The Hitting Zone - Chapter 801
“You took a long time.” Gabby said as soon as I got back from the restroom. “I almost thought you bailed.”
“Gabby.” Mom scolded lightly.
Gabby rolled her eyes.
“I saw Jake outside the restrooms.” I said honestly, stopping a would-be argument between Mom and my 15-year-old sister. The two of them can make something out of nothing and just make this night even more miserable than it already is.
Gabby scrunched up her nose in dismay and looked away.
Mom was more impa.s.sive. “Oh.”
Only my youngest sister, Makenna, had something to say. “Is he mad at us too?” At 14, Makenna was a little bit childish and innocent. Until our father had a falling out with our cousin. Now she was constantly concerned about feelings.
I tapped the table, thinking how to answer her. “I’m not sure.” It’s not like he knew us, so how could he be mad at us? But…he was closer to Jeremy now.
“Of course he doesn’t like us.” Gabby told her. “He’s had a s.h.i.+tty life and Dad had a hand in it.”
“Gabby, enough.” Mom’s face tightened.
Makenna was distressed. “Dad said he didn’t mean it.”
Gabby rolled her eyes. “When are you going to grow up? Dad-”
“Enough.” Mom raised her voice a little more. The three of us stared at her. She cleared her throat. “I said, enough. The past is in the past. Nothing we can do to change earlier decisions.”
Gabby sneered and got up. “It’s an att.i.tude like that, that got us to where we are now. Tell me Mom, how many times did you think back about that boy? Do you feel even a hint of guilt knowing that you almost had a hand in his death?” She pushed her seat back loudly and got up. “I’m going to the restroom.” She stormed away.
I slowly got up. “I’ll go after her.”
“Carson…” Mom looked up at me with watery eyes.
I sighed. “It’ll blow past eventually, Mom. Gabby is having a hard time at school. You know how mean teenagers can be.”
Mom looked to Makenna and reached out to hold her hand. “No one giving you a hard time at school, are they?”
I left them and went to track down Gabby. I found her in the hallway on her phone. I leaned against the wall beside her.
“I’m not sorry.” She stated firmly. “I said what I said.”
I nodded slowly. “I understand, but you can’t speak to Mom like that. She may not be a good person, morally. But, she’s still our mom. And…a good mom.”
Gabby put her phone away in her small clutch. She stood straight yet didn’t look me in the eyes. “I want things to go back to the way they used to be. Does that make me a bad person?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s not like I can judge you. I miss how it was before too.”
She looked up and down the hall before getting closer and lowering her voice. “Do you think Jeremy will ignore us tonight?”
I glanced down at my younger sister. We never were this close until the fallout between our dad and Jeremy. I shook my head slightly. “I don’t think he’ll ignore us if he sees us in person.”
“When’s the last time you guys talked?” She asked. “He didn’t reply to my congratulations text.”
“He probably had a thousand of them.” I reminded her.
I had no more words of comfort. Jeremy was always the one to pacify my sisters. I wonder if it was because he felt like an outsider and wanted to please them or if I was thinking too much. These past few months have me second guessing everything I know.
Jeremy showed up and the whole room broke out in applause. Noah hollered as soon as the A’s teammates started yelling for Jeremy. Jeremy grinned and waved with one hand as the other was wrapped around Rose’s waist. A few bigwigs approached the pair first, stealing them away.
Jeremy and Rose had seats front and center with the manager, general manager, owner, vice president and so on. With the mvp here, food was soon served, taking up a lot of our attention.
Towards the end, someone found a microphone and gave it to the general manager.
“Thank you everyone for coming out tonight to celebrate Jeremy’s accomplishment this past season.” He talked a little more about Jeremy’s historic season with the A’s before handing over the mic. “And now introducing you to your American League Most Valuable Player, Jeremy Patterson.”
Jeremy accepted the microphone amid more applause. He laughed freely and signaled for his teammates to take it down a notch. “Thank you, thank you.” He grinned as he looked around the room. “I love being here, back home, playing for an organization that I grew up watching. First off, I have to thank my friend and teammate, Jack Maberry, for getting hurt and allowing me this opportunity to s.h.i.+ne.”
Laughter filled the room.
“Next year that award will be mine!” Maberry hollered from our table for the whole room to hear.
Jeremy grinned. “Good luck. You’ll need it. Because the only way I can top this year’s champions.h.i.+p and mvp award, is by doing it again.”
The team laughed, cheered, and made jokes.
Jeremy said a few more words before wrapping it up. “Really though, thank you for coming out you guys. I know it’s the off-season and a lot of you have wives and kids you want to spend time with. I appreciate it. I look forward to winning with this team again next year. Let’s do it!” He pumped his fists and the room exploded in cheers.
Jeremy made his way around the room, speaking with everyone equally.
“I wonder if he’ll talk to us first or his uncle’s family.” Noah muttered, almost reading my mind.
“It’s not a compet.i.tion.” Kyle rolled his eyes. “Jeremy will probably just speak to whoever is closest. There’s so many people here, it’d be hard for him to plan it out.”
That’s true. I nodded. It wasn’t like it was a big deal anyways. I can see and talk to Jeremy whenever. He should focus more on his friends and teammates.
“They’ve set up a dessert table!?” Noah gasped, eyes on the long table of sweets. He glanced around and slowly got up. “Jake and I are going to go walk around.”
“Liar.” Kyle scoffed, but got up too. Dave also followed along.
We lined up with the other guests, forming two lines on either side of the table. We picked up plates first and then used tongs to pick up all different kinds of desserts. Noah focused heavily on cookies while I tried to grab one of everything. Besides the normal favorites, I wanted to try the other desserts that I haven’t eaten before.
When reaching for one of the desserts, my pair of tongs clashed with someone else’s.
“Sorry.” I mumbled and glanced across the dessert table, making eye contact with a girl around my age. I recognized her as one of the girls of Jack’s family. My throat got clogged.
She recognized me too. Her eyes narrowed and she put the tongs down without grabbing one of the desserts. She pursed her lips and moved forward to the next selection.