With a high of 88°F for the day, temperatures had settled into the mid-70s, promising a cool evening for the fourth of July fireworks. My mom, and technically me, were all set for the show. She settled into her lawn chair, a cool drink in hand when things began to change.
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Aunt Julie and I had spent at least 20 minutes daring each other to do stupid things when we decided shoving things up our noses was not only cool, but funny. Julie was six years older than me, so she picked things that were relatively easy, like Q-tips and pencils. Not to be outdone, I went a step too far.
When I was a child, I called her Grammy. All of my cousins did, too. As we grew older, she became Gram. All of our friends called her Gram. She is and will always be the biggest influence on my character.
I stared at the signs Stacy was showing 60 feet away. I shook her off a few times before settling in on my “go-to” pitch. I could place it almost anywhere.
Standing on the pitcher’s mound, the entire world melted away. My teammates knew I liked it quiet, so the normal cheers of encouragement were rarely heard when I was on the mound. I shut out the people screaming in the stands. It was just me, the catcher, and the batter.
I was a junior in high school before I first attempted to take the bus to school. If you lived more than two miles from school, the district would provide a school bus for students. This was a new experience for me. I was nervous. I had always walked to school, but the idea of not being cold in winter or arriving to school sweaty in June was enticing.