Suffering, Sorrow, and Being Nine Years-Old

Baseball mitt

I had a baseball game that day, beginning and ending my career as a catcher for Dog ‘n Suds at the tender age of nine. I was nearsighted and my glasses didn’t fit beneath the mask. Every time I turned my head, the mask moved slightly, as did my black nerd glasses, which made every pitch a funhouse adventure.

After I got home, following yet another losing game, and parked my orange Huffy with the black and orange striped banana seat, my mom met me outside and said, “There’s been an accident.”

Not knowing quite what to say, I said, “Who?”

“Jamie,” she said. “He and Michael were playing with lighter fluid out in the woods, and Jamie was burned badly.”

I remember wondering how it might be possible to be burned “goodly.” But all I said was, “What happened?”

“I don’t know, honey. His mom just called. I think he’d like to see you.”

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