The Cubs making the World Series brought Amy’s grandmother in from heaven to watch.
It started with a twitchy hair on her forehead.
Amy Smith was busy; too busy to usually notice something as small as a passing itch. But it was such an odd sensation that when it happened more than once, she took note.
“What is with this goofy hair?” she said, abandoning her husband on the sofa to inspect her forehead in the living room mirror. This was the third time she had felt the tingly pull, as if one little hair were being teased with static electricity.
“Huh?” her husband said, his attention on the World Series coverage blasting from the television set. The Cubs were about to lose the series if they did not pull off a comeback, and he was wrapped up in the drama.
“Nothing,” Amy answered, inspecting her hairline. She had a sudden, panicky thought. Oh no, what if it’s bugs? What if one of the kids brought home lice?
Amy began a frantic search of her scalp, fighting back panic and mentally making battle plans if it turned out to be the dreaded lice. A few minutes of careful searching turned up nothing, and the worry began to subside. To be on the safe side, however, she checked both kids before putting them to bed. Clean heads all around.
Her husband was still watching the ball game when Amy returned to the living room. She was surprised he was watching at all. The Smith family were strict St. Louis Cardinals fans, but the legendary 108-year drought that the Cubs had endured fueled interest in the Series. Plopping herself down on the sofa next to her husband, she tried to let the once-in-a-century drama take her away, but had little luck. Amy could not stop thinking of her grandmother.
Grandma had been gone for over ten years, but Amy remembered her vividly. A quiet, calm woman, Grandma had possessed a kind face and placid demeanor that camouflaged her strong opinions and quick wit. Grandma had loved coconut cream pie, General Hospital, and the Chicago Cubs.
Amy had spent many long summer afternoons watching the Cubs with Grandma, time passing like molasses through the humid Oklahoma air. Grandma sat quietly, inning after inning, watching with her bright eyes and letting out delighted giggles when the Cubs scored a run. Amy could still hear it in her memory, all these years later.
The hair twitched again, and Amy rubbed at it irritably.
The next morning, the hair went tingly again. Amy inspected the spot that felt funny, and saw nothing. On the tv in the next room, the news began coverage of last night’s baseball game. The hair went wild.
What if I’m having some sort of weird brain thing? Like a stroke, or something? Amy wondered. She did not really think that was the case, but the twitchy hair had leveled up from passing odd to downright annoying, with no cause that Amy could find. Rubbing the spot on her hairline, Amy did her best not to think of it.
The twitching came and went many times over the next few days. Amy ignored it as best she could, and most of the time she achieved it. She was busy at work this time of year, and the evenings had been long. By Friday when she met two friends for dinner, Amy had convinced herself the twitchy hair was caused by stress, somehow.
Over dinner, Amy’s friend Laura told them about all the cardinals that had been visiting her yard lately.
“Someone in heaven is visiting you,” remarked Sarah.
“What do you mean?” Laura asked.
“When a cardinal visits you, it means someone in heaven is visiting you,” Sarah explained.
“But there are dozens of them in my yard,” Laura said. “I don’t know that many dead people!”
The three friends laughed at that, but Sarah remained convinced. “If there are a lot of them, it just means that someone in heaven is visiting and thinking of you a lot,” she insisted. “Cardinals are drawn to that otherworldly love.”
“‘Otherworldly love.’ I like that,” Laura said. “Maybe when the Cubs win the Series my husband will turn off the tv and give me some otherworldly love!”
The three friends broke into peals of laughter.
“Is yours wrapped up in the Series, too?” Amy asked Laura.
“Wrapped up?” Laura said, incredulous. She began to unzip the hoodie she had worn into the restaurant, revealing a Cubs shirt underneath. “I’m not allowed to change my shirt until they win, because apparently this is somehow good luck.”
Amy and Sarah laughed harder than ever. Amy did not even notice the hair twitching this time.
Tuesday morning found Amy awake early. Her husband was up as well, preparing for the day and grumbling about having to work late and miss most of the final World Series game. Amy gave him a kiss and promised to text him updates before sending him out the door and settling into her favorite chair next to the kitchen window.
She was sipping her coffee and thinking idle thoughts when a cardinal fluttered down from the cedar tree in the yard and began pecking at the ground. Amy immediately thought of Sarah’s claim regarding cardinals signaling heavenly visitors. After a moment, two more flew in to join their comrade.
As Amy sat watching quietly over the next few minutes, over a dozen cardinals flew in and began to scratch contentedly at the ground. She was watching them, mind floating, when the spell was broken by the cardinals suddenly taking flight.
At that moment, the hair on Amy’s forehead tugged and twitched more violently than ever.
“Okay Grandma!’ Amy called out in frustration. “I get it! You’re visiting me! You’re excited that the Cubs are in the World Series! I’m happy you’re here, but please quit yanking my hair!”
The twitchy tugging stopped.
That night, Amy lay alone while her husband worked late, dozing in the half light from the television. The game was on but she slept through most of it, sound turned low to muffle the announcers. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Amy snapped awake, hair twitching insanely.
“Okay Grandma, okay,” she muttered at the darkness. “I’m awake. Let’s see what’s up with your Cubs.”
It looked like a lock. It was the bottom of the eighth with the Cubs up 6-3, two outs. Cleveland would need a small miracle, or the Cubs would need to throw the last inning, to mess this up. Amy snuggled back into her pillow.
“It’s all good, Grandma,” she said. “Your Cubs got this.”
The hair gave a yank, seeming to insist that Amy pay attention. She finally sat up and watched in shock as the bottom of the eighth inning turned the whole game on its head. The Indians scored three runs, leaving it tied up at the end of the ninth. Game Seven was going to extra innings.
Amy could not believe the rally. The Cubs might not win. She had not thought she cared which team won this year, but now that the Cubs were faced with possible actual defeat, Amy felt strangely worried. She wanted this win for her grandma.
Sitting up, Amy grabbed her cell from the night stand and texted her husband the developments from the game. The hair twitched again as the game returned from commercial break, yanking at her scalp insistently. Amy put aside her phone and it stopped.
Her husband came home while it was still the top of the tenth, and they finished watching the game together. When the Cubs won the whole stadium went nuts, the hair on her forehead going warm and extra tingly for a moment before the sensations faded away. Amy simply grinned at her husband, who looked pleased and said, “Good for them. They waited long enough for it. I’m going to take a shower.”
Amy expected the twitching hair to go into overdrive, but it never happened again. As soon as the Cubs won, the twitching stopped. Amy felt just the smallest bit letdown, but she understood and felt grateful. She never thought she would get to watch the Cubs win the World Series with her grandma, but now she was certain she had done exactly that.