Acting for Justice

“Happy one month!” my sister, Isabella, and her friends mocked me as I walked onto the bus. Once again, my unshaken lips had failed me, and the taunting continued.

For years I looked forward to being on the same softball team as my sister. It’s her last year of high school before she moves east. In recent years, Isabella has become my best friend, the reason I unenrolled from St. Mary’s Academy for high school.

Powerhouse songs of Beyoncé and Disney soundtracks fill the silence of our car every morning on the road to school. “Sisters who fight together, sing together, stay together,” we used to say.

Isabella, a shy puppy locked away in her room for days on end. And I, a social teenager who can’t remember the color of my bedsheets. The only time I encountered my sister was in car rides and at dinner. We were content with that.

Softball season rolls around, and my sister and I both try out. We had both played softball our entire lives, but our teams had not once crossed paths. My sister, on the Lincoln team for three years previously, had friends and a click that couldn’t go unnoticed. Me, as a freshman, wasn’t expected to make the Varsity team, let alone the team’s trip to Hawaii that was planned months in advance.

Post tryouts, my coach pulls me aside and begins to explain the impression I made on them in tryouts. I was invited to play in Hawaii the next week with my sister and eleven other players I had not yet known.

Isabella is outgoing but doesn’t bother enough to show it. Her academic achievement goes unnoticed, under my leading grades and national athletic titles. I now understand she has the right to be irritated that I now intervene in the one thing that was hers: Lincoln softball.

Throughout our vacation to the shores of Oahu, I became closer and closer to our teammates Isabella has played with for three years. Isabella’s click is small, consisting of a Junior Phoenix and a fellow senior Liv. Within two days, I became best friends with a junior, Sydney. A softball star, team role model, and a girl everyone wants to be friends with.

Our final night in Hawaii and I spend five hours with Sydney watching Parks and Recreation, falling asleep holding hands. Our bond as friends becomes stronger every minute we we were together, which was every minute of every day.

Our plane landed at 9 p.m. on a Wednesday night. Meeting my bed once again at 10 p.m., my new friend asked for me to come over. Why would a junior wish to hang out with a freshman she had just met? Was this a joke? I was driven to her house ten minutes away, and believed it was a prank until the minute I walked in her door.

From that night, we became inseparable. Partners at every practice, sleepovers on school nights and weekends. We enjoyed each other’s company, the similar personalities. We were always on the same page.

“Isabella,” I tried to get her attention at practice. “Isabella, I won’t need a ride home after practice.” She began to innocently ask me why. I innocently answered “I’m going home to Sydney’s.” She rolled her eyes back and laughed with a spoiled smile, “you don’t need to tell me how obsessed you are with Sydney.”

I hadn’t known how to respond, I didn’t think I was obsessed. Was I? I was just hanging out with my friend. I get in Sydney’s car and explain to her what just happened. “They’ve been doing it to me, too,” she explained. Who was “they” and what were they doing to Sydney? I asked her what was going on, she went on to tell me how my sister and her friend Phoenix constantly apologize for my behavior and obsession with her, how they feel sorry that I’m following her around.

Hitting me home, I didn’t know how to respond or what to think. I wasn’t sure if Sydney had felt that way until she reassured me that they’re irritated because we became best friends in two day when they’ve been playing together for three years.

The mockery didn’t subside. Feeling afraid at home to talk to my sister about my friend, afraid of her making fun of me. I would be at the end of the jokes, the laughs at me, not with me. Many jokes came with mine and Sydney’s friendship, most of which our teammates wouldn’t understand.

A month into our friendship, we began to joke about our “one month friendaversary.” An inside joke we laugh about for hours until our sides hurt. I walked onto our team bus to Erv Lind Stadium for a home game against Cleveland. The words “happy one month” were echoed into my ears as my sister and Phoenix mocked mine and Sydney’s jokes.

What had once been innocent teasing of a little sister, soon went too far, and I was with tears in my eyes the remainder of the bus ride.

“What’s wrong Kayla? Why are you so sad?” Phoenix would ask. As if she didn’t know. As if she didn’t know her teasing and jokes were tearing me apart. I, without the voice to stand for myself, have let the jokes continue, where they will continue through the next half of the season.

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