The tournament, part three
Gabriel was in complete shock and he wasn’t able to form any words. He kept staring at the monogram on the screen until it disappeared and the scores were shown again. After that the tears came, but at least they were tears of happiness.
He simply couldn’t believe that we did this for him and that we were able to hide it for him. He was lost for words again when he saw the website and he hasn’t stopped starring at it since. I wished I could stay and share this moment with him, but I had still a finale race to win.
Being back in the Golden League felt good, but it was not like I expected it to be. Part of that was because my mom was the one who got me this chance, but I moved on from that. I didn’t accepted her deal to renew my contract with Titans and I made sure that I wasn’t alone.
Damian and Skylar were excellent buffers when according to my mom the ‘right’ people came to talk to me. I didn’t had any interest in whatever they wanted to offer me. I just wanted to run and this was a great opportunity to show off Gabriel’s running clothes and brand. I took the liberty to declare him as my official sponsor for the tournament.
Was it wrong that I was more excited to talk about his line, then I was about running? Every race so far I won so easily. Coach Osako said it was because I was in great shape, but also because I never been so focused. The first win felt great and the second too, but I was over it after the third.
The rush winning gave me was gone and I assumed that being back in the League would make me feel powerful and victorious. It was my chance to prove to myself and to everyone else that I still belonged amongst the best.
Now I actually felt stupid for thinking that I had to prove myself to anyone. Perhaps Tyler’s way of thinking was rubbing of on me. Running in general made me happy and I loved running with the team, but I never wanted to make a career out of it.
″You look just as sad as your teammates,″ Skylar says with a frown. ″I know it sucks that they have to forfeit the race, but their is nothing anybody can do to fix that.″
″What do you mean they have to forfeit the race? I know Maddie twisted her ankle badly, but they only need four girls for the race. Hannah or Melany could take Maddie’s place!″
″Hannah had to leave because her sister is getting married today and Melany is sick. It was already a miracle that she lasted this long, but she is not going to be able to get through the relay race,″ Skylar says with a sigh.
I stare at my name on the scoreboard and I take a few deep breaths.
″Sky, what if I forfeit my race and join the team?″
″S, I would kill for this. A chance to get back to the thing that I love most in the world. I’m never going to get that chance, but you did and now you want to walk away from all this? Just so you can join a high school relay race?″
I smile and shrug my shoulders.
″They are my teammates and they are the best! Making me part of a team and they were the one’s who told me to grab this chance to get back in the League. Millie actually said she would kill me if I didn’t do it and that she would hurt everyone who would try to change my mind.″
Skylar looks also up at the scoreboard, before she turns to me.
″Do you think you are going to regret your decision?″
″I think I would regret it more if I didn’t help out my team and that I would be really disappointed in myself. I rather lose with my team, then be a winner by myself.″
″Then go change, idiot!″
Damian looks at me and he is already holding up the teams uniform.
″How did you know that I would make this decision?″ I ask with a frown.
″Because you’re done with all of this,″ Damian answers smugly. ″You were done after you won your third race to be exact. I’m sure it felt good to get into the finally, but the thrill is gone. Am I right or am I right?″
I bite my bottom lip and I glare at Damian, who is all smiles.
″It’s that what happened with you? You also said that you wanted to return to the League after you were done with getting treatment. You never told me why you are not competing anymore.″
Damian turns around while I change. I only have to change my shirt, but I appreciate the gesture.
″Because I realised that I don’t love running, not like I loved Tess and that’s when I made myself a promise. I would stop wasting time of doing things that I didn’t love. Life is too short for that and that’s why I stopped competing.″
I’m ready and Damian turns around again.
″Do you love running professional, S?″
I sigh and shake my head.
″Do you love running with the team?″
″Yes, because that is still fun!″
″Well, stop wasting your time here then!″ Damian laughs. ″Go join them and win that damn relay!″
I laugh and I hug them both quickly, before I run to the other race track. My teammates are stunned and Millie looks like she is ready to kill me, but that has to wait. She could kill me after we won the relay race!
I laugh and I ignore the teasing comments from my teammates, when Samantha kisses me.
″Yes we did!″ I say and I twirl Samantha around before I put her back on the ground. ″We fricking did it!″
Samantha smiles and then I notice it, she is wearing the same colours as me. Last time I saw her she was wearing the burgundy running outfit from Gabriel’s line, but she is now in the black and white school colours.
As far as I knew the girls track team had to forfeit the finale and I felt so bad for them. Two girls were already out because of the flue, so they already were not at full force. Then Hannah had to leave for the wedding and Maddie twisted her ankle, which meant they didn’t had anyone standing reserve anymore. Melany getting sick, made them one person short.
We all felt bad for them, because it was so unfair. The girls were crushing it the entire tournament and they earned their place in the finale, only to have to forfeit because of bad luck? That sucked!
Usually it was Tyler who would try to keep everyone’s spirit up in these kind of situations. By saying that everything was going to be okay or by goofing off, trying to lighten the mood. He didn’t do any of those things this time. He just hugged Millie while she cried and that was it.
After that coach Simon wanted to give us one last pep talk and we had to go. Seeing Samantha in the school colours is therefore throwing me off.
″You ran with the team? How is that possible, your race was at the same time as theirs.″
Samantha removes her hairband and shakes out her long hair, only intensifying the rainbow effect.
″The short version is that I realised I don’t care about running professionally anymore. It doesn’t make me happy, but I love being part of the team and they needed me. Which reminds me, you have to stay close to me.″
I’m confused and for a moment I worry that Samantha made a huge mistake, but she looks so happy right now.
″No regrets? You always said that you wanted get back in the League. That you missed it and that you wanted to prove yourself.
Samantha chuckles and she wraps her arms around my neck.
″No regrets and I was wrong about the rest. I thought that being back in the League would prove that I have overcome my struggles and that it would prove that I didn’t need the institute or anything else, but that was stupid.″
″That is stupid, because you prove that everyday! I’m just glad that you finally figured that out. It’s exhausting always having to be the wiser one, Jones!″
Before Samantha can respond, I kiss her eagerly.
''Alexander?'' Samantha asks a little breathless.
''I really hope that you will prove me wrong,'' Samantha says with a smile, before she turns around and walks in the direction of the changing rooms.
Just when I thought I couldn't love that girl with the crazy hair any more!