The Player This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Annie's feet were burning in her hightops. Her breath was ragged and her face contorted in pain. In her head, she cursed herself for falling. Through angry tears she glanced at the coach. She knew the verdict before it was announced.

"It's a sprain," the coach said hopelessly. "You're out, kid. Good game." She tried to stand and the coach caught her in mid-flight.

Stephanie looked up from the bench. She hadn't wished for Annie to get hurt, but now was her chance. The coach was staring at her intently. She wanted to answer him out loud and to tell him she was more than ready, and to give her a chance.

The scoreboard lights blurred in Stephanie's eyes and the aroma of popcorn and hot dogs swirled around her nostrils and clutched at her stomach. The team needed to win this game, but she needed more than that - she needed to play. Suddenly, she was yanked back into reality by the coach's gruff cry.

"In for Annie!"

The team rallied around the coach and he frantically marked his chalkboard with X's and O's. Stephanie struggled to pay attention, and when she next looked down she was holding the ball. The crowd was counting down with the clock. She drove past her defense and pulled up for a three pointer, as the clock clicked down to nothing.

Every fan in the gym rose to their feet as the ball swirled lazily in the basket. The ref nodded slowly, signaling that the basket would count. The coach looked away from the basket and up to the bleachers.

"Add one." he said smiling.

The only thing Stephanie could remember now was the look on Coach's face. Now she is the last person in the gym. The floor was cluttered with trash. Everyone was out celebrating but Stephanie, who had decided to avoid the commotion. The posters that had been hanging along the walls a few hours earlier were now strewn about the court. The scent of popcorn and hot dogs, which had earlier made her dizzy now only served as a reminder of the bittersweet victory and its stale taste.

When the game-winning shot had been made, Stephanie was slapped with the realization that she had never left the bench. She could only feel the angry burning in her eyes when the coach looked at her, smiling and the tearful resentment she felt toward her teammate who had been given her chance, and not Stephanie. Now tears spilled down her face, tears that had been present but never left her eyes during the season. She was good, but not good enough.

Slowly she picked herself up and dragged her feet across the court, turning around and pausing to take a final glance at the gym before she tried to push the doors open.

Then the lights went out, and Stephanie knew she was locked in. 1


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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kate-the-shrew said...
May 1, 2010 at 11:46 am
Wow! That is really good! The way you made it seem like she was the one out there and described her resentment and anger! Amazing! What happens to her?
 
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