Patience Deserves Another Chance

January 30, 2008
By
It’s New Year’s Day today, and last night was the best night of my life. Ever since freshman year I’ve only had a few best friends, and we all went to dinner downtown. Then we went back to my best friend, Maddi’s, house. Maddi and I have been friends since I can remember – our Mom’s were friends in high school and then went to college together. Maddi, Cristina, Lindsey, Allen, Nick, and I all headed to the top of a hill by Maddi’s house to watch firework shows all around. And best of all, Maddi and I kissed.

By the way, I’ve liked Maddi forever. Yeah, I’ve had girlfriends, although not in high school, and get along with girls quite well. Yet, Maddi’s different. We’ve been best friends forever and I can’t tell her I like her. It might destroy our 18-year friendship. On the other hand, the second semester of my senior year is starting soon, and if I don’t say something now, then I’ll never have a chance. However, those are thoughts for another time. Right now I need to get my sorry butt out of bed, soccer practice starts at one thirty.

This year will be my second year as captain of my school soccer team and my fourth year on varsity, but at my school that means almost nothing. I go to Pacific Beach High School, where soccer isn’t popular and our team doesn’t make it far. We have potential, but things like coaching and effort have been under par. Last year we were one step short of the quarterfinals. This year, however, we could make it. We have a new coach and 10 great players, one more forward and we’re set. I wonder how much value soccer would get at our school then!
The problem is, Nick, the other captain, and I just finished our first practice and talked with the ten guys who will start. No one saw anyone to take that forward position. We’re hoping he just wasn’t at today’s practice, they’re not formal practices and that’s why Nick and I are running them. Well, since practice is over I will be hanging out with Maddi in a half an hour.

A half an hour later she arrived. I admired her wavy blonde hair, twinkling blue eyes, tan skin, and bright white smile. She was beautiful even in a sweat suit and no makeup.

“How’s the team looking?” she asked me as soon as she came in.

“Great, everyone’s trying hard, brand new team. But were still missing that eleventh player,” I replied

“Oh you’ll make up for him, we all know it,” she said, “You’ve already got state.”

“Thanks for the confidence,” I laughed, “But we really need someone if we’re going to win state.”

Our conversation continued the rest of the day and we thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.
~~~

February was underway. The new semester started, so coach Nate was officially in charge of coaching duties, but I still haven’t told Maddi I like her. At least I found out I made it into all the colleges I wanted. I get good grades and I’m very active, so I figured I’d get into some colleges. However, I got into most colleges because of soccer. It has been my life since before I could walk. I want to be a professional, and as of right now, I’m pretty dang good. I hope to get a full ride soccer scholarship to one of the best soccer schools. So, with all that out of the way, most of my classes are recreational.

Tryouts have finally come. I’m anxious to see who will be selected for the eleventh starting position, since no one stuck out to me.

At the end of the week the list will be posted with everyone who made the team. When I saw it I wasn’t surprised to see the 10 of us on the team last year on it again, plus eight more people. There was a big gap in skill between players ten and eleven though.

Nevertheless, the next two weeks of practice went great. The difference between last year’s team and this year’s team was amazing. Coach Nate knew what he was doing and trained us harder than ever. Even better, the players all worked their butts off to earn a starting position.

March was quickly approaching, and our first game was coming with it. This Friday, March 4th, would be the first game, but I had to do something beforehand. I decided it would make me play better even if I got turned down. I just need it off my chest.
This Monday I’m hanging out with Maddi, so I’m going to take her out to dinner. Ever since we were little, Maddi loved going downtown to the waterfront. So I thought where better to take her than there.
We went to her favorite restaurant and after a very romantic dinner we walked around and shopped. Later on we sat on “our” bench and enjoyed the sights. It was the best date I’d ever had, if only it was a date. She wouldn’t think of it as one. However, the night was not over, I was planning to tell her my secret once we got home.
As soon as we got to my empty house we headed up to my room. Once we got there our conversation died and an awkward silence filled the air. Except she didn’t seem to notice, maybe it was nerves?
“Oh yeah, Jason, I can’t believe I forgot to tell you. So after school I saw a crowd of people walking around our school. One of your assistant coaches was all excited and told me the boy in the middle was an amazing striker who had just moved here, and he hoped to play for your team! Is that perfect or what?” she asked enthusiastically.
Forgetting what I was trying to do, I replied, “Are you serious! This is just what we need!” I stood up and did a little dance while she laughed at me.
“Yeah, your coach said he played somewhere in England. Oh, and boy was he cuuuuute. He was tall with short brown hair, gray eyes, and a beautiful smile.”
I fell dead silent and stopped my celebration as a shiver of jealousy ran down my spine. I soon resumed, awkwardly, to try to cover up. It didn’t work.
“What?” Maddi asked confused. “Nothing, I, uh, was just imagining our team for a second,” it was a lame comeback, but she trusted me.
What she just said hurt more than a ball in the lower area because I don’t look very good. I have brown hair and brown eyes and no unique physical qualities about me. I am average height, almost six foot, but I was built. I’ve lifted since elementary school, and can lift more than you’d think possible from someone my size. That’s because I lifted to be cut, not buff. Hardly anyone knew it though, because I was rather shy of the feat I accomplished. I’m never seen without a shirt. Regardless, I’m not too pretty of a sight.
The rest of the night was spent talking about this mysterious player, Alvin, and I never revealed my secret.
The next day word had leaked out that Alvin, a soccer phenomenon was going to our school. At practice all the girls were there. Maddi would often come, but not the whole school. Worst of all, he was good. Really good. Even I had serious competition. He was probably better than me, especially at dribbling and shooting. I couldn’t get too jealous though - he was filling the position we needed filled. On the other hand, I couldn’t just sit there while he took my girl!
~
Our first game was against one of the worst teams, we crushed them eight-zero and I got a hat trick. It was a nice performance for the scouts there watching me. They were for me and not Alvin Jackson. Today was our second game, but he could play today, so the crowd was larger than ever.
Once again we crushed the other team, a solid five to zero. Alvin had a hat trick and I had the other two goals. The difference was, I also had two assists and I didn’t run to the crowd with my shirt off giving everyone hugs once I scored. And I played defense. At first I thought he was better than me. He did have a better shot and nicer touch, but I had endurance, defense, and most of all, determination far extraordinary to his. He was a slacker, but no one noticed this besides the team and, more importantly, the coach. This was good.
However, Maddi wouldn’t hear of it when I told her. She was as obsessed with him as everyone else, and she had a hot date with him this week. When I heard this I walked away to prevent myself from saying something I might regret.
To no surprise, Alvin missed practice the next day to go on his date with Maddi. Apparently he was so rich that he was flying her somewhere for dinner. Nate said he’d bench him, I said he should but told him good luck because of all his fans. There was no way it was possible.
The day before our next game, Maddi told me all about her date. Apparently she loved it. Now I couldn’t talk to her, period. I tried to show no emotion and vowed to avoid her. I also prayed she didn’t make a stupid mistake, and hopefully she’d even leave him.
Our game that Friday was against last year’s second place team. I was so happy to see Alvin off the starting roster, but the fans had the opposite reaction, and so did he. He got in at the start of the second half, but by that time I already had a goal and two assists and we had the game in the bag. As soon as he got in he was double-teamed and didn’t accomplish anything anyways. It was a very satisfying game.
Maddi and I talked about it afterwards. She didn’t even congratulate me, but just exploded at me for Alvin being benched. Then she said she had a date with him tomorrow. Furious, I left. I was so angry and miserable I couldn’t get to sleep either, so I went on a midnight run. They were so peaceful, but when I passed Maddi’s house and saw Alvin’s car in her driveway the peace ended. I ran faster, and faster, until I sprinted a half mile into my house. I picked up a soccer ball, kicked it into the sky a few times, and went to bed.
The next day Alvin skipped the optional practice, he was beginning to waste our time. We didn’t need him anyways, the way we were playing. I spent the whole day practicing, lifting, and after dinner went on a nice long relaxing run. My goal was to run thirteen miles to the waterfront and back, and sit for a bit and watch the water from Maddi and my spot. When I got there, I found her making out with him. I froze. Stared. Yelled. Turned and ran. I found out later they saw me. I didn’t care. I had to kick him off my team, out of my life.
~~~
This Saturday, tomorrow, is our last soccer game. We’re undefeated so far, and today we play for state. We have made a run like none other. Eventually Alvin got his act together, so he starts, but still won’t play defense. Moreover, while he hangs out with Maddi everyday, I train. Now I’m much, much better than him. However, Maddi is still his. I think they’re going out now, but I don’t know because we don’t talk anymore. However, she’s been calling me all afternoon, since school got out. I haven’t answered though because I don’t know what to say. Oh, and here she calls again, every five minutes, I swear! Maybe I should answer it.
“Hello?” I answered
“Jason? Jason, finally, you wont believe it,” she cried.
“What happened? Did your little boyfriend leave you? Maybe he’s finally thinking about soccer,” I replied. I couldn’t help being mean, but I shouldn’t have done it. She cried harder and hung up. Now I’ll have to call her back. After two hours of trying, she answered, still crying.
“What do you want?” she said, trying not to cry.
“Look Maddi, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. What happened?” After asking her over and over, she finally gave in.
“Alvin left, he’s moving. He already moved. So yes, he left me, without telling me. However, he did say he was ‘doing stuff’ with other girls the entire time we went out, because I wasn’t ‘good enough’,” she whimpered. “Jason, I’m so sorry. I feel so horrible, I gave up everything for him, and now I don’t have anything. No friends, even you. Just, nothing.”
“Umm, well I kind of needed to tell you something too. Could you come over so we can talk?” I replied. It was time.
I waited for her at my front door so I could let her in. She arrived just minutes after we hung up. She looked as beautiful as ever, except with big, red, tear-filled eyes.
“Hey,” I said giving her a hug.
“Jason, I’m so sorry that I ditched you. I thought Alvin was so great and that he could be my first boyfriend,” she began as we made our way upstairs.
“It’s alright. Almost everyone thought he was so great,” I began, surprised at how forgiving I was acting. “And, umm, about what else you said…”
“What else did I say?” She asked, as she suddenly became alert and curious.
“About liking Alvin, and wanting him to be your first boyfriend and…everything,” I answered.
“Oh, sick. Well, at least you got my first kiss,” she smiled. “He was just my first boyfriend and first to make out with me.”
Giving thanks to God he hadn’t messed her up, I responded, “Well that’s good.”
“Why is that good?” she asked me very curiously.
“Okay, time for me to spill my guts. I love you Maddi. I have for as long as I can remember. I was afraid to tell you, afraid for our relationship. That night I took you out to dinner downtown, before I knew of Alvin. You know?” I asked. She nodded so I continued, “Well I was going to tell you that night. Except I couldn’t, you had already found someone else. After that happened, I couldn’t do anything, say anything, or even be around you. That’s why I’ve been out training by myself the last couple months,” I finished. It was an awkward finish, and an awkward silence followed. Then she began sobbing again.
“Oh no. I knew something was on your mind, and as usual I was hoping it would be about that, at last. When you hadn’t said anything by the time we got back I just gave up hope. Then I pretended to forget all about you while I went out with him, I never did. Jason, I’ve loved you forever too, but I thought you never would’ve thought of me like that and I should move on. All those ‘dates’ and dances we went to together, they weren’t real dates because we went ‘as friends.’ I was sick of it, 18 years and I was giving up.”
I was at a loss for words. “I had considered them dates too, to myself. I never thought she would like me either. I had also given up on her when she went off with Alvin. Now that was a waste of 18 years of my life,” I thought to myself.
“Well it was my fault. I should have said something in all the years I liked you,” I told her, and we talked about it until my Dad came in.
“Hey son, you know you got the state championships tomorrow don’t you? Nate called and said Alvin won’t be playing, but somehow I think you already knew that. You should be getting to bed though,” he said, glancing at Maddi.
“All right Dad, we’ll be done in a couple of seconds. Good night,” I said, and he left.
“Well Maddi, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow. Maybe we can go out after my game?” I asked her.
“You stay focused on your game. If you win, then maybe,” she smiled.
We said goodbye and I hit the hay. I had a big game the next day, and possibly an even more important date.
Our game was great. We won, four to two. I played my best game ever and ended with another hat trick and an assist. Best of all, I walked off the field hand in hand with Maddi. She wasn’t my girlfriend, yet, but our lives were not over. Walking off the field with another chance with her, I vowed never to bottle up such imperative secrets, and to marry the woman whose hand I was holding.





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