Status: in progress.

On Letting Go


Rick chewed at the nail on his left thumb absentmindedly. The dugout bustled around him, upbeat and rowdy because the offense had put up a load of runs early in the game; The win was handed to him on a silver platter. But still, thoughts began to run through his head as quickly as Jackson going for a triple. Cora insisted on attending the game, his game. Rick never got the chance to tell her what he does for a living. What was she thinking right now as she sat in the crowd? He didn't want to think about that. He didn't want to think about anything right now, but just simply focus on going back out there and pitching another clean inning. And still, the thoughts ran through his head.

Reporters bustled around Rick, trying to get a response out of him. "What do you think attributed to the success in this outing?" "How comfortable do you feel with your new secondary pitch?" All of it blended together into an irritating buzz. He answered with as little words are possible, vague answers just to get the media off of his back. As Rick pulled on a tee shirt, he felt a finger jab into the flat surface of his stomach. "God dammit, Justin" He said, but with not much enthusiasm or scolding to it. Verlander stood in front of him, half smug-looking and half friendly. His usual expression. "Looked good out there today, Ricky" He complimented. Rick flopped down in the chair next to his locker and sighed. "Thanks, man."

Verlander nodded and pulled up a chair across from Rick. "Somethin's up though, I can see it in your face. The second you stepped into the dugout you frowned right up," He observed, looking at Rick carefully. Rick said nothing. "C'mon man, you gotta tell me. If you don't, I'll hafta blackmail you or something," He continued, sounding almost like a child that isn't getting his way. He looked at Rick expectantly. Rick cracked a smile and leaned back in his chair. "Dude, you don't have anything on me," He said confidently, tucking his hands behind his head. Verlander narrowed his eyes and gave a mischievous grin. "I may not. But I know where you're ticklish at," He spoke before lunging forward and attacking Rick's sides. Rick began to flail around, slapping at Verlander and shouting for him to stop in between gasping laughter.

Finally Cabrera came to Rick's aid just when his face begins to turn a deep red color. "C'mon, get offa him", He says, hooking an arm around Verlander's narrow waist and pulling him up easily. "You like a big kid, pickin' on the lil' ones", Cabrera accused with a big grin, shoving at Verlander's shoulder. Justin scoffed, saying "He's as big as I am!" Rick sat on the ground quietly, trying to get his breathing back to normal and listening to the conversation with an amused expression. Cabrera just pointed his finger at Verlander, eyes narrowed, but with that grin still on his face. "I'm watchin' you", He said, backing away slowly.

Rick picked himself up and resumed his normal post-game routine like nothing happened, because he knows that Justin will continue to question him until he gets what he wants. So when Verlander begins with "You gotta-", Rick calmly tells him "Her name is Cora". Justin seemed to be taken aback by the bluntness of the statement, so he sputters momentarily before regaining his composure. "And she's amazing," Rick added. Once he started though, he couldn't stop. Words began to flow out of his mouth like a broken dam and he wasn't sure that he wanted it to be repaired. It felt good to talk to someone, even Verlander, about what was going on in his life.

"And now I don't know what to do. She wasn't supposed to find out this way." Justin shrugged his shoulders up and shook his head. "Sorry Ricky. I know I bugged you about it but now I don't know what to tell you. I can say 'you shoulda told her' but it doesn't really matter now. What matters it what you do to fix it and how much effort you think this girl is worth." Rick rubbed a hand over his face and sighed. Verlander continued. "It's like pitching. Forget the bad outing. Who cares how many runs you give up? As long as you go back out there and give it everything you got, it'll get better. That one bad outing will be a thing of the past." And that was probably the best girl advice that Rick had ever received.
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I'm sorry guys, this chapter isn't my best.