Maura Lee Bee

Batting Practice

            The room was sparse, and spinning. They lifted their head, eyes squinted. Neck tight, head heavy, their chin craning slowly in circle, like a marble down a drain.

            Black, except for a light at the far end of the room. Through the shadows, they could make out dirty brick, the outline of a shelf. Something made of wood, from a long time ago. The glint of glass: was it a picture, propped in the unit? If they almost shut their eyes, they could see the faint gesture of a curtain. Behind it must have been a window. More shadows, and given a longer look, there were the legs of a steel table. Little bit of light reflecting on the round legs. There was a rattle of pipes, heat kicking on. The hiss of a boiler, as one might push air out of a deflating ball.

            Their arms were tied to a chair. Thick rope, the kind made to tie totaled cars together. Plastic shock caused their body to rattle. Feet tied together in pointed, leather shoes, but not to the chair. More rope at the knees. It was summer, and the skin was exposed. It was slowly turning red from the struggle. Rope tied at the waist, woven under the shirt. Itching under the pressure of perfect posture, back flat against the cold metal seat.

            One footstep. Then two. From a dark spot behind the light, she appeared. She wore a black t-shirt and long black pants. She greeted them. She rubbed at the palms of her hands. The skin was cracking from the dry weather. She shut her eyes, and they could see the dust collecting in her lashes. Her hands went through her hair, guiding her face toward the ceiling.

            She gestured into the darkness. “You like the place?”

            They didn’t respond, but continued to rock their body in place. She walked in a slow circle around the room, taking everything in. Her back to them, she kneeled down to retie her shoe. The bottom of the other appeared to have spikes on it. Leaning on her bent leg, she stood, nose leading her body back to them. She shrugged. “You may as well stay a while.”

            She reached into her pockets and removed something, then extended her hand. “We haven’t officially met.” She smiled. “My name’s Amanda.” Her face got closer to them, close enough that they could see the triangle shaped birth mark just at the corner of her slate blue eye. Amanda straightened, pulled apart what was in her other hand. She put on each glove—white, with a black band around the wrist—and buttoned them on meticulously. She ran her fingers over the final button.

            “Why did you do that?” she asked. Her eyes turned back and pierced through them. The stone burned electric. She kept contained. “They were kind, friendly, probably even liked you.” She averted her gaze over her shoulder. Her foot tapping became an echo on the concrete. Amanda walked to the corner of the room, blending into the darkness. “They were meeting someone, you know.” she called. Her face emerged, the light burning yellow against one side of her face. “Couldn’t you have shown a little mercy?”

            When she walked toward them again, she was wearing a white windbreaker, with parallel black stripes just above the elbows. “After you gave them something, they couldn’t even fight back.” She paced back and forth, her legs blurred lines. “Did you know that the Greeks believed it was dishonorable to kill someone facing away from you?” She stopped. “They believed you should see the disaster coming.” Amanda faced their body, which was completely still. She stepped toward them. “You don’t deserve this pride.” She hovered over them, eyes boring through their skull. Swiftly, she sped back into the darkness, fists balled at her sides, mumbling to herself, the only word audible being “ruined”.

            She slowed into the light, taking long strides, her wrist rotating. The light gleaned off of the metal object. Amanda shook her head. She rolled her shoulders, cracked her neck and back, vertebra by vertebra. Holding it, she stretched her arms above her head, her elbows bent on each side. Back straight, she stared into them. She raised it, fingers gripped around its middle. “Great American past time.” She swung the club in her hands. Her voice shook. She sucked her cheeks in. There were tears in her eyes, but behind it, ferocity. She brought her hands back to the handle of the aluminum bat. In bold white letters, it read SLUGGER. She tapped the bat into her other hand. Thump. Thump. Thump. She smirked. “How’s about a little batting practice, huh?”

            And she just kept swinging. 

Maura Lee Bee is a queer, LatinX writer based out of New York City. Her work has previously been published in Newtown Review, Go Magazine, and Inigo Press. Her first book, Peter & the Concrete Jungle was published in 2017 by Vegetarian Alcoholic Press. When she isn’t busy dismantling an otherwise oppressive system, she enjoys running from her problems, baking pies, and meeting new dogs. Her twitter is @mauraleebee.

JD Thornton