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Today's Story by Cary Tennis

Out there in the field are the burial sites of dreams, and it is good to go there because you can scream.


You could walk out onto the baseball field at dusk and you could stand at home plate and look out over the trees and hear the freeway and dream of getting out of that town one day. You could hear the birds and smell the air and taste the dust and pick up a bat and swing it and dream of getting out of that town one day. You could yell as loud as you wanted and no one could hear you because it was so far away from the houses. There was a bruise-colored sky and the white scuffed plate was the color of bone, and under the field you could sense the bodies of those who had never left, who had gotten stuck in somebody else’s dream and stayed to put cars on a lift and grease them, or stayed to put soup cans in a bag with rice and saran wrap and help people take it out to their cars, or stayed to put on a blue uniform and clank down the street day after day, or stayed to ask, Would you like some more coffee, hon? Or stayed to raise the kids or put new roofs on. Buried out there in that field of dreams were the bodies of those who did not dream or dreamed but stayed anyway, held by the taut tendons of memory and family and doubt or held by the absence of propellant, held by nowhere else to go, having no maps and no pictures of Paris, no traveling shoes, no copy of On The Road, no thumb big enough to attract a Cadillac on the Highway, held by love they fear will die if they go, held by darkness, held by an accent that will sound out of place anywhere but Birmingham, Alabama, held by threats that the house they leave will not be there if they should return, held by the voice that says you’ll never have it this good again, the voice that says they don’t like people like you out there, the voice that says nobody from this town goes there, those people are strange, you can’t live like them, they’re animals and devils and communists, held by the blankness that falls over their hearts when they think beyond Mississippi, held by the river itself across which they cannot drive without tears, held by the one better than her you will never find, held by the invalid crying out for insulin, held by the scoffing and guffawing of locals at the store, held by inferior fashion and crooked teeth and paralyzing self-regard, held by insomnia and fear in the night, held by no gas and no tires and no money and no job.

Out there in the field are the burial sites of dreams, and it is good to go there because you can scream and you can sing Johnny Winter songs and no one can hear you and say, “You will never go anywhere and even if you did nobody would want you and you would just have to come back.” You can go there and you can walk over the graves of all those suffocated dreams. You can wander around in the outfield, catching the ball in your glove, tossing it and catching it and thinking about the Greyhound bus schedule, and how long it will take to save the money, and what time you will leave, and what you will pack, and how you will tell no one until you are gone.


Cary Tennis is the advice columnist for Salon.com

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