Chapter 49 - Wake Me Up on Judgement Day
“Wake me up on Judgment Day / Let me hear golden trumpets play / Give me life where nothing fails / Not a dream in a wishing well” – Wake Me Up on Judgement Day, Steve Winwood
When Henri closes his locker to head to the change room, the town’s favourite hockey player cuts him off.
“What do you want, Lexi?” Henri says to him.
“I personally want to take you outside right now and beat you up and leave you there,” Lexi says.
“You want to go then?” Henri asks.
“I would,” Lexi says, “but something worse is about to happen to you, so I’m going to let you experience that instead.”
“She got back with that East Sider,” Henri says, trying to get a rise out of Lexi.
“She did,” Lexi says, “and I’m happy for her.”
“No, you’re not,” Henri says.
“I’m happy that she is with a guy that cares for her,” Lexi says. “I’m not the type of guy that needs to force himself on girls.”
“It’s all a lie,” Henri says, “I never did…”
“I don’t want to hear it,” Lexi says, “I don’t want to hear your justifications, how you didn’t do anything wrong, how she wanted it. You’re pathetic and you are going to get what’s coming to you.”
And then Lexi walks off, having to hold himself back from beating up the guy that ruined two girls’ lives.
Henri continues down the hall and walks into the boy’s locker room to change for the last soccer practice before the big game against East Side that they would play on their home field tomorrow afternoon. The locker room went silent when he walked in and he already knew why. When he puts his gear down, the guys near him moved away. The whole locker room gets ready in silence and quickly heads out to the field. No jokes or jeers like usual.
They run out to the field to meet Mr. Carrow already on one field while the girls are on the other field. “We have a big game tomorrow, lads.” Mr. Carrow said with a clipboard in his hand, “We beat those East Siders last time, we can beat them again and bring the championship trophy back to where it belongs.” There were no cheers, no comments, everyone was silent, which confused Mr. Carrow. It was the day before the championship! He never had issues getting these guys riled up. “What’s happened?” Mr. Carrow says, looking to each member of the team, seeing if his glare can get the truth out of them.
Pete, Grade 12, and captain of the soccer team steps forward, knowing the team relies on him to speak for them and to lead them. “Mr. Carrow,” Pete begins. Pete already knew what he was going to do after he saw the video of the Grade 9 girl that left the school so suddenly with her sister. Pete didn’t know her, but he knew her older sister Arya and thought she was a nice girl and a tremendous soccer player. When Arya left the school, he was confused, like so many others, but he just ignored it. After watching that video, everything came together, everything made sense. The Grade 11 rich boy on his team that was able to get away with his jerk behaviour because of his athletic abilities was no longer the golden boy like he tried to show. Pete has a younger sister himself and thought about what he would have done if he was in Arya’s position. They tried to silence her and her sister. Sweep them and their story under the rug to save Henri and his family’s reputation. It was time to show everyone what the students of West Side Academy thought of a rapist. If it cost his team the championship, he could live with that. “It has come to light that there is a rapist on this team, and we will not play in tomorrow’s championship game with him on the team.”
“What are you saying?” Mr. Carrow says, staring Pete down.
Pete stares at Henri who can’t bring himself to look him in the eyes. “We know that Henri is a rapist and none of us will be playing tomorrow if he is playing.”
“You can’t be serious,” Mr. Carrow says, “he’s done nothing wrong!”
“We disagree, Mr. Carrow,” Pete says, “and we will not play on the same team as a rapist.”
“What happened?” Mr. Carrow says, turning to Henri, “Tell me.” Mr. Carrow looks at Henri as if he has no idea. As if he wasn’t a part of this scandal to cover up the real reason that Arya left the school with her sister.
“Coach, I…” Henri starts, but can’t get a word out. All the boys step away from him, not wanting to be associated with him at all. He’s helpless and he is about to become a sacrifice to the wolves.
“We stand as a team coach.” Pete says, “If Henri is on the field tomorrow, none of us will be joining him and he can play East Side on his own.”
“But it’s the championship!” Mr. Carrow says, “Can’t we just deal with this after tomorrow? There’s no proof, just some girl trying to ruin this boy’s life! And how convenient is her timing!”
“No, coach.” Pete says, “The dignity and respect for our school are more important than any championship. We will not be seen supporting a criminal.”
“A criminal?” Mr. Carrow says, “I think we are getting a little ahead of ourselves here.”
“It’s your choice, coach,” Pete says, with the whole soccer team standing around him. “Him or us.”
Mr. Carrow looks all around him, knowing that the captain of his team has taken the choice away from him. If he wants to have any shot of winning the championship tomorrow, it will have to be without Henri. “Henri,” Mr. Carrow says, looking at him, “you’ll have to sit this one out.” And he turns away from Henri quickly to face the rest of the team.
Henri doesn’t argue, he knows there is no other way. His team has turned against him, and Mr. Carrow? He only cares about his sports teams winning, he doesn’t care for the wellbeing of Henri at all. That day in the hallway, when he helped him with the locker? That was just to protect his star athlete so he could continue playing basketball. Mr. Carrow doesn’t care about the students on his team at all. Only about winning. If you are not an athlete, you are nothing to him at this school. And if you are an obstacle or a hindrance from him getting his championship win, he will squash you like a bug if necessary.
Henri goes back to the locker room, turning back only once to see his soccer team laughing and joking together again, starting their warmup. In the locker room, Henri throws everything in his bag at the walls, the lockers, the mirror, trying to let out the frustration. When there is nothing left to throw, he breathes deeply, looking at himself in the mirror. He sits down on the bench, running his hands through his hair, wondering how it all went so bad so quickly. He pulls out his phone and when he finds what he is looking for, he turns his phone horizontal to watch the video for the first time.
“Ready?” I ask James, already in his soccer uniform, outside the locker rooms while all the boys are changing into their gear before they get on the bus.
“It’ll be a good show, I can guarantee that,” James says.
“Just be careful out there,” I say to James seriously. I’m still worried about what will happen when James and Henri face off. James has done nothing but reassure me that it will be fine, but he’s a guy. Of course he would say that.
“Arya,” James says seriously, “I’m not afraid of him. He’s not going to hurt you, Mia, me, or anyone else.” I want to believe James. “Just trust me.” I look at him and he gives me the reassurance I need. Those three words instantly calm me when they come from him.
“Time to go!” Richard says as he jumps and lands two hands on James’ shoulders, obviously excited for the big game. Samson and Malcolm come up behind him. “You can flirt with your girlfriend after the game.”
“Good luck you guys,” I say to all four of them, as the rest of the guys start coming out of the locker room.
“Good luck to you too, Arya,” Malcolm says, “There better be two East Side victories today!”
“I’ll do what I can.” I say, and turn to whisper to James, “Good luck, James.” I put a hand to his neck to pull him in for a kiss. I hear the guys hollering in the background, but I don’t care.
“Good luck, superstar,” he whispers backs when we break apart and smile at each other.
“Enough smooching already!” Richard calls and grabs James by the shoulders to lead him outside to the bus that will take them to the West Side field.
We walk off the bus and start heading to the West Side field behind the school. The guys’ soccer team is already out there, warming up and doing their drills. They have let out their entire school for the occasion. All the guys and girls in their uniforms, cheering for their home team to win. As we walk across the field to put our stuff down on the player side, I look for him. It shouldn’t take long because of his height, but I can’t see him in any of the faces of the West Side soccer team. I want to confront him now before the game starts.
“What’s up?” Richard says beside me.
“I don’t see Henri,” I say, still looking for him amid the West Side soccer players.
“Probably just in the change room or something.” Richard says, “He’s one of their star players, there’s no way he’s missing this.”
I keep my eye out for him though, during the warmup, during the drills, even when Mr. Quirrel calls us in to give us a pep talk and announce the starting line, I still look for him, but he never shows up. Where is he?
The ref blows the whistle and both teams line up in their 11-man formations. There is a different guy in Henri’s striker position.
Playing right mid, I am right next to the other mid on the West Side team, so I try to see if I can get any information out of him. “Hey!” I say to him and he just looks at me confused. “Where’s your striker? Henri?” I ask.
The midfielder stares at me, hesitant to tell me anything before he whispers, “We don’t play with rapists.” And then he turns his focus to the ball waiting in the center of the field to be kicked.
They kicked him off the team. I look at all the players and the coach of the West Side team. I can’t believe they did it. He’s one of their star players, if not the star player and they kicked him off the day of the championship game. The school is still cheering the same for their team, do they know that he’s not playing today? Do they know why? I’ll admit, I was looking forward to facing him and beating him, but I have to respect this West Side team that chose the honest confession of a Grade 9 girl who suffered the unforgivable over their star player. They’ll fight hard today to prove that they can beat us with or without Henri. Unfortunately for them, today is our day. Good luck to you, Arya. I know you are standing on the field right now, the same as me. The ref’s whistle blows.
“3…2…1…Let’s go East Side!!” the whole girls’ team shouts, raising our hands from the circle we have created. All the girls start running towards the field to take up their positions on our home field to face West Side.
“Wait!” Isabella says, stopping me from going out to the field.
“What is it?” I ask.
“Let’s put these guys in their place,” Isabella says with a smile and puts her fist up and I bump it with a smile.
“What changed?” I ask, surprised but happy about Isabella’s change in mood.
“We are a team.” Isabella says, “A good captain thinks of what’s best for their team, not for themselves. You are a great soccer player, Arya. We all know it. I do not make myself a better player by trying to put you down or not working with you, I just hurt the team, and ultimately myself.”
“Where did all this newfound wisdom come from?” I ask jokingly.
“May or may not have listened to an inspiring Ted Talk the other day.” Isabella says with a smile, “I was jealous, Arya. But real queens fix each other’s crowns. We women have to lift each other up so that we are stronger, not put each other down to try and make ourselves seem better. That’s just what men want. Women don’t realize the potential they have, if we work together, we would be unstoppable.”
“You’ll have to send me that Ted Talk,” I say with a smile, and Isabella laughs.
“That part was actually me talking.” Isabella says, “I guess I forgot my own beliefs when I saw someone was encroaching on my turf. Some stuff is easier said than done. One more thing.” She takes a breath, “I am sorry about clipping you from behind in our first tryout. There is no place for that kind of behaviour on the soccer field or anywhere. I tried to turn the team against you too, but fortunately, they did not listen to me. A captain isn’t always right.”
The ref’s whistle blows and we both run out to our center field positions. West Side doesn’t know what’s about to hit them.
“Good half guys,” Mr. Quirrel says as we drink too much water during our halftime break, exhausted in the heat. Even without Henri, West Side is on their A-game today. They are here to prove a point. This team will not keep a rapist on their team, no matter how good of a player he is, and they will win without him. We are currently leading 2-1 at the moment, but that could change very soon. They keep putting pressure on us and I don’t know how much longer we can hold out for. “James,” Mr. Quirrel says.
“Coach!” I reply.
“I want you to go in for defense.” Mr. Quirrel says, “Push Hadfield up to right mid and you take his spot at the back.”
“But he plays sweeper, coach!” I say. The sweeper is the last line of defense before the goal. Why is Mr. Quirrel putting me there?
“I’m aware.” Mr. Quirrel says, “I need you to stop them from scoring. We might only win if we manage not to let them score next half. They scored their only goal by kicking the ball ahead past the defense and the striker running on it. They’re going to try and do that again. Hadfield can’t keep up with their strikers, but I know you can.”
“Coach, Hadfield…” I start.
“I know what I’m doing.” Mr. Quirrel says, “I believe in you and I know you can do this. Now let’s shut them out!”
As we run back on the field at the ref’s whistle, I tell Hadfield the news. He looks at me like I’ve said the most obscure thing. “Coach’s orders,” I say, shrugging my shoulders.
“You better not let them score,” Hadfield says as he runs over to take my position.
Thank you for the vote of confidence. There is a reason I don’t play defense. It’s too nerve-racking, but I will do everything possible to win this game and if I have to do it from back here, I will.
“Not too much water girls!” Mrs. McGonagall calls out at halftime. This game is exhausting. Why does it have to be so hot today? We are up 3-0 already. There’s no way that West Side will be able to come back from this, but I shouldn’t talk too soon, anything can happen. If we were able to score three goals in one half, then they can do the same. It’s not over until the final whistle.
“You’re killing it out there!” Eleanor says to me, lightly punching me on the shoulder.
“Well, you are the one that is like a brick wall at the back,” I say, drinking my water. “They can’t get by you!”
Isabella comes up to the two of us. “Good job, guys,” Isabella says with sincerity.
“I see you guys have finally reconciled your differences,” Eleanor says, looking between us.
“I want to crush West Side today.” Isabella says smiling, “It’s time the trophy comes back home where it belongs.”
The ref’s whistle blows. “Everyone who was already out there is back out there in the same positions!” Mr. Sprout calls as we all head to the field.
“I swear if they do one more of those kick and runs to try and get a striker to score,” I say to Malcolm, who is in front of me in the position of stopper, “I’m going to kill someone.”
“Talk to your captain,” Malcolm says, “The two center midfielders are letting too many balls through.”
“Sub!” the West Side coach calls out. Even without Henri, they still have more subs than us. Fresh legs. Mr. Quirrel was always adamant about good, fit players and few subs. Right now, I hate that mentality.
I take this moment to jog up to Daniel in the midfield. “Daniel, you have to shut them down in the midfield. They keep sending these long balls and we keep having to chase them down. We’re getting burnt out at the back!”
“Just worry about yourself, Fox.” Daniel says to me, “I know what I’m doing.”
“Daniel,” I say, “Listen to me. Shut them down immediately in the middle, don’t give them any time. The second they get the ball they just send it flying for their strikers to get. They are going to score if you don’t shut them down!”
“Go back to your position, Fox!” Daniel yells in my face, “Go!” I glare at him before jogging back.
“I see that went well,” Malcolm says as I jog by him.
“I really hate that guy,” I say.
Crack. Loud screaming. Whistle blowing frantically. It all happened too fast. Eleanor is just lying there on her back in the middle of the field, crying, and unable to move her right leg. All the players are kneeling while Mr. Sprout and one of the other girls on the team carry her off. Eleanor is a strong girl and right now she’s crying like I have never seen before. I don’t know if all those tears are for the pain or if some are angry tears. Angry about being taken out so viciously by the West Side captain, Peggy, who in a split second ended her soccer season. We stand up and clap when she is taken off the field, but Isabella immediately goes to the ref and I follow behind.
“Ref,” Isabella says, “That’s a red card! She has to be taken out of the game!”
“I saw no foul play,” the ref says, ignoring Isabella.
“You didn’t see her break her leg?!” Isabella yells.
“Quiet captain,” the ref says, “or it will be you that gets sent off the field.” Everyone knows that refs can ruin a game and this one seems like a good candidate. Isabella is fuming inside, but she keeps her mouth shut.
I walk over to Peggy who is talking and laughing with her teammates. “What the hell is wrong with you?!” I yell at her.
“Chill out, Arya.” Peggy says to me, “This is all a part of the game. I am sorry about your friend though. Hope it’s not serious.”
“This is not part of the game.” I say to her angrily, “You probably broke her leg!”
“Exaggerating,” Peggy says, unamused. “The ref didn’t say anything so there’s no issue.”
“The ref’s an idiot,” I say to her.
“Don’t say that too loud,” Peggy whispers to me, “wouldn’t want you to get kicked off instead. We all know you have a nasty temper when someone pisses you off.”
“Bitch.” I say, heated with anger.
“Go back to your no class, gutter rat school, Arya,” Peggy says, “There’s still plenty of time left in this game and I think things are about to take a change.”