That’s the Way the Ball Bounces

She grabbed the basketball from her center and flung it hard at the guard. Jenna was a senior and had her whole life ahead of her. Captain of the Varsity Basketball team, 4.0 student, Junior miss, and she had the hottest boyfriend who also was a basketball player.

So why was she so pissed today? Her best friend had heard a rumour that her boyfriend was cheating on her. “No way. it’s not possible,” she said as she stormed out of the dressing room before practice. But more than one person had witnessed him kissing Mel. Obviously practice was a waste. She tried to keep her thoughts about Mel to herself; they needed each other to finish off their 14-1 season.

Mel and Jenna had never been close but they balanced each other as team mates. Sadly that was about to change. When Jenna called Mike that night, she could sense the tension in his voice.

“I’d rather hear it from you,” she said kindly.

They had been best friends much longer than they had dated.

” I kissed Mel this weekend. There is no excuse and I would understand if you wanted to break up with me.”

“How did it happen” Jenna was trying to help Mike get past it. If there was a way to patch things up, she would because she cared.

“Jenna I don’t know exactly. It was dark. She playfully came up behind me and grabbed me. All of a sudden it wasnt playful as her hair brushed against my cheek ; then it was her lips. It was one kiss I regret. Mel means nothing. You and I have been best friends.  If we  go back to a friendship, I would be happy -Jen.

“Maybe it would be good if we got together and talked. I want our friendship to survive this Mike.”

“I do too – thanks.”

A tear fell from her eye. Mel had set Mike up. But why? The next few days she tried to find out why. Who was this girl Mel. she didn’t seem mean. Then she caught it. Well at least she thought she had. Mel had also applied to Stanford University and gotten a rejection the same weekend that Jenna got her acceptance. Jenna of course was thrilled and shared her news around campus. Mel was gonna be stuck going to a State University. “Oh joy – what prestige. Jenna had heard Mel one day.” But what Jenna heard as she rounded a corner was even more of an eye opener.

“I’m gonna meet some poor loser at San Francisco State instead of meeting a rich stud at Stanford. My parents have always pushed me to marry someone rich and Stanford was my ticket to rich.”

Jenna wasn’t rich but her family was financially set. Her dad  could afford to send her to a good school, and buy her  a reliable car, and give Jenna a clothing allowance. Not the BMer her best friend had but still. Jenna was content. She realized that Mel was a bitter person.

The next day they were practicing for the regional finals. Some girls had scholarships riding on the game. Mel was not helping the team get in the groove. The practice ended and coach grabbed Jenna for a bottled water.

“What is up with the dynamics? It’s been off.”

“Well personally I think it is one team member – I have been working with her and tipping her, but she seems to be souring the team. She has nothing riding on the game.”

“Well without some edge we may go down Jenna.”

“I would like permission to mix the team up a bit – I’m concerned that one of our team mates is creating some problems.”

“I support your decision; the team has been off. I hate to bench a senior at this level but I agree.”

As the team was being given the last-minute assignments, Coach called number 59 for the bench. Stacy was furious as she plopped her butt down on the bleacher. Jenna slapped Mel on the back and said,” this is for a win girlfriend” as she gave her a high five.

Jenna had fortunately discovered that Stacey, who could have been Mel’s double especially in the dark, was trying to ruin Mel’s life for something that had happened when they were freshmen. Jenna was so glad that she had found Stacy ‘s  plan to ruin Mel in the locker room. It kinda fell into her lap.

As  Jenna came out of the game for water, she smiled at Stacy “Sorry -that’s the way the ball bounces.”


The Boy and The Stick (Saturday Story)

I have decided to try something new for this blog. I’ve been a storyteller since I was 8. Children loved sitting and hearing me tell a story before bedtime or a nap or just in-between something. I’ll try it with older kids and see what happens. Worst case I’ll create a story section for you to read to your children.

The Boy and The Stick

This story takes us back to a time that was simpler. Noises outside weren’t drowned out by motors and the air was still clean to breathe. Children played outside and made up games with a ball and a stick. We enter our story in the middle of a field with the boy, the stick, and a dog.

All boys will tell you that their imagination can get the better of them when they have a stick and a ball. Jessie’s imagination was no different on that warm, sunny afternoon in Upstate New York.

“The bases are loaded and there are two outs at Yankee stadium. It’s the bottom of the ninth  – the Yanks are down by one. Jesse Miller is up to bat. He hasn’t been able to come through in the clutch so far this season. Too bad that this isn’t Maris’ spot in the line-up.  He’s been having one heck of a year.”

Jessie throws the ball in the air and makes contact with the baseball. The ball goes farther than he has ever hit it before. “Run Jessie run” his dog seems to pant. So run he does. All the way around the bases as he slides into home the ball comes whirling over  home plate – Too late! Jessie looks up with a grin as his friend Owen runs in to join the game.

“Nice hit Jessie – you parked that one. Wonder what you could have done with a real bat?”

“ Awww it was just an accident – Owen.”

When Jessie got home that night, his mother looked more drained than usual. That meant dad had been home at lunch and had taken what he wanted. Dad wasn’t home, fortunately, so he quickly cleaned up and loaded firewood in the stove; the only source of heat for the shack that they called home.

“How was your day Jessie”, his curly-haired sister asked.

“It was fine Barbie.” He flashed a smile toward the little sister he adored.

Just them he heard the door slam.

“You left a baseball and mitt outside. We paid good money for those things; they’ll be ruined,” his dad said as he smacked Jessie’s head with the back of his hand.

Jessie never made excuses to his dad. So he didn’t tell him that he had oiled his mitt and wanted it to dry before bringing it inside. He ran to get the mitt and ball and placed them in a brown box under the army cot that served as his bed.

Growing Up

Jessie worked hard at school so that he could play sports after school. When his father left during his freshman year of high school, Jessie’s mom tried to pull him out of school so that he could work full-time to support the family. The School Board intervened. Jessie was allowed to go to school but there wasn’t much time for sports. The School Board didn’t consider baseball a necessary part of Jessie’s education and mother made him get an after school job. Coach Bryant was kind and saw promise in Jessie. Whenever  Jessie could slip away or get a day off, he was allowed to practice with the team. Jessie continued to practice in the field by his house every evening until he couldn’t see his hands.

Then the summer of his junior year came, it was time to consider his options.

“I can run away and get a job somewhere. I can get a full-time summer job so mom can take every last penny I earn.  I can hang out with Danny and the guys. They make good money selling dope.  I can go to camp and play baseball most of the summer.”

Jessie dreamed of baseball from sun up until he passed out at night. The possibility of going to camp to play baseball was a dream- an impossible dream.

Mother waved mail in Jessie’s face one day, “This is for you.”

Jessie never got mail. He opened the envelope. He held a clean, white, type written letter in his hand. As he read it, his face glowed with a hope that had long been extinguished.

“Mother, I’ve been invited to attend a baseball camp down state for the summer. It doesn’t cost anything and there is a part-time job available for me to make money for you and sis.”

He wasn’t going to beg; he just clasped his hands together in hope.

“Well if you are gone, we will save money on food and I won’t have to worry about you causing no trouble with those boys you ben seein.”

Trying to hold back his excitement -he flatly said, “that means I can go?”

“Yeh- I guess.”

Realizing Dreams

Jessie went down the street to his field and let out a huge whoop and holler. The next day he shared the news with Coach who smiled a knowing grin. He knew this summer would decide Jessie’s future. He hoped, as two other families who had pitched in for baseball camp, that Jessie would succeed.

“It’s the bottom of the ninth the Yanks are down by one. Jesse Miller is up to bat. He hasn’t been able  to come through in the clutch so far this season. Too bad that this isn’t … “Strike One. Ball Two… That kid needs to get focus… uh it’s a high-flying ball curved to left field… It’s gone!!!!”

The fans were standing, yelling, and clapping as Jessie slid into home (because he always did). Owen and Barbie were waving Yankee pennants as Jessie smiled his thanks. The boy with the stick was living his dream.

Check out  Glynn‘s  site for the Saturday Good Reads

Thanks to Bukutgirl for the baseball photo.

Thanks for the Yankee Jersey photo: NyCla