Sneakers over heels

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Chapter 11

Nearly breaking the door off its hinges I throw it open and scramble inside to find all the girls of the team present and standing in a circle. My crazy entrance urged all eyes to turn to me but I didn't bother with the attention. I took quick strides towards them. Their faces holding a look of loss-making my insides turn.

Amidst the crowd of girls, in the center, I could spot steel crutches. And a ginger head whose face was staring at the ground intently. I didn't have to push through to get to the center. They opened up a space for me and I could see an upset Tori looking my way.

"What... What happened?" I ask her. One of her legs was completely bandaged. There were bandaids and scratches on her arms and face. She looked battered.

"James and I met with an accident." She says with a loud sigh. My other teammates look forlorn and upset at this. "We got into an argument and he sort of pulled his eyes from the road to glare at me and didn't see a pull-up truck in front. We're lucky we escaped with just a broken arm and leg." She finished.

So James broke an arm.

I wasn't sure if to be upset or angry. How could they be so careless? Especially when this was a crucial time for us basketball members.

Tori wasn't just a bencher. She was a top-five. Our point guard.

How could she get hurt?

More importantly, she's a senior. Her last year to play high school basketball and get a scholarship to any leading College.

How could this have happened at such a bad time?

Urgh!

"Judy..."

I didn't want to listen to her. I wasn't being a bitch. I was pissed at her and her brother for being so stupid. I wanted to march right up to James and yell in his face but he's injured too.

"When will the cast be taken off?" Señora asks Tori and the girl hangs her head.

"7 - 8 weeks at most with proper treatment and exercise," Tori whispered and what little hope we had was lost.

The summer league consisted of 25 games with two-three matches per week. We played four matches and had twenty one more to go. In seven weeks the summer league would come to an end.

How are we to win each game if our point guard is out of order?

Cassy the one who always has something to say was silent as she looked at anyone but Tori. They were like partners and I'm sure Cassy felt lost.

Nora had a neutral expression plastered on her face but I knew she was breaking from the inside. Just like all the other teammates.

Señora didn't know what to say. The court has never been this quiet before.

My blood boiled and I felt enraged. Powerless at the thought that this was the end for us.

No. This can't be.

We have to keep going. We must!

While everyone looked beaten, Tori continued looking at me with some kind of determination.

"We can't give up on the summer league just because I'm injured." Tori starts making heads turn to her. Some frown wondering what she's implying.

"But how can we? We've got talented players but we need a point guard Tori." Señora states and I give a vague nod.

"I know. And we've got one. Much better than me." Tori says as her eyes remove from Señora and move to meet mine.

My heart literally beats out of my chest. All eyes are on me now and Senora's face brightens finally grasping what Tori was hinting at.

But I didn't feel brightened or excited that we had a backup player.

No. I felt furious.

This is not how I wanted to be a part of the top five. This is not how I planned on being a point guard for the Hawkettes. I wanted to win the spot. Not have it given to be at the expense of an injured player.

Anger and frustration boiled inside me. My gaze darkened with rage as I glare at Tori taking her by surprise. I turn on my heels and storm out of the gym irrespective of their calls.

Throughout the day I'd been rude to some teachers. Even snapping. I couldn't control my anger no matter how much I dig my nails into my skin to keep myself calm.

I was a favorite to most of my teachers and so the ones I had been rude to understood me and didn't make things worse by pressing detention on me. Or worse, meeting the principal.

It was lunch break and I was stabbing the sausage on my tray, waiting for Ava to show up. She had been pulled back for not submitting a due homework.

A tray was placed on the table opposite me but it wasn't my best friend who took a seat but the one person I didn't want to meet anytime soon.

I scramble to my feet but Tori touches my hand with a firm hold and looks at me with a pleading expression. With a low grunt, I dump myself back on the seat and continue glaring at my pasta which the school provided.

"Listen to me, Judy." She starts but I hold a finger to stop her.

"You listen to me, Tori. I don't want someone giving me their position just because they're unable to continue playing. I will fight and win the position myself in my own way with my own efforts!"

Tori gives me a small smile nodding with understanding.

"I know Judy. I know how hard you play to gain approval. And it's with that approval I'm asking you to play point guard."

I furrow my brows confused. I couldn't quite comprehend what she was saying.

"I'm not giving you the position Judy. You earned the position. Even if I hadn't said it, the coach would have."

"But only because you got injured, Tori!" I wail earning a few stares. The lady behind the counter looked up to give me a concerned look. I just wave her off.

"Haven't you realized you played more on the court than me in the previous two matches?" Tori asks and true enough now that I think of it I had been substituted into the match and stayed in the game till the final buzzer.

"Slowly but surely you're earning your place as a regular in the team Judy. It just so happens that I injured my leg and your getting into the team earlier than decided. That's all."

No matter what Tori said, I couldn't accept the fact that I would play as a point guard in her stead. To be a point guard had always been a dream. But now, I felt suffocated.

"I'm sorry Tori." And I pick my lunch tray to throw away the meal I hadn't really eaten.

Tori doesn't say another word but heaves a deep sigh. As I leave the cafeteria, Ava enters and tries to stop me, but I just walk past her. I couldn't handle any more conversations at the moment.

I was about to enter an empty classroom when a hand shoots out of nowhere grabbing my shoulder.

"Judy." A male voice says my name. Only one guy in school calls me Judy and he's a face I didn't want to see. But I couldn't be rude like I usually do and so I turn to look at a lighter ginger head with a shy smile on his face.

"Hey, James." I greet him and notice his left arm was bandaged, hanging off a bandage strand on his neck. "You alright?" I ask stupidly.

Of course, he's not alright you fool. He's hurt!

"I've been better." He says nonchalantly with a shrug and I'm taken off guard. I stare in shock at the dude in front of me wondering how many accidents he's actually been in.

"May I have a word with you please?" He asks. I remain glued to the spot and don't answer him.

"Please." He stresses. And so with a sigh, I follow him out to the bleachers which were the only place that was empty apart from the classrooms.

I sit on the bleacher ignoring the heat that passes through from the seat. James is decent enough to sit a few feet away but he was in audible distance.

He doesn't say anything but stares at the open field.

"Well?" I say wanting to get this over with.

"I don't want to keep you here long since I'm sure you'd like to be by yourself right now with all that happened," James says with a slightly upturned smile as he turns to look at me with a solemn expression.

I wait for him to continue.

"Please don't mind Tori's words. She only wishes the best for the Hawkettes."

I only nod unsure what else I'm to do.

"My sister has been playing basketball since the beginning of Junior high. My parents are a part of the basketball association in Minnesota. Coaches as well." He stops for a second. I wanted to give myself a high five for guessing it right that their parents could be coaches.

"We were taught to play basketball since the two of us were really small. I love basketball and want to continue playing it even past college. But Tori. It's a different story for Tori."

"What do you mean?"

"My sister has always been interested in aviation careers. To be more precise, she has always wanted to be a flight attendant. Travelling is her passion, but because of my parents' ambition, Tori gave up hers. When she got injured I thought she would crumble. I thought perhaps after all this time she had started loving basketball but when I noticed her sighing in relief, I knew just how much of a burden my parents' ambition was on her." James stops to stare at me wanting to know how I felt about all this.

I couldn't understand such parents. First, there are Travis's parents wanting him to be a doctor. And now Tori.

How could she not love basketball when she's a key player in the team? How could she be relieved she's hurt when the whole team is relying on her?

Oh. I see. Even we are pressing Tori down and keeping her from achieving her dream. She's been playing all this time so her friends, her teammates would have a better future.

"That doesn't mean she hates basketball. No, she is a great player and she would surely not give her spot if she had been well. Tori would have fought hard to keep her spot. But you outshine her Judy. Your ways of playing are far better than any point guard I've come across. Tori had always told me there would be a day when you would overwrite her. The Hawkettes are in trouble, Judy. Please, don't walk away."

How could he look at me with so much pleading in his eyes? How am I to diss him off if he looks at me like I'm the only hope or something?

"I wasn't going to walk away from my team. I just felt humiliated." I say looking at the empty ground. His hands find mine and I have a strong urge to pull my hand back but I don't want to hurt his feelings anymore.

"Before Tori leaves school I'll be challenging her for a match to prove I'm for to be the point guard," I say confidently as I get to my feet, dusting my butt to wipe off any dust. James follows my movement and looks down at me with a much brighter smile now.

"Thank you, Judy."

Why is he thanking me anyways? I didn't do anything for him.

"I'll get going. I don't want to be late for class." And before James could stop me or say anything more, I jump off the bleachers and dash back to the school building.

Before I could reach my next class my phone bings with a new message.

~I heard everything from Tori. Are you alright?~

I quickly reply.

~I'm fine Ava. I'll see you once class is over.~

I pocket my phone and open the door when a new message comes in.

I take a seat at the front row most closest to the teacher and pull out my phone once more.

~Just play like you have never before and make all teamies acknowledge that you are not a substitute but a player they cannot win without.~

This makes me smile.

That's right. I'll prove to them and anyone who says I'm a fill-in that I have everything in me to be a point guard.

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