Home » » REASON TO BREATHE BY REBECCA DONOVAN: Night Game

REASON TO BREATHE BY REBECCA DONOVAN: Night Game

10. Night Game
When we puled into the parking lot at the school, I assumed Evan
would drop me off and come back later for the varsity game. The junior
varsity team didn’t draw many spectators besides their parents and
the varsity team. But he shut off the car and proceeded to get out.
“You’re staying?” I asked, grabbing my bags from his car.
“Is that okay?”
“Sure,” I replied. “There aren’t a lot of people here, but it’s up to you.”
“Can I sit with you and Sara?”
“We usualy sit with the team, but I don’t see why you can’t. I have to
warn you, I listen to music to block everyone out so that I can get focused.
I’m not going to talk to you.”
“That’s fine. I’l find something good for you to listen to.” He took the
iPod from my hands and started scroling through the music selections.
“Hey Sara,” I caled to her when we neared the first row of the bleachers.
She hadn’t noticed us approaching with her attention on the game
and talking to one of the girls.
“Hi,” she exclaimed excitedly when she caught sight of me.
“How did – ” Then she noticed Evan, and her question turned into a
smile that lingered a little too long. I knew she had a thousand questions
about my afternoon, so I was relieved that Evan was here, alowing
me to avoid them until the drive home. “Hi Evan,” she greeted him
warmly.
Evan sat next to Sara so that they could talk, and I zoned them out
while listening to my - wel Evan’s - music. He’d selected a band I was
familiar with, alowing me to get lost in the high energy beats while I silently
watched the game on the field. I didn’t look over at Evan or Sara
and kept the volume up so I couldn’t hear them.
The bleachers started to fil in with the remaining members of the
varsity team as the first half of the game came to an end. They’d acknowledge
me with a wave, and I’d nod back in recognition. My teammates
were familiar with my ritual and didn’t bother trying to interact.
Every so often, Evan would reach into my jacket pocket and pul out
the iPod to find another selection of songs. When his hand first
entered my pocket, my heart stopped – actualy, so did my breathing.
Once I realized what he was doing, I continued to ignore him and
watched the movement in front of me.
The junior varsity teams were having difficulty moving the bal due to
the saturated field and the divots created by the footbal game. Grass
flew, cleats were caught in the grass, and bodies slid in the mud. The
mist had ended by the end of the first half, but the damage was done.
When the JV game concluded with the Weslyn girls losing, two to one,
the varsity players gathered on the track to prepare for the warm up
laps. While we ran our warm up laps, the bleachers continued to fil in
with spectators. I didn’t check the stands to see how big of a turn out
the cool damp night had colected - it had nothing to do with the game.
When the whistle blew to begin the game, I was entranced. My mind
was clear of every thought other than where the bal was, where it was
going, and who was going to be there to receive it. The bal did not go
anywhere very fast. There were a lot of missed kicks, sliding attempts
to dribble or pass the bal, along with times when the bal was left spinning
in place. By half time, there wasn’t a score, but everyone was
covered in mud.
The second half started the same as the first. After a time, it became
evident that the best way to move the bal was to get some air under it.
There were a lot of colisions when fighting for position to receive the
soaring bal. It developed into more of a physical game than a bal controling
game, with plenty of yelow card warnings as a result.
With approximately five minutes left in the game, Weslyn had control
of the bal. Our sweeper booted the bal from the top of the keeper’s box
to about mid-field, where the mid-fielder gained possession. She
dribbled a few yards, avoiding the defender, before she sent it further
up-field to Lauren. Without hesitating, Lauren sent the bal up the
sideline to Sara. The sidelines weren’t as muddy and treacherous as
the center of the field, so Sara continued the bal along the painted
white line. She drew a defender, who came at her with a sliding tackle.
Before Sara slipped off her feet, landing on the attacker, she sent the
bal sailing across the center of the field. I was a few yards inside the
keeper’s box, with the sweeper coming towards me, eyeing the bal that
was floating right to me, but was waist high. Without considering the
success of it, I crouched down and forced the bals of my feet into the
field and pushed back up with everything I had, propeling myself in
the air. I leaned to my left, concentrating on the bal, and swung my
right foot in attempt to make contact. I wasn’t aware of where the
sweeper was, but I hoped I had sent the bal around her, towards the
goal. After connecting with the bal, my shoulder colided with the wet
surface, folowed by my hip as the mud splashed on my face. I grunted
in response to the contact, stil focused on locating the bal. I couldn’t
see anything through the sweeper’s feet while I lay on the ground. I lifted
my head to hear the ref’s whistle declaring the goal, just as I found
it resting in the back of the net.
Sara puled me off the ground, screaming. She embraced me while
jumping excitedly. I was greeted with additional cheers and jumping. I
raised my arms in the air in celebration of the score as I ran back to
mid-field to prepare for the kick off. I was soaring, filed with the rush I
sought from the game. The remaining time ran down without another
goal.
At the sound of the long whistle concluding the game, the team ran out
to the center of the field, holering and jumping in celebration. When I
looked around, I realized there was more than just our team on the
field, as many of the spectators had come down from the stands to
congratulate us. I received pats on the back from people I recognized
and many that I didn’t. It was a whirlwind of faces, cheers and hands. I
was coming down from the high and decided I needed to remove myself
from the chaos. I told Sara I’d meet her in the locker room. She
promised she’d be right behind me. I slipped away from the crowd and
jogged to the school. As I approached the stairs, I saw a tal silhouette
leaning against the building.
“Congratulations,” the smooth voice said from the dark shadows.
“Thanks,” I replied, slowing to a walk as I approached the figure. Evan
stood with his hands in his pockets, waiting for me.
“That was an impressive goal.”
I smiled, accepting the recognition, while my cheeks warmed.
“Do you want me to wait here for you while you change?” I stopped,
not prepared for the question.
“You don’t have to wait,” I said slowly.
“I was hoping to drive you home.” My stomach fel at the thought of
him puling up to my house. I didn’t anticipate Carol and George waiting
to greet me, but I knew she didn’t sleep until I was locked within
the house. The last thing I wanted was for her to look out of her bedroom
window to see Evan’s sleek black car letting me out. It would be
a morning I’d never live down.
“Thanks,” I replied sincerely, “but I haven’t seen Sara al day. I promised
to ride home with her.”
“Okay.” He sounded disappointed, which kinda surprised me. After a
second, I awkwardly added, “I had a good time today. Thank you for
dinner.”
“Me too,” he agreed, without the awkwardness. “I’l see you on Sunday
then?”
“Yeah.”
Evan flashed a quick grin before walking back toward the field. He met
up with a few guys from the soccer team and was immediately conversing.
By this time, Sara was jogging toward me her mud blotched
face unable to conceal her enormous white smile. She greeted me with
an enthusiastic tight hug.
“I loved that game!” she exclaimed.
“Yeah,” I exhaled. “Sara, I ... can’t … breathe.”
“Sorry,” she said, releasing me. “But that game was fuckin’
awesome.” She was bouncing in her skin and could barely stand stil.
“Yeah, it was,” I agreed, but my energy was nowhere near the level of
Sara’s. “Let’s get changed. I’m tired and am ready to crash.”
“Don’t think I’m letting you get out of my car without providing details,”
she added. I groaned. “You two looked realy comfortable sitting
next to each other tonight. Are you sure you’re stil just friends?”
“Sara,” I stressed, my voice raising an octave higher than normal, “I
didn’t even talk to him the whole time he sat next to us.”
She laughed, and I realized she was playing with me. I shook my head
with an accepting smirk. “You’re such a jerk.”
After showering, Sara drove me home, and I provided her with the details
she sought regarding my afternoon with Evan. I even told her
about his confusing comments, and to my dismay, Sara laughed. Then
she proceeded to catch me up on her situation with Jason. Sara was
stil enthraled with him, which was good to hear, but seemed flustered
that he’d barely kissed her. Sara wasn’t exactly shy when it came to
getting to know guys. I was hoping she’d finaly found a guy that
respected her, but instead she was wondering what she was doing
wrong.
We puled up in front of my house. I looked out the car window at the
grey Cape. The dark windows didn’t reveal any movement inside. I
took a deep breath and said goodnight to Sara before exiting the car.
I dragged my feet along the unlit driveway to the back of the house.
When I turned the handle of the back door, I was met with resistance -
it didn’t move. The door was locked. My stomach dropped.
Sara had already driven away. There was no way I was going to knock,
since they made the conscious decision to lock the door, knowing I
wasn’t home. My mind raced to try to think of what I possibly could
have done wrong to get locked out of the house. My pulse quickened,
wondering how much trouble I was in, fearing the worst.
I cupped my hands to the glass to look inside. My reflection shielded
me from seeing into the kitchen. Then the reflection smirked and the
eyes squinted into a glare. I jumped back, realizing I was staring at
her. I remained frozen, not sure what to do next, waiting for her to
make a move. But the darkness remained stil. A light iluminated the
kitchen. I expected to find Carol glowering at me, but the kitchen was
empty until George appeared from the dining room where he’d turned
on the light. I scrunched my eyes in confusion – questioning if I had
realy seen Carol. George opened the door with his lips pressed in a
tight scowl.
“You’re supposed to be home before ten o’clock,” he reprimanded.
“I had a game tonight,” I said softly, confused by his reaction.
“That doesn’t matter. Your curfew is ten o’clock. If you can’t get home
in time, then maybe you shouldn’t participate in the night games.” His
voice was unsympathetic, and his eyes were hard. I knew there was no
point in arguing. If I did, he could take soccer away altogether, and I
wouldn’t risk that.
“Okay,” I whispered. I slipped by him and went to my room without
another word.
“I would have left you in the cold,” hissed through the dark as I passed
the living room. I took in a quick startled breath. I continued to my
room, quickly closing the door behind me, fearing what awaited me in
the dark if I paused to look.
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