some reason, Joey was drawn to Lisa. They had met in American Literature. She was tall but not fully developed and was a little clumsy. At that time she kept her hair in a bun with a pencil stuck through it. Joey thought she looked just like a librarian, and the glasses just added to the fantasy. Lisa loved to read and planned on penning a novel herself after college. They continued dating and attended the same university where Joey excelled in baseball earning him a first round draft pick by the Georgia Thunder in his senior year. Lisa majored in business with a minor in literature. While in college, she also developed into the prettiest creature he had ever laid his eyes on. They married when Joey got promoted last year to AAA ball after shooting up the ranks in A and AA in less than a year.
“Joey, you appear a little troubled this morning. Are you worried about the final game of the series tonight?” Lisa questioned.
“Not at all: with our win last night our team has a one game lead. The worst case scenario would be a one game playoff. My stats this year against them are phenomenal.” He answered.
“Being that confident, why were you so restless last night?” Lisa inquired.
“I had a dream, well a nightmare. I lost the use of my legs in a freak accident. The left one was broken in three places with a crushed ankle.” He answered.
“What happened?” She inquired.
“I can’t remember how it happened. The doctors were able to save it, but my speed was gone and so was my career! My legs were going to make us rich and me famous next year! You could stop working at the book store to make ends meet and work on your dream. Instead we both had to work. I was working in a steel mill and was in constant pain daily. My only comfort, you stayed by my side through it all.” Joey explained.
“Honey it was just a dream. I attribute it to the pain injections you took after being hit by a fastball in your left thigh last night. You should never have stolen home. No need to worry either way. My dream of a book deal is in the works. I should be hearing something soon from the publishers. When it comes to pass we can have it all plus more.” She replied.
“You are right, I’m sure everything will work out for the best, and we both will be celebrities.” He said.
They had finished breakfast and Lisa cleared the table and started the dishes as Joey prepared to shower and head to the ball park.
The game would be decided in the last inning. With Joey at bat he felt he was living his dream. The situation was not just like it, but close! The count was 2 balls 2 strikes. The runner on third led off the inning with a triple and had been stranded there. The game was tied 4-4. Joey looked down the third base line to get the sign from the coach. He was given the hit and run sign on the two/two pitch. Joey knew he would need to place the ball in a perfect spot on the ground. A fly ball could be caught. In the back of his mind he just had to get it past the pitcher and make the third baseman field it. The infield had moved back with two strikes; no one in their right mind would try to bunt. The pitch was delivered and as Joey started his swing, the ball began to break. He lunged and made contact. The bat connected with the pitch at the very end of the wood. The runner on third broke towards home! The hit was weak but hard enough to clear the pitcher and was headed up the middle. Joey was in disgust as he bolted down the first base line. He hoped the weak grounder had enough speed to get through the infield. All he could do was pray that his speed would get him to the bag in time. The diving shortstop made the play. His only chance was to throw Joey out at first as the runner was almost home. His arm was considered to be the best in the league. Would that arm be a match for the cheetah-like speed of Joey? The shortstop sprang to his feet quick as a cat. He planted and cut the ball loose rifling a fastball strike to first. Joey’s speed was too much for the strong and accurate arm of the gold gloved infielder. He beat the throw by steps, driving in the winning run. They had clinched the division and were playoff bound. The celebrating was pure chaos as the fans stormed the field as the players were gathered on the mound congratulating each other. They lifted Joey up on their shoulders and headed to the dugout through the crowd. Joey spotted Lisa in the front row. He blew her a kiss.
“I love you, see you at home.” He shouted
She blew a kiss back and headed out to her car. She would wait to tell him about her phone call and the book deal she had landed. Lisa wanted him to enjoy his moment in the spotlight.
The team continued the rejoicing in the club house. The manager came by and pulled Joey to the side.
“Good game.” The manager said.
“Thank you Sir.” Joey replied.
“Hope you can do that in the majors. I just got the call; they want you on the big league team for the remainder of the season. I do not want to see you back down here.” He said.
“Holy crap. Thank you Sir, I will make you proud!” Joey screamed.
He could not wait to tell Lisa. He rushed to shower and prepare to leave the club house. Joey exited the stadium and mounted his Harley and headed home to inform her that the struggles were over. They would be rolling in money!
The morning paper headline read: ‘Star of Last Night’s Game and Top Prospect Involved in Near Fatal Crash with a Semi on I-85.’ Tucked in the lifestyle section was: ‘Local Author Signs Major Book Deal’.