It's the bottom of the 9th. The bases are loaded, the other team is up by 1, and it's your son's turn at bat. You're hungry, but you try not to let it distract you from the weight of the moment; after all, your son's father said he would be here today but mysteriously was unable to make it at the last minute. This is hardly surprising, but you owe it to your son to pay double attention today to make up for his deadbeat dad that you regret ever having children with.
“Come on Seven!”
Seven wasn't your sons jersey number, but rather, his name. It was some dumb idea that your ex-husband came up with based on a show that he liked to watch, and now your son is stuck with it forever.
He'd sit there laughing at the antics of the cast, but you never understood the show...it seemed to be about nothing.
You refocus on the game. Seven is probably about to strike out, but, god dammit, what if he didn't? What if the pitcher throws it right over home plate, nice and slow, and Seven swings for the fences and wins the whole thing. Would it make up for the absence of his father? No, but it sure would be nice.
He hit it! And it's really going out there! The ball sails up, and up, right into the outfield, almost to the fences, and then, straight into the glove of Masyn Noah, your son's arch nemesis. That little bastard. That little monster. That demon sent straight from the depths of hell to torment you and bring misery into your life.
The umpire performs the ritualistic hand gestures to indicate that the game is over. Masyn caught the ball, and Seven, having come so close to securing the victory for his team, slows to a stop after first base, defeated. The opposing team rushes to the pitcher's mound and jumps for joy; they were advancing in the tournament, and your son's team was no longer in contention.
Both teams return to their bullpens for the customary end of game snacks, scarf them down, as young boys do, and eventually return to their parents.
Seven finds you on the bleachers, lost in thought.
It's not really Masyn's fault that you hate him so. It's his mom's fault for being the hottest girl in high school, dating all of the hottest guys, and eventually stealing your first love from you. Masyn symbolizes all that is unjust in the world, and for that, you will never forgive him. Not him or his wretched mother. Masyn must pay. He must! But not now.
You take Seven's hand and begin the walk back to the car.
“Mommy did you see my hit?”
“Yes honey you did a great job. It's too bad that hellspawn caught it, but you tried your best.”
“It's ok mommy, Masyn's a really good outfielder.”
You seethe at the thought of your son complimenting his arch nemesis, a child you hold in such contempt.
Your skin flushes and your heart rate elevates, but, thanks to the magic of Valium and years of intense therapy, you manage to keep it together.
Your son discusses some inter-team politics on the way home, and you nod your head, pretending to listen but entirely distracted by both your hatred of Masyn Noah, that pre-pubescent scumbag, and the hunger gnawing in your stomach.
You stop off at the mailbox before pulling into your driveway.
Bills, bills, custody papers, bills.
Hey, a coupon for a free manicure!
You make a mental note to treat yourself sometime soon. You deserve it after everything you've been through today.
Your son runs to the front door, lets himself in, and heads for the shower. Good thing too, not only because he smelled like a locker room, but also because this gave you an opportunity to finally have something to eat.
Maybe some food would take your mind off of Masyn and the daily war he wages on your psyche.
Looking through the cabinets, you see the usual well-stocked pantry of a single mother. Seven deserves the best life you can provide for him, and that includes cabinets stuffed with Pop-Tarts, Cosmic Brownies, and several forms of cheese cracker at all times—besides, that child support has to be spent on something, the court mandates it! And you're nothing if not a law abiding citizen.
You were hoping for something a little more nourishing than cheese crackers and Pop-Tarts though. Maybe something like...A-ha! You remember a can of Season Premium Brisling Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil that you had tucked away behind the various crackers and gummy snacks for an occasion such as this.
You fumble through the shelves, looking for the storied package, and eventually find it, appearing exactly as it did when you first deposited it, because, of course, your son had no interest in eating tinned fish (yet.) You've tried to explain to him how if he would give them a chance, he may like them, and the protein and other health benefits may give him an edge against his arch nemesis, that vile creature Masyn Noah, but he always looked confused. You're not sure he even knows what an arch nemesis is, or that Masyn is his sworn enemy, but no matter, you pull the box from the pantry and grab a plate and a set of chopsticks, your favorite utensil for canned sardines.
Plating the sardines up with a hard boiled egg and some small gherkins, you can't help but feel a little bit proud. Of course the thing you're most proud of is your son, despite his ridiculous name, and the fact that 50% of his DNA is his father's, but, 100% of what's on this plate looks good, and that puts this meal right up there in second place in your hierarchy of pride.
You use the chopsticks to split a sardine down the middle, and then convey it to your eager mouth. The nearly odorless fish are a welcome respite from the sweat-laden trip home, but their lack of odor translates into a distinct lack of taste. The fish are small and well built, with firm but tender bodies, and a medium texture. Their spines are extremely small and unnoticeable, which for you is a good thing, and their tails, while present, are soft.
Feeling adventurous, you grab a pickle, half an egg, and a fish at the same time, hoping to impart some flavor to this snack, and find that to be much better, though a bit of a mouthful.
You peer at the pretty box resting on the table next to your plate, and are reminded by the label that these sardines are apparently “lightly smoked.”
You'd like to “lightly smoke” Masyn Noah but if you left it up to the folks at Season he would probably mistake the smoking process for a trip to the sauna and emerge unscathed.
“Mommy can I try a sardine?”
“Yes, of course baby.”
You smile sincerely, fish scales and egg yolks caking your teeth.
He grabs a sardine and bravely takes a bite, and then another.
“Mmmm these are pretty good.”
The time has finally come! The day of reckoning! The turning point!
With the power of sardines Seven can grow up big and strong, and finally defeat Masyn Noah in hand to hand combat as you've always dreamed!
“I'm so happy you like them dear! Here, take the rest!”
You leave the chopsticks to him and rush to your computer to place an order for a sardine variety pack on Amazon.
This is the way.
This is the way that you will defeat Masyn.
You'll make your son so happy and healthy that he leaves Masyn crying and destitute in the dust.
You laugh quietly to yourself for not thinking of this sooner.
“What's so funny mommy?”
“Nothing dear, eat your fish, more is on the way.”
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