Authors: Barbara L. Clanton
Tags: #! Yes
Lisa stopped chewing on the pen and tapped her journal with it.
She laughed and murmured, “I guess I’m not the only one with secrets.” She turned back to her journal and wrote.
Yeah, so I benched 130 yesterday, and I was sore for today’s game. I’ll be even sorer for sure tomorrow for our makeup game against Southbridge. (Oh, we got snowed out with them on Tuesday. Bummer.) Back to the rotten part of my life. I gotta figure out a way to accept the fact that Marlee will NEVER EVER like me the way I want her to. I’ve got twelve more hours to come up with something so I can keep my sanity (even though Julie thinks I’ve already lost it! Ha-ha). But, damn, when Marlee came back into Christy’s house last Friday night, I knew she’d kissed Susie! Or worse! I don’t even want to think about THAT! I was so mad. Some of the girls moved the coffee table out of the living room and put on some club music. It was too loud, but I didn’t care because I was trying hard not to think about Marlee and Susie anyway. Sam asked me to dance, so I did to make Marlee jealous, but she didn’t even notice me. Whatever. Sam’s a good dancer, though, and I think she even flirted with me a little. My gaydar’s malfunctioning around her, so I don’t know. She’s so pretty. She could be in magazines. She’s blond, too. Maybe I have a thing for blondes now. Ha-ha. She’s probably straight, so I shouldn’t get all hot and bothered by her. I already had my heart stomped on twice in two weeks, so I’m lying low from now on. Besides, even if Sam isn’t straight, what would such a femmy girl want with me, the amazon who can bench 130 pounds?
Damn. I digressed. I was writing about Marlee who didn’t even look at me while I danced with Sam. I can hold my own on a dance floor, too, you know! Oh, great, who am I talking to? I’m tired. Really, really tired! I need to close up now and go to sleep. Big makeup game against Southbridge tomorrow. We only have one league loss so far. Go Cougars!
Lisa yawned and tucked the gel pen back into her journal. She hid the book in the back of the top drawer and turned off the light. She closed her eyes hoping sleep would come quickly, so she could stop thinking about Marlee and Tara.
LISA ROLLED THE ball toward the pitcher’s circle after Marlee struck out the Southbridge batter for the third out in the middle of the fifth inning. Even though the Cougars were up by four runs, Marlee was wildly unfocussed and sloppy. She had even walked five batters, which was unheard of in the McAllister-Brown battery. To top it all off, Marlee had a no-hitter going and didn’t even realize it.
Lisa pulled Marlee aside and asked her what was going on. Why was she so out of it?
“Chill out Lisa. I’m cool.”
Far from it!
Lisa grabbed Marlee’s uniform sleeve as she started to walk back to the Cougars’ bench. Marlee whirled back around blinking as the bright sunshine hit her face. She pulled her hat lower.
“Marlee, you pulled that one on me in the East Valley game. I’m on to you.” Lisa pointed a finger in her face.
And I know about your little girlfriend, too.
Marlee must have read her thoughts, because her eyes flew open wide as if assessing how much Lisa knew.
“When you’re on,” Lisa said, “I can feel your focus, right on me. When you’re off, like now, I can tell you’re scattered. Where is your mind?”
As if I didn’t know.
Marlee tried to dodge the question by asking if Coach Spears had sent Lisa over, which she hadn’t, of course. Lisa pressed the issue. “Geez, Marlee, what is going on with you?”
Marlee mumbled something lame about being distracted, and Lisa roared, “I know!” She implored Marlee to get herself together. “You are such a better pitcher than that!” Lisa walked off in a huff and kicked a stray batting helmet that was in her way. Her teammates scattered.
Lisa fumed. She was angry because Marlee and Susie had obviously hooked up, but she was angrier still because softball was the only thing she had left with Marlee, and now Marlee was mucking that up. She wanted to tell Marlee she had the no-hitter going, but Lisa knew softball etiquette. You never talked about no-hitters or perfect games when a pitcher was in the middle of one. Lisa sat on the rickety bench trying to calm down, and noticed Susie walking up from the parking lot. Everything became crystal clear.
, Lisa thought,
that’s it. You’re new girlfriend was late.
Julie walked over to where Lisa stood steaming. “Brown Girl, are you okay?” She nodded her head toward Marlee.
Lisa rubbed her forehead. Her pectoral muscles protested the small movement. “She doesn’t even know she has a no-hitter going.”
“Shh!” Julie warned.
“Oh, she can’t hear me. She’s not even here today. She hasn’t shaken off any of my signals. She usually shakes off five every inning.”
Paula, the Cougar batter at the plate, flew out to the left fielder, and Julie headed to the on-deck circle.
Jeri stepped into the batter’s box and Lisa yelled, “Get a hit Jeri. Julie’ll move you over.” To Julie she said, “Hey, you still going bowling with us tonight?”
“Yeah. I don’t have any other plans.” Julie rolled her eyes and took a practice swing.
“Marcus hasn’t asked you out yet?”
“Shh!” Julie looked around wide-eyed. “No one knows, but you. And, no, he hasn’t. Not yet.” She grinned.
Jeri grounded out to the second baseman to end the fifth inning, so Julie took off her batting helmet and tossed it near her bag on the ground. Lisa picked up her face mask, and they walked toward home plate together.
“So,” Lisa said with a grin, “you could always ask him out. Eh, White Girl?”
“Whatever.” Julie turned her back and trotted toward first base.
“Geez,” Lisa mumbled as she squatted for Marlee’s first warm up pitch, “everybody’s got love trouble today.”
“How’s that, catcher?” the umpire asked.
“Oh, nothing.” Lisa laughed. “Just mumbling to myself.”
The umpire laughed. “You’re too young to be senile.”
Lisa relaxed an inch when Marlee struck out the side to end the Southbridge half of the sixth inning. They were three Southbridge outs away from Marlee’s first ever no-hitter, but the Cougars had to get up to bat first.
Lisa walked to her softball bag behind the team bench and took off her chest protector. She wiped her brow. Despite the chill in the air, she was sweating. She leaned over and unhooked both sets of shin guards and let them fall where she stood.
If all went well this would be the last inning the Cougars had to bat. Julie led off the bottom of the sixth inning and fouled off a few pitches before ultimately popping up to the Southbridge shortstop.
Marlee stepped into the batter’s box next, and Lisa moved into the on-deck circle for a few practice swings. Marlee swung at the first pitch and hit a long fly ball to left field, but the Southbridge left fielder made an awesome over the shoulder catch and robbed her of an extra base hit.
“C’mon, Lisa,” Marlee said as Lisa moved toward the batter’s box, “pick me up. We can’t go down one, two, three.”
Lisa nodded. Once Marlee passed by her, she saw Marlee smile at Susie. The way Susie’s face lit up made Lisa’s stomach clench. She dug her heels into the batter’s box and waited for her pitch.
“Ball one,” the umpire said as the pitch flew inside.
Lisa tried not to let her smile show. The pitcher was going to work her inside then out
. Sure enough, Lisa saw the catcher set up on the outside of the plate. The pitch came in right where Lisa expected it, and she exploded, chest muscles screaming. The ball screamed down the right field line. Lisa took off for first base, and Kerry, the first base coach, sent her to second. Lisa didn’t let up around second because she’d seen the ball skip past the right fielder and roll to the fence. Coach Spears waved her arm in a circle. Green light. Lisa turned on the afterburners, rounded third, and flew home. Johnna stood on deck and put her hands way up in the air telling Lisa not to slide. Lisa pounded the plate with her right foot and pumped a fist in the air.
Julie and the rest of the team mobbed her after her in-the-park solo homerun. “Way to go, Brown Girl!” Julie said.
“Nice hitting, Lisa.” Marlee patted her on the back.
“Thanks.” Lisa looked away quickly.
Johnna hit a soft line drive to the Southbridge pitcher to end the bottom of the sixth inning. Lisa took another second to catch her breath before strapping on her gear.
No rest for the weary,
she thought. She was grateful that Marlee didn’t help her get dressed. It was better that way for now. Lisa needed a little distance.
Lisa called for a fastball, curveball, fastball combination which successfully struck out the first Southbridge batter. The next batter jumped on the first pitch, but hit a soft grounder to Johnna at shortstop. Julie handled Johnna’s throw easily for the second out of the inning.
“One more, Marlee,” Lisa called. “You can do it.” The Southbridge shortstop dug her heels in the batter’s box. Lisa saw the look of determination on the girl’s face and knew not to take her lightly. She was a good hitter. Lisa flashed the sign for fastball. If they could get this first strike, then they could play with other pitches, like Marlee’s drop or curve. Marlee threw the requested pitch with good speed, but the batter got a good bead on it and smacked the ball to center field. Lisa’s heart leaped into her throat for a second until she realized that the ball was sailing right toward Jeri in center field. Lisa trotted toward Marlee to congratulate her on her no-hitter, when the the unthinkable happened. Jeri pulled her hat low, held her glove in the air to block the sun, but it didn’t seem to help. The ball flew over her head for a base hit.
“Dammit,” Lisa mumbled under her breath and ran back to guard home plate. Marlee didn’t seem too upset about losing her no hitter, probably because she didn’t even know she’d had one going, but Jeri pounded her glove on her thigh after throwing the ball back in. Jeri must have felt awful. The only thing Lisa could do was get back behind the plate. The next batter struck out for the last out of the game giving Marlee a one-hitter.
After the high-five line, Jeri was nowhere to be seen until Marlee finally looked into the outfield. Jeri sat in center field with her head in her hands, obviously upset about blowing the pop up. Marlee ran out to get her. When they came back in from the outfield, Lisa pretended to focus on putting her gear away, but instead watched Marlee greet Susie. Her heart dropped. The looks on their faces totally gave away the fact that they had hooked up. Lisa forced herself to calmly place her gear in her bag. Even though they had won the game, Lisa had lost Marlee.
Jeri plopped on the bench next to her. “Are you and Julie still going out tonight?”
“Yeah, you want to come?”
“Why not?” Jeri stood up and picked up her bag. “Do you need a ride home?”
Lisa was surprised that Jeri offered to take her home. Maybe Marlee was pulling away from Jeri, too.
“Sure. Thanks,” Lisa said. “Let me tell Julie, okay?” She was going to get a ride home from Julie’s parents, but it made more sense for Jeri to drive her home since it was on her way.
As Lisa and Jeri headed toward the parking lot, Lisa muttered to herself under her breath, “Don’t look back. Don’t look back.”
TWO WEEKS AFTER winning that stupid Southbridge game, but losing Marlee, Lisa sat on her bed trying to do her geometry homework. She was trying to pass the time until Jeri picked her up.
Lisa put her pencil down and thought about the game against East Valley the night before. The game had been tied 0-0 and had to go into extra innings. Christy seemed really pissed about something, but Lisa didn’t know what. Marlee stepped into the batter’s box. As soon as the pitch left Christy’s hand, Lisa knew instantly that it was going to hit Marlee. And it did. Right in the head. Marlee fell back and landed hard on her shoulder. Her bat lay still by her side, and she started groaning. Lisa ran to her fallen friend, but didn’t know what to do. Coach Spears took charge and told somebody to call 911.
After Marlee and her mother were loaded up into the ambulance, Jeri called the team together. “You guys? We have to win this for Marlee.” The teammates put their hands together in the middle of the circle and yelled, “Marlee!”
THE PHONE RANG making Lisa jump. Her pencil flew off her geometry book onto the floor. She grabbed the receiver from her bedside stand, grateful for the interruption.
“Hello?” Lisa said into the phone.
“Yeah. Who’s this?” It didn’t sound like anybody she knew.
“It’s Sam. From East Valley.”
Lisa sat up taller on the bed. Her heart started pumping faster. “Oh, hi.”
“Thanks for giving me your phone number last night,” Sam said.
“Oh, no problem. You’re calling about Marlee, right?” And maybe to talk to me, too? Maybe?
“How’s she doing?”
“Okay, I think. Coach Spears called this morning and said Marlee has a mild concussion and slight shoulder sprain. Something like that. Jeri’s coming by to pick me up in a few minutes to go over there.”
“It sucks that you guys were playing us when it happened.”
Lisa smiled. “It could have happened against anybody, I guess.”
Even though Christy probably beaned her on purpose, but that’s a conversation for another day.
“Maybe. Hey, do you think me and Susie could come out there to visit Marlee, too?”
“Why not? Oh, I should call her mother first, though.” Lisa prayed Mrs. McAllister would say yes.
“Cool. Call me right back okay?”
Lisa could have sworn she heard Sam smile on the other end of the line. “Sure. Give me your number. We don’t have caller ID.”
Lisa wrote the number down and then hung up. She called Marlee’s mother who hesitated for the briefest of moments, but then okayed the two extra visitors saying it might cheer Marlee up. Lisa’s second phone conversation with Sam was even shorter than the first because Sam said she had to hang up, call Susie, and then get ready. Lisa wasn’t sure what there was to get ready for, since they were just coming to Clarksonville see an injured friend.