GENRE: YA Contemporary
It was bitterly cold in the mid-December twilight, but not cold enough to keep Jessica Joiner and her friends indoors. Despite the snow covering the pitcher’s mound and dusting the bases, the park was packed. Jamaica Plain Recreation Center was no Fenway, but every kid around that field could picture the Green Monster scoreboard and smell the franks carted through the stands by an imaginary vendor.
“You ready, Princess?” A freckle-faced boy jeered from the pitcher’s mound.
Home on a two-week reprieve from The Academy at Hartford Grove, Jessica’s ribbon-adorned, auburn ponytail gave the mistaken impression she embraced boarding school life. In truth, she wore her Academy Wildebeests sweatshirt with the hope of staining it to the point of ruin. Stepping up to the plate, she gripped the bat in her small hands. Jessica glared straight into freckle-face’s eyes and smirked.
The pitch sped toward her like a comet, bright white in the dusky sky. She swung the bat and heard the satisfying crack of wood against leather. The ball shot way over the pitcher’s head, over the second baseman’s outstretched glove and into the trees framing the park. The girls cheered as Jessica skipped around the bases, ignoring a small cluster of unfamiliar kids watching the game from the sidelines and taunting boys she’d known since childhood as she passed each one. As her grand finale, she leapt gracefully onto home plate.
Her best friend, Sunnie Johnson, squealed, “double-you-tee-gee, Jessie!” and the other girls cheered her name.