The throbbing pain registers before I can even open my eyes. At first I think it is my whole body protesting and pounding in a relentless throb from my head to my feet, but I peel my eyes open and focus on exactly where it is radiating from. My head and my right ankle grab my attention, and I start to recall last night in a string of unorganized memories.
This is my first hang over, and I quickly vow that it will be my last. While I have never experienced a pounding in my head as bad as this, I am pretty sure I am not supposed to be hearing it. Perhaps I am hallucinating but I can hear a pounding that is originating outside of my skull. Throwing the covers back, I quickly sit up and perch on the side of my bed waiting for the rolling to stop.
My ankle looks horrible, swollen and slightly bruised. I hobble to my bedroom door and try to get to the knocking at the end of the hall. In a cadence of ouches and thumps from my feeble attempts at bracing myself up against the wall, I slowly manage to pull open the front door. Just as quickly I want to slam it shut.
"Hello, you must be Maddy?" asks a young man carrying a small black bag. He looks from my eyes down to my ankle and a smile crosses his lips. I can't even imagine what a wreck I must look like. I still have on my dress from last night, my hair is a matted mess, and I am pretty sure I must have make-up smeared everywhere.
"Yes, I am Madeline. Who are you?" I stumble for a second and he grabs onto my arm to keep me from falling out of the door. When I make an ass of myself I go all out.
"I'm Rob, a trainer for the team and someone out there just called in a favor for you. Heard you might need a little help with that ankle today." He tips his chin in the direction of the living room and looks past my shoulder as if to ask if I am going to invite him in.
"I am not on any team and no one owes me any favors. Thanks for going to the trouble of coming over but I am afraid there has been a mistake." I pull my arm away from Rob's grip and he cocks his head to the side while letting out a small chuckle.
"Now I know there is no mistake. He told me you were stubborn. The favor that was owed is mine, Maddy, you just happen to be the lucky recipient of my services. I have been waiting for three years to make things even between Jackson and me; this is my opportunity. Now, if I could please just come in and check out that ankle then I will be happily on my way. Practice starts in about ten minutes so no worries about me sticking around long enough to kill you, I just wouldn't have the time."
Jackson sent a trainer to my house. With that, my hopes that he had left here and got himself so drunk he would forget how he had to carry a sloppy, giggling invalid back to her apartment are dashed. "By all means Rob, please come in. I can't get in the way of a man and his debts," I say, making a grand gesture with my arm to invite him inside. Rob grabs my arm and wraps it around his shoulder to help me walk over to the couch.
After looking at my ankle he concludes that it is probably not broken but badly sprained. Rob wraps it and it immediately feels better, although it is nowhere near a miracle healing and I am dying to take some Motrin. With his favor paid in full, Rob packs up his bag and makes his way to the front door.
"You know why it has taken me three years to pay this debt off, Maddy?" Rob asks as he steps out onto my doorstep.
"It's Madeline, " I correct. "It must be because you are a very busy man." With that Rob laughs and shakes his head no.
"Jackson has never had anyone he has cared enough about to call in his favor. I have to admit that while I was excited to be able to call us even, my curiosity about you was more intense than any feeling of relief. Have a good day, Madeline." He stresses the entirety of my name as if to prove a point.