Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.
Exiting my business class, I join Ceci as she happily sings her way out. I raise my eyebrows at her over excitement. I rolled my eyes, but smile nonetheless. As if her normal self isn’t enough to handle.
“What’s got you this happy today?” I ask, laughing as she starts skipping with a big smile on her face like an eight year old.
She narrows her eyes questioningly, a faint smile still existent. “Is there some problem? Last time I checked, anyone was allowed to be happy anytime they wanted.”
“Not this happy though,” I laughed again, “you look like you’d do the happy dance any second now. And I mean the embarrassing type. Like jumping around and clapping your hands like a madman in the middle of the hallway.”
"Excuse me?!” Ceci snapped making a ‘z’ formation with her fingers in a sassy manner “Is this your subtle way of insulting me?” She crossed her arms across her chest and whipped her head away from me-- jokingly, of course -- and pushing her nose up the air.
“Why, yes!” I gasped mockingly, “How did you know?”
“Because I know everything!” she laughed evilly before looking at me. The both of us looked at each other for one second before we both burst out into laughter. What even was that? We laughed so hard that tears were forming in our eyes and our stomachs hurt.
“Do we even want to know why they are laughing like dying hyenas?” Alex whispered, a bit too loudly, to Brad whilst staring at us in a weird way. Like I stated before, I really don’t think he can whisper because he just... can’t.
Brad gave him an uneasy glance before answering, “Nope, I don’t think so.” Our laughter died instantly. Why did god gift us with two absolute buffoons as friends? I don’t think I’ll be knowing for a very long time. Not until I die at least. Which I don’t want to do any time soon. Why am I talking about dying? I’m not dying. Problem solved.
“-unless you want to be dead,” Huh, Ceci’s talking about dying as well. Not her, of course. She means Alex and Brad. Speaking of, I might be next on the list if I space out again. “-right?” she finished. I gave her an alarmed yet confused look as I had no idea what she was talking about, but she was looking at me so I think I’m expected to give an answer. Whatever, just go with the flow, Sam.
I broke into nervous laughter. “Yes, yes! Why not? Of course!” All of them gave me blank stares. I turned my face neutral and stared back at them. “What?” I shrugged innocently. Ceci shook her head.
“Just drop it,” she face-palms and gives me a flat stare. “I can’t even deal with you guys anymore,” she struggles to keep the smile off her face. “Anyways, I’m going! Enjoy your time in P.E! Toodles!” she wiggles her fingers and turning around, she heads off to whatever class she has next. All of us just stood staring after her skipping figure as it got smaller and smaller as she went further away.
“Did she just say toodles?” Alex questions staring after her figure.
“Yup, man, she just did.” Brad deadpanned shaking his head with a raised eyebrow. He said it so seriously that I couldn’t have stopped my laughter if not for the second bell ringing that was our warning bells; to tell you to get into classes faster.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I want to get late to P.E.” I interjected, going in the direction of my class. Thankfully, my locker was on the way, so I shoved my books in and grabbed my shorts before moving on to the changing rooms to change into them.
Once I was ready, I pushed past the girls who were chattering, probably gossiping, about all types of things and went out to the field. To be quite honest, I was hoping that Coach would call in sick today and by some miracle not come because if that didn’t happen, I was going to have to listen to what he was going to say the other day. Not a good thing for me.
I even tried acting as if I were sick today morning but Ceci got out a thermometer and found out that I was perfectly fine. Sad story, eh? She practically pushed me out of bed and only once I hit the floor painfully did I realize that she was not messing around and that I was going to have to get ready if I didn’t want to be dead by the end of the day.
Taking in a deep breath, I went next to the bleachers. Coach was currently waiting for the rest of the students to come in and sit down on the bleachers so he could start the lesson.
As soon as his eyes zeroed onto me, I felt like running off to a corner and hiding. I didn’t want him to continue the talk. I had a very bad feeling that whatever he was going to talk about I was not going to like.
He shook his head, pressing his lips into a thin line and walked over to me. “I need to see you at five today after all your classes. This is important and you better be there or else you’ll be doing thirty laps.”
I bit the inside of my cheek. “I’m sorry, Coach, but I’d much rather prefer doing thirty laps.” I didn’t mean to come off rude or anything, but I didn’t want to talk! What part of that didn’t he get? I. Don’t. Want. To. Talk. I thought I made that clear after I diverted the topic into random sh*t.
He ran his hands down his face and sighed. “Five minutes is all I ask for.”
“I know you’re here on scholarship. There’s always a weakness that comes along with it. You can get expelled with a snap of my fingers if I wanted to do that,” he warned. I narrowed my eyes at him. He did not just go that far. I did not work so hard for good grades to have him strip me off my scholarship.
“Fine,” I literally spat. “Five minutes.”
Finally taking aware of the students sitting on the bleachers, I forced a smile on my face and walked onto it. Coach clapped his hands together for the students to quieten down the students. “Warm up! Five laps around the field! Line up!”
Everyone groaned. “What’s his problem? We have to get his wife to slap him upside down the head so that he can learn a lesson!” Brad complained, throwing his hands up. I laughed and gave him a high five, but then my expression turned into a confused one.
“He actually has a wife?”
“Nope,” Brad shook his head. “No one in the right mind would do that. I just said that for self-satisfaction.” He gave me a big, wide smile.
“Self-satisfaction for what exactly?” I questioned, raising an eyebrow.
“Why, for the mental imagery of someone hitting him on the head of course!”
I took a deep breath and unclenching my fist that was so tightly clenched, I knocked hesitantly on the door. A faint ‘come in’ came from the inside of the cabin. I pushed the door open lightly not wanting to make this a bigger issue than it already was and trying to behave the best I could so I could not get ‘expelled’ as he called it. It did take a lot out of me to ask Brad the way to Coach’s office since I’m new because he’s just so. . . Brad-like.
First Brad exploded on how I could possibly meet up after class for extra time with a man who’s a human torturer and then he doesn’t realize that he’s already showing me the way. In a few minutes’ time, I was in front of Coach’s office with Brad still oblivious to how he was guiding me and lecturing me at the same time. Smooth, right? The only thing I was afraid of was that he would ask me why I was going-- which he didn’t because he was too busy lecturing me. So that was all good. I didn’t want him knowing what I was here to do without knowing it for sure myself first.
“Thank you for coming,” Coach stated as he saw me come in. He collected a few papers and put them in a folder and then threw it on his desk. I assume it was some work he was doing before I entered. “I’d also like to apologize for the threat I had given you earlier. I didn’t mean it; it was just for you to come in my office as I knew you weren’t going to come.”
I furrowed my brows together and clenched my teeth together to not shoot up some rude statement.
“I wanted to offer you something the day I had come to your dorm to personally meet you, but you had so cleverly got off the topic that I completely forgot what I had come for and the next thing I know, it’s time for practice for the football team,” he laughed shaking his head at my antics. “Now I’d like to say what you didn’t let me say the other day.” Just get on with it already. How long do you take to say a simple thing? Say it. Get it over with.
“I’d like you to join the football team-”
“About that, I say no. I’m sorry, along with all the studies I have, there’s no t-”
“Sam! Listen to me and let me finish,” he instructed calmly. “I’d like you to join our football team as a substitute coach and my partner.”
I fell silent. A substitute coach? It’s like he’s telling me to instruct the boys with him! Oh wait, he actually is. I think I could actually consider this though-- consider, not accept nor decline yet, but consider. I’m not going to be on the field but I can start football again this way. I can move on. Something I never have been able to do since two years now. Two very long and depressing years. And after all, this was a new beginning, right? This was to make me forget all the bad memories-- to replace them with new ones. Then I don’t see why I can’t accept it, it’s not like he’s telling me to play or anything, he’s just telling me to instruct and help him out. I think I can do this.
“Listen, Sam,” he stood up from his desk. “It’s been the first time we’ve been able to win a match in quite a few years. The last time we won a football match was back four years ago. This team and the one before haven’t had a single victory up till now. They’re just too easygoing and never take it seriously. I’d really appreciate if you could help them out. I know you’ve somehow done football before because those strategies you gave us on the game were killer. I just need your approval now.” He sighed looking at me expectantly.
“I- Can I have time to think about this?”
He sighed and slowly nodded his head. “Sure, I guess.”
“Great!” I smiled and got ready to leave. “I’ll tell you in our next P.E. class-- which is-” I paused trying to remember when our next class was and then my smile faded in disappointment, “-day after tomorrow.” I forced a fake smile back on my face as I slowly moved back.
“Perfect! The earlier the better,” he grinned.
"Right,” I slowly dragged the word as I shuffled back. “Bye!” I exclaimed and threw the door open and went off. I don’t know what I would have done if I stayed in there for an extra second to be honest. It was such an awkward talk. . .
I walked down the corridor to my dorm, a few other students talking to their friends and others either walking like me in silence or rushing to their extra activities. I just flattened my lips into a thin line and kept walking, hoping that I’d reach quickly. It’d been a long day and all I wanted now was a nap.
“Why did Coach call you to his office?” Ceci questioned the second I walked in.
“I don’t know, Ceci,” I lied. “He wasn’t there when I walked in.”
“Really?” she narrowed her eyes suspiciously.
“Yeah, I knocked but there was no reply and Brad was gone too by the time I turned back.” I didn’t want to tell anyone yet because I hadn’t figured out if I wanted to take up on his offer or not and I didn’t want anyone to know before I did so.
She nodded slowly, unconvincingly, but dropped the subject nonetheless. “Okay,” she said. “I’ve got practice, but I’ll be back in an hour. It’s shortened today since some classes have extra studies since their teachers decided to give them homework. Thankfully, I am not one of those people but practices were shorter because of that.”
I smiled. “Enjoy your practice then. I’ll be going out for a walk but I’ll be back by half an hours tops. I’ve quite some studying to do as well-- test or not. I’m just going out to clear my head. I was going to take a nap first but I don’t feel all that tired anymore so I’m just gonna go for a walk instead,” I shrugged. “I’ll see you by later then?”
“Yep,” she grinned and waved her hand getting up. “Bye!”
A door was shut and I sighed. Guess I was on my own now. . . Out of boredom, I touched the bedsheet and went back and forth for no apparent reason. When I finally snapped out it, I stood up from my place as I was already wearing my shoes and went to the door. I opened it making sure the key was in my pocket and shut it soon after. Stuffing my hands in my pockets, I walked down the corridor in a quiet way the same as I had gone through a few minutes earlier. It was a quiet, peaceful time unlike the previous time I walked over there; that was when everyone was rushing to get to their extra activities.
Now with only one or two walking in complete silence as well, the hall was almost empty. Those who had activities were currently in classes and the others in their dorms studying. Others like me were either with their friends going out around the university for a few minutes and others without.
I saw a familiar empty red board and took a right from there and took a left the next corner. A couple more turns later, I found myself walking through the exact same abandoned place I had come the other day. I found it so peaceful and amazing over here even though there was nothing to admire except the silence. It was the fact that it was abandoned-- literally, not even a single camera in sight-- that brought me to this place again. Ceci probably didn’t take notes of the directions when we were lost but I remembered so I could come back at times like this.
It was truly breathtaking and a little place I could call mine. I dusted the small, wooden table and swiped my hands rather loudly against each other to get rid of the dust that was once on the table from my hand. I sat down on the place I dusted it and leaned my head on the wall behind as support.
I just sat there replaying options in my head whether to accept Coach’s offer or not. I didn’t know what I had to lose, but I still wanted to confirm. I cleared all my thoughts for a while and sat down there in the same position for around half an hour minutes. When I finally decided I should get going, a feeling of dread passed through as I really didn’t want to leave. It was then when I realized I could come here again-- it wasn’t like this was the last time. With one look back at the place, I followed the same path back to the dorm as I did when I went.
“Good goodness, where were you?” Cecilia exclaimed when she saw me. “I was about to go to the administration to track you down!”
“Oh, thank god you didn’t do that.” I wiped imaginary sweat from my forehead and flicked my fingers as to get it off my hands. A big smile on my face, I walked to her. “How was your practice?”
“It was good! A little tiring with a couple muscle pulls here and there that hurt horribly, but other than that, I’m good. Practice was good. And that’s all that matters.” She looked up at me grinning as well. “Where were you?”
“Oh, you know, here and there,” I laughed, mimicking her words.
“Shut--” My phone rang in my pocket silencing her and I dug my hand in it to get it out.
“Hello?” I asked, turning my back away from Ceci to go into my side of the room. I could feel Ceci’s curious eyes onto me as she waited for an outburst indicating it’s my mom. Instead a franctic voice sounded.
“Hello? Hello! Sam! Is that you?”
No way. That voice was something no one could forget-- be it on the phone or right in front. No way was that who I thought it was. There had to be a mistake.
“Um. . .who’s this?” I questioned.
“Sam? I knew it was you-- wait, what? You don’t recognize me? You don’t recognize your good, old coach? I’m truly disappointed in you if I must say.” A hint of amusement was evident in his voice and that was the exact tone that sent the corners of my mouth tugging upwards. I could literally sense him smirking.
“Coach Meyers? How-- how did you even get my number and,” I paused, taking the phone away from my ear for a second to examine the number, “I thought you were in Germany! How in the world did you even call me? I don’t even--”
“Sam, will you shut up for a minute?” I remained quiet. “I just was going through a couple of messages Frederick sent me when they told me you left to university. Why in the whole, wide world was I not informed?”
“Did you forget about this old man so easily? Oh come on, I expected better from you, Sam. Xavier and Troy are good for nothing, but you? Sam, I--”
“Woah, hold up. I though I told you before?”
“Yes, but you didn’t tell me the date. . .”
“You’re so bad at this. What’s really happening?”
“I just wanted to know how you were coping up.”
“With the university? Oh, sure it’s tougher than high school, a lot of studying to do ut it’s amazing. Oh and you’re going to love this part, it even has--”
“No, no. . . I mean I’d love to hear about that as well, but I meant about. . .you know. . . the other thing. . .”
"No, I don’t know about the ‘other thing’ you’re talking about,” I air-quoted and then realized he couldn’t see me. I also remembered that Ceci was still looking at me from behind.
"Sam. . .” he whined.
"Coach. . ." I mocked his childish attitude and laughed.
“Don’t make me say it.”
“His death. How are you coping with his death?”
“I know you didn’t find them and I know you need some type of closure, but I--”
“Trying to forget. I’m trying my hardest to forget and move on with life. It’s been two years, Coach. Now it’s my time to move on.”
“You know how sad I still am about him. He was like my son.”
“I know, Coach.” I tried to smile but failed miserably. I think it turned out to be something like a grimace. I chose my words wisely since I didn’t want Ceci quite knowing what we were talking about.
“Well, that’s all I wanted to ask really. I’ll call you come other time, yeah?”
“Hope one day I’ll come over and we can all meet up,” he sighed.
“Me too. I just miss you guys.”
“I know. I do too. Bye, Anderson.”
I laughed at the way he said my last name.
“Bye, Coach Meyers.”