Anticipation filled Robin as Tuesday evening’s softball game approached. She and Wendy drove to the ball field together. They pulled onto the gravel lot and when they arrived, disappointment rushed over Robin as she realized Matt’s truck wasn’t there. She wondered if he decided not to come. She wondered if he decided to stand her up. Insecurity turned to anger as she thought about how she didn’t need the headache or worry of such trivial things.
A calm inner voice spoke to her mind clearly reassuring her be positive. But, the conversation with Wendy echoed in her brain planting seeds of doubt. She just knew she couldn’t deal with more heartbreak. Drama was not her style either.
The dugout filled with co-workers little by little. Robin made her way to the group of people as Wendy stayed behind and spread out a blanket on the warm grass. Others sat with Wendy. Some brought lawn chairs.
The police department’s team congregated in the outfield. Colin Baker walked to the children services dugout. He had an insatiable crush on Robin. He had a genuinely sweet disposition. Robin owed him a lot, too. She had always been aware of the crush, but she wasn’t interested in him romantically.
He approached with a grin.
“Ankle doing ok?” he asked kindly.
She smiled as she watched his curly blond hair blowing in the warm breeze. With a nod, she sighed and put weight on it.
“I think I’ll live. Thanks for asking. By the way, I can still run pretty fast, so you guys better watch out.”
“Oh,” he chuckled, “well I’ll have to make sure I keep up with you this evening then.”
Just as Matt predicted, her ankle healed without complication. She was thankful for that, but being cooped up in the apartment made her feel like a caged animal; it brought out the worst in her. The few days off of work helped her build some much-needed strength though. As much as she didn’t want to admit it, she needed a break from work.
Soon 6:00 turned into 6:15 and Robin’s anger grew, the calming inner voice overridden by frustration. Being stood up made her feel completely humiliated even though she was the only one who knew that plans were made for Matt to see her play ball.
As she stood in the outfield fuming, she heard the roar of a diesel engine and the gravel crack under the tires. She glanced over to see the white truck pulling in.
The game continued as the opposing team took the field. Happily, Robin ran to the dugout looking forward to a drink of water.
Still put off, she made no effort to go to Matt. The anger seethed from her. Again, the inner voice spoke up telling her to be patient.
From the corner of her eye, she saw him sitting on the blanket with Wendy and some of the other spectators. Robin stood, her shoulders squared and her arms folded defensively. She continued watching as he excused himself from Wendy’s presence and walked toward her.
He wore a pair of dark washed jeans, black Converse high top tennis shoes, and a plain gray v-neck t-shirt. He wore aviator sunglasses and his head was down as he continued walking briskly toward Robin. The wind blew his hair everywhere. His shirt clung to him, his upper body muscles cutting through the fabric of the cotton shirt. Robin’s heart sped up.
Nonchalantly, she turned her head toward him. He smiled and waved. She smiled superficially and walked to meet him.
“Hey,” he said as she got closer, “I’m sorry I was late. I went to the wrong field. When I realized kids were playing, I knew I was in the wrong place.”
“It’s okay,” she lied.
“Really, I’m sorry. I didn’t want you to think I wasn’t coming, so I tried to call your cell, but you must have already been on the field.”
“Really, Matt, it’s okay. Mistakes happen, right?”
Shamed by guilt, she realized she hadn’t checked her cell phone before going onto the field. He smiled and then took a deep breath.
“I was wondering if you wanted to watch me bowl tomorrow night. Some of the doctors and nurses formed a league. We meet in Oxford every Wednesday night.”
Pleased with the invitation, she grinned, “Sure. What time?”
“We start at 6:30. I usually go right to work afterward, so can you meet me there, otherwise I’d pick you up myself.”
“I can meet you there. That’s no problem.”
With grins, they parted and she made her way back to the others. When she reached the dugout, she looked in her bag. Sure enough, a missed called from Matt showed up on her phone at 6:03. A text from him at 6:08 said, “Got lost. OMW to the field.”