Did I Mention I Need You? by Estelle Maskame

  The game breaks into play at exactly 7:30. I’m not sure what I’m expecting, but the game starts off relatively slow and ends up being rather tedious. The first two innings are a total waste of time, with neither team gaining any runs. The most action I see is a Red Sox player get to third base. He’s tagged before home plate. By the second half of the fourth inning, the Yankees have two runs, the Red Sox have three. No home runs yet.

  Snake keeps slipping out for more beers every twenty minutes, and by the sixth inning, I’m considering him impaired. I’m not sure why the staff at the stadium keep on serving him. Drunk or not, he still manages to sit down in his seat without swaying too much.

  “This game sucks,” Tyler murmurs.

  “ ’Cause you’re losing,” Snake slurs, smirk lopsided. “Losing, losing, losing. Losing bad. Losing so bad.”

  “We’re only down by one run,” Tyler shoots back. He folds his arms across his chest and slumps further back into his seat, sighing. “We’ll catch up, trust me.”

  The sixth inning drags on and I’m really starting to wonder why people find baseball entertaining. The Red Sox gain another win and Tyler keeps on groaning from my side. The other Yankees fans around us also seem to be growing impatient, and it’s not until the break between the sixth and seventh innings that everyone seems to liven up.

  Suddenly and out of nowhere, our section seems to go wild. People start yelling, and people start cheering, and people start whistling. Someone behind me grasps my shoulders and shakes me around carelessly, whooping in my ear. From my left, Snake is howling with laughter, chuckling so hard he ends up spilling his beer. He covers his face with his hand and points his beer over in the direction of the video board.

  My eyes immediately follow. Up on the video board, in front of Yankee Stadium and in front of fifty thousand people, I see myself. I see myself and I see Tyler. I see us surrounded by a pink border with love hearts. I even see the word “KISS” flashing over us.

  I shift my horrified stare to Tyler. He looks back at me, eyes wide, his forehead creasing. Snake’s still laughing and our surrounding audience are still cheering, but all I can do is sit there, absolutely paralysed. Maybe I’d find it hilarious, too, if I did see Tyler as just my stepbrother. Maybe then we wouldn’t look so panicked. I can’t laugh about any of this, though, because I really do want to kiss him, but I just can’t. I can’t because Snake’s here, because there are fifty thousand people around us, because this game is being televised.

  Burying my head in my hands, I shake my head firmly. I feel so humiliated. The cheering turns to booing and I’m too afraid to even sit up again, so I steal a quick glance through my fingers instead. I’m so relieved to discover that Tyler and I are no longer on the screen. Instead, there are now two guys frantically locking lips.

  I meet Tyler’s eyes. He shrugs back at me, but his mouth is gradually forming a small smile. “Why us?” I groan as I run my hands back through my hair. “Out of everyone here, the camera had to land on us?”

  “That was hilarious!” Snake yells, leaning forward to look at us both. He pats my back with his free hand, hard. “So awkward.”

  “Tell me about it,” I mutter. I shrug him off me and he returns to drinking the remainder of his beer. I look back to Tyler again, but he’s only staring at me intensely and smiling.

  After a moment, he looks back to the field as the seventh inning comes into play. His smile never falters. I want to ask him why he seems to have enjoyed our embarrassing moment, but he’s so focused on the game again that I doubt he’ll answer me.

  The Red Sox end up gaining their fifth run, putting them three runs ahead, and then there’s the seventh-inning stretch, where the stadium sings “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and “God Bless America” in unison. I don’t join in, mostly because I’m not in the mood to, but Snake and Tyler have absolutely no apprehension whatsoever when it comes to getting on their feet and singing alongside everyone else.

  The Yankees’ performance in their half of the seventh inning is a pathetic excuse for baseball, but by the eighth, something clicks. They gain three runs while the Red Sox gain none, and when Derek Jeter is up to bat, my heart pounds faster than usual. Each time he swings, I get this strange sort of flipping sensation in my stomach that makes me feel like I might hurl. The nervous excitement that’s consuming me is so overwhelming that I fear I might just pass out from it, my knuckles paling from how hard I’m gripping the edge of my seat. Tyler is calm the entire time, only ever groaning and shaking his head when Jeter’s home run never seems to happen, and as the game draws nearer and nearer to a close my excitement turns to panic. By the ninth and final inning, it’s 5–5. Derek Jeter still hasn’t hit a homer.

  The Red Sox have the top half of the inning again, but they totally blow it. I wonder if it’s because they can feel the tension around the stadium or if they’ve just genuinely turned to crap as the game has progressed, but either way, they have three strikeouts before any of the players even get the chance to leave home plate. And when the Yankees move to offense for the bottom half of the inning, the Red Sox fans are definitely worried. Snake’s cursing under his breath while he anxiously squeezes his cap in his hands.

  The Yankees, however, aren’t much better. They do progress at one point, only when Mark Teixeira makes it to second base, and he lingers there while Derek Jeter comes up to bat. That’s when I start paying more attention. It seems as though it’s his last turn at batting for the game, which means there’s not much hope left for my deal with Tyler. Our deal only stands if Derek Jeter gets a home run, and so far all he’s managed to achieve during this game is reaching third base.

  He saunters over the dirt to take up his position at home plate and my heart starts to race. He’s wearing an ankle support, but it doesn’t seem to stop him from kicking at the plate as he adjusts his helmet. Everyone around us suddenly gets to their feet—all but the Red Sox fans, of course—and Tyler reaches for my arm and gently pulls me up. He flashes me a knowing grin, a hopeful one. We both turn back to the field, and I’m not sure about Tyler, but I’m definitely holding my breath. Jeter swings a couple times before nodding and raising the bat, hovering it just by his shoulder, his stance strong, eyes narrowed. The pitcher hurls the ball toward him, but he doesn’t swing, only shakes his head. This happens again on the second pitch. In a last-ditch attempt at keeping the spirit up, the stadium starts to chant, the noise echoing all around me at once. Derek Jeter’s name is called over and over again, with applause in between, and I join in with the rhythm. I can hear Tyler chanting too, and there’s nothing to be heard except for the yelling of Derek Jeter’s name. Everyone is focused on him and nothing else.

  The Red Sox pitcher lines up once more. Raising his leg, he draws back the ball, and in one fast jerk of his arm, he propels the ball toward Jeter. I stop chanting. I stop chanting because I stop breathing, because I’m squeezing my hands into fists so tight I think my fingers might snap.

  And then, in the space of a split second, there’s a thunderous crack.

  The entire stadium stops yelling. Even the Red Sox fans get to their feet, everyone’s eyes wide as the ball soars across the field. I keep my eyes trained on it as it moves, backspinning toward left center field. It’s almost in slow motion and I part my lips as Tyler presses his hands to his head. The ball flies over the Yankee Stadium letters, over the video board. It’s out of the park.

  More importantly, it’s a home run.

  The stadium erupts. The stands above me begin to rumble again and the thundering roars from all around deafen me. Teixeira strolls back to home plate while Jeter follows, jogging at a calm pace. There’s no rush. The Yankees have just gained two more runs, and have inevitably won the game. Somewhere in the excitement and mayhem of it all, I find myself jumping and cheering in celebration. Beside me, Tyler is grinning as he whistles, and when he catches me looking at him, he throws an arm around me and pulls me in close. I can’t stop smiling, either. The atmosphere is e
lectric and I don’t think I’ve ever experienced something so energetic. It feels so incredible to be here at Yankee Stadium in New York City celebrating a Yankees win over the Red Sox, with the crowds so thrilled and with Tyler right by my side. Derek Jeter got his home run. My deal with Tyler still stands, and in this exact moment I don’t think my summer can get better.

  I steal a glance to my left. Snake’s on his feet, too, but he’s not celebrating. He’s arguing with the Yankees fan sitting directly behind him, his words slurred. Tyler’s still cheering next to me despite the fact that I’ve stopped, and I quickly throw Snake a warning glance, but he doesn’t take notice. Instead, he jabs his finger into the chest of the Yankees fan. And that’s it. That’s all it takes.

  The Yankees fan retaliates by throwing his beer at Snake, and Snake immediately throws a punch. Before I even get the chance to move out of the way, the Yankees fan throws himself over the row and tackles Snake to the ground, knocking me sideways. I fall into Tyler, who promptly catches me by my waist. I glance up at him, but he’s not looking at me. He’s glaring at the fight that’s broken out right next to us, his jaw tight, eyes narrowing. Hands still on my waist, he moves me over to the right.

  Snake and the Yankees fan are on the ground, fists spiraling through the air, all while everyone else around us switches from cheering to oohing. The girls in the row in front of us let out screams as they try to get out of the way, but everyone else seems to encourage the fight. When I fire my eyes back down to Snake, I realize he’s on top of the Yankees fan, repeatedly hitting the guy’s jaw before catching his nose. Tyler jumps in at that point. He grabs at the back of Snake’s jersey, attempting to pull him away, but before he even gets the chance to, another Sox fan jumps over the row of chairs and punches Tyler square in the face out of absolutely nowhere.

  “Hey!” I yell. I reach out for Tyler, but he jerks away from me and throws a punch back. It doesn’t make sense at first why some random guy has decided to hit Tyler, but once I notice all four jerseys, it becomes clear.

  Snake’s a Sox fan fighting with a Yankees fan. Tyler’s a Yankees fan, too, and I highly doubt anyone would believe he was trying to help Snake. It’s not surprising why another Sox fan would get involved. He’s backing up Snake, a fellow fan, while believing that Tyler is backing up the other Yankees fan. It’s messy, with punches being thrown all over the place, and Tyler gets clipped on the corner of his eye.

  My temper heats up at the mere sight of seeing Tyler get hit, so I do my best to intervene. I reach for his jersey and try to tug him away from the Sox fan’s punching range, but someone tosses their drink into the brawl and it hits my shoulder, soaking my shirt. I gasp, releasing my grip on Tyler as I’m knocked backward. I land on the ground with a painful thud and I hit my head against the seats. For a moment, I sit there, slightly dazed and unable to get back up. All I can think is that Snake’s an asshole when he’s drunk.

  When I glance up, there seems to be a lot of yelling, and I realize security are breaking up the fighting. There are around four security guards and two cops, and it takes four of them alone to split up Snake and the Yankees fan. Tyler and the Sox fan break it up themselves, but they’re still grabbed and dragged out onto the stairs, nonetheless. One of the security guards even reaches for me, yanking me up from the ground by my elbow without much consideration for the fact that I’m in pain. He almost dislocates my shoulder as he pulls me along the row, twisting my arm in ways unimaginable.

  The five of us are escorted away: me, Tyler, and Snake, plus the Yankees fan and the Sox fan, lips busted and eyes swollen. Section 314 starts to chant “BOSTON SUCKS!” as we’re led away, and they’re all cheering. Public fights are always entertaining unless you’re part of it.

  We’re guided back down the stairs until we’re inside again, and the security guard holding on to me seems to trust me enough to finally let go. Snake’s yelling and muttering as we all walk, and I’m mentally daring him to shut up before he makes the situation worse. My stomach twists at the realization that we’re most likely going to be arrested for assault or battery, and I’m starting to wonder if perhaps I should take the opportunity I have right now to inform the security guard by my side that, in fact, I didn’t do anything wrong.

  For some reason, however, none of us ends up in cuffs and in the back of a cop car. None of the security guards or the two cops says a word as they take us down all the flights of stairs, straight back down to the Great Hall. All they do is promptly shove us outside, turning their backs on us and heading away.

  It’s growing dark by now and as we take a moment to realize what’s happened, the Yankees fan calls Snake an asshole and I think they might just break into a fight again, but they don’t. Snake only shakes his head and walks over to join me as both the Yankees fan and the Sox fan head off, their heads hung low.

  Tyler stuffs his hands into the pockets of his jeans and saunters over. “Nice one, moron,” he mutters. His eye is slightly swollen and red, and Snake’s cheek is cut open.

  “Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Snake says. He shrugs, attempts to gently nudge Tyler, and then sighs. “Game was over, anyway. You won. I get it. Whatever, whatever. Shut up. Don’t mention it. Let’s go home. I wanna sleep for, like, two days. Two days or two months.” He turns around and starts to make his way across the road toward the subway station. He’s not all that well balanced, and he sways as he walks.

  I shoot Tyler a sideways glance. He appears almost apologetic, but he also looks worn out and defeated. He manages to offer me a smile. “Did we really just get kicked out of Yankee Stadium?” I ask. “Did we really just get kicked out of my first ever baseball game?”

  “Well,” he says, “at least you’ll never forget it.”

  We follow Snake over to the station, and I quickly discover that there’s a benefit to being kicked out of the game before the end—the subway is quiet and there are plenty of empty seats on the downtown 4 train. Snake’s too lethargic and drunk to even talk to us, so he spends the entire journey back to Manhattan with a scowl on his face. Even when we step off the 6 train at the Seventy-seventh Street station he doesn’t wait for us, and I realize he’s a total sore loser. He marches his way down Lexington Avenue and turns the corner onto Seventy-fourth Street, and we lose sight of him after that, but it looks like he’ll get back to the apartment long before we do. Tyler and I are strolling along at a much slower pace, despite the fact that we’re not talking. It still feels comfortable, though.

  It’s after eleven by the time we reach the apartment building and the sky is a deep blue. The streetlights are casting a warm glow over the sidewalks, and Tyler comes to a halt by his car. The Honda Civic has disappeared, leaving an empty spot in front of the Audi, allowing Tyler to reach back for my wrist and gently pull me in front of the hood. He doesn’t say anything as he does this, though, only smiles at me in the dark, his teeth bright. Carefully, he pushes me against the car.

  He’s grinning now, his emerald eyes sparkling. Pressing his palms down on the hood either side of me, he traps my body between his and the car. His gaze meets mine. “So Derek Jeter got that home run, huh?”

  He looks at me so sincerely that I can’t help but blush, because, as always, we’re not really talking about Derek Jeter or baseball or home runs. We’re talking about us and we’re talking about the deal we made: the deal that just so happens to now be in play. Now we’re getting our home run. “I guess so,” I whisper. I can’t raise my voice any louder.

  Tyler nods and drops his eyes to the ground, still smiling. It’s as though he’s nervous too. While I wait for him to say something, I study the veins in his neck and his arms, noticing how they stand out right now more than they usually do. I only look away when I sense Tyler glance back up to me, and when he does, he furrows his eyebrows and asks, “Why didn’t you kiss me?”

  “Tyler . . .” I sigh as I struggle to form words, surprised by his question. Shouldn’t the answer be obvious? Swallowing, I shift my gaze to his hands
either side of my body, and I place mine on top of his. I don’t look back up. “You know we couldn’t,” I say, finally. “Everyone was watching.”

  There’s a silence. He pulls his right hand out from beneath mine and runs his fingers up my thigh and then my arm, slowly. The sensation of his skin, warm against mine, seems to set my body alight. His hand reaches my shoulder, and delicately he reaches up to cup my jaw. It’s at that point that my eyes flicker back up to meet his, gazing anxiously back at him from beneath my eyelashes. With a lustful expression pooling in his eyes, he dares to breathe the words, “No one’s watching right now.”

  Pushing his body against mine, he lifts his other hand and pushes his fingers through my hair, and in that split second, his hot breath brushes my face. He crashes his lips to mine, eager yet gentle, and he kisses me deeply straight from the get-go. It’s so sudden yet so familiar, and I can’t stop myself from sinking into him. It’s the first time he’s kissed me in almost two years, but it feels like it’s only been a couple of days. Everything is exactly like how I remember. The movements of his mouth against mine, my body trembling beneath his touch, both our hearts pounding against our chests. Throwing my arms around his neck, I pull him closer to me, pressing my lips even harder into his, my fingers tangling into his hair. His hands drop from my face to my thighs, and he grips them tightly as he lifts me onto the hood of his car, pushing my body back as he does so, knocking the Yankees cap off my head. His touch is electrifying, his lips even more so, and the power surging through my veins right now makes me feel euphoric. Tyler groans softly just before he bites down on my lower lip, kissing me carefully once before I feel him smile against the corner of my mouth.

  Before he captures my lips with his again, he whispers against my skin, “I hope Dean’ll forgive us.”


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