So I've been really busy this summer so far, doing stuff that I've been meaning to get done. I haven't had much time to write, but for the past three days it's all I've been doing and now I'm finally back with a new not-so-one-shot-one-shot. This one is especially "not-so-one-shot," since it's almost thirty pages. But I'm not going to drag it out into a full-fledged story. It'll sort of be in the middle; I'm thinking six chapters tops.
Half of this story happens in the past and half of it is supposed to be more recent. It's sort of like a childhood memories sort of thing, but I'm not going to mix up the order and confuse all of you guys. The first few parts are in the past, and the last few are more recent.
The inspiration for this came from a lot of different things, one of which is the fact that I've been playing softball with my local youth group and all that jazz. The people who have read over this for me have told me it was similar to "The Sandlot," and yeah, I guess it is, but I wasn't strictly aiming for that. It's supposed to be original and different, as well.
Fair warning; It gets really cheesy. Especially toward the end. It's also filled with some cliches. Sorry about that one.
After making you suffer through that extremely long authors note, I'll just shut up and start the story.
I bent the rim of my blue cap, trying to block out the bright rays of the sunset that were shining in my eyes. A warm summer breeze rushed past me toward the old rusted fence behind the batter's box. It tousled the escaped strands of hair about my face. Irritated by the inconvenience they caused, I blew the strawberry-blonde strands out of my eyes and raised the wooden bat far above my shoulder.
"Throw it!" I yelled.
The boy that was standing atop the mound of dirt in the middle of the diamond just shrugged. "There's no one here, Al," he declared, peering around the field. He was right. The fresh grass in the outfield was empty, rustling slightly in the breeze. The dirty white bases were bare, along with the wooden bench behind home plate. All of our friends had gone home for dinner already. It was just the two of us, standing in the darkening field at twilight.
"Don't be dumb, Mattie!" I yelled back. "There's millions a'people, screaming from the stands!"
He rolled his eyes, but grinned all the same. "You're real crazy sometimes, Al."
"Can't you hear 'em, Mattie?! They're waiting for you to pitch it! And don't mess up, 'cause everyone'll see… We've got all them bright lights on us, Matthew!"
The eight year old boy looked past me, scanning his eyes along the fence that circled the field. He squinted, trying to imagine the scene that I had described. In reality, there was no one but me and Mattie. In reality, the sun was sinking behind the line of trees and there weren't any stadium lights to light up the field. But I could tell that he was picturing rows and rows of screaming fans and blinding stadium lights beaming onto the dirt and freshly cut grass. In our imaginations, Monahan Field had been transformed into a real, professional league baseball stadium.
Finally, he looked back at me with his mouth in a determined straight line. Mattie pulled back his arm and, in an instant, the ball was whizzing through the air.
It connected with my bat and a deafening crack echoed in the air. I tossed the bat down in the dirt and ran as fast as I could, rounding first and then second and then third until, my chest heaving, I reached home base. I jumped up and down excitedly as Mattie turned to stare at me from the pitcher's mound.
"Home run, Mattie! Did you see that!?"
He kicked up a cloud of dust with the toe of his shoe. "How was I a'pposed to tag you, anyway? I don't got anyone in the outfield."
I stuck my tongue out at him and he returned the gesture.
Suddenly, my mother's voice rang out, breaking the illusion of the rowdy crowd and the beaming lights. She called to me from the porch of my house, which was right across the street from our baseball field.
"Allison! Dinner's ready!"
I picked up my bat and my mitt, quickly brushing off the light brown dirt. "I gotta go, Mattie."
He nodded. "I should get home, too. My Pa said to be back before dark." We both walked toward each other, meeting halfway between home base and the pitcher's mound.
That's what I always liked about Mattie. He always met me halfway. His house was across Pittsburg Avenue, which bordered the baseball field on the east. I lived across Hill Street, which was to the west of the field. The pitcher's mound was smack in the middle of both our houses. It was never too far a walk if I needed him.
He playfully ruffled the top of my head, forcing my cap to become askew. Even though Mattie was only a year older than me, he still treated me like I was a little kid to him.
"Do you always gotta do that, Matthew?" I said, scrunching up my face and fixing my hat. Too big for my head, it fell right down over my eyes again.
"Yeah. 'Course I do." Mattie pulled me in for a hug.
Even at eight years old, Mattie was tall for his age. I could barely see over his shoulder as I tightly hugged him back.
"Allison!" My mother's voice came again, stricter this time.
Readjusting my mitt so it wouldn't fall from underneath my arm, I bolted for my house, my small black high-tops kicking up dirt above the nearly-dark field.
My feet descended down the stairs so quickly, it sounded almost as if I had lost my footing and tumbled down. I jumped, reaching the bottom, and dashed towards the small kitchen.
My mother was sitting at the table, drinking her coffee while my baby brother, Bryce, sat in his high-chair and clumsily brought cereal to his mouth.
I grabbed a freshly baked roll off the plate on the counter and dashed for the front door, but my mother stopped me.
"Wait a minute, Allison… Where are you going, dressed like that? You've got dirt stains all over your knees. And look at that rip in your t-shirt."
I paused and peered down at my outfit. I was wearing my lucky blue jeans and my favorite red-sleeved shirt. I didn't see anything wrong with it.
"I'm goin' to play baseball, Mama," I said, motioning to the glove in my hand.
"Can't you change, darling? You look like you've been rolling in the dirt."
I shook my head quickly from side to side. "I can't, Ma! This is my lucky outfit, and there's a big game today."
"Won't you at least let me wash it, then? It's barely past eight in the morning, Ally… You'll still have time to play ball."
"No time," I told her, moving swiftly toward the door. "Today's Saturday, Mama. Everyone comes to play on Saturday; even more than the usual kids. It's a big game, see? And if I don't go, they'll start without me…"
Holding the screen door open with my shoulder, I turned back around to face my mom. I begged her with my eyes to let me go.
She sighed, scanning over my outfit once more. My mom was always trying to make me wear dresses and skirts, as she had done as a child. A tired smile spread over her face as she realized she would never get through to me. "Just like your father. Go," she said, waving me away. "Have fun, darling."
A grin spreading across my face, I bolted out the doorway, letting the screen door shut with a bang. I jumped the stairs of my porch and ran across the empty street towards the field. My friends were already gathering in the middle, saying their hellos and choosing teams.
The sky was cloudless and the air was warm; it was a perfect day for our baseball game.
By noon, the sun was beating down mercilessly on our shoulders. None of us minded, though. We were happy to be out on our own favorite field; the liveliest place in the neighborhood during the lazy summer months.
Rounding the metal fence behind the catcher, I approached the batter's box and hit my bat three times against home plate.
"Ally's up! Everyone move in!" Poke (the opposing team's official pitcher) yelled, facing the outfield and motioning for the players to all come closer.
Not only was I the only girl, I was also the youngest out of everyone who played at Monahan Field. Some were older by only six months, and some were older by four years, but I was the kid of the team. Even if they teased me, though, they knew I was just as good as any of them if I tried hard enough.
Andrew "Poke" Hughes turned to grin at me, and I sneered back. He had gotten the nickname for being the slowest runner of all of us. Poke had gotten the position of pitcher for the same reason. No one trusted him to be able to run in a ball from the outfield. However, the kid didn't have too bad of an arm.
I watched as my friends shuffled toward home plate, insinuating that I didn't have the strength to hit the ball any further then where the dirt ended and the grass began.
Bobby, the best first baseman we'd ever seen, tapped the base impatiently with his foot. He had been playing baseball since he could walk, and his reflexes were unbelievable.
There was no official man to cover second base. The Hamilton twins, Kyle and Brian, always fought over the position, so we sort of just gave it to both of them. Kyle was to the left of the base, wearing blue, and Brian was hovering on the right, dressed in red. Their mother made sure that Kyle's whole wardrobe was blue and Brian's was red, since the two were so identical that even she had trouble telling the difference. Sometimes they would switch, though, just to mess with everyone.
Vin was set to cover third base. He wasn't a good catcher, nor was he a good thrower, so anyone new to the field might wonder why we had let him play third. The truth was because Vin was a complete spaz. When the ball came whizzing toward him, he'd scream like a little girl and let it drop to the ground two feet from his mitt. Losing the play was a small price to pay when we got to see him get angry at us for laughing. Then he'd push his thick-rimmed glasses high up on the bridge of us nose in frustration, and we'd laugh even harder.
Demitri, currently playing left outfield, was the newest member of our group. He had moved in last summer and seemed pretty shy at first, but he had no problem fitting in with a swing like that. Demitri had been deemed "one of us" in no time.
Babe was the last one out there, playing right outfield. Although he wasn't the youngest, he was definitely the smallest. He looked a whole three years younger than some of us, but that wasn't the only reason for his nickname. His ultimate hero was the greatest baseball player in history; Babe Ruth.
"Just throw the ball before I gotta go out there and make ya throw it! And ya won't be able to run away, slow-ass!"
A chorus of "ooooh!" arose from the field along with laugher. Poke's face went red from anger.
"Shut up, Ally," he snarled. "At least I can hit the ball."
I furrowed my eyebrows heatedly and stood up straight. "I can too hit the b—," I began to exclaim, but it had already whizzed past me into the catcher's mitt.
"Strike one!" Davis said from behind me. I turned around to argue with him, but thought better of it upon remembering that he was the oldest. Therefore, Davis was considered the umpire as well as the catcher. He called the shots.
I snarled and turned back around to face Poke. As I was readjusting the bat over my shoulder and the position of my feet next to the base, the next ball came flying past my face.
"That's not fair!"
"Then pay attention!"
This time, I didn't dare look away from the ball. Not even to adjust my stance. I watched as Poke tossed it up and it landed with a thud in the heart of his glove. As Poke wound back for the pitch, I lifted my bat high above my shoulder. It came zooming towards my face and I swung with all the strength I had.
"Strike three! She's out!"
I threw the bat down forcefully in the dirt and stomped away from home plate. I rounded the fence and took a seat on the bench in between Doug, Bobby's little brother, and Matthew.
He smiled down at me as I crossed my arms childishly over my chest. "Aw, cheer up, Al. You got all day to knock it outta here," Mattie offered.
I didn't care, though. To me, baseball was serious business. Every inning, every chance up at bat counted. Not in the score. We were always losing count and we barely ever remembered the score past the third inning. But the more runs you hit and the more great plays you made, the more you were respected in the eyes of everyone on Monahan Field.
"Ah, forget them, Allison," Mattie declared when I didn't respond. He pulled something out of his pocket. "I got somethin' for you, anyway."
I glanced sideways at the tiny plastic capsule in his hand. My anger was suddenly slipping away, quickly being replaced by curiosity. "What is it?" I asked, examining it more closely.
"Open it," he said, placing the plastic container in my hand.
I tried to pull it open, twisting the cap every which way, but I couldn't get it to budge.
Mattie laughed and took it from me, opening it himself. He tipped the plastic capsule and a metal ring slid into the palm of my hand.
Wide-eyed, I examined the gift. The ring was a dark silver color and had an opening at the bottom of the band so it would fit anyone who put it on. At the top of the band was a tiny half-baseball charm, the stitches in the ball carved into the metal.
"Mattie! I love it! Where'd you get it?"
He shrugged. "I saw it yesterday when I went to into town with my mom. It was in one of them gumball machines, and I had to try five times 'til I got this one. I got two basketball rings, two football ones, and a soccer ball one at home."
I grinned happily as I slid it onto my finger, my frustration completely forgotten now. Without thinking about it, I launched myself at him, throwing my arms around him. Matt almost fell off the end of the bench, but he steadied himself and laughed. He returned the hug, squeezing me tightly.
"Hartman! Get your girlfriend off you and get up here! You're at bat!"
I felt Mattie suddenly tense up. He pulled away and stood up, muttering a quick, "She's not my girlfriend." An embarrassed blush rose to his face.
Still, he shot me a half smile and ruffled my hat before he got up to hit.
The game went on until the sun started to set and the field was almost too dark to play. After countless innings and an infinite number of runs, the guys all started to pack up their mitts and brush off their clothing. Some got on their bikes and some decided they would race each other back to their houses in order to make the trip seem like less of a chore, but first we all gathered in the middle of the field to say goodbye. All the fights and arguments of the day were forgotten, as they usually were with kids, and we all left the field with our grudges buried in the light brown dirt, unable to wait for next Saturday.
My throat hurt from being outside all day and I had a bloody knee from sliding into home halfway through the game, but I didn't care. The fireflies were staring to come out, lighting up periodically over the fresh grass of our baseball field. As the dark blue color ate up more of the sky, I happily jogged in the direction of my house.
Thanks so much for reading, guys :) Hope you like it so far. This whole story is written; I just have to edit, so I should have the next part out pretty soon. Feedback would be greatly appreciated. I love hearing your opinions and constructive criticism.