Wings So We Can Fly (Part 1)
This only had two outcomes.
If Alekay scored this free-kick, he would be the most popular kid in school (at least for a while) AND win the game for his grade.
If he missed-- he quickly brushed that aside.
Alekay's body was shaking with adrenaline.
Apollo obviously noticed and approached Alekay.
"Alex, are you sure you want to take the free-kick?" he asked.
Alekay looked at him with disgusted confusion. Then he looked at the ball.
"You bet your sweet boots I do."
Apollo laughed a little and backed off from the spot.
"Then get us a goal, innit?"
It was The Year 11s vs. The Year 12s on a cold Sunday afternoon. The sun hid behind long, gray clouds and chilly winds swept the field. The girls had come to watch as usual. They sat on the side benches, watching The Year 11s losing 1-0. The field where they played was situated a walking distance from Redwood High School itself so it was always a rush after school to see who would get there first. There was a fence that separated the football pitch from the road to the school so any wild shots were stopped by it.
Alekay surveyed the field. A chilly wind bit his bare shin. If he scored, it would be 1-1 and The Year 11s would be closer to beating The Year 12s than ever before. He cleared his mind and stepped up to the ball: far enough to see over the wall but close enough to pose a serious threat.
Some of the girls cheered some encouragements from the side but The Year 12 fans drowned them out. This wasn't just the girls. This was the whole school watching from the side. A loud group started to chant:
"O-VER THE BAR! O-VER THE BAR! O-VER THE BAR!"
Alekay took a deep breath. And started to run to the ball. He took one step, two, his every step force-feeding his stomach butterflies and adrenaline.
He swept his foot under the ball. It was honestly a beautiful swipe. If it was for American Football.
The ball pathetically flew wide of the goal.
Alekay dropped to the floor. The jeers of the Year 12 supporters seeped into his tired mind. He had given it his all. The game was almost over and that free-kick could well have been their last chance to get back in the game. Apollo walked over to Alekay and lifted him up.
"Get up mate, it isn't over until the fat lady sings."
Alekay got up, wondering what that meant. Apollo was always a little bit crazy beneath his serious game face. He rubbed out the grass from his hair and prepared for the goal-kick.
The game ended shortly after. 1-0.
"Never have we been so close, Paris!" he exclaimed, walking his friend from the other class, Paris Lejayin, to the bus stop where she was going to catch a bus home from.
"Well, you had a good game" she said. "You should have seen the way you - uh! And yeah! And kicked the ball to your teammates- man I wish I could do that!" she added, pathetically impersonating his football skills. He smiled. This was cute.
"What you looking at?" she asked. "Wanna fight me?!"
She was smiling. Her light brown skin somehow accentuated it all. She slapped Alekay.
"Yo what was that for??" he shouted, even though he was laughing too.
"Just for fun." she replied. "Hey let's go over to that slide. I have something to tell you." she said, pointing to a huge slide at a playground they were passing. Alekay followed her. She was going to go even if he didn't follow. It was getting late and it was still cold. Paris wore a heavy furry coat that reached the middle of her thighs and warm blue sweatpants with thick boots. She ducked under the gate that closed the play park until the next morning.
"Hey, Paris, this place is supposed to be closed." said Alekay. Paris rolled her eyes. She was already on the other side. She winked at him and beckoned him with a single finger.
'I have something to tell you' she mouthed, exaggerating every syllable. Then she ran off to the big slide. Alekay smiled.
This was why he liked her.
He ducked under the gate. He was still in kit mostly, save for his football boots which he put in his mini backpack- the type specially made for boots. He had changed into sneakers. Paris was already inside the slide. She poked her head out from the top and shouted: "MEET ME AT THE BOTTOM!"
Alekay fiercely gestured with a finger to his lips.
"Do you want us to get caught??" he asked, speaking with that sort of angry whisper loud enough to come off as normal speech. Paris clenched her teeth.
"Sorry!" she whispered back. "Meet me at the bottom!"
Then she slid down.
When Alekay got to the bottom Paris was already there. Hot butterflies pumped into his stomach.
Does she want me to... get into the bottom of the slide.. with her??
Alekay climbed into the rectum of the slide, where people were spat out onto a large furry cushion (which was packed away at that moment). He had to fold his legs up close to hers and keep his head low. She was so close. It didn't take long for him to react to the intimacy of what was happening.
Does she... ?
Alekay's heart beat faster.
"So yes. I said I have to tell you something." she said.
"Actually, me too," he replied.
'Do you want to go firs-"
"No no, you go,"
"Okay come, let me whisper in your ear." she said, forcefully grabbing his ear. "But you have to swear not to tell anyone!" she was twisting his ear now.
"Okay okay! I won't! I won't!"
She leaned in to his ear so close that it felt like she was kissing him. Her breath was hot against his chilled right ear and her finger now only gently held it closer.
For a moment she was absolutely silent.
"I like someone in your class and I really need you to be my wingman for the rest of the term."
Alekay's heart dropped to his stomach. It was still hot- with shock. He was doing all he could not to react. Tears warmed up at the sides of his eyes. It was going to be a long night.
"Why are you still quiet?" she asked. She stepped out of the slide, and he did too.
"I'm just trying to guess who it is," he lied, "since you obviously won't tell me."
I thought...-I was a fool to think that...
They got back onto the footpath to the bus stop.
Alekay strapped his backpack higher and pushed back the tears. His heart felt like it was suffocating.
"I'll tell you I'll tell you!" she laughed.
How could she be laughing?
"But you have to promise me- once I tell you, you won't give up on my very pathetic flirting skills until he's mine." she added, offering a pinky finger for a pinky promise.
"We've reached the bus stop." said Alekay.
"PROMISE!" she demanded, putting her pinky in his face.
Can't you see? Why can't you see?
Alekay locked his pinky with hers and promised. Then she ran off screaming:
"We'll talk at lunch tomorrow! Let's sit together! I'll tell you everything!"
Alekay begun the long walk in another direction to where his driver would wait. Alekay had never made his driver go all the way to the school parking lot on pick up trips because walking back with Paris was always the highlight. Today, it just didn't feel worth it. He stopped at a payphone and dialled his driver's number.
"Jonah, could you please come pick me up from a different spot today?"
"Sure- where are you?"
Alekay got home and slumped straight onto his pillow face-flat.
This day- is the dregs.