Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Summer (the season) (07/09/09)
- TITLE: Betelgeuse
By Loren T. Lowery
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Wearing his high school baseball uniform, Brad Mason stands on such a mound. The late night game is ended and the stadium is dark and silent – the air still warm from the August sun
Fireflies quietly blink over the gray-toned grass while crickets chorus the night’s dark beauty. Squinting, Brad looks up, inhaling the air. One hand stretches out as if to reach past the quarter moon and into the stardust spanning the sky.
The sound of tire’s over gravel breaks the silence and a car’s headlights punches through the chain link fence, throwing fractured light across the field. Music, “Also sprach Zarathustra”, glides through the opened window. The car stops, lights and engine switched off.
A figure gets out to stand at the fence, hands raise, grasping the metal links. “Hey, Brad, you doing okay?” It is Don, Brad’s best friend since grade school and pitcher for the team.
Brad continues to look into the sky. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“You pitched a good game.”
“We still lost.”
“Yeah, we did.” He pauses. “Shaffer bought some beer, everyone’s down at the lake...”
“I’m fine here.”
“So you say, look I got my mitt and ball in the car. Let’s pitch a few. I’ll switch on the headlights.”
Brad glances over. “Sure.”
Moments later, the field is swaddled in a herringbone of light and shadows.
Don approaches the mound, Strauss’ tone poem impregnating the air around them. “How come you listen to that?”
“Got hooked watching Kubrick’s ‘2001 Space Odyssey’. Anyway it beats Tammy Wynette’s ‘Your tears have washed I love you from the black board of my heart’.”
“That was Hank Thompson, not Wynette.”
“Whatever.” He backs up to home plate. “Come on, show me what you got.”
Swoosh, thwack. “Good one; could feel the heat.” Don rolls the ball in his hand, grunts and throws it back. “So, what’s eating you, Brad?”
Swoosh, thwack. Brad catches and throws the ball in one quick motion. “Do you believe in God?” His question follows the ball through the air.
Swoosh, thwack. “Right over the plate.” Don looks at the ball. “I thought about it, sure.” He shakes his head. “No, I guess I don’t.” He heaves the ball back.
Swoosh, thwack. “A little outside. Why?”
Swoosh, thwack. “Bad stuff happening all the time. Back up, I’ll throw you a pop up.”
Thwack. “So, He’s not real, because bad things happens?” He examines the ball and knuckles it. “Fast, inside, curve.”
Swoosh, thwack.. “Perfect. That’s about it.” He twists his arms back. “Straight back at you.” He throws the ball. “So, what do you think?”
Swoosh, thwack. “You remember Mr. Sanders talking about Betelgeuse in science class?”
“Well, I found it tonight.” He points upward, “It’s there, in the summer constellation of Orion, just like he said.”
Don thumps his glove, waiting the next pitch. “So?”
“It’s beautiful, Don. Billions of light years away and beautiful.”
“So, what you’re saying is that because Betelgeuse’s beautiful, God is real.”
“Pop up, to the left.” He hurls the ball. “Not only real; but good, too. Real because like Mr. Sanders said all things have to have a beginning, even the stars. He said you find it by following an infinite casual regress – and to me that cause is God.”
Swoosh, thwack.”And He’s good because?”
“Because when I see something so distant like Betelgeuse everything else seems so, I don’t know - small, insignificant.” He bites his lip. “There was a scout in the bleachers tonight, watching me pitch. I blew the game by not getting that last out. It could have meant a scholarship, taken a lot of pressure off the folks…”
“It was only one game.”
“Yeah, only one game. Quit hogging the ball and throw it.” Swoosh, thwack. “When I came out here and looked up, everything, the game, the scholarship, my folks being disappointed, all seemed unimportant.” He pitches the ball back. “God made something over a billion years ago that He knew would make me feel good right at the moment I needed it. It blows my mind.”
“So, you’re saying our tears can never wash God’s love from the blackboard of our hearts.”
“No more than Zarathustra could disprove the existence of God.” He hurls the ball.
Swoosh, thwack. Don smiles. “Betelgeuse, huh?” He chucks the ball back. “Tell me more.”
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