1 - Soccer
Flash back - Six years ago
POV – 10-year-old Simon
It’s Friday 5PM, and right on cue, the workers pack up, eager to go home and start their weekend. I can hear them chatter about the game this weekend and some of them are complaining about their wives and kids. Just a few more weeks and the construction of the new soccer field behind our home will be finished.
The now desolate field looks majestic and it’s all to alluring for me and my best friend Tyler, not to take full advantage of it. We like nothing better than to play out the best goals and passes of our favorite players ‘Clint Dempsey’ and ‘Tim Howard’. Dressed up in the right outfits we sneak into the construction site to get to the field. It’s just after the strip of pine trees behind our houses. Tyler, my neighbor, he’s a year older than me and I’m all to happy that he’s into soccer too. We bonded over it a few years back when my family and I came to live here. We’ve been best friends ever since.
“Simon, come on hurry up, let’s get some moves practiced before it gets to dark.” Tyler encourages me to speed up. “You wait and see one of these days I’m going to run faster than you” I shoot back a bit annoyed at being the younger one and thus the lesser player of us two.
“You wish” Tyler laughs. “Yes, but I do pity you fool to mock me, I do, I do, cause my wishes always come true.” I smile with a smug face, proud of how I made it sound like an incantation, reinforcing my strong believe that it will happen. “Just as the field will be finished soon and we can train with the team here.” I continue dreamy.
“Yeah, that’s going to be awesome!” Tyler agrees. “Well, the later at least.” Tyler says and dribbles the ball around me, keeping it just out of me reach. “It would take a miracle for you to get faster and better than me.” He adds high-hearted.
I ignore his teasing, I know I just have to bide me time, he’ll just have to wait and see. We continue showing off to one and other for a while. Until I remember my coach telling met practice. “Tyler, could we do some long passes I could use the practice? “He nods and points to instruct me where to go.
My aim is worse than Tyler’s, anyway he’s not doing too well either. I can’t help but smirk at his futile attempts to get out a perfect pass. He notices me gloating, it clearly bugs him, seeing how his skills aren’t super steading mine that much. He’s cheeks flush and he let his frustration get the best of him, kicking harder, only to be even more of target. I run after his ‘homerun’ shot, I’m looking at the ball not my feet and I trip.
“Aaaaaw!” I yelp out in pain. I see Tyler rushing over to me. I don’t get up but roll over clenching my knee with both my hands. To my horror, tears start running down my cheeks and I hear myself still whaling. “Aaawee! ... Tyler it hurts!” “Stop, whining you little baby!” He yells back laughing at my childish display.
When he reaches me, he looks towards my clenched knee, and I see his smile fading. “What the ... hell?” I hold back on the ‘fuck’ just in time remembering, my mom started making me pay, like real money, when she catches me using profanity. I need to practice. Wait hell is also a four-letter word, is that profanity too? How am I supposed to know this, I’m only ten? It’s not like I don’t hear those words used a hundred times each day. We must be a very foul-mouthed family. Okay, I’m ranting in my mind, now I ‘know’ I’m panicking. Probably seeing Tyler turn ghostly pale has something to do with it.
“Tyler, what’s wrong, what is it, I know I’m bleeding, I feel the blood spilling through my fingers, but it can’t be that bad, ...right?” I ask in a panicked squeaky voice. I see Tyler shaking and taking deep breaths. “Sorry.” He huffs, apologizing with a shaky voice and still very pale features. “It’s going to be okay; it doesn’t look all that bad.”
“You’re kidding right” I yell, my anger and fear are fighting for the upper hand. “You look like my leg is going to fall off or something. Tell me what’s wrong!” I demand, not sur if I even want to know. “ Nothing, I swear, it’s not that bad.” I just look at him wide eyed, lifting my eyebrows. As to say ‘seriously’. He sighs, drops his eyes to the ground and whispers shamefully “I don’t do too well when there is blood involved.”
Then he quickly switched topics “What happened?” He asks to distract me, … and him. Not sure if he wanted to divert our attention away from my wound or his confession.
“I tripped over something hard...” I’m mortified as I hear my sobbing voice, I hadn’t realized tears were running down my cheeks. “My knee hurts” I manage to grunt out between clenched teeth, in between shooting pains. “It’s gonna be okay, you fell on a metal profile sticking out the ground, I think this is where the goal will be.” Tyler tries to calm me, but I see the worry in his eyes. I feel embarrassed, I must look really pitiful, my cheeks red and tear stricken. Tyler looks at me tenderly, caresses my cheek and wipes away my tears. The gesture seems to surprise him as much as it does me.
He clear’s his throat and says soft and caring voice. “Here just lay back and let me see.” He turns to investigate my wound, peeling my hands gently away from my knee. After a few moments he nods “Indeed the ‘X’ shape of the profile brook through your skin to the side of your knee. Rather deep actually, hence the profuse bleeding.” Who does he think he is right now? He sounds just like a doctor. Dr. Tyler Hill does have a nice ring to it.
He pauses, taking deep breaths again. “Are you squeamish again? Is the sight of my wound so horrid?” I ask mocking him. I couldn’t help snickering as I was imagining Dr. Tyler fainting at the sight of blood. Earning myself a probably well-deserved glare. “We will need to get you to your house and clean this up.” He states, nodding as if he’s convincing himself that’s the right approach.
“Can you stand?” I try to stand -bad idea apparently- as I immediately wince in pain. “Shit! No stop! Putting weight on your leg increases the bleeding. You’re already bleeding pretty hard.” Tyler frowns and I can almost see his brain shifting through the different options. “Wrap your arms around my neck, I’ll carry you.” He finally says, surprising us both ... again. “What like a girl? No way!” I shout out. “You can’t stand up, so you can’t jump on my back, so how the hell else do you suppose I carry you?” He looks at me both eyebrows lifted, challenging me to find a better solution. Which I can’t. Fine but we are not telling anybody about this, EVER.
“You’re sure you’re up for this?” I ask probably because he’s still pale and looks like he’s about to keel over. He doesn’t answer me. He seems fragile and ghostly, still his strong arms lift me up, like it’s nothing out of the ordinary, to carry me back to my home. I’m completely in awe of his strength. I must have a girly ‘My Hero’ expression plastered on my face, cause he looks down at me quizzically. I don’t react, I try to be cool about it and act like nothing happened.
I rest my head on his chest, making myself as compact as possible, so we get through the woods easy enough. I hear his strong, racing heartbeat. It sounds louder and much more powerful than Mom’s or Dad’s, so I’m thinking he must be superhuman or the less appealing version an alien. The strange thing was that none of that sounded nor felt strange. After all Tyler didn’t have any trouble carrying me back to my house, and I must be near his weight since I’m only two and a half inches shorter than him.
It would have been embarrassing, mortifying if he had dropped me. His hard torso felt warm and comforting. Odd, I feel to grown up for Mom or Dad to carry me, I actually heat it when they still try to pick me up, so why does this so comfortable? Tyler puts me down on the sofa, a cold sofa, it makes me scrunch my face. “Did I hurt you?” The worry is eminent all over his face.
“No.” I feel blood rushing to my cheeks, in embarrassment. “Oh good, color is coming back to your face, you had me worried for a minute. Now, where can I find a towel, a cleaning cloth and the first aid kid?” I was blushing Dr. moron. I directly hear my mom’s voice in my head ‘their it is already that obnoxious teen behavior’. The thought infuriates me enough to be a pain in the ass, I scowl and hear myself grumble “Why do you need all that stuff? I’m fine.”
Tyler picks up on my attitude and looks pissed at me, probably annoyed I’m throwing a fit right now. “No, you’re not! Our parents are at a townhall meeting, and your sister Jewel the pestering brad, well, now she’s nowhere to be seen. So, you’re shit out of luck you’ll need to rely on me to stop the bleeding.” He was sweaty, short of breath and shaking.
“Fine, you don’t need to get all worked up about it.” I say apologetically not understanding why he reacted so harsh. “Upstairs, bathroom, you’ll find a towel and a cleaning cloth, the first aid is in the second cabinet on the left, top shelve.” I rant giving him the instructions, as meticulously as I can. My eyes still wide in surprise at him making his words sound like a threat, like he would leave me to bleed to death or something.
He sighs “Sorry, I’m nervous. Remember I’m not a big fan of blood. I was already woozy from inspecting your wound at the field. If I faint from your wound in front of you or worse you laugh, I swear I’m going to kick your ass so hard you’re going to wish you died out there on the field. Got it!” I can tell he only half threatens, and half jokes, as he goes upstairs to get all the stuff.
When he comes down the stairs I hear “Okay first things first!” his voice is shaky, trembling. So, I’m sure he was more talking to himself than to me. “I’ll take off your shoes and socks, the ones on your right side are covered in blood. Your shorts will need to go as well, they’re way to big and reaching down to your knee so their bloody as well.” His hands are unsteady at first and his eyes are cast down like he’s afraid to look at me.
It felt odd to have another boy undress me, weird, not uncomfortable, or unpleasant. There I was, naked feet, naked shins, naked thighs... and in my batman boxers. I flush red immediately. Tyler was staring, what was he doing ... why is he staring, is it my batman boxers or is it the blood that makes him uneasy?
“I’ll wash off the blood now” he says for no reason at all. Maybe to calm himself... Oh thank God it’s the blood, not my ridiculous childish boxers, making him rethink our friendship. What if he’s a superman fan? Shit like that could be really bad for our friendship.
“You don’t look to good, you’re alright?” Tyler asks me. “Ehum” Is all I can master, so I don’t blurt out some ridiculous comment on my batman boxers. Tyler looks at me from the corner of his eye lifting an eyebrow, letting me know he doesn’t believe me, at all.
He’s very gentle as he cleans my leg, slowly and carefully. Him cleaning my leg and touching me so intimately, oddly it doesn’t feel weird at all, but rather nice. I know there is something, it seems important, about what I’m feeling, I just don’t understand what. When my leg is clean and dry, Tyler looks at me and says with a crunched-up noose and squinting eyes, like he’s in pain “Be brave alright I need to disinfect the wound, it might hurt”
I look at him with an attitude “Like I don’t know what is coming, I had wounds before you know. It I’ll be fine.” Tyler just shakes his head and sprays on the disinfectant, and I instantly loose it “Aaaaw, Fuck! You fucking... mother fucker, son of a bitch!” Tyler pales and looks baffled. “Sorry.” He lets out with a nervous sigh and blows gently on my wound. “No, I’m Sorry” that’s it for me practicing ‘not’ to say any curse words. It still hurts like hell and my breathing is unsteady “I heard my father say that when he hurt himself cleaning the outside grill” I say almost panting from the exhaustion of speaking through the pain.
Tyler start laughing, “Wow, I wouldn’t have expected that kind of language from your dad, he always seems so serene.” Now I have to laugh as well. There’s absolutely nothing serene about my dad. He’s a first-class soccer coach. His job is literally yelling at people all day long. Tyler knows that, so he said it on purpose to distract me from the pain.
“Good that you’re laughing cause here come the strips, we’ll count then down together okay” Tyler squeezes the first bar of the X cut together. I yell out “Aaahg” and he laughs a devilish smile at me and puts the strip in place. “One”... another one, and another and ...each time an “Aaahg” escapes from my lips ... “Four! There done. This will hold for now. It seems to have stopped the bleeding as well. I’ll call our parents. You’ll need to go to a doctor, I pretty sure you’ll need real stitches.” Tyler caresses my cheek and his face lights up, he’s beaming, clearly very proud of his newly acquired first aid skills. Dr. Tyler Hill it is.
I grab his hand “Thank you.” looking directly into his eyes, not really understanding why he’s being so caring towards me. He really went out of his way, he could have called my parents directly. Tyler swallows hard, it doesn’t relief the lump in his throat, he still seems at a loss of words. Why? Is he surprised himself of what he did for me? He doesn’t speak, just nods, releases my hand, and looks down at the floor. “What’s wrong, why are you being so weird?”
“What? Weird, I’m not weird. Nothing’s wrong, everything’s normal.” Tyler, says. Who’s he trying to convince me or him?