Emerge, Book One(The Evolve Series)(2)By: S.E. Hall
“Rescue, huh? That’s what you think that was?”
So… Evan can answer. “Whatever, you know what I mean. I don’t care what anyone thinks of me. My dad and I are just fine without them. I don’t need new friends any more than I needed saving. I can take care of myself just fine.”
“Oh, I could see that, tiger. That’s not why I did it.”
Tiger? Could he not remember my name? Typical boy. “Why did you then?”
He thinks for a minute, kicking the dirt with his toe, and then shrugs. “I’ll let you know as soon as I figure it out.”
I never heard what he came up with. Turns out, we had plenty of other things to talk about.
8 Years Later
“Walker, you’re up!” Coach Logson yells at me.
Here we go again, hero or zero time. Since it’s my senior year, and I’ve played softball since I can remember, I ought to be used to the pressure, but those familiar butterflies in my stomach start to stir.
Coming off the bench cold in the last inning sucks. It can only lead to disaster or heroism, often making DH the worst position on the team. So, armed with my fifty-fifty chance, I grab my helmet and bat and approach the warm-up circle.
Taking my practice swings, timing with the pitcher, I really should be too focused to hear my father’s voice above the crowd and my own thoughts.
“Fall down swinging, slugger!” he shouts in that “ball is life” voice of his.
My dad was an all-star pitcher and hometown hero in his day, so he knows the game inside and out and has a true love and respect of it. He’s rarely missed an inning of my many years playing and I’m always pleased when my performance delivers and makes him proud.
More distracting than his voice, however, is the glance I catch of my other fan that never misses a game, Evan.
Evan Allen, my best friend and rock, is sitting on the top bleacher as always, sporting his navy #14 t-shirt that proclaims him a Walker fan. I sneak a longer peek at him out of the corner of my helmet and see that he has his fingers crossed on both hands, left leg twitching up and down. Sometimes I think he gets more nervous for me than I do.
He knows I’m looking, much like I can always sense his gaze upon me, and turns slightly to wink. “You got this,” he mouths with a firm nod.
Focused on me, he doesn’t notice the pack of she-wolves sauntering up the stands. Giggling and prancing, or whatever it is they do, they take the bleacher in front of him, almost blocking his view. I’m sure my helmet doesn’t hide the eye roll I give, but I don’t care. I turn my focus back to the game.
Kaitlyn Michaels, our right fielder and pretty much the only female friend I have, pops up and the ball is easily caught, the second out of the inning. It’s go time and I step up to the plate. My father again shouts to swing for the fence. He, too, gets annoyed when I get pulled in cold at the end, so he’s basically telling me to ignore my sign and swing for it.
My first pitch is outside, and although Coach Dad has always advised me to lay off those, I of course swing…and miss. Banging my bat across the plate, I ready myself for the next pitch. This one comes in low and I lay off; one thing I’ve always had is a good eye. I take a deep breath. I can do this. Swinging late, I get a piece of the pitcher’s third attempt.
“One-two.” The ump calls the count…right before I swing again and whiff.
That’s the thing about my dad’s “no guts no glory” theory: if you connect, it’s gone, you win and you’re the MVP. But if you miss…it feels like this.
I had struck out, ending the game in their favor. Being the last out of a game is the worst feeling ever. I’d almost rather not get in the game at all.
After feigning interest in the Coach’s post-game speech, not that I don’t respect him and my team, but I’m kinda over it right now, I start on my trek to the locker room…only to have Dad step in my path.
“Good swing, kid. You ever get a piece of those outsiders you can’t lay off, it’ll be gone,” he says, scrubbing my head.
I give him a half smile and shoulder shrug. What else can I do? I wonder how many people my dad made feel exactly like this during his time on the mound.