Beginning of a dream
[New York, June 2022]
Laura West (Outside the restaurant)
“How are you doing?” Coach Martin asks while looking at me.
“Look at me, what do you think?” I sighed while avoiding eye contact.
“It’s been 2 years,” Coach mentioned while sighing.
I tightened the grip of my fingers which were resting on the block, where the coach and I were sitting.
“Right, it’s been two years and I still can’t forget about it,” I mumble while glaring at the cement floor.
“You should forget about the past. How long are you deciding to hold on to it?” Coach asks while looking at the hands which still were tightened and were not ready to lose the grip.
“I can’t forget anything about that night..... It’s still fresh in my memory. It’s the guilt, that makes me restless. I couldn’t do anything that night. I should have done something.” I spoke while sobbing.
“You should come back with me,” Coach says calmly.
I sniffed and then sighed.
“The place you belong.” Coach replies.
“Where do I belong?” I spoke taking a deep breath while holding my tears from falling.
Coach didn’t even bother to reply. He was just glaring at the restaurant which was behind us.
The restaurant in which I worked for the past years. The restaurant was a safe pass for me to avoid the outside world. It gave me a place to stay, eat and work. It was a place that took me in when I needed the most to hide.
“I can’t go back to that place. I don’t have that much courage to face everyone. They all have already judged me. I can’t.” I moaned while sniffing.
“Are you going to destroy your future because of everyone?............. You have already wasted 2 years, you are behind two years. If you don’t come back now. You won’t have a chance next time.” He shouts looking at me.
“What chance are you talking about? It’s been two long years, I haven’t even practiced, sure I would have lost it. There is no chance for me now. I am not the same.” I yelled back while sobbing.
“You see that’s the difference, I am your coach and I know you still have the potential. It’s just you are holding onto past for a very long time.” He speaks hastily.
“Right, you are my coach. Who taught me to play, you know well about me. Then you should know that I don’t have the guts to do it anymore.” I spoke back looking at him.
I could feel my eyes filled with tears. I was sniffing rapidly to avoid crying out. I was trying hard to hold back.
“Have you forgotten about your father’s last wish?” Coach asks while avoiding eye contact.
The moment he asked that I couldn’t hold myself back and I cried.
“I remembered,” I replied in a low voice because I couldn’t speak well while crying.
“If you remembered then, what are you doing here? Why aren’t you at the court playing?” He asks.
I listened to him while looking up, trying to stop the tears which were flowing continuously.
“When your father was on his death bed. He called me. Though he was dying at that time, he couldn’t even talk properly, but still, he called me and gave me a responsibility. A responsibility to take care of you, to remind you of his wish, to give you the time you need, and to give you the courage that you have lost.” Coach speaks calmy.
I could see his eyes being red. He was also holding tears. My father and Coach, both were childhood friends. They were so close that If one is hurt, another could feel the same hurt. And if one is happy, another could feel that happiness.
“I know everything but still, I can’t do it.” I gasp while speaking.
“Look at me and tell me what was the wish?” He slightly turned towards me.
“You already know about it, then why are you asking?” I replied by slightly turning at him.
“I asked what was the wish.” He asked angrily.
“My wish was to achieve my dream,” I replied.
“And what was your dream?” He asked again.
“To play badminton, to win the gold medal in the nationals,” I screamed.
“Then take your luggage and come with me.” Coach gets up while speaking.
Laura West (At the dragon team’s office)
“I am sorry, I can’t take her on the team.” Dragon team head Coach speaks.
“But, why?” Coach Martin asks.
“You know very well that she has not played for the last two years. She must have lost the potential.” Head Coach speaks while looking at me.
Though I was sitting outside the cabin, I still can hear their conversations. I was sitting on a blue couch wearing track pants and a white t-shirt, holding a glass of water in my hands, tapping my legs continuously on the ground in tension. When Head Coach looked at me, I didn’t even try to make eye contact, I was scared that he will not accept me.
“She didn’t lose her potential. She still can play. Just give her a chance.” Coach Martin stares at me.
“Still, I cannot. You know that there are many more good players in this field than her. She is nothing compared to them.” Head Coach speaks while looking outside of the window, where other players were practicing.
“Please take her.” Coach Martin begs him.
“I am sorry, but you should take her to another team.” Head Coach speaks while tilting his chair to the other side avoiding Coach Martin.
“Why do you think, that I didn’t go to another team? Before coming here, I went to all teams but no one dares to take her.” Coach Martin walks to Head Coach, facing him, and speaking calmly.
“Then why are you forcing me to take her?” Head Coach asks angrily.
“Because I have known her from childhood, and I am her coach. I know about her advantages and disadvantages. I know about her potential. She is perfectly qualified to come back on the court. Just think about it once.” Coach Martin again glared at me.
“But.....” Head Coach speaks while he was interrupted in between by Coach Martin.
“You are my friend. We trained together in the early days. Just trust me once. Give her a chance.” Coach Martin speaks confidently.
“Okay...” Head Coach thinks for a while and then he replied.
“Really?..... Thank you so much for giving her a chance.” Coach Martin got excited hearing Head Coach.
I was watching everything happening between them. I could see how Coach Martin wants desperately to achieve my dreams, to fulfill my dad’s last wish, to complete his duty towards me, or I should say he was fulfilling his responsibility.
“But.....but... She will be on a probation period for one month. I will observe her for a month. If she didn’t progress then she will have to leave the team.” Head Coach interrupts his happiness.
“It’s alright because I know she will prove herself.” Coach Martin speaks in a sad tone.
I know how hard it was for him to make me come here and to make me play on this team.
“And, She will be here as a trainee and I am sorry but the pay she will get will be way less than the trainees. If she agrees then she can join starting tomorrow.” Head Coach speaks firmly.
Life is so critical sometimes. You want to achieve something but you can’t because of your doings. I made the wrong decision that night which caused me to leave this court 2 years back. To leave my dreams halfway. Though after that night, I never wanted to come here again, still I am here again just because of Coach Martin’s responsibility and my father’s last wish. I am scared to come back here. I don’t know how I will face them but I have to now because I am here. The dragon team who have played badminton in nationals previously. Though they couldn’t win, but they are too persistent to win. I will be joining them just I have to sign this contract which says that I am trainee here and I will join them.
“If you agree on the conditions of being a trainee, being on probation for 1 month, and getting a way lower salary than a trainee, you can sign and join the team.” Head Coach speaks to me while handing out the contract papers on the table.
I was sitting across from him and beside Coach Martin.
Coach Martin was happy that I could get a team now and Head Coach seems a little confused though.
“Before signing this, you should know about this.” I gasp while watching Head Coach.