Everything Changed That Spring

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8 Years Ago

Scott stretched out his leg, extending it forward as far as he could, trying to straighten it. It buckled from the pain, and his leg coiled back into a bend. He tried again, going slower this time. He pushed through the pain, ignoring it as he stretched his leg into a straight line. It was almost unbearable, and with a gasp he pulled it back.

“Damn.” He swore, slamming one of the doors to the toilet cubicles. He should have just left it alone. He’d come out to forget about his stupid knee, and now he was in the toilet of some club, trying to prove the doctors wrong.

After almost a year of physical therapy he’d gone to get his knee checked up properly. He’d expected good news. When he’d dislocated the knee cap the doctors had said it would heal, that if he looked after it he’d be playing again in a year. So he’d done what they’d told him to, exercised the joint, physical therapy, regular visits to the chiropractor, he’d done everything. Then a couple weeks ago they’d told him it wasn’t healing the way they expected, he still had a long way to go, maybe even another whole year.

Scott couldn’t wait another year. He needed to play now. He’d moved to the city to play, now he was just sitting on his arse while Natalie worked day after day to support the two of them. It was bullshit, they’d scarified everything for this ‘dream’. He’d done absolutely everything he’d been told to do, and it was all for nothing. The knee wasn’t healing. He wasn’t playing. Everything was on hold and it was bullshit.

Screw this, he thought to himself, exiting the bathroom. He wasn’t going to sit around feeling sorry for himself, he was going to get drunk, forget this whole mess and hopefully not feel like a complete and utter failure for a few seconds.

The teammates he’d gone out with welcomed him back with smiles, Travis handing him a shot of vodka. He downed it easily then grabbed the beer he’d been drinking before and downed that. His teammates cheered for him and they soon followed his lead, downing their own beers before ordering another round of drinks for the table.

Scott spent the rest of the night like that. Drinking, and drinking and drinking, and when he thought it was time to stop he drank some more. He drank and drank and drank. Until he no longer felt anything. Until the world around him faded to black.

Somehow he made it back to his place in one piece and rode the elevator all the way up to his apartment with Natalie. Hmmm, Natalie, he’d missed her tonight. He always missed her when she wasn’t around. She was so pretty, incredibly sexy, and she drove him wild with all those sweet little moans she made while he was pumping into her. He wanted her. He always wanted her.

He opened the door to the apartment, and smiled when he saw her asleep on the couch, an episode of Gilmore Girls playing softly on the TV. He tried to be quiet as he shut the door behind him, but he pushed it a little too hard and it shut with a loud slam, stirring Natalie from her sleep.

She bolted into a sitting position, her head snapping to the noise. When she saw him relief flooded her eyes.

“Where have you been?” She asked. “I was waiting up for you and you never came home.”

“I was out with the guys.” He replied. “I’m home now.”

He walked over to her, placing a soft kiss on her lips. She pulled away, breaking the kiss before it had even started and regarded him thoughtfully.

“Which guys?” She asked. “Beck and Bryan or Travis and his crowd.”

“Does it matter?”

“Yeah it does.” She snapped, rising to her feet as she angrily crossed her arms over her chest. “You haven’t been here in three weeks. You come in, and then you leave, and you never tell me what you’re doing or where you’re going. Then when you finally do come home you’re like this, drunk and stoned out of your mind, barely able to string a coherent sentence together.”

“Give me a break Natalie. I got some bad news remember.” He kicked at his knee, showing off the infamous injury as if she didn’t already know it existed.

“So deal with it.”

“I am.”

“Partying every night isn’t dealing with it.”

“It is for me. Remember, this is what I do when I’m upset.”

“No it’s not. Not with me.”

“Maybe the novelty finally wore off.” The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them and she moved away from him as if he’d slapped her, hurt visible in her eyes, even to him right now in his hazy and drunken state. “Natalie I…”

“Don’t.” She said taking a step away from him. “Don’t say anything, I don’t want you to say anything. I just want you to be okay.” She swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat, her eyes softening as they looked at him, pleading with him to never do this again.

Guilt twisted in his stomach as she disappeared into their bedroom. He didn’t want to hurt her, he hated that his words had, and he desperately wanted to say it would never happen again. A part of him knew it would though. Even as he stood there, willing to do anything to make her smile again, he knew that ‘anything’ wouldn’t include him sobering up and deserting his nights out on the town. She needed him to be better, but right now he needed to forget about his knee, distract himself from it and from how far he still had to go if he ever wanted to play again. If he didn’t distract himself he was going to do something stupid, something as stupid as taking those pills Travis had given him tonight, the ones that would add muscle, make him stronger, build him back up so he could return to the field sooner rather than later.

He let himself sober up a bit before stepping into the bedroom. Still in his clothes he fell onto the bed beside her, rolling onto his side and wrapping her in his arms, grateful that she let him hold her, that she wasn’t pushing him away. It was either that or she was sleeping too deeply she didn’t even notice he was there.

He buried his face into her hair, breathing in the crisp scent of apples, the smell calming him, making him forget about the knee better than the alcohol and weed had. She wasn’t a permanent fix though. In the morning when she left for work he’d be alone again.

He needed something permanent. Something to fix his knee. He needed to get back in the game, move his career forward, become the legend he had all the potential to be and provide the life for Natalie she deserved. She deserved the world, but all he could really give her was a life with him. And that life would be good, as long as he started playing again.

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