“This way,” I giddily informed. Okay, yes. I was really excited. But can you really blame me? I never, ever thought this day would’ve arrived. Ever. So, to have it happen right in front of my eyes was a big deal for me.
“Gosh, Sam. Tone it down a bit,” Xavier joked. “Did they give you some sort of drugs while we were away?”
I turned around sharply to face him and slapped him hard on his arm. A stinging sound echoed around us and his face contorted into one that showed his pain. “Ouch!” he exclaimed, rubbing the red spot where I hit him. “Was that really necessary?” he asked, with an irritated expression.
I gave him a flat look. “Unless you don’t stop with your stupid comments, then yes. Yes, it is necessary.”
He clicked his tongue while the other laughed at him. “She hasn’t changed one bit,” he grumbled in a low voice, rather to himself.
“No, I haven’t,” I agreed with his statement whilst sending the message across that I had, in fact, heard him. He took a deep breath and turned to Troy.
“No one’s going to believe me if I tell them that I’m the older one here,” he complained in an annoying voice. “It’s all because of you!” he pointed at me accusingly. “This is physical and verbal abuse. Do you get me? Abuse this is!” he tried to prove his point.
“Oh, get over it,” I rolled my eyes at him.
“Yeah, Xavier. Get over it,” James mocked me in a girlish voice.
“James!” I burst out. “I do not sound like that!”
“James!” Frederick copied in a high-pitch tone, joining in on the fun. “I do not sound like that!” the others including Peter and Troy joined in on them as well.
My jaw dropped wide open and sending a glare to each and every one of them, I fastened my pace in an attempt to get away from them. “I swear to god. I will leave each and every one of you stranded here. You can enjoy your time finding your way then.”
“Okay! Okay! Okay! Wait up! We won’t do anything! I swear, Sam! Don’t leave us here! Wait up! SAM!” They hurried and rushed themselves behind me after realizing the consequences of their actions.
Well, that’s right. They deserve to beg for mercy. Cue the evil laughter.
No regrets there for sure.
They caught up with me a few minutes later, slightly out of breath and after seeing them in that condition, I stopped still and gaped at them for a whole minute. “No way,” I told them, after a long pause. “This cannot be happening. Are you guys seriously out of breath right now?”
The all wore the same guilty expression on their faces and bit the insides of their cheeks due to their nervousness. My jaw ticked. “Not much. Just a little bit,” Frederick pinched his index finger and thumb together to express his words and squinted his eyes as though he was looking right through it. “Like a very, very, very little bit.”
“You guys,” I complained. “You haven’t been practicing?”
"Maybe. . ." James trailed off and broke into a guilt-ridden whistle in which he refused to meet my eyes.
My jaw dropped open. “I hate you guys,” I whined. “That means you probably ruined and absolutely demolished my bedroom! And my DVD’s! And my books! And everything present there!” Xavier opened his mouth to interrupt, but I was quick to continue before he could say anything. Sitting down dramatically on one of the nearest benches I could find as to show my sorrow, I went on rambling, “You probably found and finished my secret candy stash as well. Not to mention, you stole my parents too! I knew it! I knew it! I knew it! Mom and dad weren’t calling me as much anymore and it was always I who called! Talk about lack of importance in the household!” I exclaimed with a visible frown etched onto my face whilst pointing at myself.
The boys snickered and I rose an eyebrow at them. “Is there something you found funny in what I said?”
“Not something,” Troy commented with a funny look on his face. ”Everything.”
“Ex-cuh-use me?” I narrowed my eyes down at them.
James stepped in quickly to make sure they didn’t end up lying around in an isolated ditch in some unknown part of the world. “No! I mean,” he cleared his voice and tried to hide the terror from his voice, “Pfft. . . no. What Troy meant was that we were just. . . expecting something else. Right, Troy?” he threw a sharp glare at the most irksome member of the group. Troy just crossed his arms over his chest grumpily without a word being said.
“And what were you expecting me to say?” I asked, highly intrigued and curious by as to what they had in mind.
“Uh. . . Nothing, really. Don’t worry about it,” James tried to cover up by a flick of a wrist and an edgy laugh. Unfortunately for James, there were people in the group who clearly didn’t care about the lives of others.
“Oh, I don’t know. . . Maybe something normal and shout at us for being lazy arses and not exercising and coming prepared or something?” Xavier just had to burst out. However, as soon as the words came out of his mouth, there was no coming back. His eyes widened when realization hit him as to what he actually said and he slapped a hand over his mouth in order to shut himself up from speaking any further. The beautiful sound of a facepalm came up from James’ direction and I could tell by only his expression that if it were up to him, such a buffoon would have never existed in the world.
On the other hand, my mood just worsened and the wrinkles on my forehead had increased by a tenfold. I took a deep breath in, calmed myself, and got up instead. This time, they grew even more anxious as to what was coming. I decided to be the mature one in the group and didn’t say anything to them as we made our way to the field.
“Oh no. Please not the silent treatment. Please? " Cole, another guy on my team, begged with his finger clasped together. “Sam. Come on. It isn’t that serious. I mean, we’ll do great on the field. We haven’t lost our charm yet! I swear! Sam!”
“Fine,” I sent each and every one of them a sharp look. “As long as you prove it to me out there.”
The majority of my team then smirked. “Deal.”
My lips quirked up and my pace fastened when I realized we were getting late for practice. “We’re going to get late if you don’t walk any faster,” I hissed at them when I noted their slow pace. They silently threw their hands up in defense and got their feet working faster.
No words were spoken after until we reached the field where everyone was stretching. Silence had been maintained in our group as all the boys took in everything. There was only the muttering of the other boys and Coach telling them as to what to do in the distance. However, even that was gone as the other guys turned around and noticed us. Their expressions turned into ones resembling complete confusion as they stared down at some unknown boys “crossing their land” apparently.
Alex turned to Coach asking him about what the hell was going on.
Coach and I just responded with an innocent yet sly smile. Yup, we are officially partners in crime.
I cleared my throat to grab the attention of the guys who we were confused as to why a bunch of other guys were on their fields. “So. . .I assume you’re all confused?” I started off lightly with a small laugh.
“Oh, just get over with it, Anderson,” Alex snapped.
“Hey! You--” James put a hand out on Xavier’s chest to stop him right where he was. Xavier reluctantly held back. I turned around and slightly shook my head at them to tell them not to do anything stupid. Such as punching other people, for instance.
“Anyway!” I continued, unfazed. “As I was saying, today is a special day. A unique day, if that’s how you want to put in. I want you guys to know today is going to be different. It’s not going to be me who’s going to point out your mistakes today. It’s not going to be Coach. It’s you going you, yourself. You guys are going to correct your own mistakes. You guys are going to fix whatever you have going wrong.”
“Coach, what is this--” Mason started.
"Listen to her,” he snarled.
“Today, I have brought in a couple of friends. And they’re going to help you--we’re going to help you--”
“Coach, is this ne--” Alex interrupted.
“Shut up and listen.” Coach held no room for arguments.
“So. . .yeah. I’m going to keep this short and simple: we’re going to fight this out. Whatever you have between me and you guys. Whatever you want to prove,” I sent a sharp look to Alex, “today is your day. So, go for it.”
For the first time, it seemed like everyone agreed. Everyone was eager for such an opportunity. And by looks in their eyes, not only was their focus on getting better, but also on getting me off the team. And if anyone knew me correctly. I never backed down from challenges. So, if want a fight with me . . ?
Bring it on.
“It’s you guys against us,” I said, referring to the boys behind me. “There’s a perfect amount. I’ve got twelve people. One in case of substitution. You guys obviously have more because the whole team is here. You get to choose who’s playing and who’s in substitution. Obviously, Alex is the captain and quarterback of your team. And for ours. . .” I took a pause and exchanged a cunning smirk with my boys. “It’s me. So we’ll have a ten-minute planning time and then . . .we play. How does that sound? You guys seem like you need time to wrap your heads around what’s going on anyways.”
I took the boys to the corner. “You remember our tricks right? And we go for the third order by the way.” The third order was just an order that we’d made up by ourselves. It helped in teamwork as it’d give us an idea on who to pass unless there was an emergency. It just made everyone more aware and prepared for the pass if it was coming right at them.
“Remember. Troy is the wide receiver. Aim it at him. I want absolutely no silly passes. And if there are any, the person who did them has twenty push-ups for each mistake. Did I make my point clear?”
“As it could ever be,” Mitch gulped and slowly nodded his head in understanding.
“Positions, everyone. Do you guys remember them or do we recall everything?” I asked worriedly.
“We do, Sam. Just relax. We got this, okay?” Frederick sent a comforting smile in my direction and I let down a nervous nod. “Just like old times,” he reminded with the soft smile still visible on his face.
“Alright, then,” I took a deep breath. “We can do this, okay?” I looked at each and every one of them straight in the eye. “Just give it your all and we can win this easily.”
“Oh, hell yes.”
“Let’s go kick some asses.”
And with that, we all turned around and walked over to the middle where Coach was going to be the head referee along with seven other guys who probably wouldn’t get a chance to play on the other team as the amount of players that could play in a game had already been exceeded. So, seven officials and one head. Pretty darn great.
“Okay, so captains from each team. Come in over for the coin toss,” Coach told us.
There was a small moment where Alex’s and my eyes met and we exchanged a silent curse to each other. It was what I’d like to call an ‘unspoken threat’. Or whatever. I don’t think my brain’s functioning on anything other than the upcoming game in front of me anymore.
“Heads,” Alex spoke out first.
“Tails,” I said right after he didn’t leave me with a choice. Not that I’m complaining. I really didn’t mind as to what we picked as long as we’d won the toss. Wait, aren’t I supposed to mind if that’s the case? I-- uh. . .
I’m just nervous, okay? And these voices inside my head aren’t helping either.
He flicked the coin up in the air. The cold metal of the coin hit the air high up and then came flashing down until it settled onto the grass.
“Tails it is,” Coach announced.
A feeling of victory surged through me and I sighed in relief. So far, so good.
“We choose to receive,” I stated.
Coach nodded his head and made a loud announcement. “Okay, so according to the coin toss, Sam’s team is the receiving team.” He then proceeded to swing his leg in a kicking motion and pointed towards Alex’s team to declare them as the kicking team.
“Alright, boys,” I huddled them up as I was shot one last glare-- or actually, not the last-- by Alex as he sulked back to his team. “We won the toss and I chose to receive. Is that okay--”
“I can’t believe that’s a question, Sam. Of course, we’re okay with it. Stop being so formal about it, for god’s sake!” Peter grabbed my face and squished it so that I looked like a fish. “Stop stressing out. We’ll do fine. Everything will be fine. Okay?”
I nodded furiously while gulping. I was trying. I was trying to make it as normal as possible, but it was just. . .hard. I hadn’t played for about two years. And I wanted so hard to be the confident girl I was back then. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my whole life, it’s probably that there are just some things that don’t happen as you want it to. You’ve just got to learn how to adjust and move your life on.
I definitely learned that the hard way.
“And also. . .please go back to being bossy and annoying. You’re more you that way,” Xavier begged with an annoyed look on his face. I stuck my tongue out at him.
“Okay, then,” I suppressed my smile that was about to come out. “We’re receiving as you all know. We have to try our best to get that ball from the placekicker that’s going to start with a kick-off. If you get possessions of the ball and if you think it’s possible, go for a touchdown. Okay?
I’m not going to disclose their weak points as that isn’t going to be fair to them. But remember those words Coach Meyers used to drill us with? No matter how easy or hard the opposing team is, give it your best. Do you get it? I know I’ve said this before, but guys. . .I mean it. No silly mistakes. Am I clear?”
“Definitely,” Eddy smirked back.
“Okay, everyone. Positions, please,” Coach asked and walked away to the sidelines.
We all lined up behind the line of scrimmage with our returners ready. Mason, the placekicker for Alex’s team came into view and stood behind the holder for the initial kickoff. We all held our breaths, ready for anything when his leg swung back and hit the football.
It soared through the air and the boys and I could do nothing but pray that it wouldn’t go through the goalpost. That was the time when Noah extended his arm above his head and waved it, calling it a fair catch. Thankfully, he’d done it right and we weren’t penalized the invalid fair catch signal.
We all scattered about the field to help him out with my tackle guards on either side of mine. There were to be no interferences by the kicking team and no contact with them by Noah until the ball had touched a player.
“Come on, Noah,” I mumbled, under my breath. “Catch it.”
Things definitely seemed to be working in our favor because the ball fell right into Noah’s arms. Relief flood across me and I couldn’t help but steal a quick, victorious glance towards the sour quarterback of the other team.
Noah then proceeded to take it in for a touchback instead of using the kick he could’ve easily done. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Brad scurrying into the field and trying to be as discreet as possible but failing terribly. He’d distracted the lot of us-- including Coach who was currently giving him a death glare.
The whistle was blown to halt the game. “Are you kidding me? Did you just seriously distract everyone around here?”
“Hey! I tried not to!” Brad defended himself, with a grumpy look. “I came in as quietly as possible!”
“A bit too quietly,” Coach angrily muttered.
“I didn’t even know something like this was going on! When did the other teams come in? And wait a second. . .is that Sam? Gosh, I’m so lost. Hey, you guys! What’s your team name?!” Brad hollered. “Oh my god! I’m going to have to call the whole university in! Free money, people!” As he went in to walk away, Coach pulled him by the collar of his shirt.
“You, my dear friend, are going to shut up and sit down right about now. No one’s calling anyone, and if a word goes out about this, I will murder you. Now shut up before I make you run laps for the next four classes in P.E.”
Brad visibly tensed and surrendered to the sound of running. “Got it. Lips sealed. I’m going to sit here and not make a sound. Got it,” he sung nervously. Yes, sung. Yes, we were staring at him. Yes, in the middle of the game.
Coach gave him a look and Brad gulped and this time silently nodded his head and shut up.
Another whistle was blown and a rematch was concluded.
“Another toss?” Alex asked out hopefully.
“Sorry, kid.” Coach shook his head and then motioned for everyone to start the game.
Alex and I exchanged a deadly glare. This was now a battle to prove everyone wrong about their opinions about me. Prove everyone wrong about what they thought of me and my capabilities.
I was terrified.
But I was eager too.