The day that changed Riley Benjamin’s life had the greatest weather ever witnessed before. It was a good day, indeed—better than most. It was a perfect day to go and play ball in the park. In fact, every kid went there at noon. They usually ate ice cream, and then played some ball, then more ice cream while walking back home with friends.
For an eight year old boy, this summer day could be what was in stored in heaven for the good kids’ schedule. For an eight year old girl, it wouldn’t be the same. Fortunately, Riley Benjamin was not the average girl, and for her, competing with the boys was just as fun as fun could be.
With her white cap that framed her golden pigtails, she always swung proudly her smile. Her stern eyes and stubborn freckled nose were imposed with every cry her indelicate mouth screeched. And her ripped, dirty jeans were the victorious trophy of winning over her mother’s cries. Riley depicted the realness of a tomboy girl, and the boys never vacillated on it.
No other girl was as respected and feared by the guys as Riley Benjamin.
"Tony! Hit it harder, you sissy!” Riley shouted while she swung her bat to and fro and tapped her foot, waiting for Tony to pitch the ball. “C’mon!”
"Ok, but if I hit you, don't cry and blame it on me, Riley," Tony smirked at her annoyed expression.
"I won't blame it on anything, sissy! Just shut up and play!" Riley yelled back as her pigtails waved backward and forward.
Tony winked at her and without hesitation, he pitched it, sending the ball violently rotating straight to Riley's torso. But before it could hit her, she swayed the bat with all her little mighty force and the ball went directly outside the fence.
"Homerun!" Riley shouted in victory as the boys of her team came and lifted her up.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Tony broke the celebration off, "I want another play."
"What's the matter, Tony? Not so happy now that a girl beat ya, huh?" Riley hopped off from Big Mikey's shoulders and walked towards Tony and his team.
Tony spat his gum to the arena's soil. "Ok, you won this time but tomorrow, I want a playback!"
"Fine! I'm no chicken." Riley crossed her arms around her chest and stuck out her tongue.
"You're not a chicken? Ok, then... go and get the ball." Tony pointed the fence with his index finger while a figment of a smirk appeared around his mouth.
Riley eyed him up and down, stopping, her gaze, at his little black haired head that supported his big sharp nose. "It's your ball you go get it!"
"I thought you said you weren't a chicken!”
“I’m not a chicken!”
“Chicken! Chicken! Chicken!”
“You’re a chicken, Riley!”
“No, I’m not, farthead!”
“Fine, then do it and I'll give you this bat."
Tony showed her the metal stout bat that glittered harmoniously against the sun’s buckets of rays. Riley cocked her eyebrows as she wavered.
Alexis wouldn't buy me a new bat, because she prefers to buy nail stupid polish instead! She thought and then, she smiled back at Tony, mimicking the same glint of his eyes. "Deal!"
"Deal!" Tony smirked while he shook her hand, "Now, go get it."
The boys in her team whooped for her, encouraging her to succeed as she ran to the fence. The park was next to an ice cream shop's alleyway, but there were rumors about a ghost slaughtering kids who trespassed the alleyway. Since she was six, she heard about the legend of "Jack the Ghost". He was the ghost of the Ripper and he sliced the throat of kids—especially girls.
Riley swallowed hard when she thought about it, but, nevertheless, she climbed the fence up and landed on the alley's asphalt ground. She wasn't a chicken, she was one of the boys—perhaps that would confuse the ghost.
Trembling, she looked around the gloomy alley and checked if the coast was clear. Then, she started to look for the ball. She hauled some boxes up and kneeled down to see if the ball rolled underneath the old chairs that were laid against the brick walls.