As Ryan struggled into his light coat, he quickly grabbed the light lunch his mother packed for him and ran out the door.
Provisions were running low due to the war, but he was becoming accustomed to missing out on the simple things in life.
“Ryan,” his mother shouted before he got very far, “make sure you get to school on time. If you don’t, you’ll end up like your brother!”
“Yes, mom,” Ryan replied absentmindedly as he ran on. He thought about his brother, and how he could have had a job at home if he had a proper education. He felt a quick tinge of remorse.
Ryan’s father found a job at the pier in Halifax, so they had to sell their farm near Harrietsfield to move closer to his work. Ryan’s brother’s port of entry would be in Halifax.
His family prefered to be close to Ryan’s brother on the day of his return. Ryan started off as a bit of an outcast, as he was a farm boy and the others were fishing kids.
Luckily, he found a group of accepting friends who welcomed him into their clique. They were waiting for him as he ran up to the best place they could find to play baseball.
“Hurry up,” Taylor said. “My grandmother could have gotten here faster than you, and she’s dead!”
Breathing heavily, Ryan took off his coat. It was a surprisingly warm morning for December.
“The other team is batting first,” Jonathan said as he threw a glove to Ryan. He put it on, scrutinizing the worn-down piece of equipment. Jonathan continued, “Be careful with it.
I can’t get any more.”
“Why not?” Ryan asked.
“My father’s toy factory now makes bullets, just like all of the rest of them pretty much. This war isn’t great at all!”
The teams took their positions. Jonathan insisted on pitching first, and the quiet, short kid who Ryan never talked to took second base.
Taylor threatened to beat up Ryan if he took second base, so he took third. He didn’t know any of the kids on the opposing team, but there were four of them.
They all looked average, especially compared to Jonathan, Taylor, and the other kid. Jonathan was unusually tall for his age and looked as if he hadn’t eaten a decent meal in a month.
It was ironic because his family was more prosperous than any of the other children’s families. Taylor was a girl with short, dirty-blonde hair who looked and acted like a boy.
The other kid was short, shy, and unimportant. He only ever talked to Jonathan and Taylor.
Jonathan’s long, skinny arms wound up for the pitch. He threw a relatively fast, underhand throw. The person batting had a few holes in his shirt, so Ryan thought of him as the Holy One.
The Holy One swung hard and missed the ball.
“Strike one!” Jonathan said, trying to sound like an umpire. Another kid on the other team with a baseball cap retrieved the ball and tossed it back to Jonathan.
“You suck,” the kid with the hat said to the Holy One. Ryan nicknamed him the Mad Hatter.
Jonathan caught the ball and pitched it back to the Holy One, who swung hard. There was a loud crack sound as the ball came whizzing toward Ryan.
He panicked and lifted his gloved hand in front of his face. A dull pain rippled up his arm as the ball fell to the ground.
His heart was racing faster than the legs of the Holy One as he reached for the ball on the ground.
Taylor was shouting for the ball, but the Holy One was just about to reach first base, so Ryan threw the ball to the quiet kid.
By the time the ball rolled near first base, the Holy One was almost at second base. The quiet kid picked it up and threw it back to Ryan.
He got ready to catch the ball and looked over to see a kid sprinting toward him. Instinctively, he stepped out of the way as the ball fell to the ground.
The Holy One finally halted on third base, assuming that Ryan wasn’t nearly as bad at baseball as he truly was.
Ryan picked up the ball and threw it to Jonathan, who was calmly beckoning for the pass. Taylor, on the other hand, was not very calm.
“What was that?” she screamed from second base. “I’ve never seen anything so pathetic in my entire life! I’m glad you chickened of missing school for all of those other games! For Pete’s sake!”
Ryan felt his cheeks going red. He just wanted to curl up into a ball and disappear forever. Despite his shame, he decided to stand tall.
He was determined to somehow get better throughout the game, to prove to his new friends that he was acceptable.
“Even Tomas agrees! Isn’t Ryan the worst baseball player you’ve ever seen?” Taylor continued.
The quiet kid just looked at Ryan, then back at Taylor, and shrugged. Ryan took a mental note that his name was Tomas.
He also took note that one of the people on the opposing team was laughing. Ryan called him the Clown because he was funny looking.
The second person to go up for batting was someone Ryan hadn’t come up with a name for yet.
“Let’s go, Nick!” the Holy One shouted. Jonathan pitched the pall, and Nick hit it smoothly into the air.
It landed in some trees at the end of the field, and both Nick and the Holy One cheered as they ran home.