I gave my juniors a bunch of short story prompts inspired by a compilation of “either/or” choices in a book one of the students brought to class this morning. The one I chose was “would you rather always lose or never play?”
I’m giving it to you just as I wrote it; it hasn’t gone through any revision or workshopping. I’ll take whatever feedback anyone feels compelled to give.
Stacey sat in the bleachers, watching her little brother’s baseball team lose… again. They were oh-and-19 going into this game, and the future didn’t look good. At least this time they managed to get on the scoreboard; the run the Ducks brought in on a laughable error by the other team’s outfielder brought the number of runs scored by the team for the entire season to exactly two.
Bottom of the 9th; two outs. Jameson was at bat. At 13, he was still an awkward kid, and despite his 6 years in Little League, he never quite got the hitting stance right. He held the bat like a weapon, Stacey could see Jamie’s fingers turning white in the death-grip on the thing, and he bent his knees so much that his ass stuck out at an impossible angle. He stared at the pitcher with what looked to Stacey like a mixture of wide-eyed fear and blazing fury, and she was sure that, at any moment, the kid might storm the mound and beat the pitcher to death.
The ball came screaming toward her little brother, and he did what he always did. The bat came flying around his body, wielded more like a broadsword than a baseball bat, and missed the ball entirely. Stacey heard the ball thump securely in the catcher’s mitt, watched the umpire signal strike three, and watched as her brother and his fellows came to the infield to line up to congratulate yet another vanquishing team. Stacey gathered up her bag and her jacket and thought to herself that the kids didn’t even look all that dejected. Losing, it seems, is something that they’ve gotten comfortable with.