I was ready with my answer. I didn’t think it was exactly right but I didn’t think it was wrong either. Just a question to ask Coach before I tell him my decision. One question upon which I will make up my mind.
If you haven’t guessed, I was in the changing room outside the field for P.E. A day after the whole ‘will-you-be-my-partner’ thing happened at his office. I rubbed my sweaty hands against my shorts into which I had earlier changed and exited the changing room.
I decided that I’d tell him towards the end of the class-- when people are too tired to notice what’s going on. I don’t want it anything to be made public yet so I’d just rather stay in the low, although I’m pretty sure some people already know that Coach has taken up an interest in me as a student.
Coach clapped his hands together, rather loudly, to gain everyone’s attention. His eyes scanned the students until it came on me and a questioning look went over his face before it got masked with an authoritative one as he realized all the students had started talking once again. His face was one of rage and he yelled at the top of his voice for all of them to be quiet. Everyone quietened down.
“I will not accept this kind of behavior in my class again! One more time and you get a warning. And you all know the rules: three warnings and you’re out. So unless you want to get expelled, I’d think twice if I were you before starting to talk.” He ended it with a sickly, sweet, sarcastic smile which immediately made me roll my eyes. He’s back at it with the stupid expelling thingy again.
We were made to do around ten laps of running as the warm-up. I think it’s because he’s angry today; he seems to be taking his anger out on us. Huh, who am I kidding? This is just the normal.
We didn’t do much today, just the occasional running. We were given a ten-minute break every time we ran five laps, so I guess it was fine.
The bell rang signifying the end of the class and all the students ran out. Coach’s eyes fixated on me as I stayed there, being the only person who didn’t leave as I had to have my discussion with the Coach first.
“Hey, you coming?” Alex asked as they walked past.
“No, you guys carry on. I’ve got something to do first.” I smiled at him and left him as I went toward Coach.
“You made up your decision, Sam?”
“Can I back out whenever I want to?” The question had been in my mind for the whole day now and it was driving me crazy.
He sighed. “I guess, but it’s not that easy. It’s going to take a month for you to back out as you’re signing a contract with the university before you join including the terms and conditions and what not. . . it’s basically gonna take time. It’s not just going to happen out of the blue.” He explained.
I nodded. One month I could wait for. “I’m in,” I blurted. The words were out before my mind could register what was going to happen. Although this had been my very decision from the start, it’s scary how excited I already am to start the training. I shouldn’t be this excited. I should be as far as possible from this game.
But I can’t. . . And I have to accept that. Baby steps, I guess. But steps forward nonetheless.
A smile broke out on his face. “Great.” He held his hand out and I shook it. “It’ll be fun working with you, Sam. You’re going to have to come in for some paperwork about some policies tomorrow but you can come for the first training on Thursday.”
I smiled back at him. “Thank you.”
“No, thank you. Thank you for helping out.”
“Yeah, no problem.”
“Seb, go get them.” I smiled encouragingly at him and went back into my position. “Stay open!”
As the ball came into my hands, I threw it over to Seb. He ran, he ran. . . .but he didn’t reach. It was as though he were in a never-ending loop, going in circles and not coming to a stop. His eyebrows furrowed as he looked around himself in confusion. I ran over to him, worry evident in my eyes but a glass shield, coming in front of me from out of nowhere stopped me from doing so. I pounded my hands against it as hard as possible and yelled as loudly as I could. But he. . .he couldn’t hear me. . .
At least, I don’t think he could.
“Seb! Seb! Stop! Get out of there!” My voice came out as a plea. I was in desperation. I was panicking. Ready to do anything in the world to help him get put of there. I felt so helpless, crying, banging my fists against the glass as nothing happened. It was like I was standing close by and watching him suffer. And I. . . I couldn’t do anything about it.
It happened quite suddenly-- something collided with him and he fell with a thud on the floor.
And the thing that got me screaming to the top of my voice was the blood I saw around him as he lay there on the floor-- completely still, not a limb in motion by the slightest.
My eyes snapped open and my back straightened so that I was sitting on the bed. My cheeks were damp, my hair messy, and sweat dripping down my forehead. I hadn’t had those nightmares for a week now. Right when I thought they were disappearing. . .that I was getting better.
The thought makes me want to roll my eyes now. Maybe-- hopefully-- I would get better but it certainly wasn’t going to go soon. It’d take time; baby steps. One by one. Step by step. That’s how slow it’s going to have to go. And if I missed one step, I’d go tumbling back down and have to start again.
I looked over at the other bed to see Ceci sleeping peacefully. I let out a breath of relief and shut my eyes for a second before blinking them back open. That meant I didn’t scream. . .thank god. I’d rather have at least one person sleeping to their fullest than no one at all.
I slowly pulled the blanket off me and went to pour a glass of water for myself to calm my nerves down. I wasn’t getting any more sleep today; that was for sure. I checked the time.
4:13, it blinked on the screen of my phone. I contemplated sitting on my bed and just going on my phone but then realized how much more I could do with my time.
I’d always liked the time between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. despite the fact that I was always too sleepy to wake up by then. But when I couldn’t, the gentle breeze outside, it always got me lost in my thoughts. Almost as if the wind were blowing all my memories, events, and situations in my direction and I was forced to go through them to get them out of the way.
I grabbed my hoodie from the cupboard it was hanging in-- it took a while because Ceci’s clothes were all mixed up with mine and I folded some of her’s and kept them folded beside mine so she could find them easily rather than having to through a bundle of stuff to find them. Putting it on, I grabbed the keys to my dorm, just in case and put on my shoes. My cheeks were tinted red along with the tip of my nose so that they stood out amongst my plain features.
Aware of the cameras, I snuck out as quietly as possible. I didn’t have a plan on where to go. I just randomly walked around. At one point, I came out. I wasn’t inside the building anymore, I was outside. I saw some movement and hid behind the nearest pillar I could find and held my breath. If I weren’t in a situation where I could get into serious trouble, I’d be laughing at how cliche this all was. I only saw people hide behind pillars in movies.
I guess I could tick that off if I ever decided to make a bucket list. Not that I would ever dare to.
The guard’s flashlight shone in my direction and I silently gulped praying that he wouldn’t come this way. My prayers seemed to be answered when he just shone it in the opposite direction and shut it off and continued walking. I never really realized how much security there was here at night. I guess I’m going to have to be more careful the next time I came out.
At least without permission, that is.
I almost crawled to the next pillar and continued onwards to the door. Once I was inside the hallway, I let out a deep breath I didn’t know I was holding and gulped. Making note of all the cameras, I tried to sneak my way back to my secret place. That was the only place with a broken camera and the only place no one would bother looking into-- except Ceci. But I’d be back in our dorm before she can even wake up so shouldn’t be a problem.
I sank down and rested my head on the wall once I had reached there. The silence seemed to be everything I could possibly need at a time like this. All those thoughts, all those memories, swirling in my head and I couldn’t do a thing about them except wish them away. Sometimes, I seemed like a burden to my parents. . .not that it was true or anything, but it almost seemed as though I were the wall they were trying to build, but it took their energy with every heavy brick they placed on top. It took a part of their life away every time they tried to build me up.
And I couldn’t help but feel guilty about it.
I shook my thoughts away. No, they wouldn’t want me to think like this. But then again, they never thought life would be like this; as if we were in a car and we took the sharpest turn of our lives. Back at home, I used to look in the mirror and wonder when this happened-- when I turned into this broken girl who couldn’t stand her own reflection.
I was trying to go back to my real self but there was always this one thing that stopped me. With obstacles thrown at me at every step, I became weaker and weaker by each passing day. If not for my friends and family, I’d probably be stuck back at my house up to now having no idea where to go in life and what to do next. It was them that convinced me that I couldn’t sit in my bedroom and sulk about things I could never get back. They encouraged me to move on.
And I’m glad I did. But sometimes it gets a bit too overwhelming and I’d end up having one of my moods again. I hate myself when that does in fact happen. I hate it because the person around me doesn’t deserve that. Ceci, Brad, even Alex. . .I don’t deserve them. I don’t even deserve my friends back at home but they’ve been with me through all of it. It’s been a sickening ride, but they held my hand tight and made sure I was okay.
I couldn’t have been more grateful for them.
When the time came, I got up and brushed the dirt off my pants. I went back the directions I came from and midway I changed the course so I could be heading towards my dorm instead of that scary place all those guards, which I recently just found out about, lingered about. Thinking about it gives me the shudders. What if I got caught? Surely they wouldn’t throw me out, right? But I could still end up with a warning. That’d look so bad on my report when I looked for a job. I can already see it: the first warning given just about two weeks into the university.
Now that’s unacceptable.
Aware of all the cameras around the corner and up, I made sure to be as sneaky about this as possible. It always felt like an accomplishment every time I made it to the dorm undetected and it always made my stomach flutter with nervousness and excitement clashing together. I was walking against the wall so that I wouldn’t be seen by the cameras when I heard a click. My eyes widened and I stopped in my tracks.
Up in front of me was Alex shutting the door of his dorm. He hadn’t spotted me yet but there was no avoiding this. My dorm was further away from his so I would have to cross him and unless by some miracle he’s blind in the morning, there was no escaping him seeing me. But that’s the thing, him seeing me would raise questions as to what I was doing there or how I wasn’t being spotted by the cameras.
And those were a couple of questions I didn’t want him to find out about. As soon as the door was shut, he shifted the bag in his hand so that he could sling it on his shoulders and moved forward. As soon as he lifted his head, I could see the confusion in his eyes as he stared right at me. For a moment, I wondered why he hadn’t come up to me and asked me all those questions yet.
And then it hit me. My hoodie. Oh, my savior. I completely forgot it was covering more than half off my face! I had been wearing it that way for such a long time that I had become accustomed to looking through the fabric.
His eyebrows furrowed as he tried to figure out who I was. I passed him and he stared at me from behind, still wondering who I could possibly. I held my breath and prayed yet again, hoping that he wouldn’t figure out who I was. Unfortunately, luck only sides with me once so I let out a defeated sigh when he called my name out.
I turned around so I could face, cursing in my head. “Good lord, what did you steal?”
I turned red. That’s the first question he asks me?
“I didn’t steal anything,” I narrowed my eyes at him.
“Did you murder someone?”
“No, I will murder someone.”
“Okay, that’s it. I’m calling the police,” he joked. I threw my hands up in frustration.
“If I’m looking so suspicious, take a look at yourself. What are you doing here?”
“Not stealing anything for sure,” he raised his hands up in defense. “Nor am I going to murder anyone. You’re on your own this time.”
“Really? Not stealing anything? You have a frickin’ bag on your shoulder. If anything, you look like you’re about to go rob a place than I do. I don’t think I’d shove everything in the pockets of my hoodie for it to be visible to everyone.”
He patted his bag once. “Football kit. All safe,” he winked.
I was about to blow up. I forced a sickeningly sweet smile on my face and turned on my heels to leave him there. “Hey! Wait up! What are you actually doing here?” Did he want everyone to wake up and kill us?
I turned around. I didn’t know why I did that, but once I did I felt like burning myself alive. “I’m cleaning the floors. You?” A sarcastic comment will get you nowhere, Sam.
He gave me a weird look. “I was heading to football practice. We have an extra one today,” he gave me a pointed look to mark the fact that he didn’t respond to my sarcastic comment with a sarcastic one of his own.
“Have fun with that then.” I waved my hand at him and walked to my dorm in peace. He didn’t bother replying to that. I think he realized he was getting late or he just gave up. Either way, I was left alone. I think that was all that mattered.
I shoved the key into the key hole and twisted it. The door unlocked and I pushed it wider open to get inside. Ceci was still sleeping so I was good.
I took my clothes and went to take a shower before she woke up so that I wouldn’t be late. I couldn’t think of anything else despite the fact that they had an early morning practice and that Alex saw me. What if Coach told them that I was going to be assisting them from now on? He would for sure. All of them are going to come up to me to ask questions. . .
Alex saw me anyway. I wonder what must be going in his head right now? Was he going to report me? Nah. . .that’d be so childish and unnecessary. Suddenly I kinda got scared. With Alex, you never know what he’s going to do.
Was he going to hold it against me? Probably.
I just took a deep breath in and tried to forget it all. The day hadn’t even started and it already felt as there’d been enough done for the day.
I was all ready when Ceci’s alarm went off. She rubbed her eyes sleepily and studied me for a moment. “Why are you already ready?”
She got up and took her clothes out of the wardrobe. Before disappearing into the bathroom, she poked her head out. “Don’t you dare think of leaving me. Wait here.”
I laughed and rolled my eyes at her playfully.