Issue 35 April 2016
First, they formed a cricket team. I didn’t even know any boys who played cricket let alone girls. Would this lot of princesses really strap on batting pads to their knees and swing a bat? Plus, this was cricket. One had to take “runs”, wasn’t it? From what I’d seen, the batsmen had to sprint back and forth between two lines. I froze at the mere thought – what if I missed the line and ended up running all the way to the dressing room? Or worse, I might hit the ball so hard it would bounce on someone’s head and hurt them. Tina said not to worry, cricket was just like baseball but with a wider bat. As if that helped, as if I knew anything about baseball.
I skipped a couple of practice sessions, saying I had to complete my homework and study for tests, like I was some freaking genius who topped exams rather than scraping together pass marks.
When I did attend practice, no one pushed me to take the field. I bowled once, but Nisha said I was chucking, whatever that means. Batting would’ve suited me – I’d cut a dashing figure when I hit a six out of the stadium. She handed me a bat and I took guard.
The long stretch of grass between the trees calls to us; we emerge from the woods and turn our horses onto the gas pipeline. This part runs along the crest of a hill, and there’s a sharp drop on either side. The trail is about twenty-feet wide, so there’s plenty of room for Brianna and meto walk our horses side by side. All the trees were cut down long ago to make room for laying pipe underground.
A few months ago, I would have wanted to walk next to her. It’s easier to talk that way. Now, I’d rather squeeze through a narrow trail in the woods behind her and glare at her back. I try not to look at her, even though she’s got this adorable curl falling out of her helmet. It’s not fair—she always looks good when she’s riding. My helmet’s old and beat up and, judging from my visor, crooked.
Brianna begged me to go riding with her today and I said I would, even though she doesn't deserve my company, after how she acted last month. But when Brianna asks you to do something, you don't say no.
“So, you have any crushes?” Brianna says.
“You can't just ask me that.”