Woman's Resolve to stay Single

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Chapter 9 | Game Day

Mark let out a loud yawn as he unfolded the sunglasses to wear for the day. He saw the morning sky as he exited his space, putting on his sunglasses and a cap. The sun was glowing, and the weather was good. He pondered it over and saw that it was a good day to take a long commute to the stadium. The warm-up it gave benefited him as well.

He walked towards the bus station near his estate. There he rode on and started walking from the center when he got there. Mark felt thankful that the bus was mostly empty, which enabled him to take off his cap and cherish a commute he hasn’t taken in a while.

His phone rang as he sits in one seat at the back,

“Hello?” He answers.

“Hey, son.” A deep voice replied.

“Oh dad, what’s up?”

“Good luck today, I’ll be watching the match from TV.” Mark smiled at his dad’s encouragement. He could then hear scuffling behind the phone, as if it was quickly taken, or handed over,

“Good luck, Mark! We’ll be cheering for you here!” His mother spoke. Mark could hear the smile in her voice,

“Thank you.” He briefly said,

“We’ll be hanging up now, Mark, goodbye!”

“Okay bye mom and tell dad. ” With that being said, the line cut off, and he smiled at his phone’s screen before putting it back in his pocket.

Soon after, he could hear a few giggles behind him. In the moving train, a girl in her uniform suddenly approached his peaceful figure.

“Are you Mark Hale?” She said in a soft, shy voice.

Mark turned himself towards the girl who stood beside him and gave her a silent nod. He looked over behind her small figure and saw that she had her friends with her. He noticed the uniform that seemed like she was still a student. She held a small notebook and pen in her hand and she suddenly thrust it towards him.

“Uh... um... I’mahugefan, couldIgetyourautograph?” The girl said, nervously waiting for his reply.

“Relax, could you slow down a bit?” She nodded in reply and took a deep breath.

“Hi... I’m a big fan of yours. C-Could I get... your.... a-autograph?”

Mark saw through her words and smiled at her in reply, happy at her confidence. It couldn’t hurt signing one and he was even more surprised that he would meet a fan on this bus with little to none passengers.

“Sure.” He replied while taking the notebook from her hands, scrolling to an empty page and signing it. “Do you play?” He asked.

Surprised at the follow-up, the girl responded, “Hm?” confused at what he was trying to say.

“Soccer. I mean.” There she understood what he meant and nodded excessively. Mark laughed at this as he handed over the notebook back to her.

“Could... we take a... pic-picture as well?”

Mark agreed to her requests. It wouldn’t hurt to do so. She asked her friends to take the photo for them and also soon joined in for a photo. The moving bus wasn’t much of a bother since the road in these parts was smooth, so the picture came out well.

The bus stopped in just a block away from a school, and it seemed to Mark that the girl was getting off here.

He waved them goodbye, but before they could exit, the fan from before said,

“Good luck on your match today, I won’t be able to watch it, but I hope the team wins.”

He laughed at her sudden comment and replied, “Thank you, We’ll make sure to play well.” With that, the group exited the bus and Mark was back sitting peacefully quiet looking over the views of the road outside the window beside him.

The bus halted at its last stop, and that signaled for Mark to leave. The walk to the stadium would go on for another 30 minutes if he kept up his normal pace and didn’t slow down. It wasn’t really a problem how long he would arrive, for it was still about 7:00 A. M and the actual game won’t start until 10:00 A.M.

He would just let the time breeze by and enjoy a walk which he hadn’t taken for so long. He didn’t care if he were to be recognized. People are probably too busy to care, seeing that it is technically rush hour, and no one wanted to get late. The added protection of his shades and hat also helped him conceal his identity, so for a while, the walk was peaceful.

Along the trail, he noticed the different typed of people walking by. Some mostly in a hurry and some pretty chill in their day walks. Some in very stylish business wear, which he wished he could wear, and some in casual outfits, just like his. The one thing common about those who passed him by were the drinks in their hands.

Suddenly the multiple sights of these hand-held cups of hydration caused the sun to seemed hotter than before. Perhaps he was just overreacting, but he was truly getting parched. He could drink the water from the metal water bottle in his bag, but he wanted to spoil himself that morning. A silly award for going for a walk after such a long time of getting used to his glossy car.

A great cup of coffee came into mind. It being great for a pre-exercise drink to energize his mind and body. He remembered the talk he heard from his teammates that caffeine could help enhance performance in endurance sports such as what they partake in.

As If by coincidence, he passed a cool-looking cafe beside him. Amazed by the dark mood it gave, Mark stopped by to read the sign.

“Brick: Cafe and Bar” He said out loud.

With a shrug, Mark entered through the glass door. A bell chimed as he did so, but he headed straight for the counter to say his order. Without giving much thought he said what he usually drank in cafes like this, sure that it was part of their menu though he never glanced at it.

“Iced Americano please.”

The cashier in front of him stood still as he said this and didn’t type it in directly. Weirdly, he moved in to inspect Mark’s slightly covered face under his hat. Mark backed up a bit at this action and expressed,

“Umm, can you-”

“You’re Mark Hale, right?” The male cashier in front of him suddenly said. Well, he never expected he would be recognized right away and was even more surprised that it happened two times today. And it’s still early in the morning. Athletes don’t really get noticed that often. Not all of them are celebrities, and Mark thought that he wasn’t one of the popular people in his team. He knew someone might recognize him, but not this much.

Maybe it was still that early of a morning that his mind hadn’t really sank in to the thought of walking the streets and what he would experience while doing so. He couldn’t lie, so he simply responded,

“Yes, I am.”

The cashier suddenly grabbed his hand and shook it with a smiling face,

“Hello sir, I’m a huge fan of you and your team. You all truly deserve to represent our country, I watch all your games and I’m pretty fond of the sport myself. Name’s Hayden Wright and it’s nice to meet you.”

“It’s nice to meet you too, Hayden.” Mark took his hand back and slipped it into his pockets.

“You’ll have one... Iced Americano? Right?”


“Also thanks for visiting my cafe, what made you go in?”

“The place looks really nice, not going to lie, and actually, I was craving excellent coffee.”

“And its excellent coffee you’ll have. Just wait for a moment, I’ll bring it to your table.”

Mark nodded and found a spot in one of the lounge areas. He flopped down his bag and leaned against the black sofa’s headrest. It was relaxing, the cool temperature, the silent yet dark vibe and the smell of coffee whiffing around the whole place. The owner was nice, and it seemed like it thrilled him to meet him, but still kept his professionalism. Mark laughed to himself, thinking about it all.

Waiting for the coffee, the match today suddenly came into mind. He wasn’t nervous about it at all, knowing that it was only a practice match. The team from New Zealand was formidable, and he was happy coach scored such a game right before the big tournament. Playing with them would truly help them practice more and improve themselves. He didn’t know any of their players, but he knew that some of his old teammates played with them about 6 years ago. But they also gained fresh blood. The entire game was going to be an unfamiliar experience for all of them.

“Here’s your coffee.” Hayden, the man from before, placed it on his table. Mark took a sip and was easily pleased with how it tasted.

“How is it?”

“It’s good, thanks.”

Without asking, Hayden sat comfortably in the seat across from him, casually resting his back. “I heard from the news you’ve got a game today.” Mark didn’t really mind the action and conversed.

“Yeah, with the team from New Zealand. It’ll still be much later, though.”

“Good luck with that.”

“Thanks, it will just be a practice match though.”

“I know. Still, you guys must win.” Hayden seriously said.

Mark laughed at this and said, ” I know.. I Know. Hey, don’t you play soccer yourself?”

“Yeah, sometimes, it clears my head, and it’s fun.”

“We should do a game sometime later. Are you good at it?”

Confidently, Hayden replied, ” I might even beat you.” They both laugh at what he had said.

“You’re chill, meeting your idol and stuff.”

“There’s really no need to be nervous, I just appreciate what you do and think you’re great at it.”

Mark stood up and greeted, “Thanks for the coffee, I gotta go now. I have to continue walking to the stadium.”

“Oh sure, come order again sometimes, Ahahahaha.”

“Sure, man.”

Mark exited the small cafe after a small wave from Hayden and continued heading towards the stadium. It was truly a great day for a walk, the weather’s nice and all he bumped into was fortunate situations. The owner of the cafe he met today was amusing and gave friendly conversation.

He might even become a good friend.

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