See You In My Nightmares

Endora Lee Andrews, "Eel" to her friends, has a pesky problem: Her touch is lethal to electronics. On her eighteenth birthday, Eel meets a boy, Kannon, who literally shocks her. Soon, she discovers he shares her electrocidal tendencies. But that is not all Eel and Kannon have in common; they have both died and been given a second chance at life. The catch? Their second lives come with a price, their allegiance to the Gods of the Underworld.

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3. Chapter Three

 

Chapter Three

As promised, my mother called several times throughout the afternoon and evening.  Dad, though, didn’t call.  I checked my cell’s voicemail five more times, but he hadn’t left anymore messages.  Devon and I watched both Red Box movies, finished the pizza, and ordered cheesecake for dessert from First Wok.

“He’ll call,” Devon mumbled after I checked my messages for the sixth time.  We had retreated to my bedroom and were on the verge of falling asleep.

“He already did,” I told her.

“What?  He did?”  Devon sounded a lot more awake now.  “Then why do you keep checking your messages and watching the phone like a girl hoping for her dream boy to call and invite her to the prom?” 

“Dad left me a message sometime yesterday.  He said he’d try and call back today.  Since my phone isn’t working I changed my outgoing message so he would know it was okay to call the house,” I explained. 

The mechanical voice in my ear told me I had no new messages.  I replaced the receiver and settled back against the pillows.

“He’ll call,” Devon repeated, placing her hand over mine. 

I smiled at my best friend, so glad she was there.  Devon was one of the few that knew all the details of my parents’ divorce and the reason my father stayed away.  Even Elizabeth thought Dad was a deadbeat who’d basically abandoned me and my mother.  It was easier to let people believe that then the truth. 

“He said he needed to talk to me,” I confided.  “And he sounded sort of . . . scared.  Do you think he’s okay?”

Devon’s tired eyes turned sad as she squeezed my hand.  “I’m sure he’s fine, Eel.  He probably just misses you.”

I rolled over and turned the bedside lamp off.  “Night, Dev,” I told her.

“Night, Eel.”

I dreamt of Kannon.  He stood amidst a crowd of cheering fans, hands shoved in the front pockets of well-worn jeans.  The hood of his blue sweatshirt was pushed back and the wind blew chestnut curls across his rosy cheeks.  I could feel his eyes watching me as I took my position on the field. 

A shrill whistle pierced the air and girls started moving around me.  I went through the motions, following the ball from one girl’s stick pocket to the next, but I kept glances towards the stands and Kannon.  A girl with blue-black hair rammed my shoulder, sending me careening to the Astroturf.  I looked up.  The girl wore a Mt. St. Mary’s uniform and I knew her, Jamieson Wentworth.  Instead of helping me to my feet, she sneered down at me. 

“Pay attention to wear you’re going, Captain,” she spat before running in the other direction.

I stumbled to my feet and jogged after her.  When I glanced over my shoulder, a hooded figure was walking across the track that surrounded the field, his back to me.  Suddenly he turned, as if sensing I was watching.  The hood shielded his face, but I knew it was Kannon.  A voice, his voice, echoed in my mind.  “I’ll see you soon.”  The words weren’t comforting.  They held a promise of pain and every nightmare I’d ever imagined. 

I woke with a start.  The clock on my bedside table read 4:00 a.m.  Devon was still beside me, so I crept out of bed and tiptoed to the bathroom adjoining my bedroom.  Once inside, I splashed water on my face.  It took me a minute to recall the details of the dream.  Even the images were hazy, like I’d seen them through a fog. 

“It’s nothing,” I told my reflection quietly.  “Kannon will not show up at your game against Mt. St. Mary’s.”  I laughed.  This was so ridiculous.  I was giving my bathroom mirror a pep talk.  Of course a boy I met at a club in Baltimore wasn’t going to miraculously turn up at girl’s lacrosse game in Westwood. 

I left the bathroom and tiptoed to the bed.  I carefully lifted the receiver on my antique phone and dialed my voicemail.  One new voicemail.  My heart lifted.  “Dad,” I breathed against the handset.  Maybe he left a number where I can reach him this time, I thought.

“Endora?” a voice that was definitely not my father’s said in my ear.  “Endora this is Kannon.”  My hand tightened around the receiver and my jaw flew open.  A ribbon of fear and thrill wound through my insides.  How did he get this number?

“I know what happened last night was weird.  Let me explain.  You can call me back any time, night or day,” Kannon was still talking on my voicemail.  He left his cell number, but I was too stunned to write it down.  “I’ll see you soon,” he said then the mechanical voice was back telling me if I wanted to hear the message again, press three. 

I pressed three and listened to Kannon’s message a second time.  I’ll see you soon?  That was the same thing he’d said to me in my dream.  Coincidence?  Maybe.  But me and Agent Gibbs, we didn’t believe in coincidences. 

After replaying Kannon’s message two more times, I finally disconnected and lay back down in the bed.  I reviewed what I knew for sure, making a list of the facts.  Fact, Kannon burned me with his touch.  Fact, Kannon knew my name before we met.  Fact, Kannon had my phone number. 

“Eel?” Devon said sleepily.  “Are you okay?  You’re shaking the bed.”

I stilled.  “Sorry, Dev.  It’s nothing.  I just had a bad dream.  Go back to sleep.”  Had a bad dream?  What was I five?  I hoped she was too tired to ask what the dream was about.  She already thought Kannon was dangerous I didn’t need her to worry more.

“Okay,” she mumbled. 

Several seconds passed before I could be sure Devon was no longer awake.

As I lay there, I wondered whether I should call him back.  I knew it was crazy.  He might be crazy.  But I wanted to talk to him, wanted for him to explain.  Devon and I could exhaust every absurd possibility for how a boy I’d never met knew my name, or I could just ask said boy.  I hadn’t written his number down, but after listening to the message four times I knew it by heart.  Tomorrow, I vowed, I will call him and put to rest all of this stupid obsessing. 

The next morning when Devon and I emerged from my room, my mother was sitting at our kitchen table drinking coffee and reading the New York Times.

“Morning, girls,” she greeted us, not bothering to look up from her newspaper.

“Hey, Mrs. Andrews,” Devon called back, plopping her butt in the chair across from my mother.

“Hi,” I said tightly, taking the seat next to her. 

“Are you girls hungry?  How about breakfast at the Plum Crazy Diner?” she asked, still engrossed in the article.

“That would be great,” Devon said cheerfully, at the same time I said, “I have a history paper to write.”  Devon’s stocking foot made contact with my shin underneath the table.  “She’s trying,” she mouthed, when I shot her a nasty look.

“I’m sure that can wait an hour,” my mother replied, finally meeting my eyes.  Looking at her face was like using age projection software to see what I’d look like in thirty years.  Admittedly, it could’ve been worse – much worse.  My mother had minimal wrinkles, just a couple around her pert mouth and the unavoidable crow’s feet that marred the otherwise flawless skin at the corners of her eyes – eyes the same dark brown ringed with green as mine. 

With the sunlight streaming through the blinds behind illuminating her face, all the colors were visible since her pupils were no bigger than pin pricks.  Her jet black hair was the defining difference between us.  My auburn locks were just like my late Aunt Samantha’s, Mom’s younger sister. 

“Yeah, I guess it could,” I mumbled.

“Good, go get dressed.”  Mom smiled and made a shooing motion before returning to her paper.

At first I didn’t budge.  Anger and resentment burned in my stomach.  She was the reason that my father couldn’t call the house.  She was the reason he couldn’t wish me a happy birthday in person.  He’d made one mistake and she was making sure he paid for it as long as possible.  No longer though, I reminded myself.  I was an adult now.  She couldn’t keep us apart any longer.

Breakfast turned out to be a chaotic affair.  Between the number of people who stopped by the table to wish my mother luck with her trial, and the number of times her blackberry pinged, she barely spoke two words to me the entire meal.  I was glad when the torture was over and I returned to the sanctuary of my bedroom to finally write my paper on the Spanish-American war. 

I sat at my desk, feet propped on the edge of my bed, staring at antique phone and willing it to ring.  Whether I was hoping it would be my father or Kannon, I wasn’t sure.  I wanted to talk to my father, but my initial fear over the encounter with Kannon had turned to curiosity.  In his message he’d promised to explain.  I wanted an explanation. 

“This is stupid,” I said aloud to the empty room. 

“What’s stupid?” my mother’s voice responded.

I jumped, nearly falling off the chair.  “Don’t you knock?” I demanded, my tone harsher than I’d meant on account of the near heart attack she’d given me.

My mother’s thin eyebrows shot skyward.  “This is my house, Endora.  I don’t need to knock.”

“Sorry,” I mumbled, feeling stupid.  “Do you need something?”

“I wanted to give you this.”  My mother held out a cell phone in my direction.  “You really should have one, so I had my old one reprogrammed.”

I softened.  Devon was right, Mom was trying.  “Thanks,” I said and crossed the room to take the phone. 

I hugged my mother.  It was awkward at first.  She wasn’t really the hugging type, but she relaxed after a second and wrapped her arms around me. 

“Try not to break this one,” she said when she pulled away, but a small smile tugged at the corners of her mouth, so I knew she was teasing me. 

“I’ll do my best,” I told her.

“Well, I will be downstairs if you need any help with your paper.”  Mom didn’t wait for my response.  She turned, closed my door, and padded down the hallway.

I returned to my desk and placed the phone next to my computer.  Despite my earlier desire to call Kannon, I couldn’t bring myself to dial his number.  A small part of me knew I wasn’t going to like whatever explanation he gave me.  Long ago I’d learned there are some things you are better off not knowing.    

Monday morning, armed with my new cell phone, I waited on my front stoop for Devon.  I actually did have a car of my own, a VW bug my mother bought me when I turned sixteen, but it was in the shop awaiting a new part. 

The morning was cool but spring crept closer every day.  Instead of dwelling on the weekend, I made a mental list of all the things that I need to focus on for the upcoming week.  I’d made progress on my history paper, but it was nowhere near finished.  I needed to study for a calculus quiz scheduled for Wednesday.  And I had practice every day after school. 

I heard the strangled protests of the Chevy’s engine before Devon made it half way down my block.  I stood and waved before making my way to the curb.

“Hey, girlie,” she greeted me as I threw my bag into her backseat alongside hers.

“Hey.”

“How did the paper writing go?  Mine totally sucks.”  Devon made a u-turn in the middle of the block and floored the accelerator.  The Cavalier picked up speed.

I rolled my eyes.  Nothing Devon ever did sucked.  She liked to play down her brains in favor of playing up her looks, but she still couldn’t hide the fact she was a near genius. 

“I have a bunch of words written.  I am just not sure they make any sense,” I told her. 

 

Devon laughed.  “I hear ya.”  She paused for a long minute, then in a more serious tone she asked, “Did you talk to him?”

I turned and blinked at her.  How did she know Kannon had called?  Was she awake when I listened to the message four times?  Then I realized she was talking about my father.  I relaxed slightly.  “My dad?  No, he hasn’t called back.”

Devon spared me a suspicious glance, tearing her eyes away from the road long enough that I grabbed the door and braced for impact. 

“Yes, your father.  Who did you think I was talking about?”  Devon was still looking at me instead of the quickly approaching stop sign.

An eerie feeling crawled over my skin and I saw us barreling through the stop sign at the same time a Bronco shot through the intersection.  I’d been in this same situation before, I could feel that.  Not because Devon was a bad driver – which she was – it was more than that.  I had experienced this very moment before, I just couldn’t remember when or where.  Blood roared in my ears and my knuckles went white on the hand gripping the door. 

“Stop sign, stop sign, stop sign,” I practically screamed, pointing at the windshield with my free hand.  The words flew out of mouth automatically.

Devon’s head whipped forward, blonde hair fanning out behind her.  She swore and brought the car to a screeching halt.  A blue Ford Bronco darted through the intersection in front of us seconds later.

Shakily I sat back in my seat, panting like I’d just run the mile in PE.  Weird didn’t begin to explain how I felt. 

“Sorry about that,” Devon said sheepishly, not nearly as fazed by our close call as I was.  Then again, Devon wasn’t the one who’d known the Bronco was coming.  I was. 

I didn’t respond.  I just sat facing forward, blinking rapidly as if that would right the world.

We rode the next ten minutes in silence, save the morning show playing quietly on the Chevy’s radio. 

The school day was blissfully uneventful.  My new cell phone didn’t buzz once in my pocket.  I didn’t foresee any potentially deadly accidents.  Devon was rude to Mandy at lunch, Elizabeth flirted with the boys’ soccer coach during study hall, and Coach Peters made me run suicides on the hill because she thought I was too slow during practice.  All was right with the world. 

The stress to write a better than average paper for history, since Mr. Randell had informed us that it would count for one third our grade, made me go straight home after practice and get to work.  My mother called my new cell phone once an hour to check-in.  At ten o’clock, when she still wasn’t home and the cell rang for the fourth time, I didn’t bother to look at the display before hitting the answer button.

“I’m still working on my paper, Mother,” I said into the phone, trying to keep the irritation to a minimum.

“Hi, sweetheart.”

“Dad?” I nearly wept at the sound of his voice. 

“It’s me, tootsie.  How are you?  How is eighteen treating you?”

“Good,” I lied.  I couldn’t tell him the truth.  If I told him about meeting Kannon and the weird dreams he would worry about me. 

“Do anything special for your birthday?”  Dad sounded calm and his tone was conversational.  I thought maybe I’d imaged the fear in his message.

“Hung out with my friends,” I told him.  “Nothing too exciting.  How are you?  Where are you?” 

“Close by, Eel.  I need to talk to you about something, but I think it would be best if we talked in person.  You have a car, right?”

I was going to see him.  After nearly five years, I was going to see my father.  My chest felt like it might explode with happiness.  Then I deflated.  No, I didn’t have a car.  Mine wasn’t scheduled to be out of the shop before the weekend.  I swallowed over the lump growing in my throat.  “No right now.  The Bug’s in the shop until this weekend.”

“This weekend? I suppose we can wait until then,” Dad replied, nervousness creeping into his words.  “Do me a favor.  If you feel uncomfortable in a situation or you meet someone new and you don’t feel safe, trust your instincts.”

“What?” I stammered.  I was eighteen, a little late for the “don’t talk to strangers” discussion.  Then I remembered Kannon and how uncomfortable he’d made me.  I almost told my father about what happened at the club.  At the last minute I decided against it. 

“I promise I will explain when I see you,” Dad assured me.  “Keep your phone on and close.  I will call you with a time and place later in the week.”

“Okay,” I whispered, not wanting the conversation to end, but knowing it was about to. 

“I love you, Eel.  I will talk to you soon.”

“I love you, too,” I told him.

I set the phone back down on the desk and stared at it.  What did Dad want to talk about?  In our once yearly conversations we didn’t get much of a chance to catch up.  Maybe he just wanted to know about my life.  Why had he told me to trust my instincts?  It was like he knew about my meeting Kannon.  The weekend couldn’t come fast enough.

With my father’s warning foremost in my thoughts, I didn’t return Kannon’s call.  I wish I could say that I didn’t dial his number several times, only to hang up before it rang, but I can’t.  For his part, Kannon didn’t try and contact me either.  Between my Kannon-obsessing and the mounting anticipation over the meeting with my father, I somehow managed to finish my history paper and earn a B on my calculus quiz.  Several times I awoke in my bed covered in sweat and panting, but I couldn’t recall the dreams.                 

On Friday morning I woke well before my alarm clock, my anxiety too powerful to let me sleep.  Despite my early rising, my mother’s car was gone from the garage when I made my way downstairs to scrounge up some breakfast.  She had however left me a note, promising tshe would be at the game that night and that there may, or may not, be some unexpired yogurt in the fridge. 

When I opened the double doors on the state of the art refrigerator, I found one carton of Blueberry Yoplait that had expired two days prior.  I peeled back the top and sniffed.  Artificial fruit filled my nostrils, so I dipped my pinky in the purple cream and tentatively touched it to my tongue.  Tasted okay to me, so I found a spoon and ate the contents. 

With breakfast out of the way, I returned to my room to shower and dress for the day.  For home games our team wore our uniforms to school.  I freed my blue, white, and black kilt from its hanger, and fastened it around my waist.  Over my underwear I pulled on baby bloomers, with Owls scrawled across the butt in black – the Owl was our mascot.  I pulled my white home jersey with the number one stenciled on the back over my head.  I had donned the number seventeen for the past two years, but it was tradition for the captain to wear one, so I’d been forced to switch.  In a show of solidarity, Devon had switched from twenty-two to seventeen so I wouldn’t have to see another girl wearing my number. 

I twisted my hair into twin French braids on either side of my head, fastening the tails with matching white ribbons.  As a freshman I’d favored pigtails, until some jerk-friend of Rick’s had called me a blowjob with handlebars.  At the time I hadn’t known what that meant –I’d been so naïve – but when one of the senior players had overheard the exchange, and after publicly dressing the kid down for making fun of me, she’d gently explained his lewd comment.  Needless to say, that was the last time I ever went with the pigtail hair design. 

I was dressed, and sitting on my front steps with my backpack and lacrosse bag a full ten minutes before Elizabeth pulled her BMW into my drive.  Devon was sitting shot gun, so after tossing my belongings in the popped trunk I climbed in behind Elizabeth. 

“How ya feeling, Captain?” Elizabeth greeted me, shifting the car into drive and depressing the accelerator. 

“Nervous,” I admitted with a grimace.

“No need to be, you’re going to be awesome,” Devon assured me, twisting in her seat to face me. 

“Thanks.” I smiled, grateful for her support. 

The entire day I was a bundle of nerves.  Only, the game had very little to do with my anxiety.  Sure, I wanted to play well and win and all that.  It was my first game as captain and our rivalry with Mt. St. Mary’s was a long one, more personal for me than most.  I had actually attended the elite private school until my parents’ divorce.  If my mother hadn’t insisted on moving from D.C., I would be playing for their team instead of Westwood’s.  But the real reason I could barely sit still while my anatomy teacher gave a slideshow on the life cycle of the blow fly and my Mythology teacher, Mrs. Eppler, rambled on about Hermes, was because I was forty-eight hours away from seeing my father. 

The VW dealership had called the night before and informed my mother the car would be ready for pickup Saturday morning.  Now, I was just waiting for my father to get in touch about where and when on Sunday.  For some reason, I hadn’t told anyone – not even Devon.  Of course, I wouldn’t tell my mother.  She would forbid me to go.  But I didn’t tell Devon or Elizabeth or anyone else because part of me worried the meeting might not happen.  I knew it was stupid, but whenever I wanted something really badly I kept it to myself, like talking about it made it not happen.  And I’d never wanted anything as badly as I wanted to see my father.  

The junior varsity played right after school let out.  They were required to stay and cheer during our game, but us varsity girls weren’t under any obligation.  As captain, I felt that I should make an appearance, but neither Devon nor Elizabeth felt compelled to join me.  So, I sat on the bench with my warm-ups over my uniform alone. 

Anna Beth looked as nervous as I felt as she led her team in their pregame ritual.  I nodded reassuringly at her every time she glanced in my direction, letting her know I approved of how she was handling her role.  Her confidence grew by leaps and bounds with each gesture.  In general girls’ sports rarely drew a big crowd, but JV games had exceptionally low attendance.  So, I cheered from the sidelines, urging the second and third stringers to do the same.  Most of them were too scared to cross me, so they complied, and when our collective hooting and hollering reached the ears of the girls on the field, they picked up their game.  The score remained close, zero-zero, until the end of the second half. 

Watching JV girl’s lacrosse was normally a painful experience.  The players typically dropped more passes than they caught, and most shots on goal were only blocked because the shooters used the goalie as a target.  But lacrosse was a religion in our area, much like I hear football is in the south.  Our JV team was better than most varsity teams, and some division three college ones.  Mt. St. Mary’s JV was a worthy opponent though, and the fact that their sports teams weren’t relegated to the same rules as public schools – any girl could be on JV, regardless of her year, as opposed to just freshmen and sophomores – made them that much better.

The first goal of the came finally came with mere seconds on the clock.  One of Mt. St. Mary’s defensive players fouled Anna Beth in the arc and the ref awarded her an eight meter shot.  Coach Peters called a time out before she let Anna Beth take the penalty.  She met my eyes as the girls huddled around her, and nodded in Anna Beth’s direction.  I pulled Anna Beth away from her teammates.

“How are you feeling?” I asked, wincing when I noticed the goose egg forming on her forehead from the stick she’d take to the head.

“Good,” she said earnestly, her speech slurred around the mouth guard protecting her upper teeth. 

“Good.”  I smiled, encouraging her.  “The goalie is left handed, so you have the advantage of shooting for her right,” I instructed. 

Anna Beth nodded, her brown ponytail bobbing behind her.  “That girl that wacked you, she’s really fast, so you need to get your shot off quick before she can get her stick in there,” I continued, reiterating details I was sure she knew.  Anna Beth listened patiently, drinking in all my advice like it was gospel.  “You’ve got this,” I said, trying to let my belief in her abilities telepathically transfer to her.

Anna Beth threw her arms around me in a suffocating bear hug.  “We did it!” she squealed in my ear, spitting her red mouth guard on to the Astroturf next to my foot.  I returned her embrace.  Pride swelled in my chest, as though I had a part in the victory she’d just claimed. 

“That shot was unbelievable,” I whispered, “how did you know to pump fake?”

“Huh?” Anna Beth said, peering up at me with a look of pure confusion on her face.  I shook my head.  The JV captain wasn’t hugging me anymore.   She was standing a foot away and looking at me like I’d lost my mind. 

“Good luck?” I said, my sentiments coming out more like a question than a statement. 

Anna Beth smiled wearily and then started trotting back on to the field as the ref blew her whistle. 

“Anna Beth, wait!” I shouted after her retreating form. 

She paused midstride and craned her neck over her left shoulder to look at me.  I sprinted to cover the distance between us.

“Forget what I said,” I urged her.  “Cradle three times, pump fake and then aim stick side,” I ordered. 

She looked doubtful, but I knew she’d score if she followed my instructions – I wasn’t sure how I knew that, I just did.  Actually that wasn’t entirely true, I was so certain because I’d just seen it happen, just like I’d seen the Bronco charge through the intersection on Monday. 

“Trust me,” I said lowering my head to look directly into her eyes.  She nodded, her eyes refusing to focus. 

The ref blew her whistle a second time, giving Anna Beth an angry glare.  Anna Beth ran toward the opposing goal to take her penalty shot before the ref penalized her for delaying the game.  Just as quickly, I retreated to my end of the metal bench. 

“What did you say to her?” Coach Peters asked, sounding more interested than irritated. 

“Just reminded her to keep an eye on eighteen,” I lied.  Eighteen was the girl Anna Beth had to thank for the concussion she was likely suffering from. 

On the field the ref blew her whistle a third time.  Anna Beth wasted no time in charging the goal, she cradled her stick across her chest three times, drew it back further over her right shoulder on the fourth pass, like she was going to release the ball tucked in the mesh pocket. 

“SHOT!” a girl on the opposing bench screeched over. 

The Mt. St. Mary’s goalie deftly crossed her own stick over her chest as she moved to her weak side, anticipating where Anna Beth’s shot would’ve gone had she taken it, but the ball was still nestled in the pocket of her stick.  Anna Beth cradled one last time, drew her stick back again, and this time she fired her ammunition for real; the ball sailed neatly past where the goalie had been standing second earlier and hit the net.

The sound of the ref’s whistle was drowned out by the screams erupting from the girls sitting next to me.  Anna Beth tore across the field, her arms wide, and nearly collided with me when she reached the bench.  She engulfed me in a suffocating bear hug. 

“We did it!” she squealed in my ear, spitting her red mouth guard on to the Astroturf next to my foot.  I returned her embrace, just like I had in my vision.  Only, now fear made my chest constrict and I gripped Anna Beth tighter to make sure I was living in the here and now.

“That shot was unbelievable,” I whispered, because I knew I was supposed to.  The shot was amazing, but if I hadn’t known I was supposed to say those words my mind wouldn’t have been able to formulate the thought. 

 “How did you know I should pump fake?” this time she asked the question instead of me, or at least a version of the same question I’d asked her in my . . . vision?

“Just a feeling.”  I smiled releasing her, and shooing her toward the open arms of her teammates.

How had I’d know what was going to happen before it did?  Where had the vision come from?  Had I really known that she’d make the shot if she did as I instructed, or had it just been a feeling like I’d told her? That was the more likely explanation, right?

People got feelings that something bad was going to happen all the time.  After 9/ll several people who were supposed to be on the planes that hit the towers claimed that something told them not to take that flight.  That Unsolved Mysteries show was full of people swearing that at the same time a relative or close friend was dying half way around the world, they’d become inexplicably sad for seemingly no reason.  Only to find out the next day that at the exact moment they’d felt the rush of emotions the person had died. 

Knowing that Anna Beth would score if she faked the shot and then aimed for the goalie’s stronger side is likely a byproduct of the years of training, I told myself.  You’ve playing lacrosse since you were six. 

“Well whatever you said to her worked,” Coach Peters said startling me out of my anxious mental rambling. 

“Huh?”

“Whatever you told Anna Beth to do, it obviously worked.  That was an amazing shot.  You’ll make a great Coach one day, Andrews; you’re great at reading the players,” she praised me before disappearing to shake the Mt. St. Mary’s coach’s hand. 

Her words hit home, I was great at reading opposing players.  That was part of what made me such a lethal opponent, I had a gift for anticipating the other teams moves a split second before they made them.  My mother frequently told me I was too inquisitive for my own good.  There was nothing weird going on.   

My own teammates were trickling on to the field now, prompting me to assume my role as captain.  Elizabeth and Devon were laughing as they made their way around the rubber track to join me on the bench.

“Looks like they won,” Devon observed, nodding to where the JV girls were still a throng of screaming excitement. 

“Yeah, good game,” I said absently, freeing my stick from the bag Elizabeth handed me. 

“You feel okay?” Devon asked, her eyes darting across every inch of my face.

“’Course, why?” I retorted sharply. 

“Well for starters, you’re jumpy as hell, Eel.  And then there’s the fact your pupils are so dilated you look like you’re on drugs,” she said, matching the tone I’d used.

“Sorry, nerves I guess,” I apologized, truly sorry that I’d practically bitten her head off. 

Devon’s expression softened, “It’s the first game, Eel.  It’s not a big deal if we lose.  They aren’t even in our conference.  The game is a glorified exhibition.”

“Exactly, my first game as captain,” I said pointedly.  “And you know that this is more than just another game for me.  This is personal.” 

“Jamieson?” Devon guessed. 

I nodded.  Jamieson Wentworth, my nemesis, archrival, and former best friend played for Mt. St. Mary’s.  She’d made it her life’s mission to make my life a living hell.  Fortunately, we lived an hour apart so her “I hate Endora” campaign only ran online. 

“Andrews!” Coach Peters screamed my name across the field.  “Let’s get this party started, I shouldn’t have to tell you that your job is to be leading warm up drills right now and not having social hour with Holloway and Bowers.”

“On it, Coach,” I yelled back, exchanging an eye roll with Devon and Elizabeth. 

My worries over how my team, and me in particularly, would perform proved unfounded by the culmination of the first half.  It wasn’t exactly a slaughter, but we were leading them five to one, which was a decent spread.  Thanks to my intervention, Coach Peters had agreed to let Devon start, and she was living up to the promise that I made on her behalf; three of the five goals were thanks to her.  The other two belonged to Elizabeth.  Midway through the second half, Coach Peters decided to make some changes to the lineup. 

“Holloway, you’re on fire, I want you setting up shop in front of that goal, first home,” she declared. 

First home was the offensive position closest to the goal.  Devon looked grateful for the reprieve; she was sucking wind from having to run the length of the field so many times. 

“Bowers, I’m moving you to second home.  Everybody else, get the ball to one of the two.”  Twenty heads bobbed in unison.  “Andrews, take center,” she barked at me.

She continued to prattle off positions, but I had stopped paying attention.  I never played center, the position was both offensive and defensive, and shooting was really not my strong suit. 

The ref blew the whistle to resume play. 

“Um, Coach? Are you sure you want me at center?” I asked hesitantly, knowing that questioning her authority might land me on suicide duty until the end of the season. 

“That’s what I said, wasn’t it, Endora?” The question was rhetorical. 

“Um, right you did, but why?”

Her patience was wearing thin.  “You are one step ahead of everyone else on that field, I need you somewhere you can direct this game.  I want to finish strong, win big,” she said exasperated.  “Now go.” 

She shoved me towards the circle where the other team’s center was already waiting to take the draw.  I jogged to take up my position opposite her.  I’d never taken the draw in a game, but frequently helped Devon practice, letting her perfect her technique on me. 

I mimicked the stance I’d seen Devon use in practice, right foot forward, right knee bent, right forearm skimming the top of my thigh.  Gripping the wooden handle of my stick so hard that my knuckles turned white, I pressed the pocket against my opponent’s, the hard, white ball wedged in the middle.  I closed my eyes and waited for the sound of the ref’s whistle. 

As soon as the shrill sound assaulted my ears, I shoved hard against the other girl’s stick.  The joint force propelled the ball high in the air and straight into the pocket of one of my teammate’s sticks.  I tore down the field, my speed unmatched by the girl marking me.  As I neared the twelve meter arc, I panted one foot and pivoted, stick high in the air, an unspoken call for the ball.  I never saw the ball land in the mesh pocket, but felt the weight when it settled into its home.  Instinctively I turned, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that Devon would be standing behind the goal.  I didn’t bother looking to make sure she was; I released the ball mid-turn.

“SHOT!” the goalie screamed, her voice coming out garbled around her mouth guard. 

The Mt. St. Mary’s defense collapsed on the goal, but they were too quick on the draw because I hadn’t taken a shot.  Just as I’d known she would be, Devon stood behind the goal and to the left.  She cradled the ball three times, giving me enough time to rush forward.  Since the goalie had assumed I was shooting when I’d passed, she read the play as though I was going to aim high on her stick side, leaving the left side of the net wide open. 

Devon passed the ball back to me, the pass wasn’t on my right like it should’ve been since I was right handed, but instead sailed to my left.  Like I’d known that Devon would be behind the goal, and that Anna Beth would make her shot, and that the Bronco would hit us if Devon ran the stop sign, I knew Devon would aim for my left side.  My stick was waiting for her pass.   I eased the stick back as the ball landed in my pocket and in the same motion flung the ball in the empty net. 

The ref’s whistle sounded, “GOAL!” she screamed. 

“Ridiculous shot!” Devon shouted, knocking me to the ground in her enthusiasm.  I laughed even as both are sticks dug painfully into my ribcage.  When she helped to my feet a minute later, my gaze immediately scanned the crowd for my mother.  She had promised she’d be there, and I desperately hoped she hadn’t missed my rare goal.  Disappointment threatened to dampen my elation when I didn’t immediately spot her black hair in the stands. 

What I saw instead made my head spin and excitement replace the adrenaline pumping in my veins.  My heart felt like it might burst when his gaze met mine.  The burn on my arm had faded in the days since he’d touched me, but the same shock I’d felt then reverberated through my bones again now.  Standing on the top row of bleachers wearing a blue hoodie, hands shoved in his jeans pockets, was Kannon.

Time stood still.  My teammates ceased moving around me.  The cheers from the home bench and the bleachers no longer reached my ears.  My peripheral vision grew hazy, only Kannon stood in sharp focus.  I could imagine the way his eyes must look in setting sun, huge emerald green irises – the pupils would be small black ink dots in the center.  The urge to run from the field, vault the fence that separated the bleachers from the track, and throw my arms around his neck, overwhelmed me.  Then my father’s warning sounded in my mind.  My instincts on the night I’d met Kannon told me to stay away from him.  Yet, some part of me wanted, needed to be closer.   

“Eel?”  Devon snapped her fingers before my eyes. 

I blinked but refused to tear my gaze from the boy I’d been obsessing over for an entire week; afraid that if I did, he wouldn’t be there when I looked back. 

“Hmmm?” I responded, distracted.

“You okay?” Devon thrust her face in my line of vision. 

Without thinking, I shoved her aside.  Devon followed my line of sight to its tether.  “That’s him, isn’t?  What the hell is he doing here?”

I shook my head.  Devon started dragging me to where our teammates were huddling around Coach Peters.  I was so busy looking behind me that I didn’t see the girl coming towards us.  Someone hit me hard on the shoulder and I fell to the ground, landing on my butt. 

“Pay attention to wear you are going, Captain,” Jamieson Wentworth spat, glaring down at me.  I grabbed a handful of fake grass and threw it at her retreating back.

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