Fear is not your enemy. It is a compass pointing you to areas where you need to grow.
It was only when the players actually lined up did I feel my heart’s rate go a thousand times faster- at least, enough to just make it’s way out of my chest.
I hugged my purse tighter and clutched the photo as tight as I could muster to give me all the strength I needed. He was all the strength I needed, so I held him tight in my arms at that very moment when I needed him the most.
You know, a person once told me that when you fear your struggles, your struggles consume you. But when you face it, you overcome it. That it’s all in your head and when you’re back to reality, it’ll all be over and everything will be fine.
That person left me moments later. With a straight line on the heart beat monitor.
He was wrong. It may have been in my head, but how did I know if it wasn’t alright? He said that it’d be alright as soon as we come back to reality. But when I came back to reality, things were worse than I left it.
But that person was my strength. Always had been and always will be. Right in my heart. I know he’s here somewhere, probably congratulating me for coming this far. For facing it, just like he always said. The only thing I was afraid of was if he was disappointed that I was only doing this because I was challenged.
The thing is that it’s not only because I’d been challenged. It was also because I’d been wanting to do this for a very long time. It was just that I hadn’t accepted the fact that I wanted to face the very thing that gave me nightmares.
And now, with all the players on the field and my hand gripping Ceci’s so tightly that I was scared her blood circulation would stop and bruises would form later on, the only thing I could focus on was the adrenaline rushing through my veins and the game.
I gulped. This was it.
It was Southern Spartans University (which was our rival) versus our team, Jackson Jaguars. Right now, the referee met up with captains from both the teams for a coin toss. Since ‘The Southern Spartans’ were the visiting team. They went for heads, leaving our team with no other option but to go for tails.
The referee shot the coin up and when it landed, it was heads. The ‘rivals’ as I’d like to call them went with kick-off. The referee swung his leg in a kicking-ish motion and pointed to their team to inform them that they were starting off as the kicking team.
I sighed. I think this was the first time in many years that I had actually sat down in the spectator’s seat. I was usually out there on the field, probably taunting, yelling, and shouting out motivational words out at them. A small laugh escaped my lips as I thought back at all the memories and even though it was unheard due to the roaring crowd, I had surprised my own self by doing so.
There were eleven players on the field, most of them I could recognize as they had come to our table several times to check up on Alex. And of course, Alex, I most definitely knew, who was playing as quarterback of the team.
“Hey, Sam,” Cecilia started, squeezing my hand, coming closer so I could hear her above the voices of a hundred more, “your grip is too tight.” She gulped, looking down at my hand grasping hers.
I left her hand almost immediately, a blush forming on my cheek. “I’m sorry about that.” Her eyes softened and she sent a small smile towards me.
“It’s okay,” she patted my hand comfortingly whilst smiling.
The Southern Spartans took their respective positions on the field as we all waited in anticipation for the start of the game, the same with our team.
The game had started at last. We all watched as the ball bounced and went right through a guy in our team’s hands, who I had yet to learn the name of. Thankfully, he quickly went for the ball to recover the fumble but was tackled down on the 13-yard line.
The coach yelled in a frustrated manner, shaking his head while Alex went over to him and shook his shoulder pads furiously telling him something.
The receiver who looked too ashamed to do anything, hung his head down in shame and nodded his head to whatever Alex said and soon went back into position.
Coach clapped his hands together from the sidelines almost in front of us and yelled out encouraging words to keep them going. I watched the game closely.
Even though, it’d been so long since I last saw a football game, it always got me hooked if I were seeing it. Especially on television, and since I was quite new to observing a match on the spectators’ seat, I’d say there wasn’t much difference as we were that close to the sidelines and I’d watched a match from the sidelines numerous times. I bit my nail, chipping it off slowly, an action I always did when I was too engrossed in something.
“Let’s get going!” the coach yelled from the sidelines. “It’s okay! We can do this!”
All of them gave a sharp nod to Coach and proceeded with the game.
The next time, the ball went and snapped into Alex’s hand and he passed it on to the wide receiver who ran straight for a touchdown. The crowd roared as Alex gave a fist-bump to him with a wide smile on his face.
The coach had a pleased look on his face as well. “That’s good, boys! Keep it up!”
Alex went back and stood in the shotgun. He received the ball in a solid snap and passed it to Mason. Mason powered up the middle for a short gain.
It was a definite three-yard gain.
The crowd erupted again, but I kept thinking how long this was going to last. Surely, the defending team will figure out the technique soon and will block it the next time they try it. It definitely wasn’t going to win the game for them. They needed to put in more.
The coach clapped his hands and nodded his head in approval.
The next time the ball went flying into Alex’s hand though, a defensive lineman from the other team slammed right into him causing Alex to crash right onto the floor, as he winced in pain. I hissed as I imagined his pain. Been there, done that. Hurts a lot, by the way.
The coach yelled across to the player in our team who’s job was to keep him in check and he apologized, looking ashamed. The coach sat back down with a huff.
Alex got back up, a bit shaken but gave the coach a thumbs-up to show he was fine. Then his eyes locked with mine as I just happened to be sitting right above him. A smile spread across his features as he went back into position not wasting anymore time.
Halftime came rolling by in no time, and the cheerleaders came out to do what the cheer leading they had practiced. Ceci and I just looked at them while waiting for the half time to get over. “Hey, why aren’t you there?” I pointed at the cheerleaders.
She looked at them and her mouth formed an ‘o’ shape. “My practice starts a week and a half from now. I had requested late practices as I need to get all those tests to make a good impression first, before any external activity getting in the way,” she looked at me grimly before sending me a half smile, “Mom’s words.”
I sent her an apologetic look before half-time was signaled as the end and the teams swapped ends of the play.
By the third quarter, the score was 14-7. Our team leading.
And now it was the fourth was going on, with just 1:05 seconds left to the game and our team still had 26 yards to a touchdown. Alex said something, and the rest of the team nodded before taking their positions.
“Ceci,” I went closer to her ear so she could listen. “Do you think you could tell the coach that they need to pass it on to Mason to get a few yards down at least?”
She gave me a confused look, probably having a hard time understanding what I meant. But unfortunately for me, she just tapped coach on the shoulder and he turned to look at me expectantly. I gave Ceci a death glare while turning into thirty shades of red while she gave me a calm look and told me to go on.
“Sam, I have a game going on. Please tell this is important.”
“Right. I-I think...um...” I gulped, but one look at Coach and it showed that he wasn’t in a mood to joke around, “I think Alex should pass it to Mason who can then take it down.”
He gave me a baffled look before turning around, definitely not expecting me to give words of advice. To be honest, I didn’t either.
He called it out and Alex nodded before telling Mason what exactly to do. Mason was one of the only players I knew the name of, unfortunately.
Coach looked back at me in a funny way and turned around.
As I had advised, Alex passed it over to Mason who then took it down to the six-yard line.
But we still had 20 more to go.
I leaned over to coach once again, the confidence coming back at me. “Tell that guy,” I pointed at him, since I didn’t know his name, “to execute this route.” I explained all the details to him from when I was back in high school. I didn’t know what it was called though, we always just called it the ‘Points-on’ for reasons unknown to me. He nodded, understanding, telling me they had practiced that a couple of times.
He called for a timeout which got all the players confused. Once they were over, coach told Alex the plan so he could pass it on and then told him to pass it on the receiver and then for the next time take it straight up the middle with heavy blocking. He nodded once and went off to the field once again when the referee blew his whistle.
“Let’s do this, boys!” Coach kept shouting out as he glanced at me several times. I tried not to let my nervousness show. I mean, we lose this game, and it’s all on me.
Alex passed it just as I had said to the unknown guy who executed the route perfectly, catching the ball and took it down to 13.
When the next ball came in, Alex aired the pass to another guy who took it down to two.
I sighed and blew a breath I didn’t know I was holding through my lips. Come on, come on, you can do this..
He told the team the plan and met the coach’s eye for a brief second before turning his eyes back to the game. Ceci glanced at me once giving me a brief smile to try to comfort me, but I couldn’t send it back. I crossed my fingers. Come on, Alex, I know you can do this.
He called out hike and almost immediately his team member blocked for him. Alex ran it straight and into the end zone before he was slammed to the left.
It was a late tackle. Gasps were heard throughout the crowd as the hit looked very brutal. My hands went up to cover my mouth as I saw Alex lay down there for a few seconds unable to move.
The guy blocking for him, helped him up and pulled him to his feet. Referees were around them, flags flying everywhere.
He was taken to the sidelines to get him checked out if he had gotten a concussion or anything, but my eyes trailed back to the game while that happened.
The kicker had shot the ball right through the yellow posts earning us an extra point. I fist-pumped and coach sighed in relief, running his hands down his face.
We had tied with the our rivals. We hadn’t exactly won but we didn’t lose either. And that just got the whole crowd, including Ceci and I, crazy about it. We cheered for quite a bit and even Alex who looked comparatively better joined in with us.
I guess it was safe to say that us sitting right above the sidelines wasn’t very nasty.
“Man, that was good,” Brad commented as we walked down to our respective dorms. It had been a long day and the only thing I wanted to do for the rest of the day was lay down in bed while watching Netflix or play some computer games or something since I didn’t bring my Xbox along with me. Oh, and talk to the boys. Yup, that was definitely on the list.
I miss them so much. I can’t even... How could I miss some brainless idiots?
I nodded, shrugging at the same time. “Yeah, I guess...”
“You’re kidding me? Sam, you rocked it! All your advice was so good that coach was having a hard time understanding how you could know more than him. You should have seen his dumbstruck face, Sam!”
I fell silent. Coach was going to be another thing to worry about.
“Wait a second.. Am I missing on something?” Brad narrowed his eyes at the both of us, eyeing us suspiciously. “What happened back there?”
Brad, I hate you. And Ceci, you too.
“No! Not at all! We were just playing a game with you!” I jumped in to my own rescue. God did that sound pathetic, though. I have to find some better excuses. I seem to be needing it a lot these days.
He raised an eyebrow and shook his head stubbornly. “No, that’s not it. Come clean before I hang you upside down with a rope!” he threatened. I rolled my eyes. He was being too dramatic.
“Really?” I raised my eyebrow as well, testing him.
“Oh, don’t you dare think I won’t do it for a second!”
“I said I will!”
He threw his hands up in frustration. “Why?” he dramatically wiped a fake tear, before a devilish plan formed in his head and he smirked in pure evilness. Wait... he wasn’t actually going to do that, was he?
As if answering my questions, he went down for my legs and pulled me from my knees and held me upside-down against his shoulders so that my head was facing the floor, let’s not talk about my hair upside-down as well, and my legs were desperately looking for some support to keep myself from falling head-first straight on the ground. He laughed evilly. That bastard.
“Put me down this instant!” I demanded furiously, trying to sound as threatening as I could sound because of the blood rushing to my head. I was getting a bit dizzy, to be honest, because I was upside-down. Instead of him putting me down, however, he held me tighter and made a dash for it.
I screamed- well, that’s if I could scream. I probably sounded like a dying whale, cause we established this but yelling, shouting and screaming are completely different things for me. I cannot, and I repeat, cannot scream. Yelling and shouting, I can do.
“I swear to god, Brad! If you don’t put me down, I’m going to kill you! Like, with a knife and everything!” When he didn’t listen I hit his back with my hands and kicked my legs, but putting enough pressure so that he doesn’t ‘accidentally’ drop me or anything.
Let’s not mention that everyone was staring at us as if we came right out of the zoo- not that I could blame them. This was Brad we were talking about. They actually cleared their way as we came through! Like, you stupid people, do something to stop this inhumanely behavior!
He let out a very disgraceful snort. “As if.”
“Oh, trust me, I will!”
He just shook his head and continued running, making me feel more dizzier by every passing second. I felt so blessed when Ceci came into sight. “Ceci! Ceci! Take care of your moron of a cousin! Tell him to put me down!”
“Brad!” she reprimanded, “she’s right! Put her down! Right now!” She had her hands on her hips and came in front of us because Brad couldn’t really run fast since I was on his back. Apparently, Ceci with that warning-ish look is very scary and intimidating even if I couldn’t see her because she wasn’t in front of me, but of Brad, and I was facing backwards and... you know what? Drop it.
But yeah, she was scary. She gave me that look while telling me try my outfits, remember? The image is stuck in my head. No worries.
“Brad! Down! Now!”
“Okay, fine,” He whined but I’m pretty sure he was pouting because that’s just the way Brad works. Not that I’ve known him for long or anything, but it’s just so obvious. “Buzzkill,” he muttered under his breath so that Ceci couldn’t hear.
Unfortunate for him, Ceci heard him and whacked him on the back of his head. “Watch it,” she warned.
“Yeah, watch it, Brad,” I narrowed my eyes at him, still very pissed at his little stunt earlier.
“Yeah, watch it, Brad,” he mimicked in a very high pitched voice while making an ugly face.
I gasped. “I do not sound like that!”
He just smirked in return. “I never said that,” he told me in a sing-song voice, “You brought it upon yourself!”
I face-palmed. I did walk right into that one...
“You know what?”
“What?” he questioned.
And that ladies and gentlemen was how to completely embarrass yourself by throwing the most lamest comeback in a million years. That’s if it was even considered a comeback.