Back To School
School came and summer ended although it felt like it had only started. I wasn’t very happy about going back to school, but I was happy that I could see all of my friends back there again. I could hang out with Taylor some more. Everyone seemed to be interested in the shark incident. Elizabeth and I hadn’t told anyone my theory that I thought someone was targeting me on purpose. But I still believed so.
I seemed to be always in the news. The headlines had gone from ‘Girl Found In The Sea’ to ‘Shark Attack’ in about a month. The beach had been closed, which I wasn’t very happy about. That day of school everyone seemed to be talking to me about everything that had happened recently with me. Some of the other girls didn’t like me because of the attention I was getting from most of the boys. Although I enjoyed it. There were even a few articles about me in the school’s paper.
I’d never really been interested in sports before. But I’d signed up for Athletics instead of P.E. just to make sure I was in shape since the beach was still closed. Coast Guard was still looking around for any signs of sharks, which I just thought was completely crazy. It was just a freak accident, right? Or a targeted accident in my view.
Today was the week after school had started, football tryouts were all that anyone was talking about. They were still waiting for the results. Naturally, Travis had tried out. Jamie didn’t enjoy running around so he hadn’t been that interested in it. Taylor, Jamie, Travis, Crystal, and I were gathered around the football field with a few other kids to play a game for some fun. The coaches were watching us just out of curiosity.
Our team captain was Travis. The other captain was a boy named Luke. He was tall and muscular, obviously much stronger than Travis. They seemed to be rivals. Naturally Travis picked me for his team. Jamie was on the opposite team, the last one who was picked since he wasn’t very strong. Taylor was on my team, Crystal on Luke’s team. We were all barefoot, considering we hadn’t been wearing proper shoes. Our shorts varied from cheerleading shorts to basketball shorts. Whoever was wearing a blue headband around their forehead was on Travis’s team.
I was wearing a white Truro High School t-shirt with blue cheerleading shorts. The headband was tied around my forehead with the long sides coming down on my right side. It almost looked like I was wearing something a ninja would wear. I was placed as receiver, Travis of course picking quarterback. We were on offense. The winner would be whoever made it to twenty points first. Currently it was twelve to fourteen, Luke in the lead. We’d both scored two touchdowns, our team getting neither of the kicks through the goal, our opponent getting both.
Second down. We’d made seven yards, three more to go to make it to our next play as I believed it was called. The touchdown line was on the opposite side of the field. It was unlikely that we would make it.
Quickly, the ball was passed to Travis and I started running. I made it about fifteen yards before the ball made it into my hands. Immediately, my feet took off. The other team was running towards me, trying to block my path. But I made it harder for them. Instead of running in a straight line so they’d know where to go. I made small, uneven turns as I ran to avoid being tackled, we were playing tackle football, just without all of the pads. Which was pretty dangerous. But all of the boys had agreed to try not to hurt any of the girls.
A boy approached me. He was pretty fat, and looked fairly strong. If he managed to block me, who knows how badly I’d be hurt? I slowed down as he slid forward, falling instead of getting to me. I leaped over him as fast as I could, seeing an extremely tall boy. Instead of trying to run around him since he was obviously so fast, I ran directly towards him. I slid down on the wet grass, I’d seen it being watered earlier that day. My hands were carefully making sure that the ball was above the ground, not hitting it. Before the boy could get me, I slid under his legs. I’d noticed his legs were spread apart.
It didn’t take me long to hop up. Luke was in front of me when I hopped up. For some reason I felt like testing my strength, I’d already ran at least twenty-five yards anyway. I picked up speed, knowing it would give me some force. I slammed into him, knocking him down on the ground. Was I really that strong? And I hopped over him quickly running towards the touchdown line. Other boys tried to stop me, but I was fast enough to run around them. Someone was coming at me from behind. I sped up, knowing that any moment he’d be able to catch me. Purposely, I made it look as if I’d fallen down, not letting the ball touch the ground. I made sure that as I slid across the ground, I was going fast enough to make it across the line. And I did. Touchdown.
Since I’d gotten us six points, Travis allowed me to kick the ball. It soared through the goal, getting us to nineteen points.
When we were on defense, Luke was tossing the ball to the receiver when I managed to get between them. I hopped up as high as I could, managing to catch the ball. But when I did so, I fell against the ground. I hopped up as quickly as I could, running towards our goal. Then I managed to get us another touchdown, tackling another boy.
All of the boys seemed stunned that they’d been beaten by a girl. One who had a recently injured leg at that. That was when I turned around and noticed who’d been watching the entire game. The coaches. They were standing there with their mouths hung open, surprised that I’d beaten some of the boys who’d done the best at tryouts.
“Anna! Get over here!” Coach Davis shouted.
I ran over to him, tossing the ball back to Travis. “Yeah, Coach?”
“Have you ever been on a football team before?” he asked me. I shook my head. “Well you’re the first girl receiver for the Seals. Say goodbye to being on the cheerleading team with your friend Taylor over there. The first practice is next monday at six a.m. In Athletics, I expect you to come to the boys class tomorrow since the girls are in volleyball season. You can get your gear the first day of practice.”
My eyes were wide, stunned by his comment. I was the new receiver for the team? But weren’t girls not allowed to play on the football team? It took me a few moments to realize what had just happen. I was practically frozen.
“Well! Go celebrate or something or do whatever you girls like doing!”
I nodded and ran off. “What’d he say to ya?” Travis asked, everyone beginning to huddle in as if we were about to start a football play.
I was nearly frozen, still in a bit of shock about all of this. “He said I was the newest receiver for the Seals...” Everyone stared at me for a moment. They seemed to believe me, but were in shock at the same time. A girl? On the football team? Had that ever even happened before? Most likely not. And the boys weren’t exactly taking it very well. Travis frowned, glaring at me a bit, slightly jealous. I’d already gotten my results before the tryouts had even taken place.
“I gotta go...” some of the boys muttered, heading out. I guess I was right. They were jealous. Knowing that made me feel a little better for some reason. More confident about everything. Being on a football team full of guys was a bit intimidating for me.
The next Saturday morning was epic. But I didn’t have any about that yet. It felt like a perfect day until ten a.m.
I woke up at nine a.m. I remembered since I checked the clock as soon as my eyes were open. As usual, the sound of the pancakes being cooked on the stove was what I heard. You could hear the sizzling sound of the batter turning into the wheat breakfast from my room. The smell of pancakes was one of the best in the world. Especially the ones Elizabeth made. She made the best food in the world. Connor, on the other hand, couldn’t make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches correctly. So Elizabeth was the one who cooked for the family. Sometimes I helped her out when we were fixing a lot.
After placing on a pair of Nike shorts and a blue Truro Seals t-shirt, I was running down the stairs. Jamie, Nathan, and Tom soon filed after me. As soon as they heard someone’s feet patting against the ground, they knew that Elizabeth had a good meal waiting. And I knew that by now as well.
“Mommy! What’s for breakfast?” Nathan shouted. But as he began heading downstairs, I picked him up, carrying him. I loved little kids. They were just so cute. “Anna!” he exclaimed, giving me a hug.
“Pancakes. It’s Saturday, isn’t it? That means I have time to make you guys pancakes for once.”
When we finally finished our long, exhausting journey down the stairs, there were four plates awaiting on the counters. Standing there behind the counter was Elizabeth, as beautiful as ever. She wore a blue sweater with blue jeans. Her dark brown hair was worn down. I guess we really did look like we were related. That was so something I would wear when I was older. Not now though. It was too old person. Not that Elizabeth was old or anything. Far from that. Thirty-four. She was old enough to still have kids, which I knew she was still considering. She wanted a little girl. Of course she did think of me as her daughter, but she wanted her own biological daughter. A younger girl. I knew she wouldn’t kick me out though. She was much too kind to do that.
“Yo! Where’s my plate?” Travis asked as he barged in the front door. He was smiling, as always. This place was just like his own home. Why was that? I sometimes wondered if he had abusive parents or something like that. “Hey, dove,” he told me as he sat down next to me.
Elizabeth obviously didn’t mind that Travis simply invited himself in nearly every day. I had grown used to it. And I’m sure she had by now. Everyone must’ve at some point.
It didn’t take her long for her to fix him a plate and hand it to him. He was, after all, just like her son.
“Why thank you,” Travis replied, pretending as if he was actually polite. But we all knew he wasn’t. Travis would come bombarding into your house at midnight and he wouldn’t care. I couldn’t understand how I sometimes felt like I was in love with him then. It made absolutely no sense at all. But then again, love wasn’t supposed to make sense.
After hurriedly eating his pancakes, Nathan hopped up and began running outside. “I’m gonna go play with my friends!” he insisted. I heard the front door open then slam shut.
“Be careful!” Elizabeth shouted just as he ran out. I doubt he heard her. And even if he did, he was four. He wouldn’t really listen to his mother of all people. I was secretly surprised he hadn’t asked to do some puzzle with her or me. It was a Saturday after all.
“So...Football tryouts coming up. You wanna help me practice tomorrow after school, Anna?” Travis asked as he turned to me. When he saw my hesitation. I wasn’t really sure if football would be a good idea. And Travis was a whole lot bigger than me. “Oh come on! Taylor will be there. And Jamie, you’re coming whether you like it or not. And some other guys!”
I couldn’t give up at that. Sighing, seeing that I’d been beat, I nodded. I couldn’t say no to anyone. “Fine. I’ll go play football with you. But that doesn’t mean you can tackle me every time I grab hold of the ball like I know you will.”
Travis smirked a bit. “But that’s the fun part!”
I could see Elizabeth rolling her eyes at the two of us. When I looked into her eyes, meeting them for a moment, I could see the slight happiness in them. She could tell the emotional waves between the two of us. She was smiling underneath, over all of the annoyance she was pretending to show. She wanted to intimidate Travis. But why? Was he trouble for some reason? But there was something she seemed to know that I didn’t. But what? This was going to bug me for a while until I figured it out.
It was only about five minutes of small talk when there was crying from the door. I set my fork down, quickly swallowing the pancakes left in my mouth. Nathan was limping in with a scraped knee. “Mommy! I hurt my knee!” he insisted, holding his arms up.
Elizabeth sighed, picking him up. “Where did you scrape your knee, sweetheart?” she asked him, placing him on the counter. She walked over to one of the cabinets, grabbing a few things to put on his leg.
“I’ve told you not to play on the rocks. It’s too dangerous. I told you that you’d hurt yourself. Are you alright?”