Sneakers over heels

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Chapter 15

We are in our 4th week since the start of the summer league, preparing for our eleventh match of the season. The Hawkettes managed to win all the way here. Some were an easy win while some were surely a struggle.

The Hawkettes surely is the strongest women's basketball team in Minnesota, but we are not invincible. We had formidable opponents from.whom scoring points had been close to impossible.

But we managed to come this far. And we will surely do our best to go till the very end.

I sat on the bleacher with the ball in one hand and a clean cloth in the other. I kept wiping the ball staring at it intently. It was just after the afternoon practice. It was my turn to clean the ball before returning it to its rightful place in the gym storeroom.

Senora sits next to me and remains quiet for sometime.

"So how are things with you Judith?" She asks out of nowhere. I stop with what I'm doing to stare at her confused.

"Uh good?" I say with more of a doubt than a reply.

She only nods and leans back deep in thought. I continue to state at her.

"Is being a regular of the team too much for you?"

I drop the ball and whisk to her side.

"What!? Senora what are you even saying?" I started to get a bad feeling. She sighs deeply making my insides twist.

"I met that boy when I went to the stores."

Boy? What boy? Since when has a boy been around me?

Senora notices my confused expression. "The guy who came to the gym once."

Oh. Travis!

My eyes squint, my gaze not moving away from her worried face. Lately senora has always looked worried when her gaze met mine.

Just what the hell did you spout to her Travis?

"He told me you had passed out due to stress and fatigue."

I could do nothing but clench my fists in anger. How dare Travis talk behind my back.

Senora places her hand on my clenched fist as she gives me a soft smile.

"He's worried Judith. He asked if you were doing okay during practice. He tried to keep it a secret but you know me, I pulled the truth out of him. He made me promise that I wouldn't just make you miss practice and to be strict as always so you wouldn't feel upset."

Unclenching my fists, I drop my eyes to the floor.

Of course Travis would have said that. He's always been on my side. How could I have ever thought I'll of him even for a second?

"Leaving the boy aside, I truly am worried Judith. I've been monitoring you ever since my conversation with him. You've been continuously practising, studying, working out and even help out at your dad's gym. You are not being careful Judith. I don't want to see you ruin your body."

I hold senora's hands in mine firmly and give her a firm gaze.

"I'm fine senora. I've been in worse state, but I'm better now. I take continuous breaks and I don't tire myself out much. I simply can't drop my grades and I have to be better if I am to continue being a Hawkettes member and to win a seat at WNBA. Trust me Senora, I can pull this off."

She wanted to talk back and stop me from harming myself more but my glare made her stop. No words would make me turn the other way. I've made up my mind to be best in both studies for my dad's sake and basketball for my own sake and dream.

I can't give up, now that I've come this far.

"Just promise me you'll be careful. You are brimming with talent and potential Judith. I'd hate myself if I were to put you out of the team due to being careless."

"Trust me. That's all I'm asking."

And so our conversation comes to an end with Nora appearing at the door. She drags her feet to where we are and picks her water bottle from underneath the bench and then leaves as quietly as she had appeared. Senora and I end up laughing and throwing the ball away we lock up and leave the gym together.

"I'll be upfront with you James. Do you have a crush on me?"

James stops and flushes red.

I have no idea why or how but lately I've been in the company of James Howell. No matter how hard I tried to hide from him he managed to walk beside me. Like now.

And so this is why I'm currently asking him an obvious absurd question.

"That's not upfront. That's way too straight forward and to the point." He says scratching the back of his head nervously. What's with guys and the back head scratch? Travis does that alot too.

Woah. We're moving off course. Stick to James Judith.

"That's who I am." I reply nonchalantly.

"I know. That's what I like about you. No hiding. Always an open book."

Wow the dude doesn't even hide the fact he's crushing on me. Not that it is a secret. Hell, the entire school including the teachers are giving me these weird looks. Not to mention the whispers.

"So you do..." I start but He cuts me off.

"Is it wrong to have a crush Judy?" He asks in a questioning way his voice almost sad.

"Not at all James. It's perfectly normal. You are a normal teenage boy. I'm surprised you haven't got a girlfriend or two with your good looks." To this his cheeks go red. "But I'm not the girl for you James. I'm not a normal teenage girl. I don't do datings and boyfriends."

He tries to stay something but I continue and so he keeps quiet.

"There's is nothing, absolutely nothing more important than basketball to me. I would never allocate a time to date. My schedule is already packed. A boy included? Not going to happen. So please, just please stop trying. It's making me feel exhausted and I feel like I'm just hurting you."

James stops in his track, his lips pressed tight. I stop as well and wait for his reply.

"Yet you don't mind spending so much time with that other guy."

Who? Oh, is he talking about Travis? How the hell does he even know Travis?

Don't tell me... Stalking?

James must have been able to read by retarded mind cause he explains to me just how in the hell he is aware of Travis's existence.

"The girls in the basketball team have been talking. Not to mention my sister has been dropping me hints on how I'll be losing to that guy. I've even seen him dropping you off at the school and the occasional pick ups."

Ever since I had passed out, Travis has been giving me free rides to and from school to ease my stress. It was an annoyance at first since the female population were beyond enraged that it was me who had the good looking guy's attention. I never thought James would have been paying any heed to all this. I was so wrong. And from his expression I can tell how hurt he must have felt Everytime he saw me with Travis.

I can never understand people in love. That is such a complicated world.

"There is a reason as to why Travis acts that way. We have no relationship between us apart from having a mutual person in between and that is my best friend. Like I said James, I'm too busy trying to achieve my dreams to even think about love and relationships. So please, give me some space."

Thankfully James understood just how desperate I was becoming. He heaves a sigh and smiles at me the same awkward smile he always throws at me.

"I'm sorry, that was really low of me to attack you with false accusations. I won't pester you anymore but we can still be friends, yes? We could share basketball information and occasionally play a one-on-one rival match."

Now that dear people was something I would accept even in my sleep.

"Deal." I say extending my hand. James gives it a firm hold but I don't miss the light pink that dusts his cheeks.

Let us hope I keep myself safe from such romantic feelings to achieve my future goal.

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