Through His Lens (edited version)

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The fighter

I gently tapped the rubber end of my pencil against my desk as I frowned at my English exam. I'd been stuck on the same question for about 10 minutes and it was making me want to pull my hair out. The question probably wasn't even that hard if I focused on it, but that was the problem. Every time I told myself to focus my mind would eventually drift off into thoughts of my Mum again and what we'd be doing to celebrate her birthday today if she were here.

Zara seemed to be having the same problem as me but who knows what had her distracted. Every couple of minutes I'd hear a sigh coming from her side of the desk jolting me out of the point of no return in my daydream.

The door to the classroom slowly creaked open interrupting the deathly silence making the whole class glance up and stare at the freshman who immediately went bright red.

'Yes Myles?' Mr Walker said with a hint of annoyance.

The boy attempted to creep into the classroom as if he wanted to create as little disruption as possible, so it was a shame that as he tried to tiptoe like a spy that he tripped on the corner of Cynthia Turner's desk.

If it was possible the boy's face turned an even brighter shade of beetroot as the whole class burst into laughter.

Mr Walker rolled his eyes and huffed.
'For goodness sake Myles what is it?!'

'Sorry, I have a message.' He held the slip of paper to his chest like he was holding the passcode to the chamber of secrets.

'Come on then! Pass it over.' Mr Walker tutted as he waved his hand around the air.

When Myles passed it over Mr Walker read the note and then peered over the top of his glasses as his eyes fell on me.

'Evelyn. Coach Evans would like you to go to his office after class.'

I acknowledged the request with a nod before glancing back down at my desk.

'Ok class, back to your exam papers. You can go now Myles.'

'Oh yeah right.' Myles rushed back to the door and slammed it shut making Mr Walker jump up in surprise.

'What's that about?' Zara whispered as everyone else fell back in to silence.

'I don't know.' I shrugged.

I did know and to be honest I was surprised it had taken him this long to call me to his office. I'd missed about 6 football practises now and from what Joseph had said he doesn't let team members go easily. Seeing as how little choice he had given me when he wanted me on the team initially, I was surprised I hadn't already been forced back onto the football field. It seems like now my time is up.

When class was over, I handed in my exam paper and after a quick goodbye to my friends I headed against the hordes of students to the sports centre. I knocked on Coach's office door and waited for him to call me in. When I opened the door, I was surprised to find Tom sat in a chair opposite him.

'Eve come in and take a seat please.'

I did as I was told taking the only free seat that turned out to be next to Tom. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Tom looking at me but I refused to acknowledge him.

'So Eve, to fill you in I've just been discussing with Tom about your absence at practise recently.'

Here we go. Wait for the 'you can only quit when I say you can' speech.

'How's your injury?'

Huh

I couldn't hide my confusion as I acknowledged coaches' question.
'My injury?'

'Yes. Seeing as you look like you're walking perfectly fine now I'm expecting you to say you're fully recovered and ready to come back to practise.'

I was flummoxed. I'm not good at lying at the best of times so sat here with Coach's intense gaze staring me down made my brain go blank. Before I was able to stutter out something stupid Coach sighed and leant forward on his desk.

'I don't know how things were run on your old team but here you're still expected to turn up to practise even with an injury. Even on the side lines you can still learn and support your team. I don't have quitters on my team Eve.'

I couldn't quite believe what I was hearing. Was I really about to be kicked off a team I didn't know I was still on?

'But.' He said leaning back in his chair. 'I think you're a key player to the team and you help them work as a unit. I'm not kicking you off the team but take this as a warning.'

I wanted to burst out laughing but I didn't think Coach would appreciate that.

'So tell me what did you injure?

I glanced over at Tom as my way of saying maybe you'd like to answer but he avoiding my gaze. After a few seconds of thinking I came up with a believable lie.
'My ankle.' I said through gritted teeth.
'I sprained it, but as you noticed it's feeling a lot better now. You're also right, I wasn't being a team player. I was under the impression that I wasn't needed but that was my mistake.'

'Yes that's right. Working well as a team is what makes us champions and we can't have any members forgetting that. Now if you'd like to-'

'Wait!' Tom said interrupting Coach. 'I can't let Eve lie for me.'
He took a deep breath ignoring my confused look before carrying on.
'She wasn't injured. I may have suggested that Eve miss practise for a little while because of a disagreement with another player. I thought that was what was best for both the team and herself. Obviously, I was mistaken which shows a fault in my captains' leadership.' Tom turned to look at me with a guilt filled expression.
'It's likely my fault that she didn't feel comfortable coming back.'

'Is this true Eve?' Coach asked breaking the connection between Tom and I.

'It is yes.'

'Well this wasn't what I was expecting. Tom, I admire your honesty. However, taking all of this into consideration I think I may have to reconsider your role as captain of the team.'

What?! Was he mad? No matter how pissed off I was with Tom it would take an idiot not to see what a great captain Tom was. He held the team together, he stopped them from taking the piss and it was him that made them champions not Coach.

Before I could stop myself from being the better person the words spilled out.
'Wait no! Coach I think it would be a huge mistake to take captain away from him. The team works as well as it does because of him and his leadership skills. I think there may have just been some mis-communication between myself and Tom, however it was my decision not to come to practise.'

Coach sat back in his chair and looked at the pair of us. He didn't show emotions at the best of times so right now I didn't have a clue what he was thinking. After what felt like hours of staring at the two of us, he finally gave his verdict.

'Well then, I think it may be best that we move on from this with lessons learnt. As we have now established that you do have two working legs Eve I expect you to get changed and be on the field in five minutes.'

'Yes Coach.' I said getting up and making my way to the door.

'Oh and Eve. You might be needing this.' He threw me my football shirt and before I could stop myself, I smiled.

Who was I kidding? Even if I wasn't looking forward to being on a team with everyone but Joseph I had missed playing. Every time I ran around a football pitch it reminded me of my dad stood on the side lines cheering me on. That was the best feeling in the world.

I was just about to push my way into the girls locker room when I heard someone calling my name. As I turned around Tom was jogging up to me.

'What do you want Tom?'

He looked at me with a sheepish expression before focusing on his feet.
'After everything I've done, why would you cover for me? Stick up for me even?'

Good question. I could've thrown him under the bus back there but I didn't. I couldn't.

'Why?...Because I'm a better friend to you than you are to me.'
With that I pushed open the girls locker room and left him standing in the hallway.

It's sad to admit that I still had the rest of my football kit in my locker. I think some part of me hoped that even if I didn't get back on the team that maybe I'd find a way to convince one of the sports teachers to create a girls team. Whatever it was it felt damn good to put my kit on again.

'Well would you look what the cat dragged in.' Joseph said giving me a friendly but painful slap on the back as I joined him on the football field.
'Good to have you back kid.'

I gave Joseph a smile but I couldn't help but feel forced as I knew Harrison was watching me from where he was stood with the rest of the team. I didn't even have to see him, my whole body just reacted around him as if it could sense him.
It didn't take me long after Jake dropped me home the other night to go from sad to unbelievably angry. My anger had calmed itself down a little over the last couple of days but now it was Friday and I'd overheard Katie in the hallway talking about how excited she was for tonight, the rage was coursing through me again.

'Ok team gather round.' Coach shouted.

I took a deep breath and joined the rest of the team along with Joseph.

'So we've got some big games coming up over the next couple of months so no more messing around. This team needs to work as one, as a unit, so any players not getting along need to put on your big girl pants and grow up.'

As much as it didn't take a genius to figure out who coach was talking about, I didn't exactly appreciate everyone non subtly looking at Harrison and I.

'Now you lot better be prepared to work your asses off because I'm taking no slackers today! Do you hear me!?'

'Yes coach!' We all shouted back.

'Good. Now go and warm up.'

'Are you going to do it?' Joseph asked before throwing the ball for me to header.

'Do what?'

'Speak to him?'
I didn't need to respond. I gave Joseph a flat look which was answer enough.
'You heard coach. That whole fucking speech was aimed at you two. If you don't figure out some way to at least be civil to each other you know someone else on the team is going to figure out a way to force you to. Everyone here wants to win and they see you two as a weakness.'

'I'm more concerned about proving myself to these assholes who thought I was replaceable. I'm not in the mood today so if they keep on looking at me like I'm the weakest link then I'm going to lose my shit.'

'Dude that's exactly what you need to do!'

'You want me to lose my shit?' I asked with a hint of scepticism.

'Yes exactly!' Joseph said like he'd just come across a stroke of genius. What is it those girls in the bring it on films do?'

'Cheerlead?'

Joseph rolled his eyes like I was an idiot.
'No not that. What do the main girls with short skirts do to the other blonde girls in even shorter skirts?'

'Ok you've lost me.'

'They show them up! They prove they're better than them!'

The more I thought about it the more what he was saying made sense. I didn't know if that meant he had come up with something genius or I was stooping down to idiot level but hey if it helped, I didn't care.
'Ok but how?'

'You throw that anger into your play. You show them you're not a throw away player by beating them at their own game. You've done it before, so do it again.'

'That's actually a pretty good idea.'

'I know. I'm not just all good looks.' He said with a wink.

'No you also have extensive knowledge on girly teen films.'

'Hey there is nothing wrong with appreciating chick flicks! They're not that bad and the girls are pretty hot.'

'Whatever you say JoJo.'

Now I'd had the motivational speech I needed I really was ready to bring it on (Jesus what was Joseph doing to me?).
When warm up was done we were split into two teams. I couldn't have picked the teams better to be honest as Harrison and Tom were on the opposite side to Joseph and I.

'Ok team I want everyone to bring their A game!' Couch shouted before blowing the whistle for kick off.

I took no time in getting stuck into the game. I started off in defence and along with Mark we killed any shot the other team had at scoring. Joseph was practically sitting back and relaxing as he had hardly needed to move a muscle the first half of the game. The other teams' frustrations were apparent which only fuelled my passion to win more.

I hated to admit it but with Harrison and Tom on the opposite side in defence our team were struggling to get anything passed them too.

It was during the second half of the match where I saw an opportunity. A part of me was nervous to even attempt what I had thought up but the other half was made up of all the built-up anger in me. In a split second I made up my mind to shoot my shot.

Quick as a flash I tackled and stole the ball from Grant Owens who was about to attempt to score. Rather than throwing the force I had in my left foot into the ball to one of the guys in mid field, I instead dribbled the ball up the pitch using my speed and size to dodge the other team. It was only when a wall of guys charging face-on towards me, did I have no choice but to pass Fin Daniels.

When the same wall of guys made a beeline for Fin, he surprised me by passing back to me. I guess not everyone on the team doubted me.
I now had a clearer path to sprint as the mid fielders having realised their mistake were now coming after me. I had bigger fish to fry though. One person other than the goalkeeper stood between me and scoring. That person was one of our best players and just happened to be staring me and the ball down. I knew I had to do some serious tackling to get past Harrison but if I couldn't do it right now with all of my determination then I'd never be able to.

It felt like everything went into slow motion as he ran towards me to tackled the ball away. An image of him and Katie at this party tonight flashed through my mind making me push harder. Just as he was about to make contact everything sped up again and I smirked as I saw the fault he'd just made.

Just at the right time I turned my body so my back was inches from his chest. I turned myself the opposite way that he was leaning into which I correctly guessed would give me time to put a little distance between us. As quickly as my body would take me with my heart beating so fast I could hear it in my ears I closed the distance between myself and the goal. I drove all the force I could muster into kicking the ball, launching it into the air just as Tom tackled me sending us both to the floor. From the ground I watched as the ball spun through the air eventually skimming past the goalie's fingers and into the back of the net.

My team erupted into celebration with Fin picking me up and spinning me around as the other guys joined us in a group huddle.

'Yes! We've got our girl back!' Mark shouted before fist bumping me.

'Well thank god someone turned up to practise today!' Coach said patting me on the back.
'Ok everyone hit the showers!'

I wish I was one of those people that could hide the smugness on their face when they were feeling at the top of their game but I couldn't. I probably would've worn that smile all the way home if Harrison hadn't caught up with me as I was heading off the field.

'Hey! What the hell was that?!'

I turned around and saw the self-righteous expression he had on his face that instantly boiled the blood that had finally turned to a simmer.
'What the hell was what Harrison?' I tried to say calmly but my words had a bit of bite to them.

'That play? There's no way you'd be able to do that in an actual game so what was that?'

I took a deep breath to stop myself from taking the bait before answering a little more calmly.
'Coach didn't seem to mind.'

'Well coach isn't always one for the rules as the rest of us.'

'Harrison what do you really want?'

'You heard coach. He said we needed to talk so that's what I'm doing.'

I hated the way he looked at me expressionlessly, like he had no thoughts or options on me. I hated the way he was leading the conversation. Like he thought I owed him something. I really, REALLY, wanted to bite but I forced myself not to.

'I don't think he meant like this and besides I'm not really in the mood to talk right now.' Without a second glance I walked away. I focused on the girls locker room door and told myself to think about what Lindsay was cooking tonight but Harrison was persistent.

'Oh I'm sorry, so everything has to be on your terms huh?' He shouted.

I stopped dead in my tracks along with the majority of the football team that had conveniently slowed their pace when they noticed us talking to each other.

I tried my usual tricks to calm myself down. I really didn't want to lose my shit in front of all these people but I was sick of being the together civilised person. Especially when he didn't deserve it.

'No everything has to be on yours!' I shouted before I could stop myself.
'What, you've had your break and now you've decided you want to talk to me?! I don't know why you seem to think that you call the shots on everything but you don't. You don't get to decide when you can and can't talk to me, especially as you've practically ignored my existence for two weeks! So excuse me if I'm not falling at your feet to talk to you.'

'Yeah because you're falling at Jakes instead.' Harrison said without missing a beat.

It was at that point where I decided I was done.

'What?! You have got to be kidding me! You know what Harrison you're such a fucking hypocrite! How dare you spout all that shit to me about how you can't trust me and how I treated you when you've been nothing but an asshole for two weeks.' The more I spoke the louder and louder I got, but in this moment, I didn't care nor did I feel embarrassed that multiple people were witnessing it. Harrison's gobsmacked expression was enough for me to carry on.

'Not that it's any of your fucking business anymore but Jake and I are just friends. I think it's hysterical that all of you sat there when I first joined the team and warned me about him when you guys have turned out to be exactly how you described him. Jake on the other hand has been giving me advice when I've been pathetically crying over you! He actually stood up for you when I found out you'd asked some girl you barely know to a party tonight. But yet again, you've jumped to conclusions and I'm the liar and cheater.

I felt tears spring into my eyes which only frustrated me more. I felt done crying over Harrison but apparently my eyes wanted to betray me. As quickly as I could I forced my eyes shut and swallowed, thankfully trapping the tears from making tracks down my face. When I felt I'd controlled them enough I opened my eyes to see Harrison's searching my face. He was wearing a guilty expression, like the confidence he had earlier was just an act but I was passed the point of caring. I stared straight back at him with the coldest look I could master before I spoke again.

'So there you go Harrison. We've had your chat, now just fuck off and leave me alone because I've got other things going on in my life that don't revolve around you!'

Before I could let myself break my strong act, I turned on my heels and pushed my way into the girls locker room.

Into safety.

Don't get me wrong I was proud of myself for finally getting everything off my chest but why did it feel like I'd closed the book on the story that was Harrison and I?
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