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Guest Writer

Strike three
by Andrea Vitner

chilly blast of air blew through the slatted stairs, whistling with melancholy as a marriage unravelled.

The couple, leaning on opposite railings of the stairway, glared at one another, fighting to be heard over the gusts. They sparred that night as they ascended the creaky, metal stairs of Shea Stadium.

They'd had seats on the third-base line. First row. For free. It had been a pleasure to enjoy the ballgame from such a perfect angle. While the sun shone, it was a marvelous mid-April day in New York. But the sun had set and the husband received a call on his cell phone. Friends, who were supposed to be at the game hours before, had just arrived and were seated in the third tier. Far away from the front-row seats.

For reasons unknown to the wife, the husband demanded that they give up their coveted seats and ascend the stadium stairs to meet the tardy friends. The wife inquired and the husband, instead of discussing the matter, sharply commanded her to stand up and follow him.

With each floor the air felt colder, the wind more cruel, the gusts louder. The wife couldn't decide if the tears in her eyes were from the stinging cold air or from the disappointment of giving up her perfect stadium seat.

Or, was it yet another matter – a very large decision that had been placed on her shoulders only hours before?

Four hours prior to the game, the wife had received a job offer in Portland, Ore. It was not only a step up in her career – she had longed for a managerial job – but it was, perhaps, a solution to the nagging sensation that her three-year-old marriage had become so unfulfilling and downright painful when her husband would berate her to remove the tensions of his workday.

As the two grabbed onto opposing sides of the railing and ascended the 10th flight of stairs, the wife's chest heaved with desperate breaths. The air was too cold for her lungs to comfortably inflate.

The wife looked across the stairway, observing her husband. Amid the sea of strangers, some holding popcorn, others clutching plastic tumblers of beer, the wife saw that the man she had committed her life to had become camouflaged by the sea of unknown faces.

She called his name. "Jack."

"Relax already, we're almost there!" he snapped impatiently.

"No, it's not about the new seats."

"Well, speak up, because I can't hear you over this damn wind."

She hesitated. "Oh, never mind. I'll tell you later."

Her heart pounded with excitement and fear. She knew his reaction to her announcement would not be pleasant. For the moment, she focused on the ballgame far below.

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