Here's an excerpt from the novel I wrote for www.NaNoWriMo.org 's National Novel Writing Month. "October Knights" is a working title from a work in progress. = ) Comments welcome!
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There wasn’t much else to do in their new neighborhood. It was either play with him and get beat, and beat up, or play Barbie with her older sister. Her sister would often use the Barbies to practice hairstyling techniques on. Afraid she might run out of Barbie hair and turn her scissors to other targets, Emma chose her brother’s company, painful as it was.
She was a late bloomer in sports, getting picked last for playground teams and usually getting out first in whatever game it was. Heads shook disapprovingly in her vicinity when it was her turn to bat, kick or hit whatever ball was coming in her direction. She eventually became a fine athlete, better at sports than most boys in her high school, benefiting from the constant play with her older, very athletic brother.
She was his field dummy when he tried out for quarterback. “Go deep,” was a phrase she was not unfamiliar with. Nor was “run a post” or even “Hail Mary,” and she had said a few when the ball was incoming. Not unfamiliar were the bruises on her chest and arms when she’d attempt to catch the deep, lofting passes. “Catch with your hands, not your body, you dope!” her big, “loving” brother would shout over the swaying hay in the neighbor’s field, “Catch with your hands then cradle it in!” So then her fingers got bruised and battered, but not her body and eventually, she learned to catch.
And throw it back. “Is that as far as you can throw it?” a challenging voice barked from across the hayfield, “I’m not getting that…you get it and throw it further this time!” As if she was trying to throw it short. She’d sigh and retrieve the ball and throw it over and over, 10 yards, then 20 yards, eventually spirals every one.
So it was that she became his one-on-one partner when he tried out for basketball in the late fall. “C’mon, I’ll spot you 20 and we’ll play to 21, you can’t lose!” he baited her and he lied. She lost. Often. She got rejected. Often. He was five years older and over a foot taller than her. The final insult came when he played from his knees, lefty, and beat her. That was enough, she thought. Go find someone your own size.
She was left alone in the spring, mercifully, as he got cut from the varsity baseball team. There would be no bruises in spring.