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Vo l . 7 N o . 1

Susan Z. Witter

The only time I ever broke anything

a story in one sentence

The only time I ever broke anything was my leg, my left leg, at a softball game that I didn’t even want to be playing, because I was newly under the spell of modern dance (moving big and free) and had no time anymore for the predictable, restricted, limited mechanics of softball, which, I had begun to realize, was something of a misplaced family activity, since even though often the whole family would go, we parents, on the field, would not be in contact with our kids on the sidelines for the whole game, or with each other all that much, for that matter—the kids would just sit and watch, or busy themselves, until we were done, and my husband and I were spread out across the field, just two of nine spots at carefully arranged intervals—but I suppose we were at least all in one place at one time, except for this time, which was an anomaly anyway, since I had left the team—a co-ed team, through my husband’s work, but he called me to tell me they needed one more woman on the team in order to play, since at least four women were mandated on each team; and as usual they had plenty of men, so my husband didn’t go, and neither did my daughter, who was getting to the point where she had her preteen activities that she enjoyed more than hanging around inventing yet another form of freeze tag while watching a softball game that was pretty much like every other softball game, every other game that she wasn’t in, at least, so it was just me and my son, only half the family; and my heart wasn’t in it, which, in case you didn’t know it, is never the best way to approach a ball game—you get hurt more if you don’t care—and that’s what happened: when I got up to bat and hit the ball, a mediocre slap to right field that the second-baseman (or -woman, really) fielded after a little bobble on her part that allowed me to beat it out to the first-base bag, I rounded first, thinking about second; that was my first mistake, because the hit was not worth two bases at all, and by now the girl was standing on second base with the ball, waiting for me, but I was already feeling kind of slapdash—thinking that maybe if I came at her and slid, she’d be so taken aback she’d drop the ball—what kind of

37 Go, Team! reasoning was that, right? more like the hazy unreality we see in the movies and decide to believe is easy—and in my approach to second base, I heaved a mental sigh as I committed to the slide, kind of, which was my second mistake: either you commit to the slide totally or you don’t slide; and scraped my right foot sideways across the dirt while beginning my lean, but my left foot didn’t really follow up, and although I did touch the base with my right foot (but certainly after my opponent, standing there, watching me from above with the ball securely in her glove, had tagged me), a bone cracked in my lagging left leg; I both heard it and felt it; and I experienced the double defeat of having made a stupid baseball decision and having hurt myself, snapped my own leg, in the doing; so, of course, I didn’t get up; I lay crushed and dusty on the ground at second base; then the pain kicked in, and I had, as my mother would say, a reason for crying, and when I stood up it got worse in a major way, which was just the time that my teammates started crowding around me, in that sort of oh,-right-it’s-time-to-show-concern manner, except for our one truly intrepid woman, who said, “Sure seems to me you’re making a big deal out of nothing” (she hadn’t heard the crack), which left me feeling like a whiner as I hobbled to the car in a sort of spoilsport disgrace, supported on each side by a teammate, the game having stopped, or at least paused, for the amount of time it took for me to get off the field, my son trailing me and getting into the car while I lowered myself into my seat, thankful at least that this car wasn’t a standard so I’d need only my right foot to get me home, along with my arms which were not hurt at all, while my son, probably about seven or eight at the time, uttered whatever words of sympathy he could dredge up from his limited experience of pain and trauma, and I drove and cried, finally arriving home, at which point I sat in the car and sobbed while my son ran in to get his dad, but before he could come out, my neighbor, who had been working in her garden, hurried over to the car to find out what was the matter—she was such an incurable busybody that she had to get in on everything—and made soothing noises that served only to piss me off (and make me cry harder) because I felt weak and foolish enough already without appearing so to her, especially since this was after the argument about “our” tree that she wanted taken down because it dropped pine needles on “her” roof, an argument she won, and now she was seeing me in all my distress, and probably gloating that I was even more of a loser, all of which is a pretty paranoid line of reasoning, probably

Cirque, Vol. 7 No. 1  

A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim

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