Baseball and Best Friends

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Lexi and James had nobody but each other. They were best friends...until James moved away. Now Lexi is in with the popular kids and is dating the star jock of the school...but what price will she pay for the popularity?
:::for MarriahJustine's Romantical Picture Contest:::

Submitted: July 16, 2011

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Submitted: July 16, 2011

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“Catch it, James! Run!” I screamed from the bleachers.  I jumped up as he reached the spot where the ball was sure to drop.  Leaning into the fence to be as close to the action as possible, I held my breath as the ball dropped.  It smacked his glove.  I went crazy with excitement.  His team had won.  James caught my eye from his position in the outfield and grinned.  As the other boys gathered their bats and gloves, James headed toward me.

“Do you wanna play, Lexi?” he held out his extra glove.  I took it eagerly and headed onto the field with him.  The other boys never let me play with them.  Girls weren’t allowed, they said.  James argued, but in the end the others won.  So James stayed afterward and we would toss the ball around for a bit.  Sometimes he would even play pitcher so I could attempt to smash it out of the park.  We were best friends.

That was six years ago.  Before he left.

I thought back to when our little twelve year old selves were inseparable.  We attended the same school and were in the same class.  He even lived two houses down from me so we got to take the bus home together every day.  He always made sure to get the seat right next to me.  On the occasional days that he was sick, or missed school for some other reason, I sat alone.  James was my only friend, but that never upset me.  He was the only friend I needed.

After school and homework, if there was any time left in the day, we would find something to do together.  Rollerblading, drawing pictures with chalk, racing to the playground, convincing our mothers to let us have a lemonade stand, rigging a rope ladder to climb to the roof of his garage…anything we could come up with, we did.  More often than not, or antics got us in trouble.  But whenever we were grounded, we came up with new ways to outsmart our parents.  Morse code flashlight signals out the window.  A tin can radio.  Using the rope ladder to sneak out through the window.  For being only twelve, we were quite resourceful and imaginative.

On my thirteenth birthday, he became the first boy I ever kissed.  He brought me a huge bouquet of wildflowers he had handpicked from the field at the end of the block.  I was delighted and rushed off to get a vase of water.  Placing the flowers in my vase, I then hugged him in thanks.  He gently pressed his lips to mine for just a second before pulling away.  My eyes went wide and neither of us knew what to say.  Then he turned and ran in the opposite direction.

Then came eighth grade.  Suddenly, people wanted to be my friend.  Girls invited me to sleepovers and parties.  Boys wanted to talk to me.  James began talking to other people as well.  He joined the baseball team and started hanging out with those boys instead of me.  Our groups of friends were totally separate.  Even on the bus, we didn’t talk.  James sat in the back of the bus with his baseball buddies and I sat near the front with all my friends.  Pretty soon, I didn’t even see him around the neighborhood anymore.

Graduation came quickly.  I sat next to him in the lineup because our last names came right after the other – James Kooper and Alexa Krystal.  He congratulated me as we exited the auditorium and I returned it, but then we were separated by the mass of people taking pictures and giving hugs to everyone.

That was the last time I saw him.  The week after graduation, James and his family moved away.  I didn’t even know where their new house was.  If it was just across town, across the state, across the country…I couldn’t have even guessed.  I didn’t miss him much through high school.  I was busy with all my friends.  Somehow, I had become a part of the popular group.  I tried out for the cheerleading team, because that’s what popular kids do.  I dragged my mom to the coolest stores in the mall, begged her for the expensive clothes because that’s what everybody else wore.  I put on gobs of makeup and wore a pushup bra and low cut shirts because my friends told me that was how you attract boys.  In my junior year, I even started dating the star of the basketball team.  I was the queen of the school, and though I had never tried to be in that position, I loved it.  At homecoming, I was crowned the homecoming queen – the first junior to ever earn that spot.

The summer before senior year, I was hardly ever at home.  I had too many friends to count and they all wanted my attention.  I got a job working at an ice cream stand with some of my other friends.  A month into it, we all got fired because we had been talking and messing around instead of working.

Senior year started off even more fantastically than junior year had been.  There were new freshmen to terrorize and mess with.  My friends and I were at the top of the school food chain.  I had the hottest guy on my arm and everybody loved me.  Then my world crashed down around me.

Prom night.  I had, of course, gone to prom with Blake, my boy toy since junior year.  I wore a dress that generously showed off my “assets” as one of my girl friends had put it.  Dancing was only fun as long as you knew how to grind with all the people around you…especially your significant other.  For the weekend after prom, we had planned to go to someone’s cottage with a bunch of friends.  We ditched the dance early and headed through the dark towards the cottage.  After a couple hours, Blake pulled the car up in front of a building.  I climbed out of the car and he led me inside.  Once in the door, I looked around confused.

“Blake, I don’t think this is the right place.  Missy’s cottage is way bigger than this.”

“I know, babe.  This is my uncle’s cottage.  I don’t think he’ll mind if we use it for a while.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, though his meaning was beginning to dawn on me.

He gave me a look.  “Come on, Alexa, seriously?”

“We have to go, Blake.  I’m not doing this.  How many times have I told you?”

“Yeah, you’ve said no.  But then you walk around wearing things like that,” he gestured to my dress, “and flirting like hell…what am I supposed to think?”  He came toward me.

“Blake, no.  I…I’m sorry if you thought…I don’t know, Blake.  But this is not what I meant.” He kept advancing toward me.  I backed up into a wall.  Looking around, I saw that I was trapped.  “Blake…”

“Be quiet, Alexa.”  Leaning on the wall with his hands on either side of me, he successfully boxed me in.  I was almost hysterical now as I could see exactly what was gonna happen tonight.  “You will do this.”

“No!” I tried ducking under his arm to run away, but he caught my waist and hoisted me up off the ground and carried me into the bedroom.

Early the next morning, I snuck out of the house, clutching the remains of my dress tightly to my body.  My makeup was smeared all down my face, but I didn’t care.  Didn’t take the time to freshen up or search for something better to wear.  I headed straight for the closest town I could find.  Tears continued to streak down my cheeks as I walked.  How could he do that?  I knew he was one of those guys who slept with all their girlfriends, but I thought he would respect the fact that I wasn’t like that.  He hadn’t pushed it very much at all in the past year.

Absorbed in my thoughts and memories, I didn’t even notice the car that pulled up next to me.

“Hey, are you alright?” The voice jerked me back to reality.

Looking up, I finally saw the car.  An older woman was in the driver’s seat.  “Um, yeah, I’m ok.  Uh, actually, do you know how far away the town is from here?  I need to find a phone or something.”

She smiled sympathetically.  “Get in the car and I’ll give you a ride.”

I looked up and down the road, seeing no other cars.  Considering all that had happened, I wasn’t really sure I wanted to get in the car of a stranger.  She obviously realized that, because she turned off the car and got out.  She put a comforting hand on my shoulder.  “Do you wanna tell me what happened?”

I couldn’t hold back.  Sobbing once again, I poured out the whole story to her.  This stranger that I had only known for five minutes was now becoming my biggest confidante.  When I was finished, she hugged me.  “I am so sorry, honey.”  She let me cry for a few minutes.  “Why don’t you let me take you home?  We’ll get you cleaned up and find some clean clothes and something to eat.”  I quietly got in the car and went with her.

Three hours later, I sat, dressed and clean, in front of a fireplace while Mrs. Helen Winslow talked quietly on the phone in the other room.  I had already called and talked to my parents, giving them an abbreviated version of what had happened the night before.  My mom was crying and my dad said he would start out immediately to come and pick me up.  Helen had given him her address and now all that was left to do was wait.

James Kooper wandered back unintentionally into my thoughts.  I wished he had never moved away.  Had he still lived near me, I was almost positive the two of us would have ended up together.  I had been in love with him since we were like eight.  Of course, at eight years old, kids don’t know what love is.  And even if they do, they don’t act upon it.  Now, seeing how screwed up my life was, I wanted nothing more than to go back in time to when the only thing that mattered to me was James.  Back to when I had no responsibilities and no problems.  When the all-boys baseball game was the worst thing I ever had to worry about.  Before I made all the bad choices of my high school years that led me to this place right now.

I heard Helen hang up the phone and walk back into the living room.  On a whim, I stood up and asked her if there was a playground anywhere near here.  She directed me a bit down the street and I went out for a walk.  Coming up to it, I noticed the baseball field and smiled.  I jogged over and laid back on the bleacher/bench thing next to one of the fenced in dugouts and looked up at the clouds.Closing my eyes, I thought back to the baseball games of so many years ago.  Too bad I didn’t have a ball or a glove or anything with me right now.

A crunch of gravel stirred me from my thoughts.  I turned my head and peeked at who was approaching.  I lost the ability to breathe for a minute.  Trying to sit up, I almost fell right off the bench.

He laughed.  “Don’t kill yourself, Lexi.”  Walking to the bench, he held out what he had been hiding behind his back.  “I got these for you.”  I took the bunch of wildflowers from his hand as he sat down next to me.

Finally able to speak, I forced out his name.  “James.  What are you doing here?”

He gave me a half smile.  “My grandma…she recognized you and decided to call me.”

“Your grandma?”

“Helen Winslow.” 

My mouth formed a silent ‘oh’.  “She told you what happened?”  I half hoped she had told him while the other half of my prayed that he didn’t know.

“Not all of it.  Just that something had happened with a guy and you were spending time at her house until your dad came to pick you up.  Your boyfriend?” he questioned.

“Ex.  He…well…didn’t like the fact that I kept telling him no so he took matters into his own hands.”

Oh my gosh, Lexi, no.  He raped you?”  I nodded and found myself engulfed in James’s arms.  “I am so sorry, Lex.  Where is he now?  I’ll kill him.”

“He’s probably on his way to Missy’s cottage right now to tell everybody how big he scored and what a huge slut I am.” A little half-sob escaped from the place deep inside where I had locked the tears.  “He’s such an ass.”

“Who?” James asked quietly.  “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

“Blake Milburn,” I whispered.  James’s arms tightened around me but he didn’t say anything.  I could tell what he was thinking though.  “I don’t wanna talk about this now, James.”

“Okay.  I’m sorry.”

“So what have you been up to?” I attempted to make conversation.  “How’s your new school?”

“School’s ok.  I’m glad it’s almost over though.”

I couldn’t think of anything else to say and, apparently, neither could he.  I turned and laid back down how I was originally, but with my head in his lap this time.  “Why didn’t you tell me you were leaving, James?” I asked softly, with no accusation.

He looked down and met my gaze.  “I wanted to, Lexi, believe me.  But, if you’ll remember, we hadn’t exactly been the best of friends that year so I didn’t really know how to start.  And I knew if I said goodbye…” he broke off and was silent for a minute.  “It was easier to leave without facing you.  I loved you too much to tell you goodbye.”

“You loved me?”

He nodded.  Opening his mouth to say something else, he paused, as if he wasn’t sure whether to continue or not.  “I still do love you, Lexi,” he whispered.  “I have since pretty much forever.”

 Tears came to my eyes once again.

“Why are you crying, Lex?  Did I upset you?  I’m sorry.”

“No, no.  You didn’t.  We’ve just wasted so much time James.”

“What do you mean?”

I smiled through the tears.  “I love you too.”

He leaned over and kissed me.  “That whole stupid losing touch thing…I was an idiot and I’m sorry.  I’m never gonna let that happen again.”

“Good.” I grinned at him.

 

 

I went home with my dad the next day, but I left with a promise from James to visit as soon as school was out for good.  Graduation came quickly and then he was back!He was accepted to a college close by and from then on, we were as inseparable as we had been as kids.  In love, and loving it.

Blake was arrested once I told the police what had happened.  All my so-called “friends” from the popular group disowned me and I was a nobody once again.  But I didn’t care.  I had my James back again.  Nothing else mattered.


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