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Kady looked at herself in the mirror. She wasn’t very pretty. Her skin was paler than a piece of paper, her hair brown and straight as sticks, and her glasses, oh her glasses! They were the ugliest pair she had ever seen, but her mom made her wear them instead of buying her contacts. She was so skinny that she looked like a piece of paper. And on top of all that, there were the bruises. She pulled on a long sleeve t-shirt and a pair of jeans, hoping that this year she could manage to be invisible. But that’s pretty hard to do when you are a girl playing football. At least she was good at it, not a girl playing football that sucks. In fact, she was the best quarterback in their state. Not that most people really gave her the chance. Football was the reason she was so skinny and bruised up. Everything was because of football. But that was a sacrifice she was willing to make for a game she loved with the kind of passion that can’t be extinguished. She brushed her hair and grabbed her backpack. It was the first day of school and they had their first home game at the end of the week, so they’d be jumping into three-hour practice directly after school. She sighed, gathered up her practice gear and shoved into her pickup truck.
“Hey Kady!” her friend Kaci called. She walked over to her with a smile on her face.
“Hey girl! How was your summer?” she asked, interested to hear about Kaci’s trip to France.
“Eh, it was highly overrated. How about yours?” she asked, looking at Kady.
“It was fine.” Kady said. She thought fine was a weird word, one that stipulates that you’re okay but really sounds more along the lines of not okay.
“Well that’s good! How has football been?” she asked.
“About as good as it always is.” Kady replied, wishing she had put her hair up.
“Are you all bruised up yet?” Kaci asked.
“Uh…yeah. It’s not too hard to get bruises when there are 300 pounds off muscle shooting towards you.” She said sarcastically.
“Good point.” Kaci said, not catching the irritation.
“Well, I’ve gotta go. I’ll talk to ya later, okay?”
“Yeah alright, bye.” Kaci said, walking towards her first class. The day flew by and soon enough Kady found herself with the ball in hand being chased. She looked for an open receiver and saw Alex out of the corner of her eye. One quick movement sent the ball right to him in a beautiful pass. He ran it in for a touchdown.
“Nice play! Way to be open out there Trumble! Nice pass Clawson…keep that up and you’ll be Quarterbacking in the game Friday!” Kady was beaming.
“Way to go KD!” Anthony yelled. All the guys huddled around her and high-fived her, which was one of the perks to being the only girl. You get all the attention from the guys to yourself. She loved being ‘one of the guys.’ It made things so much fun, and she really felt like a part of the team. Things were really looking up for Kady, which was something she needed after the long summer that she’d had. She went to the locker room and showered and changed, then headed out to her pickup. She finally made it home and spent the few hours she had left locked in her room doing homework.
Tuesday came and went quicker than ever, Kady hardly had time to realize it even happened. The rest of the week went by quickly too, and Kady owned in practice. She was really proud of the improvement she’d made over the summer, and she was psyched about her chance to play in the game on Friday. Thursday the team gathered for the usual routine, dinner, speech, strategizing, etc. Kady was so glad to see her name beside the quarterback position, and so were most of the guys on the team. They ate some really good food and relaxed, they never did anything hard before a game. Kady got up to go the bathroom and noticed Alex following her. “Hey Kady, wait up.” He said in his really enthralling voice. She stopped and turned around, looking into his deep blue eyes. “I was just wondering…well…maybe after the game tomorrow, if we could uh…go out?” he said, flashing her a smile full of perfect teeth. She hadn’t really paid much attention to Alex before; he was always just a teammate to her. Now that she was looking though, she realized how drop dead gorgeous he was.
“Yeah, I’d love that.” She said, smiling. She hoped that her smile could even remotely compare to his, though she doubted it.
“Cool. I can’t wait.” He said, and then he turned around and walked back to the cafeteria. Kady walked into the bathroom and looked into the mirror. She had to resist the urge to scream. She could not believe that Alex Trumble, maybe the most amazingly beautiful guy in the entire school, had just asked her out. Once the dinner had wrapped up she rushed to her truck and called Kaci.
“NO WAY!” Kaci screamed.
“Yeah, Alex! He’s so cute!!” Kady replied.
“Uh duh, he’s like THE hottest guy in the entire universe. Oh my gosh Kady, you have got the greatest life in the entire world!” Kaci said.
“Yeah, I must have done something right because I’ve been really lucky lately! I’m Quarterbacking in the game, and then I’m going out with Alex, I think I may be in heaven.” Kady replied. “But hey I’ve got to go, I’ll talk to you later though.”
“Bye!” Kaci replied, overenthusiastically. Kady plugged her phone into her charger and headed for home. She was so psyched about everything that she was whistling as she walked in the door. She didn’t even notice that her mom was asleep.
“What are you listening about? You woke me up!”
“I’m sorry mom! I just had a really good day and I’m playing in the game tomorrow! And I have a date with a really cute boy! And mom….” Kady saw the empty vodka bottle a little too late. “I think I’m just going to go to my room now.” Kady said, sprinting for the stairs. Unfortunately, her mom was too quick. She grabbed her by the shoulders and threw her to the floor. Kady cried as her mom’s arms flailed into her face, her chest, her stomach. “Mom! I’m sorry! I’ll go upstairs and leave you alone! Mom, please quit!” But the punches kept coming. No matter what she tried, her mom wouldn’t stop. Tears streamed down her face. Finally her mom moved into the kitchen to find some more booze. Kady lay there, bleeding and crying. She thought about all of the stuff she was supposed to do tomorrow, Alex, the game, as she drifted in and out of conciseness. She didn’t have football to take the blame anymore. The whole world would know her secret, and there wasn’t anything she could do about it. Kady saw a bright light, and in it there was a football. She reached for the light.
Now everyone will know where my bruises are from, she thought. Everyone will know that my life isn’t as perfect as it seems. They’ll all know. But it’s too late.