The gathering crowd had started to chant and none of them heard her. But Jenny did. She tightened her grip on Sonya’s hair and leaned her head in close to whisper in her ear, “What did you say?” Then she yanked down hard enough to bring Sonya to her knees. They stung where the gravel bit into them.
Fight back next time, Mitch had said when she called him last night. Show them you’re not easy prey.
But they’re bigger.
So am I but you used to beat the shit out of me.
No, it’s not.
“I said leave me alone.” She dug her nails into Jenny’s hand and then scrambled away when she let go. One of the Evil Twins, probably Lara but maybe it was Tara - Sonya could never get them straight - was dumping the contents of Sonya’s backpack onto the ground.
I wish you were here.
Me too, kiddo. Did you tell Mom yet?
She wanted to know what I did to make them mad.
“Why should we?” Jenny said. She stared at the red crescent-shaped marks on the back of her hand and then held it out to face Sonya. “You drew blood, you little bitch.” Lara/Tara opened up Sonya’s binder and let the wind rip the pages free. The other twin rifled through the rest of Sonya’s things and picked up Mitch’s baseball.
You didn’t do anything wrong. You know it’s not your fault, right?
Do you want me to call your school?
Sonya stood up. “Good,” she said.
Someone in the crowd laughed and Jenny glared at her. “Did you just say good?”
You have to show them you’re not scared of them.
But I am.
“Apparently your hearing’s impaired,” Sonya said.
One of the twins - Tara? - snickered. She was bouncing Mitch’s baseball in her hand. “Hey, look at this,” she said and tossed it to Jenny.
Jenny turned it over in her hand. “Who signed this?”
“My brother,” said Sonya.
At least tell your teacher, okay?
“He sent it for Ms. Harold’s son,” said Sonya. “I’ll tell her if you don’t give it back.”
From the back of the crowd, someone yelled, “Teacher!”
Jenny glanced toward the school and then back at Sonya. “Think fast,” she said and hurled the ball at Sonya.
Did you get my package?
Uh huh. Thanks for the snow globe. I didn’t know they made them in Arizona.
They have everything here. I thought you’d like that.
Yeah, it’s cool.
Sonya caught it. She couldn’t stop herself from flinching at the sting as it hit her palm.
Jenny sneered at her. “He isn’t such hot shit, you know. He’s only in the minors.”
Sonya stood up straighter. “No he’s not. He just got called up.”
Call me if they do anything else.
You sure you don’t want me to call?
I’m sure. I can handle it.
All right. Love you, kiddo.
Love you too, bro.
“Whatever. My dad says a faggot like him is prob’ly happy around all those guys in tight pants.” Jenny turned and followed the dispersing crowd across the field. “We’ll finish this after school,” she called back.
Sonya glared at the back of Jenny’s head. Then, just like Mitch had taught her, she shifted her body to the right and set up for the pitch. Lift your knee up. That’s it. Keep your eye on your target. Now step forward and snap and release. Follow through, follow through!
Her follow-through had always been stellar. Sonya heard the dull crack as the ball found its mark, heard Ms. Harold yell as Jenny landed face-first in the gravel. One of the Evil Twins started to scream.
Sonya turned and started toward home just as the morning bell rang. If she called now, she could catch Mitch before he left for the field. I’m so proud of you, kiddo, she imagined him saying. And he would be. She was sure of it.
© 2012 Dawn Huddlestone
Friday Flash is a weekly opportunity for writers to pen and share short stories of 1,000 words or less with fellow flash fiction writers (and anyone else interested in reading them). For more information, visit FridayFlash.org.