The moment we fencers had been waiting for all year. It was finally here. The arena used for this meet was two times bigger than any other arena we competed in previously. I was so nervous and anxious but also excited. There were so many talented schools present. I took a deep breath and shook out my limps as I stood with the rest of the team in our area. Of course, Leo was right beside me with water, a towel, and an inhaler ready to go at any moment. I warmed up and stretched with the team as everyone prepared. The stadium was packed with bustling spectators. The energy was electric.
"Yo, Sky!" Sawyer called out to me from the huddle the team us formed. I didn't even realize that I was spacing out while looking around. I ran over and waited as Coach Race got ready for his pep talk.
"You've trained as much as you could. You are all ready to take on this meet. Don't get nervous, remember your practice. As long as you keep your wits about you, everything will be fine. Either you trained hard, or they trained harder. You all have made it this far. Especially you, Skyler. You came out of nowhere and swept all the competition away. Even if none of you place today, you've all made me proud just by getting here. It's my first year as a coach, and I couldn't have asked for a better team. Now get out there, and show them what you're made of," Coach Race gave his speech. I could see everyone getting more inspired by the second. I, myself, was hanging off of Coach's every word. We broke the circle before I went back to Leo with a heavy breath.
"Sky, if you start feeling faint, or start having trouble breathing, flash me this," Leo said as he held up the number three. I nodded before taking the water he offered.
"I feel fine now, but if anything starts to go wrong, I'll put up the three," I promised. Nurse Jackie took the time to walk over to me. She placed two fingers against my neck as her eyes stayed on her watch. After a moment, she moved her hand away from me with a nervous breath.
"You're okay for now. Heartbeat is steady; slightly elevated from a resting beat. If something starts feeling wrong, try to make it back to our corner before passing out. This is a National stage. If you pass out on a mat, the paramedics for the event will get to you before I can, and all hell will break loose. I can't help you if that happens," Nurse Jackie reminded me. I nodded thoughtfully. Leo pulled out his phone for a moment before smirking and putting it away.
"The Sky Guardians wish you luck," Leo said to me. I felt some of the tension melt away from me as I smiled. It made me feel better knowing that they were still thinking, and worrying, about me. I took a deep breath and smiled before I nodded. We went through the motions of the opening ceremony before the matches began. I won my matches with ease before finally being able to take a solid 20 minute break. I was wheezing and already having a hard time breathing. Nurse Jackie gave me the inhaler as Leo stood by with my water.
"You're having a hard time already," Leo said in worry. I shook my head as I finally got my breath back.
"I'm okay," I said. Leo's jaw clenched in frustration, but he kept his mouth shut.
"How far are you planning on taking this? You'll end up with a serious medical problem, or worse at this rate," Nurse Jackie said. She also looked frustrated with me.
"I just need to get through this meet," I tried to assure them.
"After this meet, I want you to come out. This is the best result you'll get out of this. I can't risk your health anymore. It's gotten too serious," Nurse Jackie said sternly.
"I can still be coached," I replied.
"No. A hidden student, I can handle, but not a dead one," she argued back before going back to her post. I sighed before glancing at Leo. He looked more relieved than anything.
"I would have to leave," I reminded him. He sighed as he finally sat next to me.
"It was bound to happen anyway. I'd rather have you safe and healthy over being close. It's not like we won't see each other ever again," he tried to get me to look on the bright side. As my break ended, I had a newfound determination to fight with everything I had. I won my matches one after another. The more I won, the harder it was to breathe, but I didn't care anymore. I was going to go out with a bang. I wanted people to remember my name. I wanted everyone to know that I was better and worthy of being coached by Race Imboden. Finally, we got to the final matchup. Louis Defaux verses me. I took the mat, already wheezing but I pushed the physical pain aside and started the match. My determination alone was driving me. Even as my body started to shake involuntarily, I kept pushing. I dodged and lunged respectively. Doing my best to put everything I had into the match.
"Winner of the final point: Skyler Park," the announcement boomed over the loud speakers. As the crowd cheered, I dropped to my knees in pure exhaustion. I smiled lethargically as I pulled my mask off and dropped my foil. The room spun before everything finally went black.