Catherine-8 years old
Tyler, Jace, Austin – 10 years old
I wore a light purple t-shirt that I tucked inside my white shorts. I had already slipped on my running shoes, and my hair was pulled up into a ponytail to make sure it wouldn’t go to my face. I was all geared up for play. I just needed to wait.
I sat at the end of my bed, hands clasped together, watching the clock intently When the big hand pointed to the number 9, I jumped up and ran out of my bedroom.
It was fifteen minutes before four in the afternoon. I heard Jace telling Tyler and Austin they would go to the clearing inside the forect at this time.
I ran down the stairs and out of the front door
I was right. They were already walking away with the other boys around their age.
I stopped at the top of the steps and counted how many there were.
One, two, three,…. seven, eight, nine.
Yes! There were only nine! They would need one more!
I skipped the stairs and ran fast to
follow them, but I was not even halfway to the packhouse grounds when Mom saw me
“Catherine, sweetheart! Where are you going?” I stopped in my tracks and turned around, smiling widely at my beautiful mother, whom I didn’t see by the bushes, cutting some leaves from the flowers she was cultivating
“I’m going to play with Jace and the gang,” I answered confidently as if I were part of their gang.
“Sweetheart, Marcia and Harlene are just inside the small pavilion. I’m sure they would love to play with you. Let Jace play with the boys.”
Marcia and Harlene were two years older than me, and they would sometimes check out the boys. I liked looking at the boys, too, especially Tyler, but I wanted to play with them more
“But I want to play baseball, not nail polish.”
I heard someone snickering behind me, and when I turned around, I saw that the boys had stopped walking.
“No, Catherine’ Not today” Jace said.
“You need one more You’re only nine!” I insisted
“Jace’s team can be four And Tyler’s team is five. We play like that. You will just be a liability to your team.” Austin explained.
I ignored Austin and looked at Jace, clasping my hands together “Please, Jace. Dad spent so much time practicing with me so I could hit the ball.”
Jace grunted, but then he nodded. I
jumped up before I turned around, waving at my mother. “See you later, Mom.”
“Jace, look after Catherine” Mom reminded him.
“Yes,” he grunted again as he began to walk
“Tyler…” Mom said in a slightly lower
Tyler smiled at Mom before he responded. “I will, Aunt Clair ”
I didn’t listen anymore and began walking ahead of them, skipping my way to the forest and the clearing because I knew today would be a good day.
When we reached the area where we would play baseball, Tyler was told to choose his first member Of course, he took Austin. And Jace took Marshall until only me and Meynard were left
I wanted to cry because Jace never smiles when he’s the team captain in a game, and it makes me scared to make mistakes.
I wanted to be on Tyler’s team.
“I’ll take Catherine,” Tyler said, and Austin grunted, but I just stuck out my tongue at him.
In the end, I was the first to bat the ball; of course, Jace was the pitcher
I held the baseball bat in my hands tightly while my eyes squinted. Since this was just a pup’s baseball game, the rules were simple hit the ball and run.
Jace threw the ball, and I swung my bat with all the confidence that I had.
Nothing. But air
No one said anything. No one made a noise except for the movement of someone throwing the ball back at Jace, and I could feel my cheeks burning. I wished they all had laughed instead so I could throw angst at them.
The silence was killing me It was more embarrassing.
Tyler went beside me and gave me instructions. He reminded me of things Dad taught me, and I just nodded my head, my confidence surging up again.
My eyes roamed the clearing, wanting to see where I would aim the ball so I could at least run to first base. And then, before I knew it, Jace was hurling the ball at me, and like the first one, I hit nothing but the air.
“Come on, Cat! You can do better!” Austin clapped his hands twice, and I just swallowed. I was sure Jace was not throwing the ball too harshly, I was just not as good as I thought.
My eyes watered as I positioned my body again, gripping the bat tightly, but my tears were already threatening to fall.
Tyler came and stood behind me, and his arms went around me. He adjusted my hands, aligning my knuckles, and reminded me to use the pressure of my fingers to steady the bat and not grip it too tightly. He adjusted where I should hold it and told me to keep eye contact with the ball. “Remember, if you miss this, you will be out until we all finish batting. That will be boring just to watch Now hit that ball and show us
who’s the boss here”
I nodded as I bit my lips, wetting them as I positioned myself again, making sure my eyes were focused on the ball. If I were to miss this, I might not get the chance to join them again.
“Ready!” I shouted.
Jace threw the ball, and just like that, I hit it!
I screamed and jumped, throwing my fists in the air, until I realized they were shouting at me to run. My eyes widened when I saw the ball caught on the top of the big tree, and they ran toward it
My little feet thudded against the ground as I did my best to run and reach first base, but it was too far I practiced hitting with Dad but never running. Why did they have bases too far from each other?
My eyes watered when I reached the first base because my little legs were already tired, but they urged me to keep running.
Run. Run. Run.
Until I was already crying. My knees were painful. I had never run this far, and I wanted to regret it already.
“You can do it!” Tyler was running beside me, urging me to continue. I kept shaking my head, wanting just to stop, but my feet kept running because Tyler was running with me “Good job, little tyke Almost there!”
My sobs filled the air, and my vision was already blurry Dad wanted to train me to run to build my stamina, but I didn’t want to, and Mom agreed She wanted me to enjoy being a pup for several more years before I started training But then I should have done it, so my feet and knees wouldn’t hurt so badly
I wiped my tears. I wanted to stop, but Tyler kept pushing me to run.
And then he left me. I wanted to cry more because he showed how fast he could run while I was as slow as a turtle
But then, when he reached the home base, he stood on it, made a half crouch, patted his thighs, and kept urging me to continue.
I saw Marshall throw the ball in Meynard’s direction, standing beside Tyler, and I knew if he caught it, I would be put out, and all my running would be wasted.
Tyler opened his arms, and I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but I knew he wanted me where he was, so I did what I needed to do ran my fastest before – I threw my whole body at him.
Tyler’s arms wrapped around me as we
fell backward at the same time Meynard caught the ball. He was about to touch the base, but my foot was faster, extending to touch it.
Applause rang in the air along with chants and hurrays from both teams. Only then did I let my whole body weight fall on Tyler’s as I began crying. Loud Like there was no tomorrow
I was tired. I couldn’t breathe. My knees felt like my bones were dislocated.
That was the last time I played baseball with them.
*END OF FLASHBACK
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