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The Grand Slam That Almost Ended It All
Those first few weeks of popularity seemed like a dream, until that so called “dream” was broken and shattered into a million pieces. I hadn’t thought of my friends in a while, until Jackie approached me at the gym lockers. Let me take you back to the beginning…
When you walk from the dug out to the field, there’s always that split second moment where the sun hits your eyes and you have a momentary blindness. Most people will quickly blink away the darkness, but I usually indulge in it. I tend to get lost in the deep purple of the moment, and I flashback to past seasons when I first made the softball team in 7th grade and all that drama that I tolerated that school year. That year was a moment of triumph and failure, success and a downfall. I’ve always promised myself that, that year will never be repeated again.
It was a cool March day when we got the results back from the tryouts. My dream was coming true and my hard training over the summer had finally paid off. I was standing straight like a plank in the middle of the street with my mailbox wide open because I was too excited to move. When I slowly opened the crisp, white envelope I rapidly scanned the page to see whether I would get to be on the team this year. Then I read the golden ticket words I’d been waiting for, “Congratulations! You’ve made the Beacon Middle School softball team! Practice starts…” My heart pounded with as much jollity as it possibly could at that moment; then I called all my friends and told them my good news.
I won a position in the lineup a few weeks into the season. I was batting 6th which wasn’t bad at all depending that this was my first year on the team. My average wasn’t spectacular, but I was always progressing. When the season started, I mainly hit into the dirt diamond, but by the second week of practice I was hitting far into the outfield. Those first baseman skills that I had were also advancing. Instead of missing a ball when it took an unintended course, I could then follow the ball and catch it when it was behind my back or even under me. I could catch foul balls, and I could seize balls thrown from just about anyone on the team at any given moment. The coaches noticed me during one specific game when I proved to them that all of my hard work had paid off.
I don’t usually hit the ground running, but in the game against the Mariners I knew that’s exactly what I did. It didn’t matter to me whether I got a homerun or not, the only thing that mattered was that I made the team and was noticed by my coaches so they could see my determination and love for softball. This was the game that I had been waiting for my whole life. I just got settled in behind first base when, SMACK! The other team’s starting hitter hit a foul ball straight towards me. I ran onto the brown and orange warning track and reached up for the speedy torpedo as it sailed into my black leather glove with ease. The batter was OUT! The other two outs were thrown from our short stop Meghan. She was the best player on the team at the time, and with her long, brown curly hair and blue eyes, she was also really pretty. I scooped up each ball she threw while maintaining to keep my foot on the bag.
Now it was our turn to bat and I was batting fourth, a spot usually reserved for big time hitters. I wasn’t quite sure why my coaches had put me there, I wasn’t an astonishingly great batter, per say. The bases were loaded with no outs when I was up to bat. I could feel the home plate grind under my feet, along with the amount of pressure on my shoulders rising for me to hit a grand slam. I shook it off; I couldn’t honestly expect to hit one in my first time batting fourth! The pitcher finished her decision on what to pitch to me and started to wind up. I kept my eyes on the ball the entire time, just like you’re trained. The next thing I knew, that softball was flying towards center field… and it was out of there! As I dropped my bat and started running, I could still feel my hands and the bat vibrating from the sheer force that I’d hit the ball with. The sound of the ball smacking against my wooden bat rang in my ears along with the crowd’s cheers. A grand slam on my first at bat felt like a castle in the sky as I ran back into the dugout and received high fives from my entire team.
The next day at school everyone was chatting about that grand slam and how I just might be the next upcoming softball star. Usually, I don’t let things like that get to my head, but these circumstances had a tricky way of letting the cockiness sneak into my mind anyway. I was invited to sit at the jock and popular kid’s table by Meghan (who I mentioned was the softball teams shortstop), which meant leaving my friends, but I wasn’t about to look at the negative side effects of the moment. I had fun with the kids there, and started sitting there regularly, abandoning my old friends like a box of puppies in the rain.
“You think that you’re better than us now just because you hit a grand slam? Well guess what? You’re not even close. You walked out on your old friends for new ones, most of which you hardly know. What I don’t understand is how you haven’t felt isolated because you’ve had no one to talk to who knows who you really are and what’s important to you. I just wanted to let you know that your change is permanent and this ship has sailed.” Jackie snapped at me in the gym locker room one Monday morning. Then she stormed away huffing and puffing.
I couldn’t think of anything to say and I felt my cheeks flush red. My body contracted and I felt like I was about to be sick. I turned around and faced the inside of my locker standing on wobbly knees. The locker provided a place where I could shed a tear and no one would see, but most importantly where I could think. What on earth was she talking about? Maybe I had ignored my friends, but I never said that we weren’t friends, or that I was better than any of them! Then, it felt like a two ton truck hit me. My heart and stomach both sank at the same time, and my bones ached with their entirety. This whole time I had just been focusing on the new friends that I thought I had. When I really thought hard about it, the people I sat with at lunch weren’t friends at all. All of the sleepovers and parties they had, and I had never thought twice about not being invited to them. How could I have been so irrational? I knew that I had to do something to gain my true friends back, and quick.
When I saw Jackie and Marissa in the hallway at the end of the day bell, I ran towards them and just had my entire apology spill out of me like molten lava coming out of its volcano. Their faces showed shock and a little bit of skepticism. Jackie’s eyes showed that they wanted to believe me, but with her mouth crooked and her one eye brow raised, I think I mistook the look in her eyes for pity. Marissa had her arms crossed, and one of her hips jutting out, a sign of a fierce attitude. Even though Jackie was so tall, and Marissa was short, with their long brunette hair, they could’ve been mistaken for twins because of their identical faces of anger and betrayal.
“You can’t just waltz over here, apologize, and think that things will go back to the way they were in a blink of an eye,” Marissa said sharply.
“I know that they won’t, I’m just looking for forgiveness,” I said quietly with my head hung shamefully.
“Well we can’t really know that you’re sorry when you just say that you are. Come on Morgan, think! You know what they say; actions speak louder than words,”
With that closing statement by Marissa, the three of us went our separate ways home. I went to the left toward the buses, Marissa walked to the right so that her mom could pick her up, and Jackie turned and walked back to her after school history class. They told me I needed to show action? Oh, they’re going to see some action.
The next time we had lunch, I made a very blatant point to sit in-between Jackie and Marissa. That lunch was torture on its worse day. All of my friends were silent, not daring to speak a word to me. My attempts to get a conversation going were met with the same brick wall of stillness. I endured the next two and a half weeks of that when I finally said something that piqued their interest.
“I know I made a huge mistake,” I started, “but everyone does. We must rebound from our mistakes, learn the lesson, and move on. The way you’re treating me isn’t fair. I’ll never be able to prove myself.”
Slowly, my friends looked up at me one at a time. Jackie was the first to say something.
“Okay, well I can see that you’re sincerely sorry now, and how you proved it by sitting with us every day, even when we didn’t talk to you. I know I forgive you, as long as you promise to never do it again.” Jackie confessed calmly.
Once Jackie had said that, all of my other friends nodded. We all shed a huge smile at one another. After that, we all started talking at once about how everything is okay, no harsh feelings, and how we all missed everything that we shared together. I was still invited to the more popular table, but I always declined the offer to sit with my friends that knew me so well, it might as well been scary. Even though all of the drama was over softball, I never quit, and my friends always understood that.
I still walk out on the field every day and practice. Now, I have a new head about me. I’m not the new girl anymore that has to prove herself to anyone and everyone. I’m the strong team leader who has confidence and a strong wall of friends to back her up. I’ve never let the same mistake of losing my friends and all the good times that we had again.
Even though I continued to play softball, I never let my achievements take place of my friends. It surprises most people when they see the softball star that I am today, and learn that I had problems handling the star power that comes along with your acceleration. I’m proud to say that I’ve never put sports before academics and my friends ever since my 7th grade year. Luckily, the drama, chaos, and lack of reason never came back to me.