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Fiction

Waiting Room

“The sky is gray.”

Sound reverberated in a large space of oddly arranged seating but he was sitting so quietly. I had noticed him even before entering the room. He was the kind of fixture I would have expected to see in such a place as this. He could have been waiting for a train, or sitting in a large government building. But it was here, and I guess a therapist’s waiting room too has its place — and a disquiet that sometimes gets played out even as we wait.

“The kind of gray,” he continued, “that colors everything with the threat of annihilation. Perhaps that’s only a feeling. Not the gray but the tragic end.”

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Ten Years Younger

The movie was over, the credits still rolled. We all moved towards the exit with just enough light in the theatre to scroll over the darkness. No more movie magic, no more colorful faces, no dialogue; we were only a vast quiet of hesitant voices and shuffling shoes, a sleepy movement brushing against a dirty and drab carpeting.

My brother was ahead of me in the double file, momentarily paired-off with one-half of another couple. He eventually slowed down to join me, but we exchanged no words, no look. I was eight, he was eighteen. I could feel a sudden chill from the outside coming from the open doorway, sucking us out of the dark and spitting us out onto the sidewalk. I turned my head, but not quick enough. The theater had already transformed itself into an imposing concrete wall. The night air hit us. We were on our own.

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a baseball kind of hero

He was a boy, a baby really, not more than a few months old, still in diapers, a pacifier dangling from his mouth.

She was wearing a baseball cap that collected in its palm a bundle of blond curls with some red highlights.

He stood at the plate, legs apart and knees slightly bent, his bare toes solidly sinking into the drenched dirt.

The rain fell in puddles, there were no boys left in the field. She stood in the center of the mound ready to sink to the bottom of a river to throw him a ball. The sweat and dirt on the girl’s knuckles were eating away at the already beaten leather of the baseball. The ball was dry at its core, heat-dried from the girl’s touch. She was fired up but bathed in the pouring rain. Her bare toes tore away at the earth beneath.

Poised on his tiptoes, the boy balanced a very large wooden bat.

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this is where paris baseball is played

Baseball is played along an impressive line that cuts Paris in two. This line, which starts with a castle in the Bois de Vincennes and ends with another one in Saint Germain-en-Laye, travels along Rivoli and the avenues Sainte-Antoine and Champs Elysées. It is threaded by the Arche de Triomphe and the Grande Arche at La Defense, it cross stitches the palaces and gardens of the Louvre, and is held taught by the jumping boy on the golden pole at Bastille.

If you whip this line across the ocean, you’ll find Yankee stadium or maybe Fenway Park, another set of palaces for a decidedly different set of people. Or perhaps you’ll hit an old abandoned ballpark in another French speaking city, Montreal.

But you don’t have to leave Paris to play baseball. Simply go deeper into the woods of Vincennes and navigate through hundreds of soccer fields where you’ll find two regulation baseball fields and a single softball field. This is where Paris baseball is played.

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A Gray and Difficult Day

As I stared at the Bastille one typically gray Paris day, I wondered what would happen if I were to carry an American flag during Paris’s labor day parade. I say parade, but in French the word for parade can also translate into march, protest, or demonstration, probably also into riot if we were to take into account that a French manifestation often results in a riot. The paranoia behind my flag idea clearly made me think of protest, in the sense of raising my middle finger: Surely, me raising my flag would be some sort of protest against some sort of annual parade already set up as a protest.

I was therefore left with the impression that carrying an American flag in a French labor day parade would cause an uproar, or worse. Life here is so complicated.

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