"Well? How'd it go? How'd it go?" Ava kept running back and forth like a toddler asking for candies. I ignore her existence and keep walking towards the gym.
School was out for the day and I was on my way for afternoon practice. I managed to stay from her sight the while day but she jumped me on my last class and has been following me the whole time wanting to just how the date had gone.
I bet Travis had kept his lips sealed. Therefore her annoying questions directed to me.
"If you do now answer me this instant you might as well forget our friendship!" Ava snaps as she holds her ground, hands firmly on her hips. A look of irritation on her porcelain face. I stop walking and stare at my retarded best friend who was being so extreme. Her expression melts and replaces with the usual puppy look she always gives.
Knew it coming.
Sighing I walk up to her and she stands up straight making me want to chuckle. I could see the puppy ears wiggling and the tail swishing in happiness.
"It went well, I guess?" I say with more of a question than an answer. Ava's eyes go wide and her nose flare.
"You guess!? What's with that half assed answer? There were no sparks? No butterflies in your tummy?" She asks and now I stare at her in disbelief.
What the fuck is she talking about? How in the world are butterflies supposed to get inside my tummy? And sparks? Does she fucking want me dead?
"I can't believe this!" Ava throws her hands up dramatically. "I thought, this is it. It's finally come. Judy's time. But no she replies with an 'I guess'. Urgh!" And now she's pulling her hair from both sides.
See why I call her a drama queen?
"Relax okay? Breath in. Breath out " I massage her shoulders to help her relax and she follows my instructions until she realises what we're doing and swats my hand aside rudely.
"I don't need a massage." She snaps and then she groans. I wouldn't be surprised if she started crying.
How in the world did we become best friends?
"Look we can continue this drama later today, alright? I'm gonna be late for practice." I try to reason with her so she'd let go of me. Ava sighs and finally moves aside.
"We are having a talk later today missy." She earns as I walk past her. Chuckling at the mother hen, I wave and leave her behind to get to practice.
I open the gym door and walk inside to find half the girls already present and doing stretchings.
"Hey Judy." Cassy called out in a loud voice from the other side of the court. I wave at her and jog to where she was standing along with a seated Tori and Nora.
I should definitely let her know I met her adorable little brother. Or perhaps she already knows? Maybe the kid had already told her.
I look at her deeply waiting for any kind of reaction but the only one she gives me is a weird expression as if asking me to back off.
Oh. I must be creeping her out.
I drop my bag on the ground and take off my t-shirt, throwing it inside my bag and zipping it close. I am about to ask Cassy on what I had missed during yesterday's practice when Senora enters the gym with Kaera.
Her eyes move around the gym and finally rests on me. Their was no warmth in her gaze like she always does when ever she looks at me.
"Judith." She called out to me. Her tone edgier than usual. Cassy came close to me sending something was off.
"What did you do?" She whispers down to me trying to act normal. I just shake my head not exactly sure what's going on. Senora walks over to us and I straighten my back when she approaches.
"Sen-" but before I could finish saying her name she interrupts me.
"I'm very disappointed in you Judith." Senora says harshly making everyone stop whatever they were doing to stare at us. What did I ever do to earn her disapproval? "You ditched an important practice to go out with a boy didn't you?"
Gasps. That's all I heard from around me. I could feel Cassy's eyes boring onto me. I couldn't turn her way. No, I was glued to the ground as my heart sunk deeper.
"Is that true Judy?" Tori, who had been seated this entire time asks as she hobbles forward towards me. I couldn't give her an answer because of the guilt that started gnawing at me.
"I need an explanation Judith." Senora says sighing. "I came over to check in on you to see if you are doing okay but then one of the guy at the gym said you never showed up. I guess your dad felt sorry for me when I went over to your place and he told me you had been out all day with a guy and hadn't return home yet." She finishes with a frown. I had never once heard her sound so disappointed in me.
I felt awful to the limits of wanting to cry. What have I done? Was being with Travis worth all this humiliation and disapproval looks I keep receiving?
Somewhere inside of me I could feel myself breaking but at the same time it felt like I didn't mind this all because I had been with Travis.
What is happening to me?
"Judith isn't the type to miss practice without a valid reason." Tori comes to my aid to my surprise. "Let her go just this once Senora. I'm sure she would never let this happen again. Right Judith?" She directed the latter to me. I give an awkward nod, still staring at the ground. I couldn't face anyone. This was all my doing and I had no one to blame but myself.
Sighing Senora walks past me and drops her bag to the ground. Kaera gives me a small smile as she follows Senora to get things started.
Everyone starts to get ready for warmups and I silently follow Nora who thankfully doesn't leave my side.
Practice continues painfully as everyone acts awkward towards me, what with Senora not even looking my way. Cassy tries as much as possible to relieve the tensed space inside the gym but to no avail.
Thank heavens coach was not in today. I'd be thrown out the team in the blink of an eye. Worse is that I would not be able to defend myself since it was all my fault.
Finally after what felt like an eternity of misery, practice comes to an end.
No. This is not enough. I need to practice more. Be in the court more. I need to get back the missed time when I neglected my training.
Everyone leaves the gym once they've changed. I pretend to be packing my bag and no one tries to talk to me. Someone's feet stop close to me and I look up to find Nora peering down at me.
"Hey." I say lightly, continuing to rummage through my bag. Nora sits down beside me, stretching her legs and massaging them softly.
"You met my brother." She starts and I stop my hands from doing any more damage to my bag with my digging.
"So he told." I say out more to myself.
"No. Not really. He just came barging into the house and screaming he had met his idol." Nora replies and I look at her confused where this was going. "My brother idolises you right now."
Oh wow. I have no idea how to react to that. Instead I just stare at her feeling embarrassed.
"Don't let the words or actions of the others stop you from playing your best. That's all I wanted to say. Bye." And she gets to her feet and leaves with the others.
I stare at the empty court. Now that I'm all alone and to myself I can finally think straight. Kaera was incharge of closing the gym tonight and I offered to do it in her stead since she was in a hurry. I pocket the set of keys inside the side compartment of my bag and get to my feet, stretching my legs.
Let's get started Judy.
I go fetch the cart in which the balls have been dumped into and return back to the court. It felt eery standing in an enormous court all by myself. I leave the door open incase the janitor walks by.
Pulling out a ball from the cart, I dribble it multiple times to get the feel in my palm and then I begin my shooting session.
As Senora exited the supermarket with her shopping bag filled with snacks for her siblings, she made way towards her house. It was getting late and she had a final report to get done.
Sighing and rubbing her neck to get rid of the tensed muscles, she pulled out her phone to check for messages. The time was half past nine.
As she came to the four sectioned cross road she stopped. To her right if she walked straight she would be able reach Judith's street. Senora could still remember the anger she felt when she had come to terms that Judith had bunked practice to go on a date.
It wasn't a fault to be reckoned. Judith was a young girl and dating was something every girl would be interested in. It's just that Senora had pictured Judith to be different. She had pushed all her expectations on the girl and when Judith made a mistake which wasn't even something trivial, Senora felt disappointed. More at herself for forcing her ideologies on a simple girl who loved basketball to death.
Starting to feel sorry for Judith who had been outcasted earlier today, Senora decided to go over and talk to the girl. Pocketing her hands into her Jean pockets to keep them from freezing, Senora started walking to her right.
As she entered Apple valley Street, she came across the guy who was responsible for Judith's lack of concentration. Senora stopped in front of the boy who was leaning on a red Porsche.
So this is the guy Judith was interested in.
The boy stood up straight at once, confusion replacing his expression of boredom.
"Aren't you Judy's captain?" He questioned with a sense of unsurety.
"I'm Captain of all girls in the team. Not Just Judy. But yes you're correct." Senora replied trying to act calm and composed.
What's with this guy's appearance? Why am I feeling embarrassed just standing in front of him? How can someone be this good-looking? I don't think anyone from West view could surpass this one.
"What are you doing here this late?" He asked Senora wondering why this girl who wasn't even living in this street doing here so late in the night.
"I'm visiting Judith."
"Judy? But Judy hasn't come back yet?" The boy who had gone back to leaning stood up straight, his eyes wide and most definitely awoken.
Practise was over hours ago. What does he mean she hasn't returned yet?
No. He must be mistaken. She must be home and he doesn't know so.
Senora quickly tried to walk past him and go check in on Judith. A feeling of dread starting to fill her up.
"Excuse me," he called out making her stop for a second. He cleared his throat feeling unsure and then he sighed. "Was Judith alright today?" He asked rubbing his arm. Senora could tell he had been out in the night for some time since he was shivering.
"What do you mean?" Senora asked as she turned to stare at the guy.
"Well- uh... Judith, did she get into trouble for missing practice?"
The nerve of this guy to ask such a question when he was clearly the one at fault!
"Yes. She was in a lot of trouble for missing practice and lying. " Senora didn't mean to snap but she couldn't contain herself. The guy's face dropped, his expression falling into dejection.
"Fuck." He was most probably muttering under his breath but Senora could hear him well. "Look, it was my fault okay? I begged Judith to stay with me when clearly she just wanted to run back to you girls." He voiced. "Her eyes literally shone with excitement and happiness when she got that call from you. I just couldn't stand being alone and pleaded her to stay with me. You can't put the blame on Judith. Please."
Senora stared at him surprised wondering why he wasn't feeling ashamed to be pleading to her. He was taking all the blame and trying to free Judith. A sense of contentment filled Senora as she realised Judith had wanted to come to practice all along.
Of course. Judith would have never missed practice if it weren't for someone else's cause. How could I have judged her so quickly?
"I understand. But I need to go now. Thank you and bye." With that she quickly walked towards Judith's house. She had to see the girl and talk to her.
As she drew closer she found the lights turned off in the house. And so Senora made her way to the gym. Opening the doors she walked inside and found the dad talking to someone.
"Hi Mr. Drakeyer." She called out letting the man know of her presence. He turned and gave her a welcoming smile as he walked over to her. "Sorry for dropping in late but I'd like to have a word with Judith."
"Judith? But she hasn't come home yet." He said frowning.
Senora stared at her phone screen. It was clearly showing forty past nine. Why in the world was this girl not home yet?
"Did something happen?" Judith's father queried with concern. Senora just shook her head not knowing what was going on.
"My daughter," Mr. Drakeyer asserted pulling Senora out of her troubled mind. "She practices until late night when she's upset." And with a light smile he walked away.
Senora left the gym and stood outside in the cold night air wondering where in the world was she to find Judith. Dialling Judith's number she waited for her to pick up but it went to voicemail. Another four attempts and failed to reach her.
Goodness Judith. Where are you? And just how long was that guy standing outside to know she hadn't returned yet?
Senora and the rest left the gym at seven sharp. She had to do the grocery shopping and so she had asked Kaera to lock up.
She quickly swiped her phone open and pulled out the message box of Kaera.
She waited a minute and the reply arrived.
Hey. Whatsup? -K
Kaera did you lock up the gym? -S
Oh sorry I wanted to inform you but I was in a hurry and Judith offered to lock it up. Sorry Senora. -K
Fuck. Don't tell me.
Rather than replying to Kaera who was waiting for a reply back, Senora dashed down the street and to the one person she didn't want to ask for help.
"Can you drive me to school?" She demanded rather than requesting. When Travis didn't give a reply and stared at her confused she sighed aloud. "Judith. She's still in school."
"What!? But why? It's fucking ten!" He yelled so loud felt afraid he'd wake the neighborhood. He glares at his watch and then back at Senora. "Just wait here!" And he ran to fetch his keys.
Soon they were on the road and he kicked in, driving to school in a rush.
Senora pried open the door and ran towards the gym with Travis following close behind. As she made her way to the entrance of the gym she came to an abrupt stop.
"Woah!" Almost slipping and falling, trying to stop himself from crashing into her Travis came to a stop. "What's stopping you?"
Senora's eyes were glued to Nora who was seated outside the gym.
"Nora? What are you even doi-" but Senora was interrupted with a "sshhh" from Nora. There was light spilling out from inside the gym court and the sound of a ball dropping to the ground.
Senora peeped inside and found Judith. A sigh of relief escaped her lips but then worry when she found the state Judith was in. She was panting aloud as she grabbed another ball and dribbled. Balls were strewn all over the court.
"She's been going on this whole time?" Senora asked in disbelief as she stared at the back of Judith who wasn't aware of the audience behind her. "Just how many shots has she done?"
"655-" Nora announced but then paused.
"That's 656 right now. She's been shooting ever since practice let out three hours ago." Nora explained as she got to her feet and dusted her butt. Nora stared at Travis quizzily who was looking inside the gym and then she turned to Senora.
"You've got to be kidding me." The captain whispered to herself.
Just how much was she trying?
They silently watched as she continued to make shots without a single drop. When she reached 700 Travis stepped inside to stop her from self destructing with such an intense shooting session.
As Judith turned around and became aware of the people standing behind she flushed embarrassed. But then when she noticed Senora in the group, she gave a hard nod as if saying "I'm not going to fall back."
Senora felt the chills. If it was from Judith's intense stare or the night wind, she would never know.