“You’re thinking about going,” Mr. Morgan dropped his gaze to the apron dangling from James’ hand. James looked down and nodded. He lifted the apron and extended it to Mr. Morgan. To his surprise, Mr. Morgan took it. “Don’t expect you’ll need that apron where you’re going,” he said.
Mr. Morgan couldn’t possibly know where he was going, James didn’t even know. James frowned, he wondered what Mr. Morgan saw that he couldn’t see.
“Everything else I gave you, you can keep, though.”
James frowned more. Mr. Morgan had only given him an ice cream sundae and some tokens. James shook his head.
“Well, like the advice I gave you when I told you to choke up on a bat. If what you’re handling is too big, choke up. Place your grip where you can manage it even if the hit isn’t as strong as you want.”
James’ gut began to swirl. It wasn’t bile, it was something childlike, the yearning of a boy who’d always wanted something but never got it.
“Or like when I told you to step back off the plate so you can gain perspective. Step away, look things over. Find out what you didn’t see because you were too close.”
Tears pooled in James’ chest. He thought Mr. Morgan had been teaching him to play baseball all those years, but he wasn’t. He was teaching James about life. James looked down, stared at the toes of his shoes.
Mr. Morgan moved close, his head near James’. “And I said don’t believe everything you hear. I know I said it about here in this restaurant, but it’s true everywhere. Don’t.”
James swallowed. A wad of saliva too large lodged in his throat. He gulped. The tears came up against it, creating a lump that was huge and painful.
Mr. Morgan put a hand on the door’s handle. He turned sideways, ready to go back inside. “One more thing.”
James looked up. He knew his eyes were red, but he wasn’t ashamed. Not in front of Mr. Morgan. His place was safe. “What’s that?” James cleared his throat.
Mr. Morgan moved his hand to James’ shoulder. “I told you once your mama’s got heart, and that heart’s in you.” He paused, he looked hard into James’ eyes. “And she’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known. She is. I meant it. And that you can believe, wherever you hear it. She gives you value. Hold onto that.”
—An excerpt from “Asked For,” a soon to be released novel from Colleen L. Donnelly, author of “Mine to Tell.” http://www.amazon.com/Mine-Tell-Colleen-L-Donnelly/dp/1628300027/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408929089&sr=8-1&keywords=mine+to+tell