I arrived at the school thirty minutes before the game started. I sat in very first row facing the circle in the middle of the field. I placed my baseball bat next to me and relaxed my shoulders. Like my brother predicted, I was frying. I placed my hand on the small buttons on my sweater ready to unbutton. But I felt motion on my left. So I turned.
It was one of Brad’s soccer friends staring at me. I put my hand over my bat. He wanted to see something under that sweater and I wanted to hit him. I could not believe this but mom was right.
“Aren’t you hot?” He said with arrogance.
“So what if I am?”
“Never mind,” He said. “So you’re here to see the game?”
“Obviously. Aren’t you in the soccer team?”
“I was.” His face darkened. His blond hair covered his well sculpted face.
“What happened?” I curiously asked.
“I got suspended.”
“Because of Brad Kinns. We had a fight in the locker rooms the other day. So the coach said that I won’t play the next game if we don’t apologize to each other.”
“And you guys didn’t?” I was excited to hear about Brad’s life in his team.
“Brad’s the team’s captain. What do you think? He would do anything to keep his status. He apologized first thing in the morning. In front of the whole team and the coach.”
“What about you?”
“I didn’t.” He calmly said. “Brad is a selfish guy. In our last game, we could have score and win if he wasn’t so self-centered. I was right there begging him to pass the ball but he refused and messed up everything. I can’t stand this guy.”
I smiled. That was the first bad thing I’ve heard about Brad and I loved it.
“Why are you smiling? You don’t believe me?”
“I’m not denying what you say. But I talked to him. Brad’s nice to me.” I became nervous all of a sudden. I never talked about Brad to anyone and boy that felt great!
“Of course he’s gonna be nice to you. You’re hot. Goth but hot.”
I looked at the guy and shook my head. But then something interesting stroke my thoughts,
“You think that Brad find me pretty?” I timidly asked.
“Who wouldn’t?” He chuckled. “Do you have a crush on Brad?”
The question froze my smile.
“Shut up!” I yelled.
“You like that jerk! You’re wasting your time.”
“I thought you said he’d find me hot?”
“Yes, but not for long. The guy’s obsessed with himself.”
“Shut up number 21! And keep it to yourself that crush Brad thing. I don’t have a crush on him.” I was getting angry.
“The name is Marcus Travis. And you don’t have a crush on Brad. I get it. You love him. That’s why you come to this soccer game, right? That’s why you’re talking to me. Because I’m his team? Well you’re wasting your time. I haven’t told anybody yet but I’m going to quit soccer.”
I could not believe this. That Marcus guy saw right through me. I had to do something about it.
“I’m gonna kill you, number 21. Conversation is over!”
“Coward,” He whispered to my ear.
He was really close to me. I wanted to punch him. I was so busy talking to him, I didn’t realize that the benches were filled with people. Marcus hip was close to mine and his leg were touching mine. Gross. I took my baseball bat trying to squeeze it between us but it was impossible. I had to spend the entire game next to that weirdo. Perfect.
The game was about to start and the players were taking their positions. I saw Brad looking at me. I smiled and waved but he ignored me. I glanced at Marcus next to me who had a victorious expression on his face. I made a grimace with my face and turned. Ignoring him would be impossible, his leg was crushing mine.
After the first half, both teams were still zero-zero. I knew that because of the giant scoreboard across the field and because the audience did not scream “goal”. I was thirsty and dripping sweats. Disgusting me sat alone in the middle of strangers. Marcus had disappeared on me. I was happy that he did. He saved the trouble to find a new seat. But I was also intrigued to find out why Brad ignored earlier.
Just right before the second half began, Marcus regained his seat next to me. It was impossible for me to leave now that everyone came back to their seat. I rolled my eyes to ask him what was wrong with him. But he greeted me with a small towel, a big bottle of water, two hot dogs and sodas.
“Here you go sweat-bag. I told you to take off that sweater but apparently you won’t.” He gave me the water, a hot dog, the mini-towel, and the soda can.
“Thanks,” I said grateful.
I looked at the field and Brad was looking at me again. He looked angry this time. I did not bother to wave my hand. I could not bear him ignoring me again. He turned his head back to his game. My heart was beating so fast that I could not eat properly. I swallowed real hard and had to fight the nausea feeling I was having. Did something happen between Brad and Vanessa? Did she tell him about my obsession? Or about some other invented nasty secrets about me? If Vanessa wished to play that way, I was ready to take her on. I was ready to play the obsession game!
My new problem was to convince Brad that Vanessa lied about whatever she said about me. I watched the game till the end. I was not even sure how it ended. There must have been one or two score-screams. I didn’t care. I was too preoccupied. After the game, Marcus tried to give me a ride home but I refused. I walked on the green field alone. I had to chase after Brad that was probably still in the locker rooms celebrating or sobbing over the game. But I was too scared to do so. Marcus was right; I was coward.
“Mag? What are you still doing here?” A familiar voice said behind me.
It was Brad, still in his soccer clothes. He looked ten times handsomer in his red soccer uniform.
“I was just...” I swallowed the answer. “What about you?”
“I didn’t expect to see you here. I came here by pure luck...” He was close to me once again. “I thought you left with Marcus...”
“No. He offered me a ride but I said ‘no thanks’”. I giggled.
“Really? I didn’t know you guys were friends.” He chuckled softly.
“We are not. On the bench where we sat, is the first time we ever talked to each other” I pointed at the bench.
“I’m sorry then. You guys seemed really close, you have no idea. What were you talking about together by the way?”
“About you. Marcus said that you w…” I stopped myself just on time.
I almost said that “Marcus said that Brad would find me hot”. That was so close.
“What?” Brad watched me blush.
“He said that you’re selfish!” I blurted out.
I closed my eyes. I could not believe I just said that. Brad just laughed it off. I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing…
“I’m glad. I thought he told you something else. He’s referring to the last game. I was really selfish. We could have scored if I had passed the ball…” He said smiling.
Brad had another secret, I thought. What else would he fear Marcus telling me about him? I was glad he wasn’t mad at me. I’d let slide. For now.
“You did what you thought was the best..” I mumbled staring at Brad’s deep sea-green eyes.
“I’m glad you came today to support our team. This is unusual…” He let go of the heavy bags in his hands on the grass.
“I would have come often if I knew how this game worked…” I placed my baseball bat on the grass and sat next to it.
“You mean you don’t know?” He sat next to me. He was dangerously close.
I shook my head. I would have come if I knew it was a part of the obsession game… I would have talked to Brad a long time ago.
“Let me explain you a little…”
I was happy to know about soccer. I was getting closer to Brad’s world. Looking at him talking to me, smiling, was a real pleasure. I found out thanks to his explanation that the goalkeepers switched side after the first half.
“No wonder it was so confusing,” I said. “So did you guys win?”
“Yes,” Brad answered. “2-0. I scored one.”
“Wow! You’re the captain for a reason.” I cheered.
“Yea.” Brad blushed.
His phone rang. So he turned to answer and I missed his face.
“It was my ride…” He said after hanging up. His face was fresh again. “I have to go now.”
He stood up and helped me do the same.
I grabbed my baseball bat as he grabbed his heavy-looking bag. I was speechless. I wanted to ask him about the other day so bad. But I didn’t want to ruin the moment.
“We’re throwing a small party to celebrate the team victory tonight… I was wondering if you could come.” Brad said nervously.
Was I crazy? Did Brad invite me to a party? I held my breath. No nosebleed, No nosebleed…
“I don’t know… Where?” I answered unsure. This was too good to be true.
“At my house… My parents are out of town. But if you don’t want to, it’s okay.” He scrambled his blond hair.
“Of course I want to. I don’t know what I should wear… I’ve never been to a party before…” Okay. That sounded lame. “I mean I’ve never been to a non-goth party before…” I hoped he believed me.
“You can wear what you usually wear. Black goes well on you…” He said smiling.
I became as read as a tomato. But a honk from a car not too far broke the spell.
“I’m coming!” Brad yelled at the car across the street behind us. “I gotta go. If you need a ride let me know.” He quickly said to me.
“No. I’ll be fine.”
Brad ran a few inches and then turned back.
“Party at my house 8 o'clock, you have to come!” He shouted.
“I’ll be there.” I shouted back.
No matter what Vanessa did on Friday, the game was on…