The fence rattled as Averil wedged the toe of his battered Converse into the opening of the links, being sure not to listen to the plea of his palpating hear to look down as he clambered several feet off the ground. When he reached the top he swung his legs over the side, eyes squeezed shut and fingers gripping the warm, metal railing. Inhaling through his nose, he held the air in his lungs for several racing heartbeats and then slowly exhaled through his mouth. The sun, now slightly off center in the sky and dipping lower, warmed the bare skin of his pale neck, sweat, though not from heat, gathering there above the collar of his blue-checkered button-down. He always hated this part, and yet, for reasons he never could understand, he chose this over climbing down the fence in the same way he had scaled it. Every single time.
Little by little, he scooted himself to the edge until there was nothing left to hold him up and he slid down the side of the fence. A rush of wind blew back the wildly tousled strands of pale blonde hair, the chain links grazing against his back. But, for a few glorious seconds, it felt as though he were flying, and nothing else, not even the incessant worries that plagued his mind, seemed to matter.
The ground met his feet with an unyielding harshness, a cloud of dust bursting into the air around him. He coughed, his legs wobbling, rubbing the tiny, burning grains of dirt from his eyes. After a moment of rapid blinking, he threw his gaze around the vast, empty space. The grass, like toasted bread, had been cooked to a deep golden brown, though there were some shoots of green scattered about that sprouted up like desert geysers. Further down loomed the stadium with several rows of blue bleachers, on off-white awning casting it all in shade, and he made his way over there, hands buried in the pockets of his dark gray jeans. He came to home plate, now half-hidden by a circle of weeds, and stepped on it as he passed. Going through the small entryway, Averil climbed the steps until he reached the highest row and sat in the edge seat, releasing the tension from his shoulders with a sigh. He tilted his head back, shut his eyes, and listened to the crack of a bat slamming against the oncoming ball, wondering just what type of exhilaration the audience felt as the batter ran on and on.
Mysteria walked to the abandoned field where people rumored to have been located at. She wore her crisp white uniform shirt with black pants to match, but instead of proper baseball shoes, she had worn old black Converse, battered and beaten with time and use. Dragging her deep blue aluminium baseball bat on the ground, she tossed her ball in the air, unaware of the unexpected company that was on the benches.
Mysteria caught the hall and stopped on the home plate, facing away from the benches. She hoisted her bat up on her shoulder and sighed, wiping her forehead with the back of her other hand that was holding the ball. Even though she was wearing a hat to protect her from the sun rays baking her face, it was still toasty.
The dark haired girl looked around, then took a deep breath in concentration. Suddenly, she threw the ball up in the air, and quickly tried to swing her bat fast enough to hit the falling ball.
She missed. Mysteria frowned as she watched the ball roll a foot away from her. Slowly, she walked up to the ball and picked it up, dragging the bat as she did before walking back to home base. Mysteria sets the ball down by her feet, then began to stretch by swinging the bat over her shoulders, holding it with both hands in order to get a good stretch.
Mysteria kept doing the exercise for both shoulders several times, afterwards attempting to hit the ball again.
Some time had passed under the cool, protective shade of the awning, and Averil blinked his eyes open, lids heavy with drowsiness. Then, all at once, his gaze grew wide at the sight of the girl standing down below him at home plate, baseball bat in hand as she windmilled her arm to stretch her shoulder. For a brief moment, the circuit of his brain glitching at the incomprehensible information it was attempting to process, he thought he had awoken in the middle of a game. But a quick glance around was all that he needed to disregard that thought—the bleachers were empty, pale with dust, and the girl stood alone on the field. In fact, she looked very alone, as though she were the only person left in this desolate world. And then he realized she wasn’t at all by herself—and now, neither was he, though he didn’t know if this frightened him or gave him a sense of delight. Either way, he knew he should do something to make his presence known.
Standing up in a slow, careful motion, the seat creaking lowly with the relief of his weight, Averil made his way down the stairs and came to a halt where a wall, coming to about his chest, separated the bleachers from the field itself. The girl was still several feet away, and most likely unaware of his being there as of yet. Brushing the bits of dirt from the legs of his jeans, he cleared his throat and called out to her.
“Hey,” He said, his voice tentative, as though questioning its own existence. “Do you need some help? I might be able to throw to you, if you want.”
Mysteria jumped slightly, turning to the newcomer. Her bat slipped out of her hands and she took a step back to avoid getting her foot hurt. She blushed slightly and looked at the boy. "I-I... You scared me..." She said quietly as she picked up her bat again. She huffed her hair away from her face, then tried to stuff her hair back in her cap.
"Throw? Um... I guess so..." She replied slowly, getting the ball and walked over to the guy. She handed the ball over, before gripping the bat in her hand.
Mysteria was a bit confused about the whole situation, she thought she was by herself. But she didn't mind the company, and since this is a guy, it'll be much more interesting.
"Have you been sitting in the bleachers the whole time?" She asked as she took her position on home base. "I thought this place was abandoned... Didn't expect someone else to be here..." The dark haired girl explained, her deep blue eyes being hidden by the shadow of her hat. "So, what brought you here?"
Averil flinched at having startled the girl, as well as the hollow thud of aluminum hitting the ground, warmth spreading over the skin of his cheeks since her reaction was the opposite of what he had hoped to elicit. Still, she didn’t seem mad or even upset, and his heart felt lighter with that thought. He took the ball from her, feeling the dirty hide beneath his fingertips, and vaulted over the wall after two clumsy attempts. Dirt crunched under his shoes as he made his way past her, coming to a stop on the pitcher’s mound and turning around to face her. The sun caressed his back, gentle now that drowsiness had lowered it in the sky. He rolled the ball in his hand a moment, considering how to answer her questions before he spoke.
“Yeah, I guess I was there this whole time. Before you, even. I think I’ve been here a while, actually.” His eyes, green, lynx-like, nervous orbs amid the delicate features of his face, gazed down at the ball and then around. “No one really remembers this place, but I used to come here to watch games, way back when I was little. One day, people just stopped showing up. I guess they forgot it was here.”
Averil paused and his stare wandered back to the girl, his fingers tightening around the ball. She looked rather far away, and he wondered if he would ever be able to throw well enough for her to hit. But he tried not to think about it as he drew his arm back. “So, what’s your story? How’d you find this place?”
And with those words, he shot his arm forward and his grip lessened, the ball spiraling towards home plate faster than he ever thought possible.
Mysteria smiled faintly as she readied her bat into swinging position, relaxing as she waiting patiently. She listened to what her new acquaintance had to say, her face showing a bit of sadness.
"Oh, I see. That's really too bad, this place is literally perfect for playing some baseball" Mysteria replied,before she saw the guy pitch at her. She quickly tightened her grip on the bat and quickly swung, the ball hitting the edge of the bat and travel a couple of feet away from the guy. She rubbed the back of her neck as she smiled nervously.
"Let's just say, I'm new here to this town, and I heard someone say something about an abandoned baseball field. Seeing that it sounds like a pretty cool and peaceful place, I decided to take a look for myself." She swung her bat twice, then rested it on her shoulder. "Don't worry about the ball right now, we can get it in a little bit." She offered.
"So... How old are you?" She asked, starting to get curious. "Frankly, I haven't seen many people my age since I came here." Mysteria began to walk towards the guy,holding her bat under her arm and motioned him to follow, heading to the general area of where she had seen the ball land.
A hollow, metallic crack echoed as the ball connected with the thick end of the bat, and Averil felt a sudden thrill coil around his heart at the sight of his success. Face aglow with the feeling, he watched the ball sail through the air, like a ship navigating troubled waters, until it fell to the ground and bounced a few times before going still, waiting to be picked up once more. Looking back at her with his hands shoved in his pockets, blushing with shyness at his childlike delight, he nodded at her words with a gentle smile.
“It really is something to experience,” He agreed, watching her come near. “I think the lack of people here gives it this special sense of welcome, as though it would accept anyone regardless of who they are and without judgement, and you can let your guard down here.” He voice drifted into silence, his mouth twitching into a thin smile at the understanding of the strangeness of what he had attempted to express. “I guess it’s hard to explain.”
Averil walked with her, shoulders hunched and spine yielding, and nodded again as she spoke. “The town doesn’t have a lot of kids, I guess…” He paused with the sudden awareness that he was no longer a child himself, a moment of pained melancholy sweeping over his skin. But, he endeavored to keep his cool. “I’m eighteen, and you?
Mysteria silently processed his words, which had given her a brand new perspective on the abandoned baseball field. "I never actually thought of it that way before... But I can see what you mean." She replied, giving him a cheerful smile before she continued to look around for the ball.
Listening to him, she walked around a few steps away from him. She sighed, finally finding the ball and picked it up, brushing off the extra dirt off of it. "Not many kids, huh? Well, I guess you're lucky I came along!" She joked, then tossed the ball back to him. Mysteria took off her cap, shaking her head a bit so her hair could be free for a moment, then put her cap back on her head of dark, messy hair.
"I'm eighteen too! Er.. Actually, I'll be eighteen in two weeks, but that's close enough, isn't it?" Mysteria said with a nervous laugh. She lead the guy back to their places, twirling her bat a bit as they walked. "So, have you always lived here in this town? I move from place to place, so I've never actually had a hometown, per say." The girl stretched slightly as she felt the warm air hit against her face, sighing as she looked down at her hands then her skin, somewhat in between pale and tan from being in the sun a couple of times for an hour or so. She took her position back at home plate and patiently waited.
Not expecting the ball to be tossed back to him so nonchalantly, Averil’s shoulders rose to shield his neck as he fumbled for a grip, nearly dropping the ball several times before bringing it to his chest as though to protect it from further harm. His throat rippled with a hard swallow and he looked up at Mysteria, a reddish blaze burning his face at the sight of her tousled dark hair shaking about freely in the air. He kept silent as he followed her back to the pitcher’s mound, turning her words over in his mind. Yes, he supposed he was lucky that someone had chosen to come to this particular place at the same time that he happened to be there. Strange how things work out, how people wander into your life and suddenly you’re aware of someone who you never knew existed. Strange, how things play out like that.
The fading light lit up her skin as though she were her own sunset while it gave his own a translucent hue. He placed the ball beside his foot and straightened, tucking his loosened shirt back into his jeans until his bony figure came into focus. Averil ran a hand through his whitish hair before picking up the ball once more and mentally preparing for another throw.
“I used to live somewhere else when I was little, but then I moved here to stay with my uncle. So I guess I understand jumping from place to place, at least a bit. Kinda makes you feel like you don’t belong anywhere in particular, huh?”
He threw his arm back and then forward again, the ball soaring through the air in a near straight line toward the girl. It’s funny; he’d never thought he was any good at sports.
Mysteria watched as he messed with his hair, before blinking and getting herself focused again on hitting the ball. She began to get distracted again, seeing the details in his body type.
"Yeah, I guess you can think of it like that. Or, you can say that it's also a good opportunity to start over and make yourself a different person if you wanted. It's kinda fun." She explained, slowly getting distracted again.
Mysteria looked at the shapes and lines that composed of her new acquaintance's body mentally, until she snapped back on a ball traveling towards her. Instinctively, she swung her bat and bit the ball, but this time she had lost her balance and fell backwards on her behind, a cloud of fine dirt traveling upwards from it. She huffed, then puffed her cheeks out in frustration. "This is my most frustrating habit, I space off in the middle of a game!" She grumbled as she picked herself up, using the bat for support. Once she was on her feet again, Mysteria sighed.
"So, what time do you plan on going home?" Mysteria scouted for the ball, then let out a small and quiet hmph. "As much as I want to stay here, I really can't." She laughed.