by Nicholas Fisher
Nicholas Fisher is a college professor and a sports enthusiast. He writes adult horror under another name, but thought of the idea for Becky’s Kiss while coaching his son’s baseball team. Since the story involved high school drama he decided to write his first young adult piece. When not writing or teaching, Nicholas Fisher enjoys pizza, reality television, and playing the banjo. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and his son goes to Arizona State University.
Becky Michigan meets the boy of her dreams on her first day of ninth grade, a gorgeous blonde baseball player named Danny with crystal blue eyes, but no one else in the school ever heard of him. To make matters worse, Becky starts having dreams that she is the greatest pitcher on the planet, and when she throws an orange in the cafeteria at more than 90 miles per hour, she has some questions for the boy who keeps disappearing.
The stronger Becky’s feelings grow for Danny the faster she throws, and the faster she throws the less he shows up! Suddenly she is offered the opportunity to try out for the varsity baseball team, a shot at being popular for once, but does this mean she has to give up the hope of ever finding true love? All answers come to light out behind the high school at midnight, on an old overgrown ball field in the woods behind the real one, fifty feet off the third baseline. It is a magic field. One of dreams. Or possibly nightmares.
Excerpt from Becky’s Kiss. The boy of Becky’s dreams keeps disappearing and no one at school even knows he exists. Becky sees him while walking home fromschool and chases him until she catches up. He seems to know more about her than she knows herself, and then he makes a strange request.
“Hi,” he said when she finally made it to the top of the hill, panting.
She bent over, hands on her knees, and put up her index finger. “One second.”
“You run kind of fast,” he said.
“Thanks.” She pushed up, wiped her forehead, and then wiped her hands on her pants. Too late, now, to be polite. She looked at him, and the sun was behind his head, making him look like a silhouette, like an angel. She put up a salute hand to her forehead to shade her eyes.
“Are you a pitcher?” she said. Yeah, it was awkward, but she had to start somewhere.
He smiled softly.
“You’re really pretty.”
His smile widened.
“Well, you’re a lot prettier than you think, anyway.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I don’t know. What’s anything mean?”
Becky shrugged, disgusted with herself over the gesture. She’d been doing it a lot lately, and she wanted to remove it from her repertoire, like yesterday. She gazed at him then, full stare, and for a second she really did feel kind of pretty.
“The Principal wants me to go to this fall ball baseball practice—“
“Are you going to be there?”
Something flashed in his eyes, and Becky couldn’t tell if it was humor or pain.
“I wouldn’t miss it,” he said slowly. “But you’re going to have to do me a favor.”
“Run,” he said. “Every day, home from school like you did today. Up and down the hills with equal speed, total burn, until you can run the whole length of King Avenue without wheezing.”
He moved closer and looked at her deeply, as if it was the most important promise she’d ever make.
“Because pitching is all stamina, all legs, all push and follow-through.”
Becky felt her lips working into a smile.
“Then you want me to make the team? You really do?”
He backed off a step and tilted his head.
“The Tigers? Yeah, for exercise, I suppose.”
“What’s that mean?”
“What’s anything mean?” He started to walk away toward Stonybrook Road, then stopped and turned.
“You’ll build up fast,” he said. “Faster than you’d ever believe. One day of running will be like half a month, trust me.”
“Why am I not surprised?” she said out the side of her mouth. His grin made a half moon as well.
“You’ve seen a lot of weird stuff lately, haven’t you?”
“Oh yeah,” she said.
“Well, it’s only gonna get weirder.”
They both laughed.
“Don’t go,” Becky said. He gave his own shrug.
“Have to. I’m on a timer.”
“Something like that.”
Becky crossed her arms along her stomach and a leaf blew against her ear. She shook it out and moved a strand of hair off her lip.
“Will I see you after the baseball practice?”
She looked down at the street.
“Like, only if you want to, I mean.”
She looked up and he had moved off a few feet, standing there at the corner of King and Stonybrook. He had turned the baseball cap around backward now, and the way it framed his face and his neck made him look even more gorgeous than ever, if that was at all possible.
“Run the avenue,” he said. “Every day, both ways. Add two more textbooks and a couple of bricks to your backpack. Really hoof it.”
“Do I have to?”
“Because you’re throwing hard, but not hard enough. Because great ones do the work. Because I’ve waited…”
He looked away down Stonybrook Road, and blinked like he was going to cry. “Because I love you.”
He said it with a hitch in his voice and then ran down the street, out of sight past some high bushes. By the time Becky reached the corner and turned the hard left he was gone.
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