Riley’s emotions were making sure she was up at six in the morning, like every other day since she was spotted by that ice hockey scout. And every day they made sure Riley had her healthy breakfast. They were usually creative at picking different breakfasts, but this hockey business has made tem pick oatmeal in low-fat milk with blueberries and a glass of orange juice every day for her.
“How long does she have go on like this?” Fear asked. “She’s been at this hockey thing for months now.”
“Well, at least she’s getting eight hours of sleep every day,” Joy said.
“Yeah, enough sleep for more work and less time for eating, drinking and socializing,” Disgust said.
“She’s going to end up in her deathbed very soon,” Sadness said. “Or worst, hospital.”
“Then we’ll make sure she takes it nice and easy today,” Joy said.
“But it’s the final tryouts,” Anger said. “She’ll need to be focusing on her best performance today of all days.”
Coming down the stairs, Mr. and Mrs. Anderson in their robes just saw Riley getting her bag of hockey sticks and packed lunch together.
“Hey, best of luck today, Riley,” Mr. Anderson said.
“Thanks, Dad.” Riley headed to the door.
“Oh, Riley,” Mrs. Anderson called. “I know you’re in a hurry, but I was just wondering, no matter what happens today…”
“We’ll go out or do something together at least,” Riley finished. “Yes, Mom, I promise that. Got to go now. Love you.” Then she ran out.
“Well, at least we managed to talk to her,” Mrs. Anderson said.
That was the first time in months that she and Mr. Anderson could speak to Riley. Usually she was gone before they came down. Even though they understood she needed to focus and she was under pressure, they were still missing her company. She was working every day, even on weekends. Riley’s parents weren’t just worried about her stress and wellbeing; they were beginning to worry about losing her daughter completely.
Even though her extra practice last night had tired her out, Riley was full of energy today. She felt that last night had paid off because she was playing much better than yesterday. She was focusing on the hockey much better and watching out for dirty players to avoid them better. No one had pushed her down today, compared to the ten times yesterday.
By the time the morning session had finished, Riley thought she did her very best. She tried to think how she could have done any better, but she couldn’t. And her coach had been blowing his whistle to her personally less and less as her tryouts went on.
The coach blew his whistle for the first time of today. “Well done, each and every single one of you. This morning has proved that you can play a nice clean game without cheating or playing rough.
“If it was up to me, I would have picked all of you to play in the Olympics this year. Sadly, it not up to me. It’s up to him.”
He skated out of the way and Riley and her players were greeted by a visitor. He was a partly bald man with a bushy black beard in a suit.
“Please welcome the U.S. Ambassador for the Hockey Olympics,” their coach said.
The players applauded him.
“The ambassador is here?” Fear cried. “Oh, we’re done for now!” He touched the console before his co-workers could stop him.
Riley got worried about the ambassador but she put on her brave face to hide it.
“Thank you all very much,” the ambassador said. “Now, my colleagues over there – ” He pointed to the seats. Everyone saw three men and two women waving to them. “ – and I have been watching you this morning. We’re very impressed with all your hard work and dedication. But I’m sorry to say that there’s only one place left in the Olympics and only one of you will be on it. So best of luck to all of you this afternoon.” Then he walked off.
“Okay, listen up, guys,” the coach said. “The trial begins at two. So make sure you all had enough to eat and be well rested before then. See you in two hours.” Then he walked off.
“She’s not even eating her lunch,” Sadness pointed out.
The emotions watched Riley’s untouched homemade salad in her small red lunchbox as she was sitting in the females’ changing room under her hook.
“Maybe we should talk to the other teammates?” Joy suggested.
“And get wrong information from someone who doesn’t want us to succeed?” Anger scoffed. “No way!”
“She’s not even finished college or done anything volunteering,” Sadness said.
“What’s your point?” Disgust asked.
“If this ice hockey doesn’t go down, she’ll have nothing. She won’t get a job and she’ll have to rely on Mom and Dad.”
“Should I bring this to Riley’s mind?” Fear reached for the console, but was stopped.
“Riley doesn’t need any more problems on her mind right now,” Joy said, as she let go of Fear’s arm. “Let’s just make her eat her salad and focus on the hockey techniques, not the worst.” She touched the console and Riley began eating her salad.
Two o’clock arrived. Riley was on the ice with her team that the coach had put her in. She was worried but still determined to get picked for the Olympics. She looked at the opposing team – half of the team that she trained with for six months are now her opponents. Then she saw the ambassador and his colleagues in their VIP seats taking notes and watching her and her team mates.
The coach blew his whistle.
Riley watched the hockey as she chased after it to the opponents’ team. She tried to reach for it, but it snatched by another opponent. She followed after that opponent. The hockey was firing towards her. She ran and caught it, but she was knocked down by another opponent.
“Oh, all my worries are coming true,” Fear panicked.
“Mine too,” Sadness added.
“Well, what are we going to do about it?” Disgust asked.
Anger pushed everyone aside. “It’s time to take effective action.” He pressed the console.
Riley frowned and got back up. She skated faster than she’s ever skated before. She managed to catch the hockey and take it away. She quickly whacked the hockey to one of her players before another opponent could stop her and saw him score a goal.
After the coach blew his whistle and continued the game, Riley charged for the hockey. She reached for it, but the opponent whacked it away. Then she saw a player from the other team catching and scoring it in the net. She skated forward faster.
For the next forty two minutes, Riley’s emotions have been watching and trying to control her during the tryout, but they were getting stressed out themselves.
“This is tougher than I thought,” Joy said.
“It’s worse than I feared!” Fear cried.
“We’re not pushing her hard enough!” Anger cried.
“We’ve been at this for forty five minutes and she’s not getting anywhere,” Disgust pointed out.
“Well, neither are the others,” Joy said.
“That means no one will get picked for the team,” Sadness said. “Especially Riley.”
Then they heard a whistle call and saw the coach said, “Time’s up. It’s deciding time.”
“Well, here we go,” Joy said. “If we don’t get in, consider ourselves lucky that we were able to perform today.”
Riley was sweating and panting when the ambassador and his colleges walked over to the team. She felt she pushed herself further to the other side of the universe.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “I have watched you all work very hard and you were all impressive, but the one that impressed me the most is…”
Riley closed her eyes and feared for the worse.
Riley opened her eyes and was about to skate to him, but another skater from her team had beaten her to it.
“Who are you, mate?” the ambassador said.
“Sam Anderson,” the player said.
“No, not you,” the ambassador said. “Riley Anderson.”
Riley couldn’t believe it. She thought she was dreaming, but the loud applauding proved she wasn’t. She skated over and shook hands with the Ambassador.
He lifted her arm up. “I am happy to say that Riley Anderson will be joining the USA team for this year’s Olympics. Do you have anything to say, Miss Anderson?”
Embarrassed, Riley lowered her arm. “Well, all I can say is that I’m very honoured to be picked. But I wouldn’t have made it if it weren’t for my excellent coach and my fellow team mates and sometimes rivals to help me push myself to get to where I am. So, in short, thank you, everyone.” She received more applause.
Riley was still over the moon when she skated off. She felt that her dreams were finally coming true and it was much better than anything she dreamt through her life could bring.
Only when she bumped into someone that she realised that she wasn’t watching where she was going. “I’m so sorry.” She looked at who she bumped into and she was delighted. “Andy!”
“Nice going out there, Riley,” Andy said. “You were really good.”
“Have you been watching?”
“Yeah. And I was really impressed. I feel like I’m getting to know a celebrity before they become famous.”
“Well, I wouldn’t really count on it, but thank you for saying that.” Riley smiled. “So, what are you doing here early? Are you working extra time or – ”
“Oh, no. Because the stadium wants to close early today after these events, they asked me to come in to clean up early. Then I’ll be helping out the orphans tonight on a trip to Grabbo’s.”
“Oh, I know that,” Riley said. “I like that place. Well, best of luck to you all. See you soon.”
“Bye, Riley,” Andy called. “And congrats once again.”
“Phew!” Fear wiped the sweat from his brow. “All over.”
“See? Nothing but progress,” Joy said happily.
“Well, I don’t think her happiness is going to last long,” Anger said.
“What do you mean?” Joy asked.
Anger pointed ahead. Everyone saw on the screen Jordan approaching Riley.
“He missed Riley’s performance entirely,” Disgust said. “What kind of boyfriend is he?”
“This isn’t going to end well.” That was all Sadness could say.