Last night I played baseball. I played baseball in a dream.
It was near the end of batting practice. I stood in shallow center field waiting for a ball, but nothing was coming my way. Then a left-handed hitter came up, so I jogged over toward shallow right field. As I ran, the fluidity of my pumping legs, the miracle of movement, amazed me as it had never done before the accident. I knew I'd been crippled, and now I was cured, but my dream self didn't ponder the details.
Suddenly, the lefty hit a choppy grounder past the second baseman. I lacked the lateral motion to get to it, but I flung out my arm anyway. Astonishingly I made the grab. I skipped forward and launched the ball toward home plate. It had been so long, but my body remembered the motion from the thousands, perhaps millions of times I had performed it in the past. The throw was off target, but did it ever fly! Mediocre though it had been, that was the most satisfying play I could remember.
The practice ended, and Mr Ritz, my high school's varsity baseball coach, stood by the backstop picking up stray balls. I jogged toward him, anxious to talk. Sobs choked my throat and blurred my vision as I approached him. "I've played baseball so many times in my dreams. It was incredible to finally do it again in real life. Thank you." The irony was lost on my dreaming mind.
Then I woke up. Then I cried; not a lot, just a few more salty drops on my already tear-stained pillow.