Inning 24 ★ Have Your Cake and Eat it Too

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There was nothing we could do. My back fell on top of the base and Santiago landed on my torso diagonally. I just felt the weight of the world land on me and expel all the air out of me. I saw black for a solid moment and, this may sound dramatic, but for a second I thought I died.


I drew in a gasp the pushed in a lot of air with flying dust. That made me hack out a round of nasty coughing. I rolled on my side, still struggling to breathe and in so much pain that my eyes were leaking.

"Oh, God."

I recognized the voice as Santi's and tried to open my eyes a little. Through the haze of dust and the stars in my eyes I could see that he was on all fours over me. A lot of steps were approaching. Or people were running.

"Please tell me you're okay."

"Wow," I rasped out and between gasps said, "you're really good at hurting me."

He got pushed away and then my dad grabbed my face.

"Honey bunny, tell me you're fine."

I groaned and rolled back on my back. "Stop calling me that."

He looked down at me, inspecting me and then he got the weirdest expression. The top of his face was a frown but the bottom was a smile. "Well, that's an out."

I struggled to understand what he meant until I felt him pry the ball out of the vice my hand had it in. I couldn't help but grin.

"Toldya, I'm good," I said to him.

He sighed. "Maybe, but I'm going to sub you out."

He and Domingo helped me stand up. The latter looked like he was in way more pain than I actually was.

"No, I don't want to." I put on my bravest face. "I'm not going to give this up."

Domingo sighed. "That was a really bad fall. You might have broken a rib, we need to get you checked."

I drew in a deep breath and it hurt like a motherfuck, but I figured a broken rib wouldn't even let me breathe. "I'm fine. I can keep playing."

"Not this inning," dad said with finality in his tone. "Dom, mind subbing in?"

Santi's dad gave a thumbs up. "Count me in."

I pursed my lips. "But dad-"

He put his hands on both of my shoulders and looked me in the eye. I knew that look. I grew up dreading that look. "No. I wasn't keen on you playing because I feared something like this would happen, and now that it's happened I'm not going to put you at more risk. Your mom will kill me if I don't die here of a heart attack first."

My whole face dropped. "But dad..."

"Walk it off. If you're fine by like the middle of the game I might consider letting you play, but in the outfield."

I knew that was as best as I was going to get at that point, and I had to take it. Because it actually hurt a lot. Most of the guys were standing around us and checked on me as I walked. The only one I didn't see was the boulder that ran me over.

"Where's Santi?" I asked Chris, he shook his head.

"He walked away as soon as your dad got to you. He didn't look okay."

I blanched. What if he was hurt? The team would crumble without him.

"Um," I said with a shaky voice. "Where'd he go?"

He shook his head.

I turned around and thought, if I were a hurt, moody teenage boy, where would I go? I tried to walk at a brisk pace but it was kind of hard, actually. I tried the bathrooms by the grills first, but no luck. I didn't know which cabin he'd gone to, so I went to mine and grabbed my phone to call him, but he didn't pick it up.

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