This had gone to a complete clusterfuck. One moment, my whole life was spiraling down from under me, my heart had fallen to the ground as the sharp pain burst from my ankle all the way up my leg, traveling straight to my chest and messing my already wound up mind. Flashes of a failed career and a shitty future appeared before my eyes, blinding me and yeah, I know I was exaggerating, I’ve sprained my ankle a lot of times before and this isn’t such a big deal, but the worry only intensified because of what’s at stake.
Each game, I put my heart out into my performance, trying to act cool and collected but on the inside, I’m always a scrambled mixture of emotions. I can’t fuck this up because I only depend on this for my future. I don’t want to be anyone’s burden and the goal to give my single mother the life she deserves had pushed me to be who I am right now.
And there’s the other person who’s become the reason why I strive to work hard. My girl. My eyes tried to find her in the wild crowd while I play but it’s just impossible. The moment I finally locked my sight on her, I was thrown on the floor with my whole weight burdening down on my ankle.
Next thing I know, I was jolted by the excruciating pain from where the EMT was working on my ankle, then a mouth suddenly attached to mine, wet and sloppy, arms twisted around my neck like tentacles trying to suffocate me. As much as I want to pull away, I can’t as I barely managed to prop myself up with both my arms stretched backwards and one of my feet in no condition to move.
The crowd has already gone crazy when the buzzer sounded and my heart skipped a beat or two knowing there could only be two possible outcomes of the game, being a close fight. No overtime. Either we won or we lost.
The moment I was able to breathe again, Hannah’s face came to view. What is she doing here? Why did she kiss me? Who even let her through? The expectant look on her face earned a frown from me. It didn’t last, however, as my gaze travel up on the scoreboard beyond her shoulder and realize our team managed to score two points more than the opposing team and that we’d won the game. Washed with relief and gratitude, my sour mood was replaced with elation.
I felt stupid. Of course we’d won. The gymnasium is filled mostly by the students from home team and their celebratory noise should have been a giveaway. The overload just fried my brain a little bit. I can’t stop the huge smile from spreading across my face.
Immediately, I tried to stand up and someone grab my waist for support. I look down to see Hannah with her arm around me, inviting me to rest my weight on her.
“It’s okay,” I shout close to her ear. “I’m good.”
She didn’t let go but as my teammates crowded around me, she has no choice but to let them take a hold of me, carrying me and parading me around in circles like the stupid asses that they are. The cheers are deafening and though I didn’t earn the final score that made us win, it seems like my teammates and everyone else appreciated the hard work that I did. I shouldn’t be the one who should be given the honors, it’s a team effort and everybody sure as hell worked their assess off to achieve the end result.
When I was let down, I leaned into Luke who was the closest to me. I grab his arm and ask him loud enough so he could hear me, “Who scored?”
The knowing smile he gave me was more than enough of an answer. “Nice one! We owe you big time, Kerrigan!”
Luke is a junior but has such great potential. With both Stephen, my co-captain, and I graduating this year, we’re starting to eye who would be deserving to take our place. Not just someone who can shoot the shot but we’re also scrutinizing personalities. It’s more important than any great performance because it does not guarantee a great leadership. Not that I am a great leader, I try to be. And it seems to be working. Luke is the best candidate we have so far. Quiet and calm but strong opinionated and decisive. He pitches in his ideas but doesn’t ignore what other people has to say as well. When it’s time to pass over the baton, I will feel at ease if I know it’d be on the hands on someone like Luke.
“There’s my man!” Stephen lunged at me, giving me a huge hug and a pat on the back. I almost lost my balance but he kept a firm hold on me, laughing at my almost embarrassment. “Sorry ’bout that,” he shouted, grasping both my shoulders as he moved back. “Just fucking ecstatic is all.”
I couldn’t blame him. I could only imagine how my face was stretched in a similar way as his, utterly overcome with joy and excitement. Arms wrapped around his torso and he craned his neck back, still keeping his hold on me.
The girl who hugged him came to his side, giving him a sheepish grin. She slid her arms around him so she was hugging him from the side, looking up at him lovingly with her brown eyes.
“Hey, babe,” Stephen retracted one of his hands and moved his arms around her shoulder, giving it a firm squeeze. He kissed the top of her head and she looked down shyly at him.
“Hey,” she said back but she could have only mouthed the words as the sound couldn’t be heard from the ruckus still happening in the background.
Penny is shy around the public but loud when it’s just her friends with her. She and Stephen had been dating since freshmen year and I envy them for all the time that they have spent and will spend together. They’re both attending the same college and will be sharing a dorm together. Some people are just lucky in love like that.
Stephen gave me an apologizing look but I only laughed and gave him a wave of my hand. “Go,” I tell him. “I’ll find Callie.”
He glanced down at my ankle, still a bit hesitant to leave me but the EMT soon appeared by my side and handed me a crutch. Stephen finally let me go with a nod, hugging his girl tightly to him.
“I’ll see you at the party,” he shouted as he retreats back and join the other people who wished to congratulate him.
I found myself having to traverse a few series of congratulatory remarks as well, with coach taking up most of my time telling me that the representative for the athlete department for the university I applied to was present tonight but had to leave early right after the game due to another commitment.
“It looks very promising, kid. I’m so proud of you,” he told me and it made a clenching deep in my heart shock me out of nowhere. Hearing the from a man other than my father is bittersweet. I always try my hardest not to dwell on those emotions or rather, the lack of some. I fill the void with what I already know, what I already have, which is why in my condition, I made the best effort to race towards the only person who makes me feel complete, like I could be anyone I want to be, I could have anything I want to have in this whole goddamned world as long as she’s with me.
I spotted Jared before I even saw Fely who was drown by the sea of people much taller than her, which could only mean one other thing. An exhilarated laugh bubbled out of my mouth knowing I am only mere steps away from my girl. I must look ridiculous, limping my way to them, with a huge smile on my sweaty face. I feel hot, feverish. I couldn’t wait any moment longer. My hands itch to touch her, I crave the smell of her. My damned mouth salivates at the thought of her taste on my tongue, the feel of her soft, inexperienced lips on mine as I guide her mouth to mold into mine.
“Hey,” I said enthusiastically as I accept Jared’s one arm hug.
“Great game, man,” he tells me. My gut instinctively doubled over. I don’t know why but there is something weird about the way he talked. “Congrats,” he said generically, trying to sound enthusiastic but failing.
I gave him a raised eyebrow as we pulled apart. “Thanks, I guess.”
I turn to Fely, who has her eyes darting all over the gymnasium landing on anywhere but me. She’s acting strange like her boyfriend and for a brief moment I wonder if they had an argument or something.
“Hey, Fely,” I acknowledged but my gaze is already searching. I don’t have time to ponder what the meaning of her uneasiness is as my eyes have yet to settle to the only person I want to see. The butterflies in my stomach are having a revolution and nothing has the power to make them settle. Nothing but one very special girl.
Where is she?
I accept more high fives and fist bumps here and there, smile and thank those who praise the team’s performance and our win for that matter. All the while I continue to wonder where the hell my girl is. I expected her to be cowering among the thick throng of students, waiting for me to fight my way over to her. Small as she is, I thought she’d also been swallowed up by the mass of people like Fely but with them, nonetheless, patiently hanging until I envelop her in my arms.
Finally losing my patience, I face Fely and Jared once again. Taking in their expression more, I deduced that it was guilt more than anything else. Suddenly, the butterflies excitedly flapping in my stomach turned vicious and it’s not excitement that they’re causing anymore but hard-shelled dread.
My vision clouded and the air grew thick along with the panic building up inside me. Fely finally met my gaze and her eyes widen with the clear alarm in my eyes.
When Jared placed his hand softly on my shoulder did I realize I was shaking.
“Easy there, man. Let’s get your ankle checked up first – ”
“Don’t.” My cold voice cut him off.
Don’t they realize I can’t lose her? I always let her down and the last time I did, it left a permanent scar on her beautiful head that has yet to heal. Call me crazy, not that I’d deny it. Since her accident, I never left her side and I’d been even more protective of her. Just leaving her unattended during the game stitched a worry inside of me so strong I had to fight hard not to be distracted.
Now, not finding her anywhere, it’s like I’d been doused with a bucket of ice. I don’t even feel the stinging in my ankle anymore. The pain in my chest was much, much worse.
Hi, everyone! 🤗 How are you all doing? Just want to let you know that I'll be posting another chapter later today so please stay tuned 😆
Also, I would like to thank @violeta52 for her review of "The Gentiles" 🥰
It means so much to me that you guys take the time to read my story and appreciate it, much less leave a review so from the bottom of my heart, thank you ❤️
I'll be seeing you again in a while for the next chapter update ☺️
Stay safe ❤️