This is a work of fiction inspired by the Yeah Write writing prompt: “Whose Side Are You On?”
Even though the day was sunny, it was shady where we played. The trees hovered over us like a canopy and let the sun sneak through when the wind moved the branches. The trees were arranged in perfect spots for us to use as bases.
Rob was the tallest boy in our neighborhood, and he told the rest of us which team to be on. No one argued with him as he held the ball in one hand and used it as a pointer. Rob waved the ball to either side to show us where to go. When I realized I wasn’t on Rob’s team, I was disappointed. Sometimes we walked home from school together, and I thought that meant something.
My team had first ups. Tammy was first. She swung her long brown, wavy hair around while she waited for Rob to pitch the ball. Sometimes the ball went off track if the grass was long, but that day, the ball traveled along as if it was going along a smooth path without bumps to hold it back.
Tammy kicked the ball and sent it towards the outfield high above the other team’s outstretched hands. Tom ran to grab the ball. By the time he threw it to Rob, Tammy was by the third base tree. I saw Rob look at Tammy with a big grin on his face. I thought if she could kick the ball that hard, I could kick it even further.
Roger was up next. A couple of good pitches went by, but after the third one, we held our breath. Roger pulled his leg back as far as it could go and booted the ball high enough to hit a branch. A leaf trickled to the ground and almost touched Roger’s head as he passed by second base. Tammy made it home, and Roger was on third.
My heart pounded when I realized it was my turn. I’d been lucky before and hoped I’d be lucky again. The first pitch looked good, and I decided to kick. I swung my leg back and clenched my fists. When the ball was in a perfect spot, I kicked, and the ball went behind me. I heard someone on the other team snicker and others were talking. I looked up to see Rob shrug. My face felt hot and red.
When the next pitch came, my foot connected, and I felt like I kicked it hard, but it ended up going out-of-bounds. The next pitch was out of my reach.
“That one was a ball,” I said. Everyone nodded. When the next pitch came, I kicked so hard, it went straight in between second and third base and flew over the other team’s heads. I ran as fast as I could to first. My team yelled to keep going. Roger made it home, and when I rounded second, my team was still cheering me on, and I made it to third. I stood tall and realized I could unclench my fists and relax.
“When you let those first couple of pitches slip by, I was beginning to wonder whose side you are on,” the third base man said as he nodded his head over to Rob’s direction.
“Ya, I guess I wasn’t ready.” I wondered why he pointed to Rob and tilted my head down. Was my crush that obvious? Did the third base man think I’d ruin a game because of a crush?
That comment bothered me through the rest of the game and even after we won.