The sun is high in the sky when she arrives at the ball field. Morning church service and family Sunday dinner behind her, she arrives in high hopes.
It is the first official day of summer, and summer means softball. For three years she has played church softball; this is the year she will shine. Grown taller, stronger, she thrills at her potential and the promise of playing on the High School team next year. She has worked hard to perfect the plays, and success is within her grasp.
Today everything shines! The sun on the outfield, the new uniforms waiting on the bench, even the laughter of her friends scattered around the fields sparkles with anticipation.
She calls out to her friends. One throws up a hand in greeting but doesn’t move from the group of girls she recognizes as the “cool” group from school, those who preferred flirting to tossing a softball.
Coach calls them over to choose up teams.
Luck of the draw puts two rising Freshman boys as choosers. Names are called, divisions made. Quickly called are the popular girls each wearing a sprig of honeysuckle behind an ear, and she groans, foreseeing disaster in the making. Next selections are for the obviously athletic. It should be the other way, she thinks, but such is the mind of teenage boys. She knows now her name will be one of the last – she is known for neither physical nor social graces.
Slowly, the potential player pool decreases, and as the chasm between chosen and unchosen grows ever greater, her heart sinks. Feeling none of the joy apparent in the faces round her, she realizes that this year, again, she will feel outcast.
She finds herself at the edge of woods surrounding the ball field. Backing through the thicket, branches and vines assault her face, cause tears to collect in her eyes. The scent of the honeysuckle sickens her with its coyness.
Angrily she brushes tears from her eyes, backs down the mountain, and silently drives home, traces of honeysuckle trailing behind her.