I’ve decided to share a flash fiction I wrote a while back with you all on the blog. For those of you who don’t know, a flash fiction is a story in 1000 words or under. Cap-tivated (the flash fic I’m sharing today) comes to 971 words.
Note: I’m under no delusions about my romance writing skills, just so we’re all clear from the outset. I just know that the way to get better at something is to practice, so here’s to practicing and jumping out of the comfort zone and writing romance even though you don’t really know how to write romance.
She sported that awful St. Louis Cardinals tee and baseball cap the first time Cal saw her in the fifth grade. Any decent person would know better than to wear Cardinals stuff in Chicago Cubs territory, but Cal supposed that it was more proof that she was not a decent person.
It was just another Saturday of backyard ball with Jimmy, Nate, and Alex. Cal had struck Alex out twice and was about to start on a third thanks to his wicked curveball when she came up to the edge of the yard, baseball glove in hand and Cardinals cap shading her face. “Hi’ya! Do you have room for another player?”
The other boys looked to Cal. His yard, his job to get rid of the girl. He rubbed his thumb across the baseball and shrugged. “Ah, nah, two-on-two works pretty well for us.”
She adjusted her cap. “Oh, okay. Well, I’m Molly. I just moved into the house two doors down, so just give me a holler if you have room for another player.”
Cal nodded, as if they would ever want a girl underfoot for one of their games, and she disappeared down the street with an overly cheerful wave. Trying not to smirk, Cal wound up for his next pitch.
But she came back the next Saturday. And the next. And the next. And every single Saturday after that, even when it was raining. Always in that awful cap. And each time, the other three boys would look to Cal to handle it. His yard, his job to get rid of the girl. And each time, he’d come up with something to send her away.
But then Mom happened to be there one day when Molly showed up, and all hope was lost. “Cal, you let this sweet girl play with you,” Mom said before disappearing inside.
Sweet girl? Psh. Just look at that cap! There’s nothing sweet about her. But he had no choice. Molly bounced up to Cal. “Can I pitch?”
He shot a glance at the kitchen window. Mom’s silhouette lurked by the sink, probably watching their game with her Mom-eyes. Crud. No getting out of it. He reluctantly tossed the ball to Molly, teeth grinding. “Sure.”
The summer before high school Cal’s friends went off to camp while he stayed home. He sat on the swing set in the park, baseball glove on one hand, baseball in the other. One week in, and it was shaping up to be the loneliest, most boring summer in the history of summers.
A pair of tennis shoes appeared in the corner of his eye. “Hi’ya, Cal! Your mom said you’d be here.”
Mom, why do you do this to me?
Molly ground a woodchip under her shoe. “I thought we could maybe play some catch.”
He glanced up and took in her dusty, summer appearance. Two braids, an ever-present smile, and that awful Cardinals cap. She didn’t seem to ever change as the years passed. It was either that or he couldn’t get past that hat. “Eh, I’m not really in the mood.”
But she wouldn’t let it go. She straightened her cap and flipped a braid over her shoulder. “Or you could finally teach me that curveball.”
Of course she had to mention his famed curveball. It was like she knew he couldn’t resist the offer. She was that annoying. But by the last week of summer when his friends came home, Molly was throwing a better curveball than Cal, and Cal was carving a C and an M into a tree in the park.
“Tonight was really the best, babe.” Molly toyed with the brim of her Cardinals cap as they pulled into their driveway.
Cal shot her a smile and killed the engine. “I’m glad you liked it.”
She laughed. “I loved it. I still can’t decide if it’s harder to believe that you, Cal Foster, took me to a Cardinals game, or that it took four years of marriage for you to finally get around to it.”
“You know I work in baby steps.” He opened his car door. “I just wish you would have let me buy you a new cap. That one’s a mess.”
“Agh, Cal, this cap has so much sentimental value!” She pulled the cap off and gave the brim an affectionate brush.
“Then I can get you a glass case for it.”
She rolled her eyes. “Let’s pretend you didn’t say that. Anyway, babe, I’m gonna need some help getting out of the car.”
“Ah, right.” He swung his door closed and went around to her side. With a grin, he took her hands and helped her stand.
“Phew.” She put a hand on her rounded stomach, breathing a little hard. “He’s going to be a big boy.”
He led her up their front steps. “Boy? Since when did you decide that it’s a boy?”
“He carries so differently than Emma did, and Emma needs a little brother.”
Fishing the keys out of his pocket, he quirked an eyebrow at her. “That sounds so scientific.”
She grinned and twisted the end of one of her braids. “It is. And, your mom agrees with me.”
Cal groaned as he pushed the door open. “Of course she does.”
Molly kissed his cheek. “And, also, I got Emma a little something special while you were getting refills.” She smirked and wandered inside, dropping her purse as she dug some cash out of her pocket for the babysitter.
As she disappeared into the kitchen and started chatting with the sitter, he opened her purse to find a toddler size Cardinals cap nestled next to the baseball she caught at the game. He rubbed the cap’s red and white stitching. “Well, boy or girl, this next baby gets a Cubs cap.”
Cap-tivated was submitted to a magazine and rejected in June 2017, and so it shall live out its days on Penprints. :)
Thanks for reading! You can find my published flash fictions here.
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P.S. – here’s a shout out to my favorite sister-in-law, Janie, who came up with the adorable and brilliant title for this story!