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He's Never Looking Back
Zak, Age 15, Oak Park, IL

The pitch moves towards his head. He ducks out of the way of the ball. That was a close one. The ball leaves bruises if it hits you. One to the head could knock you out. Maybe not little league, but those major leaguers can pitch 100. That will definitely knock you out. You can probably see the balls stitches on those bruises. But he escaped the bruises on this wild pitch. The pitcher gets set again. He nervously steps back into the box. He swings over the next pitch. Darn. He wishes it was as easy as t-ball. The ball stays still and you can smack it a mile every time. The pitcher gets set again. He’s looking for some contact. He’s not trying to swing for the fences. After all, nobody is on base. He gets his contact. He hits a solid line driver between 3rd base and the shortstop. He didn’t get enough of it to get more than a single. He does the little turn at 1st base to make sure. The left fielder is throwing the ball to 2nd base. Yep, only a single. That̵ 7s ok. Jake’s up to bat next. He glances at the outfield.. They’re not playing deep enough. They’ve never seen him bat. Jake is ready to teach them how deep they should play when he’s batting. The first pitch is right down the middle. Jake gives that ball a ride way over the left fielders head. They all know it’s a home run. Now they’re up 2-0. It’s a good start. They go on to win big. After the game, he’s talking to Jake.

“That was a good start to our season,” he says.

“Yeah, we have a good team.” Jake says.

“Well I’m glad we’re on the same team. That way you’re not hitting those bombs over my head,” he replies.

“Yeah, me too man.” Jake says with a smile on his face.

“You wanna hang out today?” he asks.

“Sure. We can go to my house,” Jake says.

“Sounds good. I think I’m gonna go home first. I need to change out of this uniform. I don’t want to sit in it all day. You know how itchy and uncomfortable it is. Especially the cup,” he responds.

Jake replies, “Well, if you really want to, don’t wear it and then a baseball can bounce up and hit you right in the nuts.”

They both laugh at that.

He’s moving into the new apartment today. It’s all the way up on the third floor. He’s not used to that. It will be like climbing a mountain every day. The movers came while he was at his dad’s house. That was a few days ago. The apartment is still filled with boxes. The cats are freaking out. It’s a new place, and his mom says that scares them. At least they love the boxes. His mom hates boxes. They remind her of when she moved around so much when she was a kid. He’s excited by the new apartment. It’s bigger, it’s nicer, and most importantly, it’s only 3 blocks away from his dad’s house. He doesn’t have many great memories of the old apartment. It wasn’t that nice. But he does remember the bad stuff like when he was learning to ride a bike. He skinned both knees and both elbows in the alley. He remembers exactly what those skinned knees and elbows looked like. He goes into his room. It’s painted light blue. It reminds him of the sky. He looks at his mom and says, “Hey mom. I really like the apartment.”

He’s sitting in Sunday school. He looks at the clock for the millionth time. Why won’t it move faster? He’s been there an hour, but there’s another hour and a half to go. The teacher is talking about something, but he’s not listening. He’s looking out the window. He’s looking at the walls. He’s looking at the table. He’ll look at anything because he just wants it to end. Who decided to make this last forever? And it goes until noon, so he’ll miss 30 minutes of the Bears game. If he had the choice, he’d choose watching the Bears over this in a second. But he doesn’t have that choice. He’s going to keep daydreaming until he has his Bar-Mitzvah. Then he’s free. Finally, he’ll be able to sleep in. And when he drags himself out from under the covers, he’ll be able to kick back and watch the entire Bears game. And once he’s out, he’s never looking back.

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