At The Plate
Flora found herself in the same position she had been in many, many times before. She didn’t like sitting in the hot sun but she couldn’t find any shade. Her long auburn curls were tied back in a ponytail and stuffed under her cap. The red and black shirt she was wearing in her opinion only made her hotter. She wondered why they couldn’t have planted a big tree for shade twenty years ago instead she felt like she was in the middle of a dessert.
Waiting was no big deal for her. She waited for her baby brother to be born last year. She waited for her mom to pick her up from school and her mom was always late. She waited for her grandma to make her favorite homemade soup that she likes. Grandma never seemed to make it as often as she liked. She waited to go to the school that she liked. And she could hardly wait now. Even though waiting was something that Flora thought she could win a gold medal in if it was an olympic event, she still didn’t like it much.
She grabbed a bottle of cold water from the cooler. She hoped that would help cool her off while she waited. Ironically, she even had to wait for that. Henry, the kid who could never decide what he wanted all the time, was in the cooler first. Flora rolled her eyes as she stood behind him. She was thinking Henry only had two choices and that was water or juice. How hard can it be to pick one?
“Henry, just choose one!” Fora ordered because she was hot and sweaty.
“I don’t know which one I want. “ Henry replied looking at Flora and wiping sweat from his forehead.
Flora went around Henry and grabbed both and gave both the juice bottle and water bottle to him.
“Here you go. Just have both.” Flora said as she grabbed her bottle of water.
She liked Henry but sometimes he got on her nerves being so indecisive.
“Okay people is everyone good?” Mr. Barnes said as he passed out water to the rest of the kids.
The kids all nodded and opened their bottles.
“Good because there’s going to be some changes. And I need everyone to pay attention.”
The kids groaned. They didn’t like changes because when Mr. Barnes made changes that only met one thing. Flora was going to have to wait longer. And to Flora that kind of sucked.
Flora always wondered why people had to wait for everything. She didn’t know the answer to that question. She also wanted to know why she was the one always waiting for the coach to put her in the line up when they both knew that she was very good. She waited and pondered as she waited.
Flora was ten years old and had waited two years to join the baseball team and it wasn’t easy. Mr. Barnes told her that no girl had ever played baseball for that school. Flora told him that it was time to change all that. Yes, she was a girl but why should that matter. She was good. Mr. Barnes hesitated to give her a try out but once her mom spoke to him he turned a few shades of red and let her try out.
She didn’t know what her mom said because her mom talked to him in private but whatever it was she was glad she got to try out for the team. Mr. Barnes was impressed and pretty soon he was saying that Flora was one of the best players on the team. That was something Flora already knew.
The boys on the team were all pretty nice to her. Most of them were in her class. Bobby Been took a while to warm up to the fact that Flora was a girl and yes she was on the team and yes, she was good and wasn’t going anywhere. Once that sunk through his thick head he was nicer to Flora too. Flora was glad because her mom told her he wasn’t nicer she was going to have a talk with his mom. Flora didn’t really want that. So, she was glad when Bobby started acting nicer on his own.
“Okay, people. Here's how it’s going to go. We are two points behind the Cougars and you know they are the best in the west. Coming up is their best hitter, Josh, number 15, we won’t worry about him. Dave, will intentionally walk him. So, he will be on first base. Their next batter is James, I figure he will try to bunt so the outfield comes in when he’s at bat and gets ready at first base. Their next batter, Nick shouldn’t be a problem. “ The coach said looking at his papers.
“Now, when it is our turn. I want Moses up first, Gustavo, you are next and Michael you are up next. If we move the batters I want Jim to go up.”
“Hey, wait a minute. I am supposed to go up after Michael.” Flora said.
“Ummm, well, Flora I decided to move you up after Jim.”
“Why after Jim?” Flora asked, confused.
“Because I want Jim to bunt and that will confuse the other team because they will be expecting you to come up after Jim and when he bunts I want you to come up swinging. We need three runs to beat them.”
Flora didn’t like waiting to hit any longer than she had to but she understood that when playing on a team you had to be a good sport and listen to the coach. She sat back down on the bench and waited until the other team was done. They almost got one more run when David hit a long one to DeMario in right field. Thankfully he caught it and that was the end of the inning.
“Okay team, lets get fired up!” Coach said as the first batter went to the batting box. Moses got a hit as expected but not as expected he got a double and was on second base instead of first. Gustavo and Michael both got singles so the bases were loaded. Next it was Jim’s turn. Or it was supposed to be Jim’s turn. Jim had drunk too many bottles of water and his stomach hurt and he had to run to the bathroom. Coach did the only thing he could do. He looked straight at Flora and nodded.
Flora knew that nod met as she walked to the batter’s box.
“Strike one!” The umpire yelled.
“Why did I swing at that ball?” Flora thought as she stepped out of the batter’s box and then back in.
“Foul ball!” The umpire yelled again as Flora watched the ball curve into the stands.
“Strike two!” Was the next call.
“Time out!” Coach yelled as he ran to the batter’s box where Flora was standing.
“Flora you waited all this time to get up here. You are good. You can do it. You are one of the best, if not the best player on the team. Don’t be nervous. Do you best. You got this!”
The coach ran back to the dugout and Flora waited for the next pitch. She has got this she thought and she was going to hit this ball.
The ball came at Flora very fast. She thought that the pitcher, Cameron, got better with his fast balls, but she was determined to hit whatever ball he threw at her.
Flora swung hard and the familiar cracking sound of the ball hitting the bat had the fans in the stands, all the parents and grandparents, standing up and cheering. Flora ran as fast as she could to first base.
“Please let me be safe.” She said aloud.
“The crowd roared as her teammates crossed home plate. Both of them. Flora had hit a double.”
“Run Fora, run!” The coach yelled as Flora stopped on first base.
Coach was waving his arms and hands wildly as Flora slid into second.
“Where’s the ball? “ She thought as she got up and looked around briefly.
“Keep going, Flora, run!” Coach was yelling, still waving his arms and hand in the air widely.
Flora rounded third base. She looked for the ball but still didn’t see it. Nobody was throwing it towards her. She was safe on third.
“Flora, go!!!! Keep going, keep going!” Coach yelled as he was now jumping up and down still waving his arms and hands.
Flora slid into home plate as the ball whisked by her.
“Safe!” The umpire yelled.
Flora’s team all jumped up and down and clapped and cheered. This was one of the best days of Flora's life. She had hit an inside the park homerun for the first time ever.
She could hear her mom and dad in the stands yelling her name and cheering for the team.
Flora thought that sometimes, just sometimes, some things are worth the wait as she joined her teammates in the dugout to celebrate their victory and that was the answer to her question about the waiting game.