“Hi, Ceci,” I waved. She came over to me and gave me an completely innocent yet guilty smile. A smile I seemed to have mastered over the years. And a smile that I have learned to easily detect due to the amount of times the boys and Gabby used it on me.
“What did you do now?” I narrowed my eyes at her, waiting for her to spit it out.
She laughed at me nervously. “What makes you think that?”
I pointed at her face, “That.”
She sighed dramatically and hung her head down, before raising her hands up and rolling her eyes, surrendering. “Guilty as charged,” she let out a deep breath before continuing solemnly, “There’s this thing I’ve been wanting to tell you and I’m not very sure how you’ll react but I thought it was worth a shot. I mean I did agree, but I was forced to. I mean kinda. I don’t know! It was like-”
“To the point, Ceci, to the point.” I shook my head at her, thanking the lords that I stopped her before she gave me a useless talk for another hour or so.
“Right,” she sheepishly fiddled with her hair. “IkindasaidyestoafootballgametodayandItoldcoachIwouldbringsothere’snogoingbackandyou’recomingwithme.”
It was all a pile of gibberish, really. I didn’t understand a word she said. Soon enough, I was holding my stomach and laughing my guts out, tears pouring in my eyes.
“Oh god, Ceci,” I laughed, “If you don’t act like a human, at least talk like one.” I wiped a stray tear that was going to fall from my eyes because I laughed too hard. Ceci glared at me, but it was soft. For some odd reason.
“I’m serious!” she whined. “You’re really not going to be laughing when you actually understand what I’m trying to say!”
“Then on with it, darling,” I winked.
She huffed, before getting nervous again and calming herself by talking deep breaths. “In and out. In and out. In and out,” she murmured to herself.
“Sorry!” she apologized. “I-I-”
“You what, Ceci? You what?” I urged her to go on. It was like talking to a baby. But then again, who said she wasn’t? No offense, Ceci!
“I said yes to a football game,” she finally said, and the color drained out of my face, “and I told coach I would bring you.”
I froze. Like literally froze. Like stopped breathing and all.
I had to leave and I knew it.
“Excuse me. I need to go,” I pushed past Ceci and after a few moments of comprehending the situation, I ran. I ran so fast. Past everybody. Shoving my way through.
I had to get to the bathroom. I just had to.
“Sam?” Alex’s voice came as he looked at me worriedly and attempted to stop me. Now where did this guy come from?
I didn’t say anything and ran even faster. Sweat beads were forming on my forehead and my legs were burning. I lost my way.
Why was it always bathrooms that got me lost?
Whenever someone brought it up like that, I needed to run. And after running, I needed my private space. Where no one was.
I rarely cried in occasions like this- that was only when it was bad, really bad.
But I always needed some time alone.
I fell on my knees and mentally hit myself for being so pathetic. God, football used to be the one thing I absolutely loved. And now it was the thing that was terrorizing me. The thing that had the need to get away from me.
All because of football, I had lost so much in life. So much.
I just sat there for who knows how long thinking about it. I mean, it was just a game. What harm could it do? But if I think about it, there was so much harm it could do. I could have a panic attack in front of everybody and what not.
I was going to have to face it at some point, right? No one can run away from their fears for long- I’ve been doing it for two years now. This was bound to happen.
Fears will keep chasing you until you stand up to it and face it. It will trap you in it at a point and it will keep you trapped until you can’t go anywhere. Mom’s wise words, not mine.
Then, why not now? Why don’t I just face it now? The sooner the better, after all.
I turned around so quickly that I was surprised I didn’t get a whiplash. “What are you doing here?” I asked getting up from my spot.
“I ran after you,” he shrugged. Like seriously? You don’t just act so casual about it, dumbass! “Took a while but I managed it.” He beamed. I gave him a flat look. I’m not so sure I would be beaming if someone else ran away in panic and I followed them just to find them on the floor, thinking. But, I’m an awesome human being; him? I’m not too sure. So, no judging.
“I-I’m trying to be positive!” he reasoned, throwing his hands up and then rolling his eyes as if I were the stupid one. Think again, jerk.
I crossed my arms over my chest and gave him the ‘are-you-kidding-me?’ look.
“Fine, fine!” he averted his eyes to the pillar beside me, refusing to meet my eyes. “I wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“Why would I not be?” I asked, genuinely curious.
“You had that-” he flailed his arms around, trying to find the word, “that panicked look on your face; it was enough to send my alarm bells ringing.”
I tried to hide the grin that was making it’s way to my face. “The alarm bells ringing where exactly?” I tested.
“Oh, in my head,” he answered, happily before giving me the ‘duh’ look. “Where else?”
I raised my hands up in surrender and laughed. I’ve never, like ever laughed when I was in a state like this. What makes him so different?
“I guess ‘Plan A’ worked after all,” he chided more to himself. I smirked.
“You had a ‘Plan A’?” I air-quoted with my fingers.
“Thought about it on the way here,” he waved it off. “Speaking of which, I hate the fact that you’re fast. Do you have any idea how long it took to get here? It took me five seconds to process why you were running like there was a criminal behind and another five to get running. And to top it off, you’re fast. Like, why?! I had to look almost every other corner of this place to find you. And you know what? You had to be on the floor. Like, no. You just can’t help me and be standing up or something and-”
“I don’t want to know whatever it is you are talking about, Chase,” I cut him off, referring to him by his last name, “and besides, you should have just left me alone. I run without a reason when I have a need to be alone. You should have just let me be.” I took my place one again on the ground and stared into empty space. This place actually felt better than me going to the bathroom. Oh, and I’m not glad that Alex came in.
Unfortunately, Alex came and sat down beside me. “You know, don’t run. Let us help you,” he offered.
I let out a humorless laugh. “Help me with what?”
“Whatever it is that you’re dealing with,” he put his hand over mine. I looked up at him and gave him a questioning look, but all he had on his face was a gentle expression. An expression offering me support.
But I didn’t know if I could let anyone in. No one but I suffered the most. Granted, almost all of my friends and my family lost someone as well, but I took it the worst.
Maybe I should face it. Get it over with.
“Can I have a minute alone?” I asked him. He looked thoughtful for a second before turning back to me with an apologetic look.
“Are you sure you can find your way back?”
I bit my lip. Truth was, no. I was lost. And the jerk trying to contain his laughter in front of me knew it.
Of course, he can’t be serious in a serious moment. I shook my head at him. “Whatever, loser,” I rolled my eyes, irritated by his behavior. “Are you coming or not?”
“You wouldn’t survive without me,” he winked.
“Actually I did very well in the last eighteen years of my life- thank you very much.”
“You’re eighteen?!” he asked in disbelief.
I nodded my head slowly, “Yes?”
“You sure don’t act like it,” he muttered under his breath. Unfortunately, I heard him. And no one gets away after insulting me.
“How old are you then?”
“Much older than you- that’s for sure,” he said smugly. I raised my eyebrows. “Twenty. I’m twenty.”
“I’ll give you a five second head start,” I growled, my teeth gritted together. His eyes widened and he gulped before moving back. Before you knew it, Alex had made a run for it.
I laughed at his behavior. I wasn’t going to chase after him- that’s for sure. I just wanted him to run away without me. Wait a second. I was lost, wasn’t I? That means I have to run after him to find my way back!
I groaned and ran my hands down my face. Sighing, I went off in the direction he did, so I could find him. I saw him running around a corner by then and followed him there. It wasn’t long before I came to the same place I saw Alex call me.
Thank god! I knew my way from here!
“Ha! You’re too slow!” Alex pointed at my face and held his stomach as he mocked me and laughed.
“I could beat you into a pulp if I wanted to. I just don’t.” I retorted, narrowing my eyes at him.
“Awwww... is Little Klutzy Sam going all soft on me?” He was trying to push all my buttons. And it was working. For goodness’ sake, I only fell once since I came here!
“It was only that once!” I reasoned. “However, I could call you ‘jerk’ because you’re a jerk 99.9% of the times.”
He placed a hand on top of where his heart is- this time placing it correctly on his left. “Ouch,” he looked down at his hand, “that hurt right there.” He looked thoughtful for a second, as if he remembered something. “Speaking of hurt, I’ve got training! Crap! Crap! Crap! They must be wondering where I am right now! Oh, and speaking of training- I’ve got a football game tomorrow. Wanna come?”
I stood dead in my tracks again. Guess this was it. I had two options: run or face it.
I thought about it. Like I said earlier, there was going to be a point when I had to face it. When I was going to be completely trapped. So, why not now? Ceci told coach she’d bring me, but why would coach want me there?
And to make matters worse, she bought the tickets. Why would you even buy tickets without asking?
“Why do you even have tickets?” I asked Alex. He smirked.
“Guess someone already told you about it then,” he winked. “I don’t know, it’s always too crowded, so with the tickets, only ones who could earn the money and afford it could go.”
“Is it that expensive?”
“God, no. It’s just to maintain the amount of people going.” He raised his eyebrows twice before dropping them down. “So, you coming?”
I gulped. Come on, Sam. Stop being such a weakling. It’s just one game.
“You’re acting as if I’m asking you to play in the game with me!” he laughed at my expression, thinking of it as a joke. “After all, girls can’t really play football. I mean, it’s football we’re talking about.”
I stared at him dead on, anger coursing through my veins. “I know they can,” I spat. “I’ll be there.”
He nodded like it was no big deal. “See ya there,” he waved and skipped off to his football training. I mentally hit myself. Why did I say that? Why did I say I was going to come?! Was I stupid? How could I? Why do I always let my anger take control of me.
Saying that I was going to come was one of the worst mistakes I have ever made. And I already knew it.
“Why, Sam? Why?” I was still hitting myself- mentally, of course- for what happened. That stupid buffoon, Alex! That jerk! He pisses me off whenever I’m with him! Ugh, I hate him so much! That piece of trash!
I. Hate. Alex. Chase.
It’s official. I hate him.
Dreading every moment of my existence, I walked over to my room where I knew Ceci would be waiting. It was a long walk; the only thing I was doing was cursing myself and Alex on the way.
As soon as I unlocked my dorm room, Ceci jumped on me. It took me by surprise and I stumbled a bit back before hugging her tightly back. It wasn’t long before I was begging her to release me or I was going to die.
“Ceci... can’t breathe...CECI!”
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry! For everything, I mean! I know I should have asked you first and-”
“Don’t you go all rambling on me. I’ve had enough for the day,” I shook my head.
“But seriously. We don’t have to go if you don’t want to and-”
“We’re going, Ceci.” Alex challenged me and Sam never backs down from a challenge.
“Sam, are you sure? I know you’ve had problems with the sport-”
“Yes.” I said quite firmly, determined to get this over with. “We’re going.”
She raised her hands up in defense. “Jeez, woman! At least let me finish my sentences!”
“There,” I gave her an example as I smiled innocently. “You just completed a sentence.”
She gave me a pissed off look, but it didn’t last long until realization dawned upon her. She jumped up and down excitedly as she took my hand in hers, causing me to jump with her.
“Ceci,” I asked while jumping, unsure of what we were doing, “what are we doing?”
“We,” she stressed the word out, “are happy. So you’re doing the happy dance with me!”
I snatched my hand away from her. “No,” I shook my head. “I want to be normal.”
“You aren’t normal! Come on, admit it. You and me, we’re the same!”
“No, Ceci, no!”
“Shut up, Sam. You are!”
“No, I’m not.”
“Fine, don’t admit it,” she huffed before an evil grin spread across her face. I threw my head back and shut my eyes close, groaning.
“Now, what are you going to do?” I asked, suspiciously, as I opened one of my eyes and looked at her.
“Nothing much!” she laughed before grabbing all the homework I set on my table, waiting for me to complete it.
“Oh, no, you didn’t,” I shook my head at her. “I’m way faster than you.”
“I know,” she winked, “but it’s worth a try!” She dashed out of the room, pushing past me. I licked my teeth in annoyance and laughed. There was absolutely nothing I could do with that girl.
“Hey, Ceci! Give it back!” I shouted across the hall, running after her. Everyone gave Ceci and I weird looks as we ran past them. Ceci holding my books on top of her head flailing it around like a crazy person while running off.
I was red and embarrassed. Then I realized how embarrassing it must have been for all the boys when I did this to them all the time and made a mental note to apologize soon.
“Ceci! I’m going to kill you!”
“I know!” she yelled back.
Oh, boy. Wasn’t I doing a lot of running today?
To make matters worse, I was dreading a football game that was going to be coming the day after.