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The Game of Love

“Do I have to go?” Emma whined.
“Yes, yes you do,” her father began, “your mom isn’t out of work yet, and won't be for awhile, she’s working late tonight.”
“But do I have to sit in the car while you coach?” Her dad was the high school baseball coach.
“No, you and Zack can walk up to the park.”
“Fine.” She said as she rolled her eyes and stared out the window. ‘I wish it would hail,’ she began to think to herself, ‘big pieces. Then they would cancel practice.’ But there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
“Well, guess that ain’t gonna happen.” She said quietly as she unbuckled.
“What’s not going to happen?” her dad asked as he hopped out the car door.
“Nothing.” Her little brother, Zack, came up and tugged on her arm.
“Let’s go Emma!” he said with his big brown eyes looking up at her.
“Okay, lead the way little man.” They walked to the playground which had a soccer field not far from it.
“Sammy!” Zack hollered to his best friend.
“Zack!” Sammy responded. Emma sat and watched Sam and Zack run around the playground.
“You can go for a walk if you want,” Sam’s mom told her. “I’ll keep an eye on him.”
“Thanks Misses Hopkins.” Emma said as she stood up. She got a little chilly as she walked and wrapped her scarf around her neck tighter. Suddenly, a soccer ball came whizzing by.
“Sorry about that!” she heard a voice apologizing to her. She turned to see a figure on the soccer field.
“No need it’s fine!” she hollered back. “Do you want me to kick it back to you?”
“No, no, that’s okay. I’ll come and get it.” He hollered as he started jogging up to her. Emma picked up the ball when she saw him approaching him.
“Hey, I know you!” he said as he looked in her face.
“You too, it’s Nick right?”
“That’d be me,” he answered taking the ball from her hands, “and you’re Emma… right?
“Yup, Teacher’s daughter.” Her dad was also the music teacher at the elementary school.
“I’ll bet that’s why you’re on the Honor roll.”
“Not exactly… music doesn’t really have anything to do with finding the daughter element of two elements on the periodic table.”
“I can see that.” They stood in silence for a moment.
“You play soccer?” she finally asked, breaking the silence.
“Yup,” Nick started, “I can teach you a few moves if you want.”
“Sure.” She replied. He motioned her to follow him.
“Here try this move first. It’s pretty simple compared to most of them.” Nick told her as he placed the ball on the ground. He backed up a few paces and then charged at the ball to swiftly kick it. He kicked in such a way that Emma had only seen a pro player kick a ball.
“I can't do that!” she said in shock.
“Course ya can!” Nick said grabbing the ball from the goal net, “Just try to copy what I just did.”
“I’ll make a fool out of myself.”
“I won't laugh at you. However, I will laugh with you.”
“Promise?”
“Promise.” Emma approached the ball, trying to remember the actions that Nick had made. She backed up a few paces.
“Go for it Em.” Nick called, he was leaning against the goal.
“Do you really think it’s a good idea to be standing there?” Emma asked.
“What could go wrong?”
“I have a list.”
“Oh c’mon…”
“Would now be a bad time to mention that I got kicked off of the soccer team in sixth grade?”
“That was then, this is now… go for it!” she looked at the ball before she charged at it to kick it. She charged, swung her leg and missed… she missed the ball.
“You missed! How could you miss!? It was less than two feet in front of you!” Nick said smiling and gesturing to the ball.
“Don’t you dare start quoting Disney movie lines at me.” He laughed at her reaction to his quoting of Mushu from Disney’s Mulan. “I told you I’d make a fool out of myself!” she said giving herself a face-palm.
“And I told you I wouldn’t laugh at you if you did.” Nick reminded her as he started towards her. “You’re going to have to position yourself like this.” He instructed.
“So, like this?” she asked trying her best to imitate his stance. Nick looked at her for a moment before walking towards her.
“More like this.” He said as he got behind her, placed his hands on her shoulders and had her turn her upper body a little more.
“Is that all?” she asked.
“Yup.”
“So I have to get to this position when I kick the ball?”
“Yes, when you kick it. Not when you run at it.”
“Okay… you’re sure I can do this?”
“Yup. Now give it a try.” He walked back to where he stood before. Emma took a few steps back from the ball before charging at it again. She positioned herself the way Nick had shown her, but the ball had other plans and took a detour. A detour right into Nick’s stomach… and hard too. He doubled over before sitting down on the ground.
“Nick! Oh my gosh, I am so sorry! Are you okay!?” Emma asked.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” he replied with a groan, “I just gotta… just gotta lay down for a sec.” and he laid himself on the ground as Emma slowly walked over to him. He lay motionless on the grass, Emma would have taken him for dead had she not seen him breathing. She cautiously kneeled down by his side.
“I. Am So Sorry.” She squeaked out. All Nick did was let out a long sigh.
“Am I dead?” he asked.
“Uh, no.”
“Then who are you?” he asked pretending to be none the wiser. Unfortunately, he was such a good actor, that Emma didn’t pick up on his acting.
“Uh… Emma… remember?”
“So you’re not an angel?” he asked picking his head up, acting a little more and toying with her mind.
“Pretty sure last I checked I wasn’t.”
“You sure?” he asked as he laid his head back down, “you have the face of one. Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?”
“This isn’t going to be one of those jokes where I say ‘no’ and then you say, ‘oh, well your face is really messed up’ is it?”. Nick silently laughed.
“No it’s not.” He said before sitting up again, “You really are beautiful.” Emma blushed a little at his compliment.
“Well, you aren’t so bad off yourself Romeo.”
“Wanna know a secret?”
“Sure.” He motioned for her to lean closer.
“I don’t blame your coach for kicking you off the team.”
“You jerk!” she said jokingly.
“Do you really wanna hear a secret?”
“It’s not an insult about my scarf is it? I love this scarf.” He giggled at her teasing.
“No, come closer.” She leaned in more. “Closer.” She leaned in even more. “Just a little bit closer.” She was now so close his lips were brushing against her ear.
“I’ve had a crush on you since sixth grade when you got kicked off the soccer team for hitting the ref in the head with the ball.” She pulled back to look him in the face.
“Really?” she asked, “But, you were ‘Mister Popular’. I was the school geek… well that’s still the same story now.”
“Like I cared. You weren’t afraid to be yourself… still aren’t. That’s what I like about you.”
“Well, someone told me to never change myself.”
“Who?”
“Don’t know… I got a Valentine a couple years ago signed by a secret admirer. It said ‘Emma, never change yourself beca—
“Because you’ll never know who could like you for the real you.” Nick finished.
“How… how did you know?”
“I wrote it.”
“You… you… you’re my secret admire?”
“Always have been. And don’t pretend that I don’t see you at every single one of my home games… because I do.” Emma blushed a little after knowing she had been caught.
“Never stop coming Emma.”
“Never…” Let’s just say that even thought she can't play, soccer is still Emma’s favorite sport…



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This article has 5 comments. Post your own!

Jflood77 said...
Mar. 10 at 10:16 am:
this is great. just re-read it :) forgot how good it is
 
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silverado 3500 said...
Jan. 31 at 5:56 pm:
ive never red it but i heard it was good
 
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Jflood77 said...
Jan. 31 at 9:36 am:
The story is great! I thought the dialogue was meaningful and excellently crafted. I really found myself attached to the character, which is rare in a short story.  good stuff :)
 
LillyZ83This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Jan. 31 at 10:55 am :
Oh my! Thank you! You are the first actual Teen Ink member to comment on any of my stories!!! It means alot to me!
 
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Nikki said...
Jan. 26 at 3:47 pm:
It is a wonderful light hearted story of two young people getting to know each other.  Really liked it!
 
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