The blinding heat of the sun burns my skin and causes sweat to form on my upper lip and forehead. As I wipe it away with the back of my hand, I walk to the batter's box. In a semi-squat, I raise my bat, ready to smack the ball to Kingdom Come.
The pitcher sends his best fast ball my way, and I let the bat fly, connecting with a gratifying crack. The ball shoots over the outfielders' heads and lands behind second base in fair territory. I take off running.
But before I can get to first base, a whistle is blown, and everyone is running to line up.
Utterly disappointed, I kick at the dirt as I trudge to line up. As usual, my fun is ruined by school.
Standing with my arms crossed, I wait for the teacher to escort us inside. The Kindergarten class comes out, excited for their turn on the playground.
Maria skips by me. "Hi, Kara!" she calls.
Seeing her smiling face brightens me a little. I accept her hug as the kid in line behind me asks, "Is that your sister?"
"Yep," I answer as I release her.
"How sweet," the kid mocks. "Does the baby have to hug her mama?"
I frown at him. "Be nice."
He sticks his tongue out at me and turns back to Maria. "Are you a baby? I bet you cry at night 'cause you're afraid of the dark."
Maria stares at this kid, her eyes wide in sadness.
"Look here," I say, "you leave her alone. Stop bein' mean."
His answer is to kick my sister -- hard -- right in her legs. She goes toppling over, crying.
I launch myself at him, knocking him in the face, and sending him sprawling into the dirt. He only laughs, but I don't let that stop me. I fall on top of him, kicking and snarling.
A teacher separates us. She can't get a word in because I'm screaming at the kid at the top of my lungs. "Don't you touch my sister again! I'll make you sorry you did! If I see you go near her, you'll get a punch in the face!"
I look over at my sister who's being comforted by her teacher. I'm so livid, I don't even realize I've shocked all my classmates. They are quickly ushered inside as the mean kid and me are given a talking to.
I don't remember if I was sent to the principal. I do remember his very round, scratched-up face, and the "dare you" expression in his eyes.
That was it for me. He was dead meat from that point on.