Coping with disappointment

He was born with a birthmark just under his eye. It was red and shaped like the claw of an all bit forgotten bird. While his parents had hoped it was a scratch from the birthing process, the likes of which would fade with time, this was not the case. Bringing in the new millennium, was the curious and ever increasing occurrence of babies bearing claw shaped birth marks. All marks were a fierce red and did not fade with the passage of time. Alfred Apstley Jr. was a carbon copy of his grandfather on his mother side but for the beauty spot, where “an angel slipped when applying lipstick” – his mother said. In the years to come; friends of the family, teachers, parents, sports coaches and girlfriends would all hear the same story. Whenever Alfred heard his mum repeat those same words, he’d compulsively touch the mark. Beyond affectation, this gesture and attention would cause his face to warm and contort in mild discomfort. Alfie’s career as a baseballer was cut short by a calf strain the game following a triple on debut. As a shy rookie, he’d shown promise coming through the UCLA youth team and then finally transferring to San Fran on a scholarship. It wasn’t until he hung up the gloves and returned home to Seattle that he realised just how much he’d missed the familiar wide-open streets and the coastline stretching down through Tacoma. He’d set out one morning on foot, intending to grab a bite to eat and stretch his legs – but continued to walk south for miles. He was dressed in a white shirt with thin red stripes and a baggy set of old jeans which he’d tucked into his socks. His body washed ashore months later, bloated and punctured by rough tides. His parents identified him by the mark under his eye which had expanded to resemble a bloated red-stained tear that had welled in the socket and rolled from side-to-side.


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