Inning 2 ★ First Batter In

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I woke up to my dad stomping up and down the hallway, telling mom or maybe himself the mantra that this would be a great school year. I grabbed my cellphone and groaned into my pillow. I could've slept for ten more minutes if he weren't freaking out. With the little strength characteristic of a non-morning person, I hauled myself onto my elbows so that I could read the text messages I'd got. Freaking Ellen was up already and saying she'd pick me up for school today. Awesome. Then I realized she sent me this at 5.36am. What the hell? How could my best friend be such a morning person?

I texted her back, Don't tell me you're already outside or something.

Only a second went by before she replied, No, but do you want me to be?

I collapsed face first onto my pillow but told her to give me 15. Then I texted Santiago.

Ellie's picking me up, wanna ride?

No answer came in the next five seconds and I decided to just roll out of bed and get this day over with.

The shower was so scalding hot that when I came downstairs my mom made sure to tell me that I looked extra carrot-y this morning. "You know, I've read cold showers are the best for waking up in the morning."

They're also great for other kinds of ailments but instead I said, "That'd just make me hate mornings even more."

Dad showed up then, complete baseball coach costume on, whistle and all. "It's going to be a great school year, you'll see. We have great prospects for the team and I have great plans."

Mom smiled and nodded. "Of course, honey. And Santiago is back. That's going to be huge for morale."

I chewed some toast as I said, "Speaking about great plans, dad. What have you thought about my proposal?"

He looked at me with the same look someone gives you when their train of thought has derailed and they don't quite know how to put ideas back on track. His uniform was crisp and ironed, ball cap new but the tufts of red hair coming out from underneath were disheveled, giving him a look as if his head were on fire. He looked panicked, to be honest, unlike a man who knows what he's doing.

There was honking outside and it snapped him out of it with a deep breath. He walked over to give mom a kiss on the lips and one on my forehead. He smiled down at me. "I'll think about it, honey bunny, okay?"

"Awesome, but please don't call me that anymore. I'm seventeen."

"You're forever our honey bunny." I rolled my eyes at my mom. "And you," she said, turning to him. "Off you go. It's going to be a great school year."

"Yes, it's going to be the best." He grabbed his duffel bag and when he opened the door he found Ellen standing outside, about to knock. "Good morning, Ellen."

"Mr. O'Hare." She saluted him and let him out. I gave a glance at my mom and I saw the same amusement on her face that I felt at seeing tiny little Ellie have to look up and up at my dad. "Are you ready or not?" she asked me from the door. "Good morning, Mrs. O'Hare."

My mom beamed at her. "It's going to be a great school year. You guys are seniors."

I groaned, but my best friend's body seemed so full of adrenaline that the only way she could expel it was by jumping on her feet. She's the one who looks like a bunny, not me. "Yes, isn't that amazing?"

My mom sighed and looked up. "And in one more year Peyton will be out of the house and we'll be free to do whatever we want."

I scoffed and bent down to pick up the backpack I'd dumped at my feet. "As if you guys don't do that already."

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