I stood atop the pitcher's mound and spun the neon softball inside the worn leather of my glove. As I thrust my arms up in the air and rocketed the ball towards the batter, I could feel the crispness of sunburn in my skin.
I knew the feeling all too well. My shoulders were often crispier than I like my bacon. But it was worth the pride of seeing our team continue through the tournament bracket, knocking down pawns as we made our way across the board.
It was my first season playing fast pitch, but I felt like I had been doing it my whole life.
After pitching a shutout game, one of the umpires insisted that he had never seen a girl as young as I was pitch so well.
Each night, I spent hour after hour throwing pitches to a tire hanging on the doorway of the faded barn. I was determined to succeed, to be the best there ever was.
I poured sweat, time, and energy into practice. My poor skin baked that summer as I threw pitch after pitch, knowing I would soon be a star.
As the season wound to an end, I continued to practice. Over and over. My soul started to resemble one of those neon yellow softballs.
As days turned into months and the next season of sunburns began to approach, my drive got stronger and I practiced more with each day.
The very first day of practice, the coaches' daughter stepped onto the mound with fancy fingernails and poor form. She lugged a pitch across the corner of the plate, and I realized I was being demoted.
With the toss of that one ball, my dreams rolled through the catcher's legs and slammed against the backstop.
In that instant, I learned that the world was not always about hard work and skill, but about connections.
The people who succeed have connections.
The don't have sunburns and sweat marks. They don't have a bruised barn door or a battered old tire from thousands of practice pitches.
They have connections.
And in life? That's what it takes to stay out of the red . . .
This post was written as part of the prompt depicting a memory about something red. As always, constructive criticism is welcomed and much appreciated.