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Pitches; Changing room before softball practice. All softball players welcome!
Topic Started: Jul 7 2015, 08:04 AM (868 Views)
frogue
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Georgia Lee Day continued from Puddles

The air in the locker room was hot and thick, like it'd been left without stirring too long and been allowed to set. She was the first one there, which wasn't unusual, and she took the opportunity to splash some water on her face and over her neck.

Sometimes she was the only one changing here after school. The practices were held "off campus", at Sumac park, and a lot of the other girls got their uniforms on elsewhere. There was a half hour between final bell and the start of practice, so they had plenty of time for it, but Georgia Lee liked to get there early to help set up. She was aiming for captain next year, so it was important to show the coach how reliable she was.

She'd done the math. There were 18 girls playing softball for Columbia University. Assuming four year degrees, and an even spread across each level of those degrees, she was looking at 4 - 5 places on the team opening up each year. How many girls played highschool softball? Nearly 400,000 last year. What’d that add up to? Not a very good chance of athletic recruitment, is what. Ability was never going to get her where she wanted to go, not in this case. They’d never ask her to play for them, and "above average softball player" didn't make for a particularly impressive addition to her transcript. She needed prestige, and for that, she needed to be sure that she made captain.

The eyes that met hers when she looked in the mirror were puffy. The face around them looked worn and blotchy. She patted it dry with the hem of her shirt.

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frogue
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It seemed like Vanessa Stone had decided to show up this week. What an exciting surprise.

Georgia Lee had never quite figured out what Vanessa was doing on the softball team. Clearly it wasn't due to actually caring about the sport, because when people care about something they take that thing seriously and respect the commitments they make to actually practice that thing. Vanessa, it seemed to Georgia Lee, did not take anything seriously. School, softball, life: it was all some big joke to her, and the effort everyone else put into the team wound up as the punchline.

Vanessa Stone was someone Georgia Lee had very little time for. She wasn't a bad player, to be fair, though she wouldn't improve if she wasn't willing to work. She'd hit her ceiling: good enough to play third base for Arizona State, maybe, not good for much beyond that. No one gave scholarships for third base. They were too replaceable; it was a waste of funds.

Their coach could make her play with Vanessa, but nothing on earth could make her like the girl. Georgia Lee turned away from Vanessa to face the wall and began pulling her uniform out of her bag. She glanced over her shoulder just in time to catch the sneery little smile that Vanessa gave. Ugh.

With her collagen lips and her giant fake boobs she looked like a Real Housewife, or a blowup doll. What she didn't look like was someone who could ever be taken seriously as a softball player. She couldn't remember her name, for goodness sake! Two whole words couldn't fit in her inflatable head?

"It's Georgia Lee, Vanessa. Georgia Lee."

She turned back to the wall.

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frogue
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"No nothing big, just the chance to actually improve your skills and support your teammates." Her tone was light and bubbly, but her jaw was tight. She kept her face away from Vanessa, not wanting her annoyance to show, and pulled her shirt up over her head, folding it and placing it in a plastic bag.

"Oh, sorry, skill was what I meant to say. Singular. But hey, you're real good at catching! It makes you very valuable, very hard to replace. Just miss all the practices you like, there's no way there's another girl in the school who's, y'know, pretty good at catching a ball"

That was more than she meant to say, but she was just sick, today, of making very reasonable requests of people and having them blow up on her. All she wanted was to be given some piece to study in a study area, to be given the respect of actually being addressed by her name, yet when she asked for these things suddenly she was the bad guy? She rolled her shoulders back, trying to diffuse the tension she could feel building up in her.

This couldn't be a coincidence. Clearly, she was the common factor here. People looked at Georgia Lee and saw something that made them think they could push her. Maybe she'd just been letting things go too long? Maybe people had gotten the impression they could just walk all over her?

She was sick of it.
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frogue
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Georgia Lee tugged down her uniform top then pulled her hair out of her collar and gathered it together behind her head. As Vanessa was walking over, her tacky boots loud in the little concrete room, Georgia Lee was pulling a hairtie from her wrist, over her hand, and then twisting it tight over and over on itself to hold her ponytail in place. As Vanessa spoke, Georgia Lee was adjusting an elastic headband, making sure that all her hair was tucked behind it. She checked her hair in the screen of her phone before she turned around.

Vanessa was a big girl, at least two inches taller than her, and she looked like she knew how to fight. Georgia Lee had never been in a fight in her life. Was that where this was going? Well, that was an opportunity.

She hadn't meant to pick a fight with Vanessa, but she'd welcome one if it came about. All it would take would be Vanessa throwing a single punch and she would be off the team faster than she could blink one of her grossly overmascarra-ed eyes. Georgia Lee stared up into those eyes now, her whole body feeling antsy and energized, doing her best to keep still and willing the other girl to start something.

Do it.

"I've nothing to say to you, Vanessa. It's clear you don't think this team is worth your time, so I don't know why I'd waste my time talking to you."

Do it.

The larger girl's eyes gave nothing away. Georgia Lee folded her arms across her chest. She was worried they might start shaking, and she didn't want them flying up, if Vanessa tried to land a blow. If Georgia Lee had planned this had this ahead of time, she'd've done it out in the corridor, where there were cameras. Here, in the locker room, she'd need some other form of evidence, and ideally that would be facial bruising.

Vanessa didn't seem to be taking the bait, though. Pity. Georgia Lee exhaled, relaxing a little.

"Some of us actually care about being punctual to practice, so if you just want to stomp off back to your bag, I'm trying to get changed."

She waved a hand vaguely bagwards.
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frogue
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Georgia Lee could feel adrenaline beginning to build, like right before a game. Her voice started to sound further away, and she had to fight the urge to bounce on the balls of her feet. She could feel a surging, nervous energy, flowing out of her bones, through her muscle fibres and crackling off her static skin. Tucked into the crooks of her elbows, her fingers tensed and untensed. She unfolded her arms, placing her hands on her hips, and took a step closer to the other girl.

"Oh, you were sick? I'm sorry! You know, you've been sick a lot, Vanessa."

She smiled, but not with her eyes.

"You really should take better care of yourself. Get some Vitamin C. Maybe eat some kale. Or, hey, I know!"

She cocked her head a little and snapped her finger, as if an idea were just occurring to her.

"You could try wearing clothes that actually, you know, cover a bit of skin! Maybe that'll help"

And Vanessa's hand came up.

Georgia Lee had never been in a fight, had never been hit. No one had ever raised a hand to her before. Not her parents, no matter how much she had hurt them, and not her sisters, no matter how much they had wanted to hurt her. The Day household had seen its fair share of acts of violence, but none of them physical.

Still, she didn't fear pain. She embraced it, even. Pain for her was a sign of success, a badge of honour. When her lungs burned and every muscle ached after a long run, she knew she'd pushed herself, and she'd gain from it. After practice, when the muscles in her shoulders felt so stiff she could almost hear them grind against each other when she rolled them, and her arms seemed to weigh far more than they had any right to, she knew that her work would pay off, and she'd see a reward. Georgia Lee didn't back away from pain, she stepped towards it. Ran towards it, even.

And yet she flinched.

Vanessa hadn't even touched her and she'd flinched.

It hadn't been much. A blink. A startled little shrug. An indrawn breath. No matter how minor though, it had happened, Vanessa had seen it, and now that bullying bitch would think Georgia Lee was scared of her.

Someone waves a hand in your face and you jump like a frightened little girl. It really that easy to get under your skin, Georgia Lee?

She let her breath out slowly, through her nose, trying to seem unphased.

"And no, most of my conversations with the rest of our teammates are civil. Most of them aren't incapable of remembering a very simple name."
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frogue
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It'd been almost a month since Georgia Lee had arrived at her work to find it covered in graffiti. Some teenagers - made from Vanessa's mould, if indeed she herself had not been among them- had decided the previous night to adorn the local Safeway with every curseword in their vocabularies. There wren't any cameras outside, and they hadn't been caught.

As with most of the menial work at the Safeway, cleaning up the vandalism fell on Georgia Lee. It probably could have been removed by waterblasting, but it was cheaper by far to simply paint over the obscenities. She'd understood the financial sense that this decision made, but it had bothered her, a little. It seemed like the filth wasn't really gone. It was still there, just hidden. Look a little past the surface and you'd bring the vulgarity bubbling back into the light.

Maybe it was all the swearing that brought the situation to mind.

Georgia Lee kept eye contact with Vanessa as she sat on the bench behind her, and began to unlace her shoes.

Clearly she'd bothered the girl. Her whole "I'm too cool, I play music and dress like a streetwalker" facade had crumbled, just for a moment, and the brickwork beneath was exactly as crude and vicious as Georgia Lee had expected. So Vanessa didn't like her. So what? It was almost certainly a sign that she was doing something right. What it would it take to get her approval, anyway? Accessorising with dogtoys? Smoking crack? Working her way through half the baseball team?

No thank you.

She could put up with Vanessa hating her, easy. Vanessa was a senior, so it was only for the rest of the year. A year was nothing. All she had to do was not less herself be distracted by this trash, and come next fall Georgia Lee would be captain and Vanessa Stone would be on her knees in a truckstop somewhere.

So "eff" her? Well eff that. Vanessa's opinion was irrelevant, as far as Georgia Lee was concerned. Less than irrelevant. Her thoughts went all the way past useless and swung back around into usefulness, serving as an example of the most ignorant possible stance on any given topic. there was really just no reason to care about what Vanessa thought, about anything. If one needed advice at short notice on how to dress like a tramp, but on a budget, then perhaps she'd be a useful resource, though even at this Vanessa was amateurish at best.

Hey Vanessa, newsflash: that collar makes it look like you're hiding an adam's apple

Georgia Lee banished the thoughts. No more put downs. No more squabbling. She gave a little shrug and turned her attention to her shoes.
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They finished changing in silence.

Georgia Lee was eager to be out of there, but she tried not to seem hurried. She took her time dressing herself, pausing often to stretch her arms and crack her fingers. Her back was turned to Vanessa and Georgia Lee gave every impression of being unaware of the other girl's presence. A close observer, however, might have noticed that Georgia Lee's eyes kept flicking over toward the grimy mirrors lining one wall of the bathroom, to catch glimpses of Vanessa's tall, tan reflection. If that observer were able to look inside of Georgia Lee's head, they might have noticed her thoughts doing something similar.

She tried to distract herself with thoughts of the book she'd been reading earlier, but her mind kept returning to Vanessa. Even her book, the girl was ruining. The priest had spoken of how there was a certain divinity to people, which let them transcend transcend earthly cause and effect, and forge their own destinies. Had the priest met Vanessa, Georgia Lee decided, he might well have had very different thoughts about heavenly aspect being present in mankind. What was it he'd said? "If you kick a dog, it will always howl"? That was more fitting of Vanessa, surely. She wasn't forging her own destiny, she was just mindlessly reacting to things happening around her. Really, when you thought about it, what was Vanessa but a great, hairless, yapping dog in seemingly-constant heat?

Georgia Lee deserved better. She deserved people, real people; ones who weren't constantly cursing, who didn't dress like streetwalkers. Kingman was infested with Vanessas. It was overflowing with them. Vanessa wasn't even the worst one, she was just one of many. One obnoxious little lesion from the cancer that Kingman, Arizona was on Georgia Lee's social existence.

She couldn't wait for graduation.

Even taking her time, she was done before Vanessa was. She folded her clothes, placed them in a small canvas bag and then put that bag back into her backpack. She swung the backpack onto her shoulder as she walked out of the changing room, not looking toward the other girl as she left.

[Georgia Lee Day continued in Go Home, Georgia Lee]
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