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Authors: Matt Christopher

Windmill Windup

BOOK: Windmill Windup
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Copyright © 2002 by Catherine M. Christopher

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including
information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may
quote brief passages in a review.

Hachette Book Group

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New York, NY 10017

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First eBook Edition: December 2009

Matt Christopher™ is a trademark of Catherine M. Christopher.

ISBN: 978-0-316-09459-7



Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Matt Christopher

The #1 Sports Series for Kids: MATT CHRISTOPHER


et two!” Kelly Conroy yelled. Tossing the softball up in the air, she swung the bat and sent a wicked ground ball toward third
base. Karen Haynes grabbed it and whipped a sidearm bullet to second, where Sue Jeffers took the throw, pivoted, and threw
on to Laurie Solomon at first to complete the double play. At least it
have been a double play, if this had been a real game.

It was only mid-March, but Kelly and her friends were already primed for spring softball season. “Awesome!” Kelly shouted
approvingly. “And the Devil Rays get out of the inning!”

“Hit one out here, Kelly!” Nina Montone shouted from center field. “Gimme the patented Conroy Comet!”

“You asked for it!” Kelly shouted back, beaming. Swinging with all her might, she sent a rocket shot
Nina’s way. The ball soared skyward, then kept going and going. Nina turned and started running, farther and farther, but
the ball landed just beyond her reach.

“Are you kidding me?!” Karen said, laughing in amazement. “Man, have we got a cleanup hitter or what?”

“The Devil Rays are gonna be awesome this season,” Sue agreed, pounding her glove and taking the relay throw from Nina. She
tossed the ball softly back to Kelly, who stopped it with her bat.

“Hey, we weren’t exactly chopped liver last fall,” Kelly reminded them. “If Sue hadn’t gotten the flu and missed the semifinals,
we would’ve beaten the Giants and gone all the way.”

“I don’t care what you say,” Laurie argued. “We’re gonna be even better this time around. I mean, the Giants had half their
squad move up to the next league, and we’ve got practically everybody back. We’re gonna be unstoppable!”

“Yeah!” Sue shouted in agreement. “It’s gonna be a Devil Ray dynasty!”

“Hey, you guys,” Kelly said, tossing the ball softly up in the air. “Anybody up for pizza?”

A chorus of agreement came back at her, as the
half dozen girls who had gathered for this impromptu early practice trotted in toward home plate. It was lunchtime, and Sammy’s
Pizza for Sunday lunch had become a Devil Ray tradition. Sammy’s was where they had their weekly victory celebrations — not
only was it the best pizza in all of Murphysville, but Sammy also made a mean ice-cream soda, for anyone who could stomach
pizza and ice cream together.

“Man, we rule!” Kelly gushed as they gathered their equipment and headed down Main Street toward Sammy’s. “I mean, think about
it — who else is gonna give us a run?”

“Nobody, that’s who,” Karen agreed. “We’ve got a team full of all-stars, and the best coach on top of it.”

“You said it! Coach Masur rocks!” Nina said. “Hey, he said he’s gonna teach us how to pitch windmill.”

“Yeah, that’s right — it’s windmill pitching this year,” Kelly remembered. She wondered if she could learn to do it. Up to
now, she’d been the team’s first baseman — but being a pitcher sounded pretty cool to her. Last year, she’d led the league
in home runs. With her big power swing, she could hit the ball farther than any girl in the league.

She was fast on the base paths, too. Last season,
she’d stolen fifteen bases. Standing in line to order her two slices of Sicilian pizza with pepperoni, she imagined what
it would be like to be the league’s best pitcher as well — windmilling the ball so fast the hitters couldn’t even see it.

She’d seen the U.S. women’s softball team on TV, winning gold at the Olympics and the World Championships. One day, she wanted
to be on that team — standing on the podium as the American flag was raised and “The Star-Spangled Banner” played….

“Two Sicilian with pepperoni,” Sammy the pizza man said, shoving a paper plate toward her. “Anything to drink with that?”

Kelly ordered a soda, paid, and brought her lunch to the big table the Devil Rays always shared. “Shove over,” she told Sue
Jeffers, giving her a push with her hip. Sue was her best friend on the team, except for maybe Karen Haynes.

But really, they were all friends, and over the last year and a half, they’d become almost a family. This coming fall, they’d
all be moving up to the next league, scattered among a dozen different teams. But for now, they were still together — and
this spring, they were going to win the championship.

Kelly munched thoughtfully on her pizza, letting the conversation wash over her like pleasant, hypnotizing white noise. Her
thoughts drifted from this “family” to her own so-called family. Pathetic. Just her and her mom, ever since her dad had moved
out two years ago.

Kelly loved her mom — a lot — but it wasn’t much fun eating dinner just the two of them every night. Her dad had always been
the happy-go-lucky one, keeping everybody laughing and gabbing. True, there was a lot of screaming between him and her mom
after Kelly went to bed at night. But without him around, it was too quiet.

Kelly wished they would get back together someday and be a real family again. But she was pretty sure that would never happen.
As her mom always said, her dad was “too irresponsible.” Kelly knew it was true. Half the time, when he came to pick her up
for his weekends with her, he was hours late. Every once in a while, he never even showed up. And though he always apologized
sincerely, after the first few dozen times the apologies stopped meaning much.

No, she was much happier with her Devil Rays family than the one at home, Kelly thought. Here,
she was accepted, looked up to, needed. She was right at the center of everything, practically the heart of the team. If
the Devil Rays had had a captain, she was pretty sure she would have been it.

Today’s practice had been her idea. Even though the team assignments hadn’t come yet, Kelly knew the girls were all eager
to get out there and play ball. She’d called Sue and Karen, and between them they’d managed to corral enough of the team to
hold a practice without Coach Masur. They all knew he wouldn’t mind. He’d be pleased they were working off the rust.

“Who’s up for ice cream?” Nina asked, her mouth still full of pizza.

“Oh, not me.” Kelly waved her off. “It’s already three o’clock, and my mom’ll be upset if I don’t eat dinner.”

“Come on, you’re a growing girl!” Nina urged. “Look at you!”

Kelly blushed. At thirteen, she looked more like a grown woman than any of them. Even though she didn’t wear any makeup, and
despite the fact that jeans were her daily uniform, boys had begun to notice her. She’d had frequent invitations to the movies
ever since last year, in sixth grade. Not that
her friends were jealous, but they did love to tease her about it.

That was okay. Kelly could take it. She knew they all wished they had boys calling them up. As far as she knew, only Sue and
Karen had had boyfriends. That was kind of why the three of them had become so close. They had that much more in common.

“Shut up!” Kelly told Nina, giggling. “You just want me to get fat.”

“Hey,” Nina pointed out, “the more you weigh, the farther you’ll hit the ball.”

That prompted a round of laughter and high-fives. Kelly got up, wiped her mouth with a paper napkin, gathered her trash, and
headed for the door of the restaurant. “See you guys at school tomorrow,” she said. With a wave, she pushed open the door
and was out on the street again.

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, warm for this time of year. Kelly walked home slowly, enjoying the breeze and the scent
of the first spring flowers in the air. Her house was only a few blocks away, just on the other side of the softball field.
That was one of the best things about living where she did. When her dad had still lived with them, he’d taken her out every
day after school to practice with her. That was
why she’d gotten so good. He’d taught her everything she knew about softball, from the very first.

Kelly hadn’t realized it at the time, but the reason her dad had been there for her every day after school was that he didn’t
have a steady job. Whenever he did get one, it never lasted. He always quit after a while, saying something or other was wrong
with it — the boss, the pay, whatever. Her mom was always angry with him about it. It was one of the things they fought about
the most.

Thinking back on it now, Kelly realized he probably liked taking her to the ball field to get away from thinking about his
own problems. But it didn’t matter to Kelly — for her, spending time with her dad like that had been heaven. Her fun, funny,
affectionate, irresponsible dad. She missed him so much it made tears come to her eyes.

She wiped them away before turning her corner. The last thing she wanted was for her mom to see her upset and to have to explain
why. Kelly and her mom were almost like sisters, now that it was just the two of them. They often spent evenings together
watching TV, or playing cards, or just hanging out. Kelly loved her mom, but could tell she was lonely. Kelly couldn’t blame
her after fifteen years of marriage.
But then why had her mom insisted on getting a divorce?

Taking a deep breath, Kelly climbed the front steps and reached for the door handle. That’s when she noticed the yellow note
attached to the door. “Dinner in fridge. Have a nice evening. Love, Mom.” Kelly pulled it off, sighing heavily. Notes like
this usually meant only one thing — her mom had a date.

Dates for her mom didn’t happen that often, and usually the guys didn’t hang around very long, not once they found out that
Mrs. Conroy had a daughter. Kelly’s mom was pretty — redheaded like Kelly, but taller and slimmer, and with a bubbly, sweet
personality. Kelly herself was much pricklier. When she had something on her mind, she just came right out and said it. Her
mom usually found a way to make everything sound polite and nice.

Kelly pushed open the door. Once she stepped inside, she realized her mom hadn’t actually left yet. Kelly could hear her singing
softly to herself as she got ready upstairs. “Don’t throw …bouquets at me…. People will say …we’re in loooove.”

Yuck. Kelly couldn’t stand it when her mom got mushy like this. It usually meant she liked the guy
she was dating a lot and was only going to get her heart broken when he decided to drop the relationship.

“Hi, Mom!” Kelly shouted, loud enough so that her mom would hear her and stop singing.

“Hi, sweetie!” her mom’s melodious voice came back. “Did you have a good practice?”

“The best,” Kelly answered. “What’s for dinner?”

“Meat loaf and mashed potatoes with creamed spinach, okay?”

“Do I get a choice?” Kelly asked sardonically.

“Nooo…,” trilled her mother.

“I didn’t think so. Meat loaf will be fine. Where are you going?”

“To Il Capriccio.”

“Fancy-shmantsy,” Kelly said, as her mom came tripping lightly down the stairs, almost dancing. She looked radiant and beautiful.
Staring at her mother, Kelly hoped that when she was all grown up, she’d look as pretty.

“Of course you will,” her mom always told her. “You are already.” Kelly almost believed her, until her mom would add something
like, “Besides, looks aren’t all that count.” That would make Kelly think her mom thought she was ugly — but only for a second.
Kelly knew she was nice-looking. Why else
had Billy O’Donnell, the most popular boy in school, asked her to the spring dance last year?

“You’re going out, huh?” Kelly said, a smile playing at one corner of her mouth. “Who’s the new Romeo?”

“His name is Ken,” her mother said, saying the name like it was sooo meaningful.

“Kennnn,” Kelly repeated. “And that would make you Barbie?”

“That’s right,” her mom countered playfully. “I’m a living doll. Can’t you tell?” Putting a finger to her cheek, Mrs. Conroy
spun around like a doll. Kelly couldn’t help laughing.

Then the doorbell rang, and her laughter froze in her throat. “Oh!” her mom gasped. “He’s here already! Do I look all right?”

“You look fine,” Kelly assured her. “You always look fine. Who cares, anyway?”

“What do you mean, who cares?” her mom said, frowning. She regarded Kelly suspiciously. “You be nice, now,” she warned Kelly.

BOOK: Windmill Windup
11.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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