fiction by killre
The following is from a letter, dated May 29th, posted to a Mrs. [redacted] [redacted] of Webster from a Mrs. Rebecca [redacted] of Gerryowen:
My Dearest Cousin,
Surely, you will rejoice as much as I when I tell you I've finally found my way out of the forest of my despair, in which I wandered so long, and stepped out into the sun-lit lea of the poets' promise. You and [redacted] have both been so kind in shouldering what you could of the burden of my grief, and in offering to shoulder more. I cannot thank you enough. I almost feel I should apologize. You and I have been as sisters since we were so young the memories are but glimpses, and I know you love me truly, but surely even the strongest bonds must strain under the weight of prolonged melancholy.
To relieve that strain is part of the reason I am writing you, and to share with you some of the joy of my deliverance... but I also wish to confide in you. I do hope the love you bear me will temper the shock you will surely suffer.
Hindsight informs me I was already slowly finding my way back to the sunlight. In part, Time had surely been doing its work. I shall always love James in my heart, of course, and I still believe I shall always miss his presence, but, to the corruption of my thoughts, I have come of late to the realization it is his touch I miss most of all. So willful has my flesh become (and so conservative is James' pension) my mind has taken to abasing itself with thoughts of bartering my affections. Shameful, surely, but thoughts are not deeds.
Fortunately, I do have other things to occupy my mind. This is the second spring since my darling James was taken from me, and it has been a singularly beautiful one. How surely it would have brightened my mood without the efforts of my dear friend Lucille is a path I'll never stroll. She is married to a man named Silas, who was a base-ball player for many years, and who is still in the employ of one such club in some capacity, which keeps him away from home a great deal, so she understands a bit of the loneliness absence can foster.
Two days ago, Lucille invited me to attend a base-ball match with her. Silas' club, which hails from Kessington, was in town to play our local club. She insisted I go with her. I knew it was but a ploy to get me out into the big, warm world, with its scents and sounds, its jostles and jocularity. What I didn't know was she and Silas were planning to introduce me to someone.
The Kessingtons scored a point in their first turn "at-bat," which seemed to me to end rather abruptly.
Lucille gestured and said, "That's the gentleman we'll be going to dinner with later." Her eyes glinted at me above her smile. The man she indicated was turned partly away, his head bowed in that moment as he used his shoes to rake the dirt of the small hill which stands in the middle of the field. He seemed to me possessed of an uncommon diligence of task, a meticulousness that toiled in the shadow of obsession. When he finally turned to face the first Gerryowen "batter," he struck me as very thin, quite tall, with more than a week's worth of beard covering his jaw. Lucille said his name was Jupiter Black. I asked about the number on the back of his shirt - 13. She smiled and said, "He doesn't believe in luck. Good or bad."
From the little I understand of base-ball, he surely should have had more belief. Gerryowen's turn "at-bat" had not yet ended when they stopped the match to allow Silas to walk out to the little dirt hill and speak with this Mr. Black. Nor had it ended when they stopped again so a large, elderly, shambling man could take the ball from him and hand it to a Kessington man who had been "playing catch" in front of the grandstand. In the entire time Mr. Black was in the game, Lucille applauded but once, when he threw the ball toward a Gerryowen "batter" in a slow, floating arc and the Gerryowen man swung mightily at it and missed. There was a brief scuffle just then, as the man who was supposed to catch the ball didn't, but pounced on it like a cat with a ball of yarn and swatted the "batter" on the hip. I thought surely it was the beginning of a brawl, but the "batter" simply returned to his club's long, low shed, shaking his head all the while.
Note: Records indicate Gerryowen scored six runs in that inning, all charged to Jupiter Black. Kessington rallied to win the game 11-10. Black received a no-decision.
[letter to be continued]