“We only have half an hour on the clock, but we can extend it if you guys aren’t going to do what I say. Isn’t that right, Coach?” I sent a fake smile towards them. If they were going to be difficult, I was going to be difficult too. End of story.
“Absolutely. One more person and you’re on the bench. Got it? Now let’s move! Twenty rounds around the field! Off you go!” he pointed his finger to the right and cocked his head for a moment to tell them to get going.
They all let out a dejected groan and started off with a slow walk but when Coach and I blew our whistles as loudly as we could, they knew they had no choice and forced their legs to move faster. I rolled my eyes at how lazy these boys were. How were they even on the team? Back in high school, we used to have tryouts and the kids who used to come in and were even better than this sh*tty team right here got rejected.
I mean, not everyone in the team was sh*tty. They just needed a little push. And some of them, emphasis on some, were nice even. But. . . they could do better.
By the time they were done, Coach and I were laughing so hard. The majority of them were sprawled across the floor, spreading their hands wide open and panting for air. They made it seem as if they were dying. The rest had their hands on their bent knees as they took deep breaths and thankfully had the decency to not fall down like idiots.
“Why am I not surprised by this?” I commented with a smirk on my face, guiltily having too much fun in this. It earned me a deadly glare from Alex who was a part of those idiots sprawled across the floor. I almost had to fight the urge to kick them on their sides-- lightly, of course, I’m not that mean. . .yet-- as Coach back home used to do with us when we used to act like this. The only difference was that we did almost double the running these guys did. “Lazy arses.”
“Alright. Get up, boys. That was enough. Go and rest now,” Coach dismissed. They slowly got up, took their things and left one by one until it narrowed down to only a few of us. I grabbed my things too, preparing to leave when an arm shot up and grabbed mine harshly, halting my movements.
When I saw who it was, I rolled my eyes and pulled my arm from his grasp with a tug. Once that was done, I continued walking, completely ignoring him and his existence. However, he did not want to give up. “What now, Alex?” I asked tiredly.
It was something about his tone and the look he was giving me that told me this was another one of his stupid arguments, so I stopped him. “Nope. I don’t want to. I’m tired and I’m going home. End of discussion. It was nice talking to you.”
“Alex,” I whined. “Maybe tomorrow but I’m not in the mood to fight today. Okay? So just please leave me alone.”
It was true. . . I’d been getting tired all day, with my eyes drooping and almost shutting completely if it weren’t for this practice. It worked its magic for a while, but as soon as the class ended, I could feel myself going back to my tired self. And maybe this time it was my tone that made it seem that I really wasn’t joking around this time because he sighed and let me go.
I didn’t waste a second and starting walking towards my dorm. It was only six in the evening, but I was still as exhausted as ever. After unlocking the lock and entering my dorm, the first thing I did was throw myself on my bed--face first, that too.
“Someone’s tired today,” Ceci commented, laughing as she looked up from her phone and saw me. “Practice?”
“Kind of,” I mumbled, my voice sounding deep and hollow as I spoke into the bed sheets. “I’m just really, really tired.”
“I can see,” she rolled her eyes. “You should try to get some sleep. I mean, you should see the dark circles under your eyes. They’re hideous.” She makes a face to lighten the situation, but then she realizes that I am face-first on the bed, literally kissing my bed sheet and that I really couldn’t see her.
“Is it really that visible?” I ask. I never really thought about that.
“I just didn’t sleep well yesterday.” Or any other day in the past few years.
“Right. Therefore, go sleep. Do you have homework tomorrow?”
“Ugh. Yes. Stupid English essay.”
“I have no comments to that.”
I waved it off. “I’ll do it later on.” At night, when I’m going to roaming around the field like an insomniac. Oh wait, I kind of am one. Well, look at the bright side: at least I get some sleep.
“As long as you don’t think you’ll get into trouble,” she sighs and then adds, “But if you’re going to sleep, at least sleep properly. What is that?”
I whined loudly, making it clear that I didn’t want to move, but she rolled her eyes at me. “Idiot...” she muttered.
“I heard that!” I told her.
“I really don’t care, Sam. You should be aware of who you are. Get up and sleep in the right position.” When I didn’t budge, she took it upon herself to make it happen. “You are one lazy piece of sh*t. Seems like I have to do it myself.”
Before I could even register her words, I was being pushed around in a painful attempt to move me. Honestly speaking, it hurt and I barely even moved! “Cecilia, stop that right now.” I tried to sound serious as I used her complete name but, no, she just has to keep going until she got what she wanted. “Oh my god, Cecilia! Fine! I’ll move!” I moved into the proper position with my head on the pillow. “Happy now?”
She smiled satisfactorily. “Very,” she said before she pulled up the blanket and placed it over me. “Now you may go sleep.”
I wasn’t going to admit that I was actually really glad that she moved me from my very uncomfortable position, but I thanked her nonetheless because of the blanket.
“You’re very welcome,” she smiled before the smile dropped and she complained: “Now I’m going to be working on my essay while you sleep and I’m going to be looking at you longingly every minute or so wishing to be you while you will be in fantasy land.”
I almost laughed. Try horror land. Nightmare land. Anything but fantasy. If you call that fantasy, I’d rather have nothing. I mean I’d prefer nothing anyway, it’s just that. . .ugh, never mind. I’m getting confused over the silliest of things again.
It was only a matter of time before I woke up again--an hour to be very precise. Ceci was still awake and busy with her work when she noticed that I had woken up. “Up already?” she asked, never taking her eyes off her work.
“Hmm,” I answered, not wanting to talk just yet. I felt some sort of dryness in my throat and got up to get the water bottle that was placed on my desk.
“Your mom called. I told her you’d call her back once you were awake,” she informed, finally looking at me. “You can call her back--now that you’re awake, I mean.”
I rubbed my eyes sleepily and nodded, giving her yet another, “Hmm,” in response.
“Aww, you’re so adorable,” she got up to pinch my cheeks and I lazily slapped them away.
“Go away,” I whined like a three-year-old, still not completely awake and kind of stumbling as I neared my bed after drinking water.
“I don’t think I can, honestly. We share the same room remember?”
“Ugh. My life sucks.”
“Unfortunately,” she comments, laughing.
“Can you pass me my phone? It’s just a few steps away from you and a hundred away from me,” I pouted, my exaggeration at it’s finest. She rolled her eyes before getting up and tossing it to me-- which I thankfully and very gracefully caught with an ‘oomph’ on my lips.
“Thank you but the least you could do is have the decency to. . .I don’t know. . .not throw the phone?” I narrowed my eyes into slits and stuck my tongue out at her.
“Nope. No decency at all,” she winked and turned her head back to her work.
“I give up,” I threw my hands up in the air to show my frustration.
I opened up the app on my phone and clicked on my mom’s name from my contact list. The original caller tune that Skype usually has rang, letting me know that it was dialing. I put it on speakerphone and left it there since there were times when it took too long to respond. And who’s gonna be picking up a phone and putting it next to their ear, listening to the same caller tune go off for a good ten minutes?
Not me for sure.
Fortunately for me, she -- or rather, he picked up not long after.
“Sam! My darling! How are you?” my dad exclaimed, whispering.
“I’m good. What about you, dad? And what’s up with the whispering?” I picked up my phone and put the video on while placing a book behind my phone to keep it steady. He hadn’t put his video on so I was met with nothing more than my face on the first half of the split screen on my phone and mom’s profile picture on the second half.
The second he started talking, there was a smile on my face. God, I miss dad so much. I miss everyone so much. “I’m good, too. You don’t know what’s going in this mad house, darling. I’m stuck! I have to whisper because she wouldn’t let me talk to you if she was here. She’d snatch the phone right off my hands and talk to you herself-- which is probably why I didn’t tell her I’m on the phone with you right now. Stop calling mom. Start calling me on my phone instead. Yeah. That’s gonna be better, you hear me--”
“Charles! How dare you touch my phone without my permission? And who are you talking to?” There was a silent break in which I could imagine my dad paling and about to faint before my mom gasped. “You traitor! Get out of here right now! No dessert for you today!”
“It’s not like I get any anyway,” my dad grumbled, speaking so low under his breath but since he had her phone to his ear, I could hear it.
“What was that again? Actually, I don’t wanna know. Now give me the phone. Our poor daughter has better things to do than to listen to us arguing.”
"You started it. I was talking to her peacefully before you just barged in and started shouting all over again!” And here we go again. . .
“I was not!” she let out a sharp gasp. “Charles! You’re pissing me off. Give me the phone! I called her first!”
“And I picked up when she called!”
“It’s my phone!”
“It’s my daughter!”
"Our daughter, Charles! Our!”
“I’m older than you!” he retorted. Real nice, dad.
“I’m two years younger! So what?! Do you want a medal?”
“I want to speak to my daughter!”
“I want to as well!”
“You can’t boss me around!”
“I can and I will! Now give it to me!”
Deciding that I had enough and I wanted to keep Ceci -- along with my mom and dad -- alive who was about to cry from the amount of laughing she had done, I interrupted their way too often and silly banter. “Dad, mom. Whoever has the phone in their hands,” I rolled my eyes. “I’ve never really understood the issue you’ve had with the speaker button. All it takes is one click and both of you get to talk to me!” I tried to sound cheerful at the end showing a fake and sarcastic smile despite them not being able to see me.
Ceci shoved her fist into her mouth to stop herself from laughing even more. She was officially as red as a tomato now.
Dad cleared his throat. “I was about to do that. She just interrupted me, that’s all.”
“I interrupted you in what now, huh? Put her on speaker for god’s sake so I can know what’s going on at least!” Well, at least mom’s got the brains-- kind of, seeing that she got the idea herself and couldn’t hear me. The phone was clearly still held tightly in dad’s hands.
“Fine, fine. . .” dad grumbled yet again and I could literally imagine him making those grumpy faces he makes when something doesn’t go his way. Just imagining it made me let out a chuckle.
“Ooh, and put the video on too! I wanna see you guys!” I smiled.
In a blink of the eye, they both were in front of me-- thankfully, alive.
“Sam! How are you? I’ve missed you so much, darling! And where are those friends of yours and her. . .what’s her name again? Cecilia, isn’t it? Such a nice girl! Where is she? And your football practice? And--”
“Woah, mom,” I laughed. “Slow down. Ceci’s right here by the way.” I shifted the camera so it faced her and she gave a quick and excited wave.
“Hi, dear! Sam’s not troubling you, is she? I know she’s weird and--”
“Oops, sorry, darling. Forgot you were there for a second,” she had her guilty smile on, teeth on full display.
I sighed. “Thanks, mom. You sure do know how to make your daughter feel special,” I rolled my eyes playfully, obviously being used to her nature.
“Yeah, yeah. . . whatever,” she smirked.
“See? I told you I was cooler,” dad piped in, making a peace sign with two of his fingers. I raised my eyebrows.
“Okay, enough of this nonsense. How’s your football practice going, dear?” mom asked.
I sighed while bobbing my head as I said, “It’s alright, I guess.”
Her eyebrows furrowed. “Why, that bad?”
I smiled at how well she knew me. “Kinda,” I squinted only one of my eyes as if I was guilty of something.
“Are they one of those sexist people?” mom asked with an annoyed look on her face.
“I can come beat them up!” dad offered.
I laughed. “Thanks, dad. Not now, but I’ll definitely call you up if that’s necessary.”
“Sure, kiddo,” he laughed it off as well.
While writing her essay, Ceci’s eyes suddenly shot wide open as she remembered something. “Oh, shoot! I have to ask Brad about something. I. . .um, I’ll be back in fifteen?” Ceci confirmed and gave a heartfelt smile to my parents. “Bye Emily and Charles! I’ll see you guys later if you’re still up!”
I waved at her as she left and the click of the door sounded, telling me that she left. “And,” I dragged it out, “how are the boys? Ooh, and what about Gabby? Diana? How are they doing?”
“Pretty good, actually. Gabby is getting busier. She’s still looking for the college. Diana’s good. Xavier got a job to help him out with college fees and his brother’s education. And the rest? They’re doing well.”
“Finally! Xavier was looking for a job for ages now. He deserves it for sure. Works hard too. Did you talk to him recently? How’s Aaron?”
“For a nine-year-old. . . too smart for his own good. He solved the Rubik’s cube that we kept on the shelf in one or two minutes! You’ve spent your whole life on that thing!”
My jaw dropped open. I had that cube since I was eight and have been trying to solve ever since. After watching a ton of youtube videos on the Internet, I gave up at the age of fourteen and told myself that the cube itself had some sort of problem with it. Apparently not.
“I feel like this is the reason Xavier is dumb. His brother stole all the intelligence from him!” I cracked, laughing like a madman at my own joke which wasn’t even funny. Eventually, my laughter died a bit when I figured out that my parents were just looking down at me weirdly and not really laughing along. “Okay, fine. At least I try to laugh when you guys make a joke,” I huffed.
“Well, if our jokes are that bad, we give you full permission; you don’t have to laugh anymore. Not for our sake, at least.”
I made a face at that. “Okay, enough with the insults. I actually had to talk to you about something important before Ceci comes back.”
They both nodded slowly, asking me silently to proceed. “I’m having issues with my sleeping again. It’s getting harder. . .I wake up after an hour or two and sometimes I don’t sleep at all. And it’s going right out of my control all over again. And I can’t do anything about it. Again. I need those sleeping pills but they’re just not working anymore.”
My dad had a hard look on his face, a look that meant a lot and came in quite rarely. “And in a way I’m glad. Those things were good and solved their purposes while they lasted, but there were too many serious effects I myself was very worried and anxious about occasionally. There were too many articles on those things causing cancer and whatnot. Besides, there are better ways to solve this. Kiddo, just consider the therapy--”
“Fine,” I admitted reluctantly.
“Okay, it can’t grant your sleep back, but maybe you’ll feel better-- did you just say fine?” dad repeated as my words slowly registered into his head.
I gave him a tight smile. “Yes, dad. I’ll go into one session and see how it goes. But I’m not too sure how I feel about this. I’m only doing this because I want some normalcy in my life. Just some. I’ve been there once. It wasn’t too great, but I’m trusting you on this.”
Mom had gone completely silent, unsure of what to say. “We’ll try our best not to let you down. We’ll be coming over soon to be talking to the officials as to how we’re gonna coordinate your leaves and timings. Right, Emily?” he nudged her with his elbow.
She seemed to snap out of her daze. “Right. We will.”
“Okay, great. I can’t wait to see you guys. I’ve missed you both so much.”
“We’ve missed you too. And we’re so proud of you. We genuinely do love you a lot, darling,” Mom spoke up, giving me her loving smiles, making me nostalgic and wanting one of her hugs right at that moment.
“How do you always know the right things to say?” I looked at them in wonder.
“We’re parents, darling,” Mom winked while dad chuckled at mom’s answer.
“I’m gonna disconnect now. I have an essay to work on too, but I fell asleep before. Tell the rest of the gang that I love them and I love you two a lot. Bye, guys,” I blew a kiss at them.
“Bye, darling. And tell Cecilia we enjoyed talking to her. She’s a really sweet girl--”
“No need for that! I’m here!” Ceci quickly flung the door open and literally jumped on the spot beside me. “I enjoyed talking to you guys too! Even though we barely talked. . .” she added the last part whilst talking to herself. “Hmm. . .essays take up too much time. Would you look at that? I’m still not done!”
My parents laughed at her ‘adorableness’-- a trait, in those exact words, they’ve told me they’ve come to love when we talk about Ceci time to time. “Don’t worry about those things. We hated them when we were your age,” mom makes a disgusted face and dad joins her. “Thinking about it makes me want to puke.”
“We don’t want to see you guys puke so we’re gonna end it right here,” I told them. “Bye, mom and dad! Love you!” I shouted and clicked on the ending button.
“Back to that dreading essay,” Ceci complains.
“I’ll join you on that,” I told her, to which she raises an eyebrow at. “English essay, remember?”
She nods slowly in understanding and I pull up a chair beside her and take out a blank paper. “Let’s get on to it!” I shouted, trying to hide my laughter.
“Aye, aye captain!” Ceci salutes and we both breakdown into laughter.
“Okay, serious time,” I comment, scolding both myself and her as we both wiped off any signs of laughter from our faces and faced our work.
We both did our thing. Ceci did her work quietly while I did too, but my mind was occupied by too many thoughts. Fear clouded a lot of them. And I tried to tell myself. . . Is this what you’re afraid of? A kind person trying to help you out? A therapist? Really? Grow up, Sam.
But fear had already taken its place and was unwilling to move. No matter how hard I tried to convince myself, it won’t budge. And sometimes it’s weird. . . it’s weird to be afraid of fear. But that’s just how it is.
Secrets. . . another deadly thing. One secret let out loose, the other comes rolling by. On top of that, the lies come right around the corner just like a free package along with those secrets. And sometimes those lies tie those very secrets so tight into a knot that even you can’t get in. And soon enough, you’re trapped. What happens then you may wonder. . ?
You become a tangled mess.