The San Fernando Valley

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Here's the thing about the Valley. It's the biggest, most sprawling small town in the world. There are 1.77 million people calling the SFV home, and you can pretty much guarantee that you'll run into the one person you don't like every single damn time you walk out of the house.

After my entire life here, you'd think I'd be used to that by now. You'd think I wouldn't feel sideswiped every time I run into some unpleasant memory from my past when I'm just trying to get some damn tampons from CVS in my fat sweats (they're all fat sweats). You'd think I wouldn't be riddled with shame just because my first grade teacher saw me stopping for cigarettes and Jack Daniels at Harvest Market on a Sunday morning. You'd think I wouldn't bat an eye at the mom of the hellion bully toddler at my son's preschool who is the same bitch that was the hellion bully teenager at my high school. You'd be wrong.

I'm surprised EVERY SINGLE TIME.

And every single time, I think, "What a weird coincidence. What are the odds?"

You'd also think I'm an idiot.

And you might be right.

And you might be right

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"Ack, this burns so bad! Shit! This stings like a motherfu--"

The door chime interrupted Jessica's tirade. Glancing up from the pile of onions she'd been chopping on the steel counter, she stifled her groan upon seeing Coach Horn enter her bakery. She hadn't seen her high school soccer coach in at least fifteen years and the blast from her past wasn't exactly a welcome sight.

"I see you still have quite the mouth on you, little lady," the now elderly man teased as he removed his weathered baseball cap and ruffled the wispy combover that was straining to conceal the large bald patch on the top of his aging scalp. The decades that had passed since her high school days had certainly aged the once lithe coach, but his twinkly blue eyes and commanding smile still looked exactly the same. Jessica's heart began to race a little as his smirk began to dredge up old feelings of teenage insecurities. "Do you remember me?"

A memory of Coach Horn's face twenty years younger and red with anger flashed into Jessica's mind. Her stomach lurched in protest of the memory of the man's rage when she had missed an easy goal during a high school soccer match. Another memory of his face rushed forward, this time annoyed as he slid her senior year mid-term across a biology lab table, a red A+ furiously etched across the Scantron sheet. "If only you cared as much about the team as you did this dumb class," he'd snarled. 

Shaking her head against the recollections, Jessica quickly slapped on what her husband Jason always called her fake phone voice. "Coach Horn! My goodness! Of course I remember my favorite high school soccer coach and biology teacher! How are you?"

"Oh good, wasn't sure you'd remember me," he chuckled. "Of course, I could never forget you...the girl who christened my turf before I could! Ho! Ho!"

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