Liz knew all too well that assumptions killed dreams. She assumed that her pregnancy with Cameron would bring her a happily ever after. That David would propose and they’d marry and have a happy family.
The dream was so clear she saw Cameron following in his father’s footsteps. First the Pee Wee league, then Little League. David and Liz would sit in the stands and beam with pride when Cameron was up to bat at the Little League Championship.
In less time than it took a person to sneeze during harvest season, the dream was dead. David’s best friend pulled Liz out of her anatomy class to drive her to the hospital, not once giving a hint of what she was about to face. He said David was injured by a stray ball in practice. Liz assumed a variety of injuries. Not one of them included the possibility of death.
Liz learned from that mistake. She was foolish assume happiness was intended for her. It was a gift bestowed upon many, but for some reason chose to elude her. Liz wasn’t bitter, but she was wiser. So it didn’t surprise her when Dirk disappeared. At least this time, he had the decency to say goodbye. A trail of dust rose behind his pickup providing evidence that he had been there. The settling verified the other side of goodbyes. He was gone.
It didn’t matter that much. Liz had a man to occupy her heart. He was little and reminded her of his unconditional love with gifts of frogs, worms, and bouquets of Dandelions. In return, Liz loved him fiercely and made it her mission to protect him the best she could. More times than not, it was from his interminable belief that he had super powers.
“Mom, I bet if I practiced my launch and got the right gear I could fly like those guys on the Discovery Channel.” Liz’s heart skipped a beat. Like his father, Cameron had a vision of soaring to high places. She made a promise in the day he was born that she wouldn’t hold him back. Instead Liz intended to teach her son how to land safely.
“How about this? You just practice the motions softly in here. This way you don’t break the bleachers.” She held in and annoy everyone around us. Cameron’s faced brightened into that I’ll try to get what I want grin. It subsided when she added a terse, “Or I’ll ground your backside to the bleachers.”
Deflated but still determined, Cameron asked can I practice at home?”
Bryce Scott leaned behind Liz to talk to the boys. “How about this? We’ll have a play date, and you and Sammy can practice on our trampoline.”
Liz squirmed. Bryce was a nice enough person, but she didn’t really see herself hanging out with him. As it was he had chosen the eat beside her. She had hoped one of the other parent’s from Cameron’s class would join her. Technically, Bryce fit the bill. Liz sighed. She should have been more specific about her hopes. She hoped a mother of one of the other kids in Cameron’s class sat beside her.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Bryce talked incessantly about sports. Every time Liz shifted the discussion toward something that would appeal to a wider audience, he’d draw a comparison to sports and they were back where they started.
Sammy’s eyes glinted with determination at his father’s suggestion. “I can feel it in my bones, Cameron. We’re one step closer to flying.”
With Cameron’s agreeing nod sealing her fate, Liz’s stomach pinched. She smiled weakly at Bryce. It looks like you three have a plan. Bryce beamed and returned to watching the game. Then both boys sat to discuss their plan.
Liz imagined this was how boys morphed from acquaintances to best friends. It was the adventures they embarked. The success or failure didn’t matter. The companion on the journey determined the alliance.
Her heart pinched again. This time in time from lack. The companion life gave her would one day grow up and leave her. Enjoy the time while you have it, she thought to herself. Time is fleeting.
The top of Liz’s ears burned with the sense of awareness. Someone was watching her. Her eyes darted to the door that separated the basketball court from the concession area. When they landed on Dirk, looking as handsome as ever in his flannel shirt and jeans, her heart leaped. Liz swallowed hard and forced her betraying heart to calm. The last time she and Dirk were together, her heart foolishly yielded to his pursuit. The consequence entailed one week of wondering when he’d call; followed by one week of blushing at her naivety. She knew he was too young. She knew it wouldn’t work. Seeing him with Cameron softened her heart to address the possibility. Maybe, just maybe what Dirk said was true. He had liked her all along and wanted to prove it. Okay, he said liked. He hadn’t said anything about wanting more than a romantic day or two. It was Liz who had assumed his intention.
By the beginning of the third week, Liz had come around. It had felt good to be liked. She also basked in the idea of the cougar. She was the older woman who won some affection from a man who could have any woman he wanted.
Liz tilted her chin to say hello and tilted the corner of her lips to show that no offense had been taken by Dirk’s lack of communication. Thanks to his masculine influence, Liz believed she could be wanted. She glanced to Bryce sitting beside her. Too bad it was by the wrong man.