One of the boys
I looked out at the empty deserted field behind our house that would soon be turned into a subdivision filled with new families and houses as occupants. The day was hot and dry but good enough for a game of baseball with my cousins and the other group of kids in the neighborhood.
“C’mon, Nancy, you have to keep up if you’re going to play with us today” said my cousin Rodrigo. He was the oldest and I was in his care as the youngest member of the group, not to mention the only girl. I picked up the pace and shuffled my feet faster over the dry cracked ground in order to make our quest to the baseball field we had set up in the deserted stretch of land behind our house. The heat and nerves to start the game made my palms so sweaty that my glove and bat were slipping from my hands like a wet bar of soap.
We made it to the field and of course I was the last one to get to the pitcher’s mound where my cousins and the others were already assembled in a line ready to pick the teams. Rodrigo, one of the team captains, had quickly said to me when I slipped in to the end of the line “You’re with me, Nancy, you’re going to play first-base.” I had never had to play any position before but an outfielder. I know I can do this; I thought, I can always ask Rodrigo for some pointers before we got started.
The teams were set and the game was about to begin. I slipped on my catcher’s mitt over my sweaty hand and walked up behind my cousin who was taking some practice swings before we officially started. I said “Rodrigo, what do you want me to do exactly?” With his back turned towards me he started to say
“Just make sure you…” and Whack! My face had been hit in an instant before I could react to the end of the bat that was coming straight for my left eye. My cousin had swung the bat and not realizing that I was right behind him. My eyebrow had been split open and my head was throbbing in pain from the impact. I could literally see stars with my closed eyes and felt the warm blood drip from the open wound to cover my face. My hands moved up to my face within seconds of regaining my balance from the force of the impact to feel the open split right above my left eyebrow.
“Nancy, are you alright? I am so sorry I didn’t think you were right behind me!” said Rodrigo. I felt his familiar callous fingers from years of guitar playing on my hands attempting to take them off my face that were covering the wound and hiding my embarrassment.
I could hear the rest of the team member’s footsteps coming towards me and them all asking each other, “What happened, did anyone see that?”
I kept my left hand over my wounded brow and opened my other eye. I saw Rodrigo had tears in his eyes and the remorse on his face. I told him “Please just get me home, it hurts so much.” He did not hesitate to put his arm around me and guide me back through the desert and to our home.
“I’m so sorry, Nancy.” said Rodrigo as we started walking back towards our house.
“It’s going to be alright I just want to see grandma, she will make it better.” I knew I said the wrong thing, my grandmother would not be easy on him. He was the oldest and in charge of my safety. I would have to tell her right away that it was an accident.
As we made our way to the beginning of the residential street I knew we only had three houses to walk down but my head was hurting more than ever and blood had dripped down to soak the collar of my t-shirt. We walked up the driveway and up to the front door. Rodrigo rang the doorbell and seconds later my grandmother swung open the front door. “Nancy, what happened to you!?” said my grandmother as she grabbed my shoulder and led me into the air-conditioning and the bathroom where the first aid kit was.
The first words out of my mouth were “Grandma, it was an accident, I was standing behind Rodrigo and he hit me, please don’t punish him.”
She said in response, “Now you see why I don’t like you going out there and playing those rough games?”
“I know grandma but I love to play, I was brave and I did not cry.” I said.
“I can see that, but you are about to.” She said. I could see out of my opened eye the bottle of peroxide on the counter and prepared myself for the stinging pain that was about to come.
I still have a reminder of that day, when I was out with the boys. I can still keep up with them, scar and all even today. I can never forget that lesson from a game of baseball.