Chapter 7 | Early Matches
Mark Dominique Hale exited from his car, arriving home. With two small beeps, the garage door closed in on him, blocking off the view of the night sky. The yellow lights turned on, helping him see, now that he has covered the moonlight. As soon as he walked inside his door, he hung his keys and directly headed to his room.
It was messy. After being with his team doing a team-building vacation for almost a week in a seaside resort, the view of his room was disappointing. His used clothes were scattered on the floor, his desk filled with tangled wires and accumulating dust. The bed unmade, and a disgustingly overfilled trash bin. He wondered how he was able to leave with his room like this, but thinking was pointless so he got to work.
Mark owned a small yet modern-looking villa not too far from the city. It was in a place that allowed him to have his own beautiful and large front garden, which mostly made up for the actual living space’s size. The only people who lived with him were his parents, but they were mostly out managing their floral business, which they had started when they both had retired. The front garden really helped them in starting it, yet they bought another patch of land and usually stay there to tend to it.
Mark was left alone in the villa most of the time. He used to think it was really too big for just himself and considered finding a place closer to the city. In the end, he scratched the thought and kept it instead because he didn’t have time to look for a new place.
Cleaning his room was not much of a chore, so it wasn’t really tiring even though he had just finished practice. He dusted off his desk and arranged the wires, his devices and the papers. He made his bed, even though he would go to sleep later on. He wiped down his windows and picked up the sullied clothes on his floor. He placed the clothes in a basket and decided to do his laundry tomorrow.
He picked up a blue casual blazer from the floor; he held it lightly, planning to toss it in the laundry bin, but he noticed it felt slightly heavy. Mark reached in and found the same thin gold bracelet from his night in the club. He had almost forgotten.
He placed the blazer in the bin and laid his head on his clean bed. He swirled the bracelet in his hand and smiled at how small it was.
Her hands must be small to fit in this thing. Mark thought.
The gold shined brightly, reflecting the moon’s white gaze seeping through his windows and pleasing his tired eyes. With its light, Mark noticed a small engraving on its underside.
“Beth”. He read, it was engraved in cursive. He found it to be beautiful.
With that thought, his eyes closed slowly and Mark drifted off to a deep sleep, the gold bracelet held in one of his hands.
The sound of his cellphone ringing woke him up the next morning. He never set up alarms, so he wondered who would call him this early. It was still 6 A.M. Mindlessly; he got his phone from his bedside table and picked up the morning call.
“Hello?” Mark says drowsily, not knowing who it is.
“Yo! Mark, don’t show me your ear man.”
He looked at the phone’s screen and saw that it was actually a video call from his team, most of them already picked up the phone. They all seemed tired or just new to the sun beaming through each of their windows. He then saw the familiar face of his old coach. There his senses cleared and Mark sat up and held his phone in front of him.
“Good morning Boys.” A loud voice sounded through the call, ” I’ve just got an announcement.” Multiple yeses and groans replied to their energetic coach’s voice. “We’ll be having a series of practice matches before the tournament coming up. We’ll be starting Next week Monday against New Zealand in the usual stadium we practice in, since it’ll be a small match. The practice match’s will be filmed live though for TV. I’ll mention the other schedules that day.” The coach’s smile beams through his camera.
It surprised everyone, the very rushed arranged practice matches, not really remembering that they would usually have these games before tournaments. Though the announcements hadn’t really sank in for the half asleep Mark.
“Even though we just returned from vacation, don’t use it as an excuse to skip early morning workouts. You must complete your usual routines, have a nice day everyone!”
With that the coach exits the group call and the team reverted to their lazy looking selves,
“Good luck to us, huh?”
“Ughh, I’m so tired.”
“We shouldn’t have partied late last night.”
“Good for coach, he left early.”
“Let’s get going, Good morning.”
After a series of good mornings and goodbyes, they finished the group call. With that, Mark flopped down for the last time on his bed. “I gotta get up.“, he thought to himself.
With his will, he finally stood up from his soft and cozy bed. He remembered the bracelet was on his bed as he stood up, then placed it in a box in one of his multiple compartments and then proceeded to his bathroom to get ready for the day.
He differed from his teammates. Though they said things that made them seem lazy or do things that may damage their health. He could say that they were very disciplined. They only drink sometimes, mostly once in two weeks, calling it a drink cheat day and letting themselves let go for a bit. Mark felt tired looking after what he ate and drank, exercising every day and maintaining his body, but he believed it had to be done. He couldn’t slack off, he would hate himself for it.
Ever since he was a child, becoming an internationally known soccer player was his dream. He had lived in the countryside when he was younger, but it never put him down thinking it would be impossible. Mark worked extra hard to get to where he is today and because of this he made it.
Though he felt like he didn’t have that much discipline, what he had was pure determination and a strong will. Even though he didn’t like tiring himself out, this attitude helped him carry on. You could say in a way, he was disciplined, but it really wasn’t like the others who have made healthy living a lifestyle. He just felt like it was needed. He forgot sometimes or was too lazy to care, so he bombarded his phone with alarms and notifications, wallpapers and notes.
Mark arrived at the gym, and as soon as he entered the gates a loud ambulance noise sounded from his phone. The people in the gym were startled, so Mark hurriedly got his phone out of his bag and turned off the alarm on his phone. It was named,
” Workout, lazy fucker.”
Mark’s usual style in reminding himself. He always laughed on how he named and sometimes felt like it was too much for an alarm, but he never changed it. He headed to his usual locker and placed his bag in it, then started his daily routine.
Mark had started soccer late, joining practices when he had begun high school. Though he wanted to start early, he couldn’t. Being the eldest in the family, he had to take care of his little sister for a few years after class because both of his parents worked to keep them alive. They weren’t rich back then; they earned a moderate income and couldn’t spare too much money in buying things that are not needed. Mark only got his very first soccer ball the last year of middle school using his saved up extra change.
Even though all this had happened, he wasn’t sad about not getting to pursue his dream earlier, and he never loathed the times he spared just to take care of his sister. This is because during this time, he had found a friend. They were neighbors back then. She always visited him and his sister in their home and accompanied him every time after school.
When he had practiced soccer by high school, he had a lot of fun. His sister was now old enough to take care of herself and ended up also joining after-school activities. Mark then started dedicating his extra time to soccer, practicing til the sun set and playing as early as the sun rose. He had truly fallen in love with the sport.
The only thing he regretted was not spending more time with his neighbor, his best friend back then. They ended up not talking to each other ever since he started. Neither approached the other, awkwardness filled the once space they closed. And not knowing. The house beside theirs suddenly had the “for sale” sign. He asked about it and where they were. There he found out they had moved almost two months ago before he knew. He felt sad back then, for he wasn’t able to talk to her again before they left. No one in the neighborhood knew where they had moved.
Soccer had helped him forget all about it. After a few years, he got better and better. Playing for different teams, practicing in different clubs. Soon his team won the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series. He got the team’s MVP award and there he got noticed.
Soon after, he got a university scholarship because of his sport and excelled even there. He graduated successfully and soon got scouted by the country’s national team.
After a few years of playing for them, he certainly made a name for himself. Being the striker, games were hard, yet it was always fun. It cleared his mind, and the training helped him become a better person.
Mark spent two hours that morning working out. There he thought about the upcoming practice matches.
He was excited.