THROUGH THE VEIL by Colleen Halverson
“Nice catch,” he said, grinning.
I flung the apple up into the air and caught it in my other hand. “I played third base. Little League.”
“You mean baseball?”
“Never seen a game myself.”
I gaped at Finn. “You mean you live in Chicago, and you’ve never been to a Cubs game?”
He shrugged. “Not interested.” Finn’s eyes lit up, and he shoved me playfully with his shoulder. “Now hurling. That’s a good game.” “Well, they’re totally different. That’s not even a fair comparison,” I said with a sniff. “Fair enough,” Finn said, wistful. “Really, nothing can compare with hurling.”
I laughed. “Moiré tried to explain the rules to me once, but she lost me after hurley stick.”
“Oh, it’s simple, really.” Finn jumped down and rummaged around the rubble until he found a large branch. He swung it, the stick cutting through the air, slowly at first, but then with more force. Finn’s chest muscles rippled between the flaps of his leather jacket, and my blood pulsed in my ears at the sight of him, dancing from foot to foot as he practiced his swing.
“Now the point of hurling,” Finn began, “is to use this stick, the hurley stick.” He raised the old branch in the air. “To get a little ball called a sliotar either over or under your opponent’s goalpost.” Finn picked up a handful of small rocks and, using his “hurley,” sent a pebble whizzing over the stone wall, inches from my head.
“Hey, watch it!”
Finn smiled up at me. “You with me so far?”
“Now,” Finn said. “If the ball flies under the goalpost into the net, it’s worth three points.” Finn sent another pebble skittering against the wall, right next to my boot. “But you have to get it past the keeper, and that can be a challenge.” His eyes glittered at me as he swung his stick again. He threw a rock up in the air and with a loud thwack sent it zooming over the wall. I held out my hand and caught the stone, the look on Finn’s face making up for the sting of impact.
“And he’s out!” I cried, jumping off the wall and doing a mock victory dance. “Cubs win! Cubs win! Wooooooooooooo!”
Finn stalked over to me and grabbed my fist. “Will you settle down!” he said, attempting to pry the pebble from my grip. “I’m trying to teach you a three-thousand-year-old art form and you’re nattering on about the fecking Cubs.”
I giggled, snatching his hurley stick from his hands.
“Technical foul!” Finn barked behind me, but I sprinted away, swinging the hurley over my head as I climbed the wall.
“Get back here, you brat!” Finn bolted after me so quickly, he lost his footing on the stone wall and tumbled to the ground. I laughed as he came to his feet, his hair loose, chasing me.
“It’s the bottom of the ninth, bases are loaded!”
Finn made a snatch for the stick, but I feigned to the right. “Tanner’s up to bat.” I climbed a set of old stairs to nowhere and tossed up the stone. I popped out my hips and, following through on the turn, sent the stone flying over the hill and down the cliffs below. I jumped down, swinging my baseball/hurley bat. “Homerun by Tanner! And the Cubs win the pennant!”
Finn smacked into me, and I collapsed to the ground, his wide body over mine as he grasped for the stick.