Author's Note: This is my homage to one of the best movies by my favorite director. In case you haven't figured it out yet, this a "Signs" fan fiction. This is set before the movie and revolves around the character Merrill. Please enjoy.
Smooth, golden wood connected with hard rubber and the crowd cheered as the ball sailed into the outfield, its flight barely traceable against the sun-hued sky. It was nearing twilight and the end of the ninth inning, two facts that made the onlookers anxious and fidgety in the dull bleachers. On the field, the players were feeling the hour too, especially the team Graham wanted to win. Their apprehension was understandable thought.
Merrill Hess was up to bat.
The score was tied and there were no runners on base. Merrill was the last to bat. He alone would decide the outcome of the game.
Graham tugged at the collar of his t-shirt.
Beside him, Colleen stood briefly and yelled for her brother-in-law. "Whoo! Go Merrill! Hit it home!"
Coming up from the dug out, his lucky bat in hand, Merrill glanced towards the stands and nodded once, a grin on his face as if to say "I've got it covered". The image of the young star walking towards the plate, his silhouette burned against the late afternoon sky made a charming memory in Graham's mind as Colleen sat back down, clapping her hands a few times in excitement. She always got like this when Merrill played. She had told him once, after his brother had made his first batting record, that when Merrill swung, every movement so fluid and full of thunder, it was like witnessing a little bit of magic. Just before the pitch, the air would go still and you could swear you could hear only breathing. The world held its breath when Merrill batted.
Graham had always secretly felt the same, the emotion all tangled up in his pride of his little brother's accomplishments. Sitting there in the fading sunlight, the field so green in the shadows, these were the moments that would stay with him. When everything else was gone, he would remember this day, this time, this moment. How could he not? Everything was so fresh. Everything was still so new.
Shifting five year old Bo on his lap, Graham directed his attention to the infield, feeling the rise of adrenaline as Merrill took a few practice swings. Bo giggled, her dark hair brushing his jaw and he hugged her automatically, his gaze riveted on his brother. Morgan, sitting on the other side of his mother, brushed strands of dark blonde hair from his eyes and shouted encouragement. "Go Uncle Merrill!"
The first pitch was thrown.
There was no hesitation in Merrill's swing though the throw was clearly a ball. The pitcher knew Merrill Hess' tendencies too well. The team in the dugout muffled groans.
"Come on, Merill!" Colleen called with confidence, though she exchanged a worried look with Graham. "He won't wait," she said, and it was true. Merrill always swung, no matter what. It was just him, his personality. He took the game seriously and he had often remarked that it felt wrong not to swing. Not to try.
Not to believe.
Graham clapped his hands together with the crowd, sending silent strength to his brother though he knew Merrill didn't need it. His younger brother had always been the courageous one with his sheer might balanced only by his youthful kindness. He had the charisma. Graham had the serenity.
The second pitch seemed to tear the very fabric of the air it was so fast. Merrill had never had any trouble with fast balls and this one was no threat. The resounding thwack of Merrill's bat hitting the ball filled the air and the crowd roared as the ball soared and then growled as it was declared foul.
The visiting team was grinning now, sure of their victory. Hess always swings, they crowed to each other, we've got him now. Graham could only smile. He believed.
The pitcher took his time with the third one, no fear in his cocky expression. Ready and waiting, Merrill's gaze was steady, focused, his muscles corded with his grip on the bat. His power was obvious to everyone watching.
And then the air went still.
Magic glittered in the air and Graham breathed it in along with everyone else.
The ball sped away from the pitcher's mound and the world flexed with Merrill's swing. Swing away. And ball and bat connected with a sound like distant lightning. The crowd was on its feet before they even knew it and Merrill was running, running to first, to second as the outfielders tried vainly to follow a speck of white against a blinding sky.
"There's no point," Graham murmured, grinning as if his heart would burst.
Merrill was running home.
His team met him at home plate, shouting and almost tackling him to the ground in their happiness. The other team was just shocked. They would never underestimate Merrill Hess again.
Beside him, Colleen was jumping up and down, Morgan with her, his young face full of excitement. Graham just looked down at his brother, brimming with joy and pride. Surely there was no better man than his little brother.
Merrill's eyes lifted and his gaze caught Graham's through the throng surrounding him and he laughed, full of energy.
Graham laughed with him, sharing the moment, sun setting on the horizon.
"Swing away, Merrill."