Author: Sara (callmedirk)
Disclaimer: I own Dylan Caine and Carly Rogers. They are my own creations, no one else's. Please do not use without my permission.
Author's Notes: Something I've been puttering on for awhile. This is part of my original baseball novel, Stealing Second. (although that title may change...). This is just a bit of a scene/interlude. I may continue to post little bits and pieces from this story as it goes along. =) Also, if it says (name) anywhere in the text, it's because I haven't chosen a name for the character yet.
Carly Rogers and I have been best friends since the summer before fifth grade. I knew it would be a lasting friendship the day she and her family moved in next door to mine and I saw her carrying a cardboard carton with a baseball glove and ball inside it. Trying to fight the fear in my stomach, I took a deep breath and slowly walked over to say hi. Her blonde hair was pulled in a ponytail through the back of a red baseball cap and tied with a ribbon. She turned big green eyes to me and I bit my lip.
"I'm Dylan Caine," I said shyly. "I live next door,"
Her face lit in a smile and she nodded.
"Hi Dylan," she grinned. "I'm Carly--Carly Rogers."
She shifted the carton in her arms and I reached out to pull the leather glove from it.
"Is this your brother's glove?"
"Nope," she replied. "It's mine."
"Yours? You play?"
"Yep," she said. "I played Little League before we moved here."
I felt my eyebrows raise. "You were on a Little League team?"
Her eyes narrowed. "What? Think a girl can't play as well as boys can?"
She put her carton on the ground and pulled a second glove from the box. She tossed it to me and snatched the ball up. Two minutes later, we were playing catch on her front lawn, and from the solid slap of the ball into the leather of the glove she handed me, I could tell she knew what she was doing.
"Hey," I said, suddenly not feeling shy around her. "My dad and I were going to walk down to the park and play catch later. If you're not doing anything, wanna come?"
A smile crossed her lips and she nodded.
"Sure!" she said. "I'd have to make sure it's okay with my mom and dad, though."
"How about my dad and I come by when we're headed out?"
"Great!" Carly grinned. "Thanks, Dylan. See you later,"
She headed inside, and I headed back to my house. I went inside, telling my mom and dad about our new neighbors.
Two hours later, my dad and I went next door and knocked at the door. Carly's mom answered and my dad introduced himself. Mr. Rogers came out too, and while the adults talked in the doorway for a minute, I saw Carly come running down the stairs, her hair flying behind that red cap. She saw me and waved.
My dad smiled at her and we headed down to the park. We took turns hitting and throwing, my dad giving us gentle tips. At one point, Carly launched a pitch of mine, and my dad let out a whooping holler.
"Way to go, Carly!" he cheered. Her smile widened.
"It was a good pitch," she said. I let out a laugh.
"Wait until the guys at school get a load of you," I said. "They're gonna be jealous."
I flung an arm around her shoulders and my dad couldn't help but laugh.
"I see the beginning of a beautiful friendship here," he said.
We walked home, leaving Carly at her own doorstep. She waved as she went into her house. Dad and I headed up to our own door and my dad squeezed my shoulder
"I never thought I'd see you bond with anyone so quickly, Dylan. You've never been able to do that before. It's taken you almost five years just to be friends with the boys in your class now."
My eyes shifted down to my feet. "Maybe she's special, Dad. She made me not feel shy. I—I don't know."
Dad merely smiled and squeezed my shoulder again. "Don't let her go, then." I nodded.
The first day of school, some of the guys got together a baseball game at lunchtime, and I was made a captain. I looked over to where Carly stood by the dugout, and I waved her out to the field.
"I pick Carly first," I said aloud. Everyone turned to look at the blonde girl running in my direction and I heard the groans and grumbles. Carly's green eyes narrowed slightly, but I could see her bite her lip.
"Quit complaining," I said. "Carly's better than all of you."
"Prove it," (name) sneered. Carly jerked a shoulder and I smiled. We all organized into teams and the rest of the guys in our class discovered very quickly that Carly was the best player they'd seen in awhile.
Over the next many years, through junior high and high school, Carly and I played ball together. I was honing my pitching craft, and Carly was a star first baseman on our Little League team and made it onto the JV and varsity baseball teams in high school with me. And when we played in our backyards, she was the best catcher I'd ever had. She knew the game inside and out, and I knew I could always count on her.
There were few people in my life that knew the extent of my shyness. I was lucky enough to have baseball to focus on, and to have my family and Carly to be there for me. It was Carly who would smooth things over with new people to make me comfortable, and it was always Carly who would get me out and about with our friends, even when I didn't want to go.
Everyone always assumed we were together, but we never were. Best friends, yes. We went to movies and baseball and football games together, and we were each other's dates to junior and senior prom. We saw each other sick, with bad haircuts, and with broken hearts.
I dated a girl through freshman and sophomore years, and it ended badly. I wasn't outgoing enough for her, and she got sick of me and baseball. Carly dated several guys through those years too, and the macho jerks tended to run when they realized she was on the baseball team. It never failed to kill her when she got dumped. She'd come over and we'd sit and watch TV together, and I'd let her cry on my shoulder.