Even the Score(8)By: Beth Ehemann
He waved his hand at me. “Go. Go. I’ll close and lock everything up here.”
“Thanks.” I gave him a tight smile as I rushed past him and jogged to the elevator.
When I pulled up to the ball field, thankfully, the game was still going, but I noticed right away that Logan’s team was in the field, and he wasn’t the one on the mound. My head dropped, and out of frustration with myself, I banged it against the steering wheel a couple of times.
“You moron,” I scolded myself out loud.
Finally looking up, I noticed that Gloria was waving at me, so I got out of the car and made my way across the field. Logan and I locked eyes as I got closer to his dugout, but when I waved at him, he glared at me and looked back out to the field.
“Hey.” I couldn’t even muster up a fake smile when I got to Gloria, and in true Gloria fashion, she pursed her lips and just shook her head. “I know, I know—” I started to defend myself but stopped. I didn’t even have an excuse. Becca ran over and climbed up into my arms.
“He’s upset. Very upset.” Gloria’s tone was sharp, critical even, as she stared out onto the field. “He went to the bathroom a few minutes ago, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t to use the toilet. His cheeks were red and his eyes were puffy when he came out.”
Without saying anything, I nodded and squeezed Becca tight. Surprised by how much bigger she felt, another wave of sadness washed over me. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d picked her up in my arms like that. My kids were growing up, and I was so busy trying to provide a nice life for them, I hadn’t bothered to actually be a part of their lives.
As the last inning played out, I stood quietly, rocking Becca in my arms. After the coach took the boys to the outfield and gave them their postgame speech, they all packed up their things and filed out of the dugout. Logan, moving at a snail’s pace, thrust his glove into his bat bag angrily. His coach, who was waiting for him at the dugout entrance, noticed and started to walk toward him.
“I got him,” I called out. Coach Rogers nodded and patted Logan’s shoulder before he turned and left the dugout also.
I set Becca on the ground. “Will you take her to the car? We’ll be there in a minute,” I said to Gloria.
She nodded and took Becca’s hand, leading her toward the parking lot.
As I turned back to the dugout, Logan was stomping past me.
“Hold on a minute, champ, I want to talk to you.” I gently grabbed his shoulder.
“Don’t touch me,” he yelled as he yanked his shoulder away from me dramatically. “And don’t call me champ. How would you know if I was a champ? You weren’t here!” His eyes filled with tears and his voice cracked as he yelled.
“I know I let you down, buddy, and I’m so sorry. My work—”
“Your work is always more important,” he interrupted. Unable to hold the tears back anymore, he let them spill freely from his eyes. Seeing my son cry because of something I’d done, or hadn’t done, gutted me. I wrapped my arm around his head and pulled him tight against my side, half expecting him to resist, but he didn’t. Instead he just rested his head against me, tucked up under my arm, and sobbed. I swallowed a huge lump in my throat and waited a couple of minutes for him to let it all out. Once his shoulders stop shaking and I heard him sniff, I walked the two of us over to the bleachers.
“I am so sorry, Logan. I have no excuse, I just forgot. Work has my head all foggy and the important things are slipping through the cracks.” The lump in my throat that I’d already swallowed returned, but this time it was twice the size. “I feel horrible.”
Logan sniffed again and nodded without saying anything as he wiped his nose on his sleeve.
“I talked to Uncle Brody today, and he had a great idea to bring in some help. Someone to help me make deals and check out some college prospects so that I can be home more. What do you think of that?”
He lifted his head and looked straight at me, blinking as his wet eyelashes stuck together. “Seriously?”
His two giant front teeth peeked out from between his lips and a small grin followed. “I think that would be awesome.”
“I think that would be awesome, too.” I returned his smile as I pulled him tight against me. “What do ya say we go home and order some pizza? Maybe catch last week’s episode of American Ninja Warrior?”
“That sounds fun, but Gloria made a meatloaf when we got home from the zoo.” He scrunched his nose up and stuck his tongue out as he made a fake gagging noise.
“Meatloaf?” I copied his expression. “Gross! Here’s the plan: when we get home, you distract her somewhere far away from the kitchen while I hide the meatloaf and order pizza.”