Chapter 34 | Repetition
Elizabeth closed her laptop as she smiled in satisfaction. “I’ve done a lot of progress today.” She told herself.
These days, work has been little of a hassle with the assignments being lesser than before because of her huge contribution to sales. So her seniors have only been assigning her with some transcription work and other times, just research. Days were relaxing.
She had much more time than before to rewrite her book and she has been doing so much more progress these days.
With life going this smoothly, a game to attend just a few hours away, great friends, and a secure job, she was thankful.
Two months earlier, Mark gave her tickets to the quarter finals, which helped her fix her relationship with Hayden. And today was finally the day.
Hayden had just called her as he was heading out. “Meet me by the food stands like before.” He mentioned.
With that being said, her laptop now off, she looked at the time and decided that she should get going as well.
With her newly bought official merchandise shirt on her and her white cap, she grabbed purse and went out of her apartment.
As she walked to find a taxi, she thought of how seriously nervous Mark and his team were feeling right now and truthfully; she felt it too, though she wasn’t the one on the field.
She hoped they would win and advance to the semi-finals. It was the closest the national team got to the world cup in so long and she believed this generation would have the capabilities to do it.
She was practically jogging in place in uneasiness for later as she looked around to hail a taxi.
With the time ticking, she hoped she would ride one soon. She wanted to have enough time to scout the food stands just like before. Hopefully, Hayden would arrive first and line up.
She finally hailed a taxi after so much weirdly bouncing in place. She got in right away and headed straight to the venue.
She ran up straight into the glass door as she finally arrived. She looked around and saw large amounts of people gathering everywhere. It was only right since it was the quarter-finals.
Many people from different places all came together to see these games. It was really lucky that they held it inside the country this year.
It was practically a stampede when she walked in. So she slowly maneuvered her way to the food stands after spotting the enormous sign from way back.
She really didn’t care about looking for Hayden. All she looked for is the end of the long line.
Walking a few steps, a hand suddenly touched her back. “El! ” the voice said.
She was shocked, so she momentarily froze in place. She turned around and saw laughing Hayden with his back turned to her.
” You scum! ” She said as she punched him in the back, not caring about the volume in her voice. It was already super loud around, anyway.
Hayden cried in pain after she did so and rubbed his back.” Aren’t you thankful I got in the line earlier, just like before?”
“Yes, but you don’t have to scare me like that.”
“It was an opportunity of a lifetime.”
“Screw you.” She remarked as she stood beside him in line.
“Really?” He happily asked as he turned towards her. Arguably, seeing stars in his playful eyes.
She only looked at him in contempt and silence before continuing to ignore him and look in front of the line.
“Hahaha, sorry, I’ll stop. ” He mentioned, laughing.
The two continued to stay in the line towards the food station while talking about the game that’s about to come. Sharing their thoughts about how large the event was. Plus, they complimented the merchandise each other wore.
Hayden wore the second style of the team shirt while Elizabeth wore the shirt she complimented Hayden wearing before, in the round of 16 games.
They finally arrived in front and got two of everything this time. Scared, Elizabeth would finish it all so quickly, like last time. Two fries, two sodas, two burgers, and a bag of chips. It seemed like much, but they underestimated last time, and matches would probably go on for longer now.
After they gained all the needed equipment to fearlessly support the team without stress, they headed to their seats in the front.
The place was slowly filling with people minute by minute. It was scary how many spectators there were. Elizabeth thought it would add to the pressure, but Hayden remarked how they were probably used to it.
After a few more minutes of waiting and guiltily eating, the teams finally appeared. The national team appeared in new soccer jerseys and high spirits. Elizabeth relaxed. It seemed like they were used to it, after all.
Especially Kit, who was clearly visible giving flying kisses to the stands in substantial quantities. Along with handsomely smiling at every camera.
Other team mates smiled and waved, embarrassed by their overly confident team mate.
Elizabeth couldn’t help but look at Mark, her friend in the lot. Along with the others, he smiled and waved. He looked handsome and clean, with his wide smile facing the crowd.
This time, he scanned his eyes across the seats more than usual. When he glimpsed Elizabeth sitting in the front row and Hayden, picking fries beside her. He smiled even wider and waved his hands towards them.
Elizabeth spotted this and waved back. Poking Hayden to do the same, the two now smiled at their friend and cheered him on.
The opening ceremony was now going to start and everyone was in their seats, anxious of what’s to come.
The warm-ups were starting, and the anxiety was setting in. In the stands, as their respective teams stretched and got ready, the cheering started. Others shouted team chants and others had horns and drums in hand.
It was great that on their side, there were a couple of people with huge drums and trumpets on hand. With it all played together, it sounded funny at first, but after a few more tries at finding a unanimous beat, the groove kicked in.
Soon enough, a great cheer was coming from their side, which could definitely level those of other teams. Elizabeth and Hayden joined in. Out of tiredness from using their voices too much, they finished the chips before the game even started.
“Sodium just powers me.” Hayden mentioned, to which Elizabeth laughed.
“I thought that meant sugar? “Elizabeth remarked.
“Nope. Not right now. These chips are killing it at keeping the pregame stress low.”
Hayden focused on eating the last bits as Elizabeth agreed to his words.
Only four games were happening today, only one for their team, for there were only eight teams battling it out. Wonderfully, their national team was picked out to be the first match to start it all off.
However, in the lineup announced by the news about a week ago, they were to be battling one of the best teams who made it to the quarter-finals every single time.
The question was: whether they would win this time or stay in the quarter finals like usual?
The warm-ups were done and cheers were even louder this time. The teams lined up before the game started. After even more cheers and the official rites, the players headed to position.
Trumpets, drums, and screams sounded all throughout the field when this happened and even much louder than before. Elizabeth could hardly believe how much lung capacity these fans had. They didn’t join yet to save their voices, but both Elizabeth and Hayden planned to.
When the coin was tossed, they cheered. All together this time, and with that, the game started.
The first one to get the ball was the other team, and the heat was on. Everyone was basically slipping out of their seats and had their eyes glued to the field.
They passed the ball between player to player. It was impressive to see. Eventually, after a few minutes, the ball was stolen by one player in their team. The crowd cheered as they let the ball travel from one side of the court to the other.
It was kicked in, moved among the perfectly mowed grass beneath them. The match moved quick and looked thrilling.
Hayden and Elizabeth hardly talked and had their eyes completely focused on the running ball on the field.
Suddenly and unconsciously in the middle of the first half, one player from the opposing team had the ball under his control. Skillfully, he moved and kicked the ball, passing all their players. And with one last kick from the long side, the ball was in.
One point going to the opposing team in just a flash.
The player who did do it, saluted to the crowd which made their side of the stadium scream wildly at that wonderful goal.
Elizabeth couldn’t argue how impressive that was, but this meant they started by having a disadvantage. She crossed her fingers together, hoping that they would not lose morale and get a goal themselves.
Hayden beside her didn’t lose hope, either. After playing against Mark himself, he knew had had god-tier skills, which meant all of them probably trained really well. And that wasn’t even before quarter-finals, certainly. They had improved.
The ball continued to move across the court, now at the expense of their team. It rolled and rolled. It then reached Brice, who was closest to the opposing goal.
“He might have a shot.” Elizabeth exclaimed.
All eyes were on the team leader, dribbling the ball still in his grasp. The opposing team basically formed a shell around him towards the goal, preventing any shot. Despite this, he could still do it because the net was so near.
But suddenly, he kicked it with all his strength, opposite to the goal and to the center where one of their other players was situated.
Since it wasn’t the all famous Mark who always gets the goal, no one really had expectations. But after a kick with might, straight to the net in just a flash.
It was a goal! The score was now one to one, and they all screamed.
It was a brilliant play.
With unsuccessful tries after that, the first half of the match was finally done. It was halftime and Hayden divided to exit the seats to refill on the snacks with two more burgers. They were pigs, but they didn’t really care at that moment.
Mark on the stands below wiped his sweat as he flapped his jersey open to get some air. The water he drank after that match was refreshing. He was glad they could catch up, even with a draw. That team were seriously beasts. It was the quarter finals after all.
He really wanted to win this. After much thought, he had something planned to do if it went well. He already asked his superiors, and they all said yes in wholehearted support.
It seemed stupid, but he decided. So he really wanted to win the match to go for his wishes with great confidence.
After fifteen minutes, the whistle sounded once more. “Let’s do this.” He told himself as he approached the team, ready for the next half.
Elizabeth and Hayden were in the stands, now munching on the new hot burgers they had just bought.
The second half was already halfway, and no one could get a goal just yet. The ball was just passed around. Multiple corner kicks and throw-ins. It wasn’t getting anywhere.
But the adrenaline was still there. Both teams were so close most of the time, but the goal keepers were so talented that no ball could get through.
With just five minutes left on the clock, everyone was scared it would end with a draw. But the players on the field thought otherwise and believed there was still more they could do.
With a throw-in from the goalkeeper on their aide, the ball went far into the enemy zone. There, Mark Hale stood and got the ball with him.
With impressive dribbling, he positioned himself on the side of the court. Faking a pass to his teammate, it scared the opponents that it would cause the play just like before.
But they were fooled, and Mark skillfully shot the ball into the goal while their attention was not fully focused on him.
The bell sounded, and the match was over.
“They won!” Hayden mentioned as he stood and cheered for the team.
Elizabeth, who was beyond happy for them, stood up and jumped around in celebration for their win.
The whole stadium was in chaos for the win. The trumpets and drums sounded once more, which made her realize, “They really won.”
With a close score of 2-1, their national team was going to the semi-finals.
A reporter then directly interviewed the champion right after the match ended. Everyone was still in the stands, always looking forward to this part.
“Mark Hale! That goal today was surely impressive. What can you say about your win today?”
“It was a monumental challenge. My team really came through and I would like to thank all of those supporting me.”
“Would you like to say anything to your fans in this stadium and at home watching the broadcast live right now?”
“Thank you for tuning in and supporting me. I have met my dreams today. Soccer is truly a wonderful sport.”
“Mr. Hale, it seems like you like soccer so much? Do you have anything that could top your love for it?”
This was it, the question that would give him the opportunity to say what he had to say at this very moment. He was thankful that he had the chance to win today.
“Of course.” he answered smugly.
“Ooh, would you mind sharing it with everyone here today?”
Mark took the microphone from the reporter in complete respect and walked back to face the audience in the stadium on a larger scale. Everyone screamed as he smiled towards everyone in the stands, cheering his name out loud.
“There’s someone really special I invited today.” Everyone looked around among themselves.
“Elizabeth Lane?” He said into the microphone, connected to all the speakers surrounding the stadium.
Everyone screamed and stood up to look for the person he mentioned in complete confusion and shock.
“Thank you for coming today. Your presence drove me to this win, but just know that you are more important to me than soccer.” Everyone squealed and was shocked by his words.
A person with a really loud voice from the front of the stand exclaimed, “Are you confessing Hale?!!!” Everyone screamed as well as if wanting to know the answer.
He looked at Elizabeth and smiled at her directly. Now the camera knew who she was and focused on her shocked face.
“Yes, yes, I am. I like you, El.”
And the crowd went wild! Even people from the opposing team’s fans joined in the love fest.
Elizabeth sat there shocked while Hayden looked at her as if he knew all along while he said to her, “Well, what do you say El?” Hayden casually asked.
The stadium was suddenly quiet, as if looking at her for an answer. “I - I...” she said in the softest voice.
Hayden, who was really curious, felt as if maybe Mark was the reason for her feelings. He couldn’t argue about that and sat there, happy if this would all go well. In conclusion, he wanted her to say yes if it made her truly happy.
They passed a microphone to her as everyone looked at her. She nervously got it and tried to speak.
“I don’t know.”