The First Base Line

The First Base Line was written as part of a blog hop series inspired by this post on the Huffington Post. Our instructions were:

Write a flash fiction piece (up to 1500 words) about two strangers that meet at a video shoot at which they’re supposed to share a first kiss. Feel free to get creative! Video shoot can be in any town, any time, between any configuration of couples (m/f, m/m, f/f).

See Audra North’s blog for a full schedule and link to pieces by other authors.

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The First Base Line

Derrick first noticed the woman sitting next to him on the first base line when she set a beer in the cup holder. She’d topped her hot dog with mustard, onions, and relish—heavy on the mustard. He’d already had two dogs fixed just the same. At the top of the third inning, the Bulls were up two runs to nothing and she’d been late to the game. She appeared to be alone and her sunscreen smelled like coconut.

Long brown hair pulled into a low ponytail stuck out the back of a baseball cap, the ends brushing the elastic top of a floral sundress. When she bent over to put her purse on the ground, he could see down the V-neck to the lace bra underneath. Dark sunglasses hid her eyes, but he hoped for a deep chocolate brown. His personal favorite. Her pert nose was covered with light freckles and a spot of mustard. Small gold hoops hung from her ears. No wedding ring.

The crowd’s mood sank when the Bulls whiffed a key defensive play, turning a double from the Norfolk Tides player into a triple. The woman leapt up to cheer, her breasts bouncing as she held her hands and her hot dog over her head. He turned forward before she sat down. Being caught ogling a stranger at a ball game would be embarrassing.

“You’re wearing the wrong hat,” he said after she stopped cheering. “That’s not a color blue I usually see in the stands here.” God had made the sky Carolina blue and University of North Carolina hats were popular, as were the dark blue hats of Duke University and, of course, the royal blue of the Durham Bulls. But her hat was bright, almost teal.

“I know.” Soft pride lit up her smile. “My baby brother is the one on third base. Don’t tell him I was late.”

“Your secret’s safe with me.”

The game on the grass and clay wasn’t nearly as interesting as the woman to his right, but he turned his attention back to the players anyway. He was here to watch the game. That had been the theory before the woman sat down. He should ask her name.

Ask if she roots for the Bulls when they’re playing other teams. Ask if she has season tickets or comes to many games.

No, scratch the last question. Too cheesy.

“How’s his career doing?” A nice, neutral question, appropriate for the stranger whose dress you just looked down. She could answer and he could keep his eyes on the game while enjoying the timbre of her voice. Sweet and rich, like onions cooked for a long time on a low heat. Perfect for the hot dog she had finished eating.

“Good. We’re hoping he’ll be called up to the Majors soon.”

“Then you won’t get to see him play.”

“No, not as much.” Pride and sadness warred in her voice. “But if that happens, I’ll be able to wear the right hat to all the games.”

“What position does he play?” Derrick was too busy paying attention to the sweat glistening on her neck in the summer heat to read the opposing team’s roster.

The Bulls’s pitcher caught a Tides’s player’s line drive, made a quick turnaround on the mound, and the woman’s brother was out at home, despite a valiant slide. Her mouth moved, but he couldn’t hear her over the sound of the crowd cheering.

The smell of coconut grew stronger as he leaned into the heat of her body, asking her to repeat herself and hoping to hear her answer this time.

She didn’t hear him. The crowd was still cheering as players left the field and the music started up. Wool E. Bull, the mascot, was dancing. Derrick was trying not to notice the constellation of freckles just above the neckline of her dress when she gasped. A low sound, like he imagined she would make when her lover kissed her neck. Only when the crowd giggled did he look up at the TV in left field.

Kiss cam.

She’d flushed by the time he turned his attention back to her, the blush making the mustard more yellow. He reached his hand out, to swipe the mustard off her nose and excepting her to stop him. Instead she cocked her head. An invitation? A light touch and the mustard was on his finger. Her lips parted, pink and glossy in the sun. For a fleeting moment as he leaned closer, he noted that her teeth were white, and one front tooth overlapped another. He wanted to run his tongue along the ridge of those teeth. Discover if she had anymore crooked teeth. He wanted to know the feel of her hair in his hands. Uncover her secrets.

Learn her name.

Breath from her nose fluttered across his lips when he got a hairsbreadth away, but he didn’t close the difference.

The moment he was about to call himself an ass and pull back, soft lips brushed his. Lightly at first, then her head shifted a little and she pressed in. Her mouth opened. Another invitation, but he still waited. Letting her take the lead. Afraid if he wrapped his arms around her, pressed her soft breasts against him, this would all be a dream. A fantastic dream, wetter than any he’d had when he was thirteen.

But the small tug of her teeth on his lower lip was real. The weight of the hand she placed on his shoulder was real. And the soft noise she made at the back of her throat was definitely real. Crowds, players—the entire ballpark—fell away as the kiss took over his present.

Her mouth opened wider and he needed no invitation this time. His tongue bumped against the ridges of her teeth, marking the line of the crooked one and revealing in her perfect imperfection. She tasted like summer. Baseball. Swimming in the quarry. Ripe tomatoes. And the kind of heat that made you weak at the knees.

“Mom, they’re still kissing.” The child’s voice barely registered in Derrick’s conscious, but the woman must have heard it, because the kiss was over in a snap, leaving him dizzy.

When his mind cleared, the players were back on the field. Kiss cam had moved on to another couple, and then ended. And neither of them had noticed.

“Okay, then,” she said, her chest rising and falling with her breath. “I’m Jessica.”

He took the hand she offered. Warm and soft, with long fingers. The kind of hand he would like to hold at age eighty-two.        “Derrick. Nice to meet you, Jessica.”

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