by Teresa Tumminello Brader
If you hit it over the fence, that’s an out: nobody wants to retrieve the ball from the neighbor’s slobbering Great Dane. Daddy and the oldest of my brothers, both lefties, have to bat right-handed; Daddy even runs to first base backwards. Because there are only six of us, my youngest brother announces, “Ghost runner on first,” as his spot in the batting order comes up. After he’s bunted the ghost to second and beaten out the throw — he’s small and quick — my little sister whacks the ball into the corner of the yard behind the air conditioning unit, clearing the bases of all runners, phantom and human alike. Daddy pitches to me, lobbing the ball gently over the dirty rubber home plate. Though I’m the oldest, I get four strikes; and I never ever have to worry about hitting it over the fence.
Teresa Tumminello Brader, whose full catalog is here, was born in New Orleans and lives in the area still. Her stories have appeared most recently at 971 Menu, Debris Magazine, and Bare Root Review.