Alright, Kiddos. I'm here with another chapter, posting straight from a hotel room in Cleveland, Ohio. I'm on a little road trip at the moment (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, yesss!) but I took my laptop with me for the sole purpose of posting the last chapter for you guys. Shows how much I love you XD
Fair warning before we start this: It is extremely cheesy. No, seriously. But hey, I tried my best, and hopefully it's not so unbearable.
Mmk. Last chapter.
My eyes scanned the field that I had practically lived on as a kid.
The grass hadn't been cut in years; the town stopped mowing it when the kids stopped playing on it. The lawn was almost a foot high towards the very back of the outfield and the fine brown dirt around the bases had started sprouting little weeds. The maple tree in the outfield had grown an unbelievable amount and the batter's fence had become even rustier than it had been years ago.
Even though the field was just outside my bedroom window, I hadn't even noticed how much it had changed. I usually just stared right past Monahan Field, completely unphased by its presence.
Matt was standing atop the pitcher's mound in the middle of the baseball diamond, the small box he just opened lying at his feet. I stood on home base, holding the bat awkwardly in my hands.
I remembered the last time Matt and I had been alone on the field at dusk, he on the pitcher's mound and me standing at home plate. This time, though, instead of visualizing bright stadium lights and the crowd going berserk, I pictured my friends. I pictured Poke and Bobby and Kyle and Brian and Vin and Demitri and Babe and Davis and Doug. I pictured them how they looked ten years ago, all standing in their rightful positions on Monahan Field. I missed them.
"Holy crap, Ally… This mitt is so small on me," Matt said, breaking me out of my daze.
I laughed. "Well, what do you expect? It fit me when I was seven. Besides; you don't have to worry about catching anything, because I won't be hitting anything. I haven't held a bat in years."
For at least an hour, Mattie and I talked as he pitched ball after ball. I missed most of them and hit few, but none of them ever made it past the pitcher's mound.
"Matt… It's too dark. I can't see anything now," I told him when the sun had sunk way below the line of trees.
Even if it was too dark to see anything but his silhouette against the sky, I could tell he was grinning. "Really? I would've thought you were blind all along… You haven't hit a good ball yet."
I let out a sarcastic laugh and raised the bat up above my shoulder. "C'mon, throw it. I'll knock it out of here," I challenged.
"Yeah, okay," he muttered, rolling his eyes. Still, he wound his arm back and pitched the baseball.
To my dismay, it hit the fence behind me without even coming close to my bat.
"Nice one, Al. Right outta here. I'd better start walking if I want to see that ball again."
"Shut up," I spat, picking up the ball and tossing it back to him. He caught it in the center of his mitt and wound his arm back for another pitch.
This time, however, the baseball collided with the end of my bat and went flying through the air.
"Got it!" Matt yelled, running backwards as the ball flew through the air. He had sprinted all the way past third base by the time it started to come down again.
Through the dense darkness across the field, I couldn't see much. All I saw was the ball flying through the air, and then Matt collapsed onto the ground. His body lay still in the tall grass, and my heart jumped up into my throat.
I flung the bat into the dirt and took off. "Matt!" I yelled, running towards him. My feet kicked up dirt as I sprinted. When I got to the outfield, I saw that my best friend's eyes were closed and the baseball was positioned right next to his head on the grass.
"Oh God," I murmured, my stomach practically turning inside out. "Matt, wake up… Oh my God." I lightly picked up his head, searching for any blood or a bump caused by the baseball.
I thought my mind was playing tricks on me when I saw his mouth twitch slightly. But then it twitched again, and he couldn't suppress his grin. Finally, his eyes opened and he broke out into a hysterical laughing fit.
"Matthew Hartman!" I fumed, smacking him on the shoulder. He was laughing too hard to care, though. "You scared the ever loving shit out of me, you ass!"
I tackled him to the ground again, but somehow as we both struggled to pin the other one down, Matt ended up tickling me mercilessly until I was sure I was about to suffocate.
Finally, after the two of us had stopped laughing and my rage at his trick had been (for the most part) forgotten, Matt rolled onto his back and took a deep breath.
The two of us stayed like that for a long time, sprawled out on the tall grass of the outfield. I could feel the overgrown dandelions tickling my arms and the dew clinging to the back of my clothes, and when the familiar summer breeze blew by, it moved the whole field in sheets. Every once in a while a firefly would wander past our eyes, but for the most part we just watched the sky. The most heavily lit area was town, and that was miles away. Besides the dimly lit streetlamps, there was nothing to obstruct the brightness of the stars from out here. The only sounds I heard were a chorus of crickets and Matthew's light breathing from beside me.
I turned my head to the side and saw that my best friend's eyes were searching the night sky. Then he caught me out of the corner of his eye and turned to face me.
"What?" he asked, his eyebrows furrowing.
"Nothing," I replied. Still, I kept looking at him. A half-smile was on my mouth. "I missed you, Mattie."
His face flushed as he grinned and brought his gaze away again. "I missed you too, Ally." There was a short pause in the conversation. Then he laughed slightly and said, "Wow. 'Mattie.' Haven't heard that one in years."
"What do you mean, you haven't heard that in years? It's your name, isn't it?" I replied.
"Heh. Yeah….Yeah, I guess," he muttered. "But the nickname kinda got left back at the baseball field when I moved." Matt's face went somber. His gaze flickered to my eyes again. "Kind of like you did."
I stared at him curiously. He nervously picked at a blade of grass, shredding it between his fingers. "Ally… Al, I'm sorry. I didn't want to leave; you had to know that."
I half-smiled, waving his words away. "Matt, it was ten years ago… C'mon. Don't worry about it."
"You were so mad at me, though. I remember the day I left. You were so furious; I couldn't even say goodbye."
Letting out a weak laugh, I turned over onto my side, supporting my head on my arm. "I know, but we were just little kids, you know? I didn't understand that you didn't have a choice. It took me a couple years, but I finally realized how immature I was about it."
An innocent smile spread onto to his face. "So you're not mad at me, then?"
I rolled my eyes. "Of course not."
Matt sat up, reaching into his pocket. He pulled out a small piece of metal and, picking up my hand, slid it onto my finger. As I stared down at it, I recognized it as the baseball ring he had bought for me out of a gumball machine all those years ago.
"So you won't throw it back at me this time, yeah?"
I brought my eyes up to meet his. I laughed and shook my head. "You're an idiot," I stated.
He grinned. "I know."
Leaning over, I put my arms around his neck and hugged him close to me. Even though Matt was taller and his shoulders were much broader than they had been when he was eight, he still held me the same way. He still had that sweet boyish scent that I had always remembered.
The hug broke after a while, but we still remained sitting cross-legged in the grass, facing each other.
"You never told me why you came back here," I said, breaking the silence.
"What do you mean?" Mattie asked. "Sure I did. I told you my parents gave me some money for a road trip and they told me I could go where I wanted."
"No, I know that. I mean, why'd you come back here? Hell, most college kids would have headed straight for Vegas."
Matt smiled, but it quickly faded and his mouth formed a straight line again. "Well, isn't it obvious?" he asked. When I didn't reply, he answered for me. "You," he said plainly.
My words suddenly caught in my throat. "B-but, I mean, you didn't have to drive all the way here just to see me, " I stuttered. "You could've just sent me a letter or something; you knew my address. I would've driven down there so you didn't have to come so far."
Matt got that glint in his eye again. "And miss out on all these memories?"
I shot him a pensive look. "What do you mean?" I asked.
My best friend dragged himself to his feet and dusted his jeans off. Then he extended his hand, offering to help me up. I placed my hand in his and let him pull me off the grass, but I asked, "Where are we going?"
"I want to show you something," he said.
Curiously, I followed Matthew as he walked even further into the field. He stopped in the left outfield and pointed to the grass.
I stared at it, my eyebrow raised. "It's grass."
"Yeah, it's grass. It's also the spot where Brian broke his arm because he tripped over a rock."
"I forgot about that," I said, a smile spreading onto my face. "He thought he was so cool because he got to wear a cast for six weeks."
Mattie laughed and nodded. "He made all of us sign it multiple times so it looked like he had more friends than he actually did."
Then Matt took me to the back fence that went around the whole field. He stopped near the gate and said, "This is where the ball went over the first time anyone hit a grand-slam. Davis hit the Warner's car, but he was so thrilled with himself that he barely even cared."
Mattie led me all over the field, reminding me of the various and ever-so-epic things that happened in those particular spots. He showed me where Bobby got his last baby tooth knocked out and where Poke actually outran someone and got to third base. He showed me where Vin threw up because he was so nervous about getting hit with the ball his first time up at bat. Then there was the spot right by shortstop where Doug got into a fist fight with Demitri about whether he was safe or not. Of course, there was the maple tree in the outfield that Babe had managed to hit the new baseball past. Mattie also brought me to the batter's fence, reminding me about the time when Kyle tried to climb to the top during a rainstorm and nearly got struck by lightning.
He took me to the pitcher's mound and reminded me how we used to spend just about every night there, sitting in the dirt and talking until the stars started to fade.
After that, Mattie took me to the last spot on Monahan Field that he wanted to show me. I followed him behind home plate where the old bench stretched along the fence. He sat down on the edge and peered around, looking over the field to see if he had missed anything.
Finally, he turned to me. "You remember what happened here, don't you?"
I took a seat on the bench, placing my hands at my side on the old, pitted wood. "Tons of stuff has happened here," I replied, recalling all the fights and arguments and games and conversations we'd had while waiting to bat.
"I'm referring to the one that happened as a result of the one with Babe hitting the new ball past the maple tree."
My face went scarlet and I looked away, suddenly glad for the dense darkness covering the field. "Oh… That one."
Mattie laughed. "Yes, that one. I remember that one perfectly, don't you?"
I shrugged. "Kind of. I was a little too nervous to be able to think straight," I admitted. "I remember the guys were crowded around us like freakin' vultures, though."
He nodded, grinning. "Yep. And I was at this end of the bench, and you were at that end."
"And you kept screaming that you wouldn't do it," I said, raising an eyebrow accusingly.
"Well, can you blame me? I was eight years old, and the last thing I wanted was for the guys to stop talking to me because I had cooties," he told me. "Anyway, so they pushed us closer together, and your face was so red," Mattie reminded me.
I turned my gaze away, staring instead at the grains and knots in the aged wood. Mattie put his hand underneath my chin, lightly bringing my gaze up to meet his again.
"Sort of like it is now," he whispered.
I smiled timidly, blushing even harder from the combination of his comment and the realization that we were suddenly so close together.
"And then I told you I was sorry." Mattie's voice was so low that, had the field not been deathly quiet, I wouldn't have been able to hear him. "And then you leaned towards me…"
Almost instinctively, I felt myself slanting toward him. However, realizing what I was doing, I paused a few inches from his face.
"And then I…"
Mattie leaned in toward me, and, as always, met me half way.
His lips touched mine and butterflies exploded in my stomach a million times worse than they had the first time. I wasn't sure if it was because we had both grown up or because I had waited so long to see him again. Maybe it was because something was there that hadn't been years ago, but this kiss was a million times more earth shattering than the first.
And this time, Davis and Poke and Bobby and Kyle and Brian and Vin and Demitri and Doug weren't all crowded around us like vultures, so we weren't forced to pull away.
When the kiss broke, we stayed seated on the old wooden bench, our foreheads pressed together. Mattie's eyes were closed and neither of us said a word, but it wasn't necessary for us to. Everything I needed to hear from him had already been said when I was seven years old. Mattie said he'd be there whenever I felt alone. Maybe not physically, and I understood that now. But suddenly, my small town in the suburbs of New York and his big town in the heart of North Carolina didn't seem so far away anymore. It might not be as simple as pressing a button on a walkie talkie, but there was still always a way to get to him.
Mattie stayed in town for a couple more days and we spent every waking moment together. He eventually went home, but I saw him twice more that summer. Once in July and once in August, we each drove about 320 miles (Mattie headed north and me driving south) to meet each other half way between New York and North Carolina.
I started college that following autumn and finally left my home town where I'd spent all my life. I met new people and saw things that I never would have seen had I not gotten out of my house on Hill Street, but nevertheless, Matthew Hartman remained my best friend and (as everyone from our childhood had expected early on) boyfriend. He was the one thing that remained constant.
Monahan Field was solid proof that things change more quickly than anyone could hope, but it was also proof that memories stay with you forever. With friends and memories like I had, I was absolutely positive that I'd never feel alone again.
So hopefully you guys liked that, as I had a lot of fun writing it, and hopefully you were able to stomach the extreme cheesiness. Again, sorry about that one.
Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed throughout this story. You've got no idea how much I appreciate it.
Feedback would be wonderful if you guys get the time. I love reading your reviews just about as much as I love plots where two childhood best friends fall for each other (incase you couldn't tell yet).