Trevor's Balls 

A big stick held with two hands. Pop, and the ball went flying. That was Trevor. After Dad died, he hit every ball. Thwack. Thwack. Thwack.

"Somebody's got to have balls in this house," Trevor would say. Adam would thwack him. Adam is our older brother, but he never counted much on the ball front because of his sexuality, which is his choice; we support him. And he hates baseball anyway. You'd think he'd like the to watch the athletic men in tight pants. You'd think he'd like the metaphor — after all, he is a double major in literature and psychology at the state college — of baseball diamonds and sexual advancements, but thinking about it, he might call that "patriarchal" or, what's that other word, "hegemonic"?

The house was full of thwacks and Trevor was full of balls. He'd be in the yard. His stick would be dangling over the ground, under the casual rhythm of his palm. And out of nowhere a ball, thwack, gone. I never saw anyone pitch those balls. I don't know if he tossed them himself, gently into the air, cocking his bat as the balls paused at the peak moment of potential energy before free-falling into Trevor's girthy wooden stick. Or what. Trevor said he was giving those balls back to Dad. "This one's for you, Dad. Take my balls." Dad had died violently.

After Dad's gruesome death, Trevor was all about baseball. It was all he talked about, all he did. I remember the days before Trevor left home. After school, he'd heave his backpack onto the kitchen table, pick up his floppy leathery mitt and hard wooden bat and take off fast as lightning to the local park where he would play, sometimes alone, and sometimes with other boys. I'd inspect his backpack before following him to the park, flipping through his spiral-bound notebook and Trapper Keeper, to find no vocabulary words or math problems — only doodles of players and equipment. Adam theorized Trevor was acting out the defense mechanism of fantasy, obsessing over baseball so that he wouldn't have to deal with the loss of his father. I think Trevor was acting out boyhood because boys love baseball. You don't need Freud to tell you that. Adam had other theories for my own eccentricities, but I don't need his Psych 101 shit, I have Dr. Rockbaum, certified psychologist pHdizzle. And Mom, well, she was obviously in denial for a while, but now everything is pretty much on the table.

Death is hard on a family, ya know? When we were pretty little, we tried God for a minute. We went to church where we learned about heaven. The minister said Dad was in heaven looking down on us. I think that's why, when Trevor was eight, he thought his balls would get to Dad, but gravity — and maybe gravity is just a mean trick God plays when people try to access Him or Her — always sent those balls right back down, bouncing once and then twice and then three times on the grass, and rolling for a few moments until they settled, flattening the blades as they did. But we're not into God anymore. After about a month, we didn't go to church and so — except for those moments when Trevor thwacked his balls toward the sky — I forgot about heaven. Mom had always wanted to be an atheist and now that Dad's dead she has a good excuse to be one. "After what happened to Henry," she would say, "would you believe?!" Mom was right. Dad was always the religious one, or at least the one telling us to go to church. Mom was a Jew. Now we're pretty much all atheists. I think Trevor still thinks about Dad when he hits those balls. Maybe Dad's not in heaven, maybe Dad's in the velocity of Trevor's balls as those ripe fruits of animal skin thwack into oblivion.

Still, even without religion, I am learning there are rules. Mom said just because we don't believe in God, that doesn't mean life is a "hedonistic buffet." She said there's no divine moral structure, but there is still a human moral structure. I think that makes sense and so I don't talk about Trevor's balls anymore, except to Dr. Rockbaum, the only person who really understands me. I learned the hard way when I applied to college. Looking back now, sure, I know college admissions probably don't want to know about a girl's sexual experimentation with her brother, but hindsight is 20/20 and besides I'm not ashamed. Like I said, the death of your father is hard on a family and I always thought colleges liked the "overcoming adversity" stories. This is how I coped with hard times. Adam loves dudes, Trevor loves baseball, and I love Trevor. Ok, I'm guilty.

I wrote my college essay about Trevor and me, those times in the shower, those times in the bedroom, and even though I had nearly perfect SAT scores, unbeatable grades, and took fourteen AP classes, where I scored 5 on all the tests except for physics on which I scored a 4 — I think I appreciate the magic of velocity and don't want it reduced to an equation — I still got rejected everywhere except for a small hippie school on the west coast, where I'll be starting this fall. That's okay though, because I think I have hippie tendencies, what with my open-mindedness about recreational drug use and sexuality. I believe experimentation is important for development. Mom gets mad when I say that, "It's not experimentation," she says, exasperated, "It's incest!" I suppose I'm being stubborn. I suppose I'm missing the point, but it's not like we're making three-eyed babies. We just love each other in an intense and unusual sibling way. And besides, Mom should be happy now that I'm going away to the west coast where I'll study radical activism or something equally anti-establishment and Trevor, well, he's been playing minor league baseball for two years now, blowing minds with those wooden thwacks.

My psychologist said my dad's death was the reason I became obsessed with Trevor's balls. Since my dad died before I could properly execute my Electra Complex, I just transferred it onto Trevor. That's why I'm not ashamed about what happened. Word got out, I had to leave my high school and now I'm home schooled for the next month or so, but I'm just like, yo, it's Freudian, not my problem.

Here is Deenah Vollmer reading Trevor's Balls at the Literary Upstart semifinal round:


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