A/N: A short class assignment that I was semi-fond of.










In the harsh summerthere was little room for playing on the packed neighborhood streets. Little old ladies with little old dogs would sit outside and complain about the dirty lines of sweat in the fissures of her wrinkles. The children chattered and screamed in ice-cream and basketball pleasure, their voices like smoke, rising strong and dissipating into weedy wisps above the unlit streetlights. Like an army of little soldiers, or legions of protesters, the girls and boys flooded the Toronto streets; summer was beginning and the chains of spring and schoolwork were torn away. With the trucks of blistering hot metal flashing through the intersections and adults leaving their afternoon shifts, there was indeed little room on the boulevard to play. So, to quench their thirsts for fun and fĂȘte champĂȘtre, the baseball buddies met at Ol' Agatha Field--the place they loved most, where the grass was scarce and red-brown dirt swirled in the lukewarm wind. The aromas of every other kind of dog--whether it be hot, corn, or in a blanket--stretched across Kerrigan Avenue from John Buford's little food stand. It made their mouths water with delight and longing.

Christy was the one to arrive first by running through the midget swamp by the back of their old school (and, consequently, her socks and sneakers were the color of ashes and lead), and then she jumped the trio of fences along the way. She looked like a flashing flame flickering forward, her hair redder than roses and her face perpetually sun burnt. She chewed on her fiery cinnamon gum, waiting, watching, as the rest of the players piled up for the game, and scowled at them for arriving after her (which was an everyday habit). And, as always, there was Heavy Maggie, looking like a lost child. She wore shirts too small and shoes too big, and she reminded Flaming Christy of a owl in slip-ons (with her wide eyes and puffed out bosom). To tell the honest truth, which Christy did, no matter how brutal, she wasn't sure why Maggie was there. The heavy girl ran about as fast as a crippled snail, threw the baseball at the players instead of at their bats, cried when the pitcher struck her out, and breathed like a gorilla with asthma.

"I've got you're bat," Maggie said, and offered Christy the old, splintering bat. Christy sloshed forward in her midnight sneakers, unimpressed by the loyalty.

"I ain't fond of you," the redhead blurted as the pitcher got to pitching and the batter got to batting (It was Teeny Weenie Tyler, so the ball didn't even pass the pitcher anyhow). When the sides switched and Christy came to the front to toss the withered old ball. And she struck the remaining enemy soldiers out with ease. Like a lioness, she took time, aimed, and watched her prey's eyes with ferocity. Her tongue rolled to the side, pinned to the corner of her mouth.

When Heavy Maggie came up to bat, Christy laughed through her two buck teeth. The hot air blew Christy's hair up like a blazing bushel of straw. Maggie held the bat the wrong way, stood on the wrong foot, aimed her elbow the wrong way; the others chanted Flaming Christy! Flaming Christy like whispering choirs. The sun beat them raw and turned their noses red. The baseball caps were tipped, mostly on the enemy's side, for they knew that with Maggie up to bat, they were sure to lose. Christy waited, laughing with her amused stare alone, patting her leather glove with her balled fist encircling the ball. She looked deadly, like a hurricane of cavities and nightmares; maybe even the PG-13 boogieman, or the one who told the little old ladies with the little old dogs to 'can it!'.

"Hurry up!" yelled the umpire, Twitchy George, who's head happened to jitter like a bobble head in the safety of his umpire's mask. Christy made an appalling gesture that a girl should not make, and turned back to the wide girl with evil intent. Maggie swallowed and closed her eyes, her black, bushy eyebrows touching and making a writhing worm.

The first pitch stroke out. The second whizzed by. The third, and it was an out. There was angry cheers all around behind the backstop, and Maggie's wide eye's welled up with long-held tears of despair. Christy held up her hand, a high-and-mighty grin on her scarlet face. Maggie looked at her sheepishly.

"I'll give you one more shot." the freckle-faced girl announced.

Maggie brightened and returned to her incorrect stance. The boys held their breath, the girls uninterested and stroking there hair in boredom. Like a snake, Christy's wild arm rolled backward, and her ash-dyed sneaker lifted from the ground, and stomped back down with vigor. The ball whirled in the air and flew with speed across the small patch of brown dust and weeds. Maggie swung, and they all released their breaths. A firecracker, it was, and the ball hit the bat and flew away with power that Maggie summoned from her clenched arm muscles. The problem was in that the bat shot horizontal, just as it had came to her, and hit Christy so hard in the mouth that blood jumped out of her nose in thick sprays. Twitchy George gasped, and Teeny Weenie hid under Paulie's arm with a yelp. Poor Maggie dropped her bat, covered her mouth, and ran as fast as her thick legs could to where the overalls-wearing tomboy lie, still and quiet. Then, as fast as lightening, Christy sat up, at first shocked, and then smiling like a wily Hyena, her lips pulsing blue and her nose spilling rivulets of red. One buck tooth stood alone in her mouth, the other tossed into the scarlet dust with the power of the blow.

"I think I like you," she finally chortled through her one front tooth.