Batter Up

 

“What weighs more? A ton of bricks or a ton of feathers?”

Easy.

My hand shoots up. “Neither. They’re both a ton,” I answer.

“Good job, Marissa. You’ll be batting first in our t-ball game,” my gym teacher says.

Wait, what? He thinks that’s a treat? When he mentioned a prize for answering riddles, I thought—okay prayed—that maybe, just maybe, it meant less game play, not being the starting act.

“What’s black, white, and read all over?” he asks, breaking me out of my panic attack.

Even easier! I look around, wondering who’s going to answer this one. It seems like half the class isn’t listening. The other half seems to be trying too hard…why is Jake counting on his fingers? This isn’t even a math question!

Well, if no one else is going to answer…

“Yes, Marissa?”

“A newspaper,” I answer confidently.

“Looks like you’ll be batting first and second.”

Excuse me? I was just trying to put you out of your misery waiting for comatose students to respond! This isn’t how you reward someone for paying attention! I start a litany of prayers, begging whoever will listen to help, as we take our positions outside.

Here we go, after nine clumsy years of tripping over flat surfaces and dropping anything thrown at me, on the off chance that I actually catch something, it’s all going to culminate into this one dreadful moment. Make that two moments.

Why wasn’t I born with hand-eye coordination instead of a compulsive need to raise my hand in class? I blame my mom. All of that encouraging reading—did she ever stop and think of how a bookworm fares when plastic balls are flying around? No. If she had she would’ve pushed me outside once in awhile. Now look where I am. Being lectured on how I’m holding the bat wrong. No offense, teach, but your little lesson right now isn’t going to make a world of a difference.

“We’re ready whenever you are, Marissa.”

Thanks for the reminder. You’re waiting for me to make a laughing stock out of myself. Thank for setting traps with riddles, tricking innocent non-athletes to participate more in gym class.

Okay, here I go…I’ll swing the bat now.

No, now.

Now?

Clearly this isn’t working. How much time is left of class? And more importantly can I spend it taking practice swings? Well, at the very least I only have to hit a stationary ball and not one flying at my face.

“Marissa?”

I look over at the teacher. I know he just wants me to hit the ball already, so he can wipe that concerned look off his face. His baseball-shaped face…

Maybe if I…?

I look back over at the baseball waiting for me to hit it. I concentrate on it, picturing it as my teacher’s face, lips opening and shutting, telling me to hit it already.

So I do, with all the anger I can muster. And the ball? It actually goes across the school yard, instead of falling right off the stand!

“Run!” someone yells.

Run? Isn’t it enough of an achievement that I hit the ball?

*whistle*

“Throw the ball back. She’s hitting again.”

But! But! But!

“Even though I hit it?”

I’m only rewarded with a puzzled look. “You earned the first two spots.”

Okay, I’ve done this once. I can do it again. No big deal. Except that if I miss it’ll look a lot worse than missing my first try. Now everyone knows I actually can hit the ball. What a shame it would be to go from having a hit to having nothing. Joining the line, waiting for my next turn to embarrass myself.

Oh, enough with the self pity party already. That’s not what helped me last time. But my anger did. And now I have even more to be angry about! I could be out actually playing the game! But no, he’s insistent that I bat again.

Because of one stupid riddle I answered.

I pull the bat backwards.

Because the rest of this stupid class can’t bother to participate.

I swing forward.

Why do I bother if no one else does?

CRACK

Oh! I hit it again! And it’s going just as far as the last time! Maybe my hands and eyes are a lot more coordinated than I like to give them credit for.

“WHY AREN’T YOU RUNNING?” that annoying classmate from earlier starts screaming.

Right. Hitting the ball was only the first step.

I urge my legs forward and make it to the base before anyone can tag me out. I watch as Emma steps up to bat. Huh, her ball flew really high. I guess my feat wasn’t that amazing after all?

“What is your problem? Move!” Suddenly Emma is by my side, pushing me towards the next plate. I reach it, barely missing being tagged out.

What’s Emma’s problem? I never realized she was so into sports. But if the dirty looks she keeps sending my way are any indication, I think she’s taking this game a little too seriously. And is probably the one obsessed with my running.

Okay, this time I won’t be caught off guard. I turn towards the next base, prepared to make my move.

“GO, JAKE!”

I take off at Emma’s not-so-polite way of encouraging Jake to run. But Hannah, on third base, isn’t paying attention. Why isn’t she paying attention? If she doesn’t move I’m going to-

THUD

-run right into her.

“Ow! What are you doing?” she asks, getting up and shaking the dirt off of herself. “He hasn’t even swung the bat yet.”

“But Emma was yelling at him to go…” I wince as I get up. “Hit the ball, not run,” I finish.

Yep, I should have just hit the ball out of bounds. That would have been a lot less embarrassing…and painful.

 

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