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chapter twenty-two

The boys were all having a pre-game practice, so Ellie and I decided to go make signs to support them. She would blabber on the entire time about how she thought Elijah was attractive and how she was so excited to go to homecoming with him. It was cute, even though he was pushed into it.

I let her have her moment of feeling special and just kept quiet, nodding my head every once in a while. I continued to color in Connor’s name, waiting until Ellie was done.

“Do you think Connor and you are going to last? Past graduation, I mean?”

I glanced up at Ellie, shocked that she was changing the subject to my love life. Usually, she would go on for hours about her own, considering I never really had one. I shrugged my shoulders, returning to my work.

“I don’t know, Ell. I wouldn’t mind if we stayed together for a long time.”

She smiled, laughing softly.

“Do you love him, Elizabeth? I heard he told you that he loves you.”

I couldn’t help the redness from appearing on my face. “Honestly, I don’t know. You’re asking a lot of questions today, what’s up?”

She shrugged, “I’m just curious. You don’t exactly talk about your relationship openly or anything, I have to pry.”

“Well, Connor did tell me he loves me. The night we all slept in my room, to be exact. I didn’t tell him back, I just couldn’t bring myself to. You know it’s difficult for me to say that to people.”

Ellie nodded, “I know, hun. You can’t leave him guessing forever though, you know that, right?”

I sighed, finishing up the poster.

“I know, Ellie. Thanks for your concern about us, though. Let’s me know you care still.”

We finished up our posters and went to get some food before the game. I got some fries for Connor as well, thinking that I’d be hungry if I was him right now.


The game was starting soon and the boys were running through their warm-ups. Connor and Elijah ate their fries with Ellie and I before, and also had made sure we’d get the best seats in the house.

We were sitting on the bleachers, directly behind the home team bench. Ellie and I had our jackets tightly wrapped around our bodies and were huddled under a shared blanket. It was a chilly evening, but the lit up field was enough reason to be out tonight.

It wasn’t long until the game was starting and the energy being emitted off the crowd was intense. The boys were all playing their hearts out, definitely impressing the college scout sitting a few seats above us. I would glance back occasionally, watching as he’d write notes down in his book.

I didn’t know if this was the college Connor was looking to impress, but I was sure that he’d impress them all.

It was getting down to the last ten minutes or so of the game, and Connor was starting to get rough with a few of the opposing players. Considering our team was ahead by two goals, it made sense that things were going to get rough, but violent? I didn’t see the need for that.

A fist fight was close to breaking out between Elijah and another player, but our coach pulled him. That’s when I started to get a bad feeling about the game. When one of the opposing players decided to get sneaky with his hits, that’s when I knew Connor was going down.

Connor was taken out from behind, the back of his knee being kicked in, sending him down. By the looks of it, he landed straight onto his kneecap, which caused him to yell out an unpleasant yelp.

I stood up from my seat, a hand over my mouth. Ellie stood up as well, trying to get a better look at what was happening. The game was paused and the coaches were running onto the field.

Connor was curled up slightly on the ground, holding his knee to his chest. You could tell he wanted to yell more, to scream even, but he wasn’t going to yet. He had tears on his face. Those, he couldn’t hide easily.

I hopped the fence, blocking the bleachers from the bench, and ran over to Elijah who was standing from his previous spot on the bench. “Go get him, Elijah. Help him up!”

Elijah looked down at me, helplessly, shrugging. “The coaches are getting him, Elizabeth. We shouldn’t crowd him.”

I tugged on his long sleeve that was rolled up, “What do you think’s wrong?”

Elijah set his hands on his hips, glaring at the other team on the field. “Guessing by the way he went down, he could have shattered his knee. But we’ll hope for the best, alright?”

It was a long five minutes, watching as Connor and the coaches talked and examined his leg. I ended up crouched down, watching intently. Eventually, Connor was using his coaches as crutches to help him off the field. I, along with the rest of the crowds, started cheering.

His coaches placed him gently on the end of the bench where I stood beside him. They didn’t ask me to leave, which I was grateful for. I knelt beside Connor, waiting until he was okay to talk. The game carried on, as if Connor wasn’t injured.

Connor glanced down at his leg, wincing slightly every once in a while.

“Are you okay? Do you want to go to the hospital?”

Connor shook his head, whimpering quietly. “I want to stay for the rest of the game. Then I’ll go.”

I nodded as I stood up, moving to stand behind Connor. He leaned back against me and I could feel his body shake gently. I wrapped my arms gently over his shoulders, resting my chin on his head. He gripped one of my forearms lightly, rubbing slowly with his thumb. Connor rested his head against one arm and I could feel his unsteady breathing.

During this entire moment, I didn’t even realize Ellie had joined me by the boy’s bench. She was standing beside me, giving me a side hug, wrapping her arm around my waist. Ellie was quietly speaking, saying it was going to be alright and gently placing her free hand on Connor’s shoulder.

Then without another word, she moved to sit beside Elijah. He was giving Connor his space, just like the rest of his team.

For all we know, this could be where his high school soccer career ends. It’s scary to think about for this boy, considering that’s what he wanted in college, but these things happen for a reason. That reason? No one fully understands yet, but with all the negativity that was occurring, something positive should be the outcome.

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