Inning 8 ★ Bring it Home!

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I sat on the bleachers next to Ellen, soaked inside a red raincoat similar to how it was on the inside. Sweat vs. rain, though. The first friendly between Metro High's Alligators should have started half an hour ago against the Trinity High's Knights, but their reps had asked if it was possible to delay the start of the game until the rain ebbed down a bit. I guessed they hadn't wanted their precious little stars to catch a cold.

How does a person catch a cold in the middle of a hot monsoon typical of Central Florida, I wouldn't know.

My right leg bounced almost to the rhythm of the fat drops hitting the metal bleachers. Our team was in the dugout, which offered them only a little protection, given that the wooden slats of the roof were not hermetically sealed. I should be down there, sitting next to my dad discussing the plays we would open the game with. Instead, I was some 15ft behind them, staring intently at the back of my dad's head.

"You almost look like you're rooting for the other team, with the way you're death-staring at our bench," Ellen said. I grunted something foul. She shook her head at me. "You just need to keep trying."

"I don't know what else to try at this point, other than screaming his head off."

"That'd be a start." She leaned forward. Her raincoat was a bright yellow, covered with cute drawings of smiling rainbows, clouds and umbrellas. She looked like a little kid and had zero fucks to give about it.

At first glance you'd wonder what in the hell made us best friends. She's short, and I'm tall. She's a brainiac and I'm all brawn. She's a stellar Korean-American, set for ivy league and an incredible career in journalism, and I'm some redhead Irish-American whose mind is set on getting what she cannot possibly have — a baseball career. She likes cute and I like functional. We have nothing in common. Except, precisely this zero fucks given attitude to life. She'll get what she wants and I'll get mine, and we push each other to that purpose.

"It definitely would be better than this thing you're doing of sitting back and sulking."

"I'm not sulking," I said, stopping my bouncing leg with my hand. "I'm stewing."

"Same difference."

I rolled my eyes. "He won't even hear about it. Every time I try, he changes topic or runs away. Yesterday he spent all night hanging out with Domingo in his garage just to avoid me."

"What did you do?"

I flashed her a grin. "I watched them fix a car all night while pitching my plan to him over and over."

"Atta girl."

A crackle came from the speakers and Mr. Harris' voice resounded throughout Metro's baseball field. "Attention, ladies and gentlemen. The game will commence in five minutes."

"Finally," Ellie and I chorused.

"Any bets?" she asked me as she pulled out a notepad to take notes for the school newspaper.

"Oh, we'll lose." I shrugged at the look she gave me. "We don't have a team yet, haven't had one for a year."

"That's true, I guess. We did lose miserably last season."

After Sebastian died the rest of the team had fallen apart at the seams. It was as if they forgot how to catch a ball or throw it, they just hadn't seemed to find the sense in playing a game that he wasn't part of anymore. Santiago hadn't been playing at all. I honestly hadn't seen him touch a bat since last week in his backyard. Before his summer in his home country, he probably hadn't even looked at one since the accident.

The rain slowed down to an annoying mist. The pitch was a muddy mess, but at least we'd be able to use that as an excuse for the loss we'd surely get so as to not bring our morale down to the pits. The two coaches approached and shook hands and then with the umpire. They tossed a coin to decide who'd be on offense first. Trinity started at bat.

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