Choosing Sides

All the neighborhood gang stood around in the dirt choosing sides, while the summer sun eased our pores open and sweat rivered down our necks.

Passing clouds were lazy as the wind was slow, and the insects were present and loud.

A few ball bats lay on the ground, while the one baseball was in hand by Mike.

Ball gloves were warmed both by the sun and the owner that held it preciously, some well-oiled, others well worn. Most, hand-me-downs from an older brother, father, or uncle.

Me, I had to borrow one when they let me, or bare hand catches were my best future.

The thermals of the day caused a dirt devil to race across the field, like a small tornado, lifting that cooked dry dust into a funnel, third to second base, becoming invisible by center field, no one noticed but me, cause I knew I would not get chosen again.

I was staring across the field, where some grass fought the heat, and more turned brown in defeat.

I turned my eyes away from the others, feeling my blood in my face, feeling the rejection, once again. Not my first or last time.

Too tall some said.

Too big one said.

I just wanted to play, not to win nor to lose, just to be one of the gang.

While, I felt like an outcast, I waited for Larry to stand up for me. He usually did. He was good to the weird looking kid from the wrong side of the tracks.

He was good to all, I remember, but more than kind to me. Strong and wise for his age. A good boy that would become a good man.

Why do we protect the weaker ones?

Nature dictates survival of the fittest.

How can the weak ones fly while the strong ones fade?

In time, I learned to deal with rejection, with not being chosen, by taking the lesser portion, the heel of the loaf, the leftovers,the lessor job and was proud for any morsel thrown my way.

I have become a stronger one, but still try to protect the weak ones, when I can.

Nature can be survival of the heart, not the meanest.