Chapter Eight

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"I cannot rest without you next to me."


What was the cherry on top to my stressful school week?

Losing the game against George Ranch.

The surprise written on everyone's face was hard to miss - far's more so, though - and I didn't dare to glance over where Lucy was watching me crash and burn. I stopped looking over at her once my pitching went wild in the third inning. There was subtle clapping from the opposing team, but other than that, nothing. Coach had stopped yelling orders at us and let us trail the walk of shame, one I had expected to take a week prior.

I told far I needed to practice harder that week. I told him and he assured me we wouldn't lose to a team as bad as George Ranch. I couldn't even remember the last time their team had beaten someone.

"Thanks a lot, Clayton." Zeke shoved his way passed me into the dug out, throwing his mitt hard at the ground.He was grumbling incoherent words under his breath, no doubt curse words filled with anger. Losing was not a part of his plans. Hell, losing was not a part of anyone's plans that night.

I remained silent with my eyes hung low. There was nothing to say.

Instead I packed my own mitt into my bag, ready to leave before Lucy approached me.

The last time we had lost a game was last year, sophomore year, but it wasn't all on me. Our hitting was off as a team, so there was no one to blame specifically. There was no doubt it my mind though, that then I was the total blame for losing. We were up four to two before Coach put me in to pitch and then it went down hill from there. I walked more batters than they got actual hits. That cost us seven runs. Seven.

I gulped at the severity of the situation.

"Boys, we played hard today. Whether or not that is a good thing, I'm not sure, but we tried. That is all that counts. Next week we play Dolby High, so expect a tough match." Coach droned. "Practice Tuesday. See you boys there."

Zeke didn't even join the team huddle. He was busy packing up his things and preparing to storm out like the tornado of emotion he was. Zeke wasn't the best at baseball, but he did have a talent at leaving in a dramatic fashion.

"One, two, three. Stingers." I mumbled.

We dispersed swiftly. Or more specifically everyone else dispersed from me in a hasty fashion. Coach was the only one to approach me with a get-em-next-time sort of gaze, but other than that, nothing. Not that I had expected anything in the first place.

What I did expect from far was exactly what I got. He made his over to me slowly, each second dragging on and on. He wanted me to dwell on everything I did wrong so I could better myself in the future. So when he asked me what went wrong, I spoke immediately.

"I threw out my arm practicing so much," I admitted through clenched teeth. "Should have stuck to the schedule, like you told me to."

He nodded his head, not necessarily disagreeing, but he did want more. "Okay, what else?"

I rubbed my cheeks, sighing. I knew exactly what he wanted to hear. He wanted me to admit that having Lucy there to watch me play was the unnerving sore that messed with my head.

"My head wasn't exactly in the game," I sugarcoated.

He probably would have pestered me more if it wasn't for Lucy heading in our direction. She made me sigh from the embarrassment I felt about letting her down, but also from how great she looked wearing my team's spirit shirt.

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