By Josh Dale
Nothing elated me more than kickball day. Mr. M was the gym teacher. He lugged the cones and balls in a yellowed net. He looked like he was off for some grand adventure. During warmups, he kept repeating the word Tallahassee, drilling it in our head. Tal-La-Has-See! Some kids asked why he liked Florida so much, yet he never answered. We all had nicknames when on offense. Mine was “Mr. Cool”. Yet my leg strength and childhood obesity were only good for a base hit. Maybe an RBI if I was in the middle of rotation. The giant child of us all, A., had the power to send it sailing over the concrete wall. Sometimes cars would zip by as the outfielders in navy tracksuits pursued the home run ball. I was glad to be on his team. There was one kid, E., who loved playing shortstop. He crouched with his hands between his legs, like he played baseball. The pitcher rolled it fast, and it all unfolded like a movie. A. swings his giant foot back. Collides with the ball. Flies over the ducking pitcher, right for E. E. jumps, gets clobbered in the face, hits the ground with a sickening whump. With a bloody knee exposed, I could see his reddened face etched with kickball patterns. He wailed in pain. Some kids on his team demand an Out. Our team, even Mr. M. go slack jaw. I guess that’s what remorse feels like.
Josh Dale is a native Pennsylvanian and the author of the novella, The Light to Never Be Snuffed (Alien Buddha Press, 2022,) and the poetry collection, Duality Lies Beneath (Thirty West Publishing, 2016.) He hopes you read them outside, far away from society, and maybe with a cat. Say hi at www.joshdale.co or @jdalewrites anywhere on social media.