Dreaming With Open Eyes
By Doc Walton
The old man sat still, his focus far away. He was day dreaming a day dream, one from long ago. In that state of mind so like a trance, he seemed to drift away and live that long ago moment again. It was one of his favorites even though it was but a dream itself.
“Today’s lesson, Class, is a review of how to diagram a sentence. Billy Pendergast, we will begin with you. Please come up to the board and diagram the sentence I have written there.”
In the fourth row, end seat closest to the window, Billy’s best friend Danny Wyatt turned his gaze out the window as Billy shuffled to the front of the class. Danny knew Billy had this one cold. They had studied together the night before. There was something happening out there on the ball field Danny could just see in the distance. Someone was raking the infield smooth. Good, Danny thought, you get nice even hops that way. Danny pictured himself at shortstop, his preferred position, scooping up a double bouncer and transitioning into the hard throw to first. “Got ‘em by a step” the announcer would shout. Then he saw himself coming to bat later in the inning. Man on second, one run down. A quick glance into the stands behind the dugout to see if she was watching. She was. Sitting between two other girls, she was the only one Danny’s eye caught and in that instant he could see the flush of her cheek and the excitement in her eyes. Danny would make this at bat for her. He ran the count to 3 and 2, having fouled off two curve balls. Now with the count full Danny knew he could expect some heat and he got it, low and inside. Danny uncoiled quick as a thought and got the sweet fat part of the bat on the ball. He watched as the orb flew high and deep, hugging the foul line, but never drifting over. “Gone!” was the announcer’s cry, “and this one ain’t coming back!”
He would meet her after the game, hold her hand and walk her home. But they wouldn’t go straight there. They would stop at Mickey’s Malts so all the other kids could see they were together. After that, somewhere on the journey home, they would stop under an old oak and she would lean her back against its trunk. He would kiss her then and she would kiss back.
“Danny! Danny! Wake up, the teacher was shouting. It’s your turn at the board.
The old man remembers that rude awakening, it’s part of his now here in the moment silent reverie. He is about to linger awhile on that long ago imaginary kiss, make it as real as he can with his eyes wide open, but just as he does so another voice intrudes, an actual voice, not a memory. “Dinner is ready” this one says.
The old man reluctantly returns to reality and walks towards the table.